Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Hontoon Island State Park - Deland, FL


For the past couple of years I have been exploring the different state parks around the state of Florida and one really popped out as something different - Hontoon Island State Park.  Why does is stand out? Well because it is the only state park in Florida that you have to take a boat or ferry to get to.

This past weekend Duane and I decided that it was time to explore this island and see what it has to offer.  It took us approximately an hour to get to the park from our house as we decided to take the more scenic route and stay away from the highway.

Upon taking our turn to get to the road for the park we noticed a nice little restaurant on the water and decided to eat before we started hiking. Shady Oaks is a small little restaurant that can be accessed by land or by water using their docks.  The food was very tasty and extremely reasonable.

After lunch we meandered the rest of the way up the back road and finally arrived at our destination.  This park has no entry fee and you will put up directly to the parking lot.  There is an area to stand and that attracts the attention of the ferry guide.  The ferry runs anytime anyone is standing on either bank.  It is an electric, solar driven ferry and the guide tells you a little history of the area.

Upon arriving at the island you are greeted by a concession area, information desk and museum that explains the flora, fauna and history of the island.  There are picnic tables that are setup along the perimeter of the area so that you can enjoy a meal under the shade close to the St. Johns River.  There are a few playground items for the kids to run and play on.

Hontoon State Park is very rich with evidence of the Native American culture that lived in the area.  A lot of the trails were very muddy as this has been an extremely rainy season, so we stayed in the more open, cleared areas.  We will be going back in March when it is more dry to explore the entire island.

You can stay on the island exploring anytime from 8am to one hour before sunset.

To find more about the state park - directions, hours, information - click here -

After coming back across the island we decided to see what else was around the area.  A little further down is the Hontoon Island Marina and Resort.  Here you can catch the Blue Heron River Tour - it is a 2 hour tour down the St. Johns River - They leave at 10am and 1pm each day - see website for more information or directions-

Want to get away a little and have a mini vacation in your own backyard - why not check out the Hontoon Land Resort - sits right on the St. Johns river next to the Marina - for more information click here -

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Kayaking at Mount Dora Canal - Tavares, FL

Life has been crazily busy lately and I realized that I haven't done anything outside in a few months.  I kept reading about the Mount Dora canal and how absolutely beautiful it was.  I talked to a few of the ladies and we set out one Sunday morning.  Most of the places that you can put your kayak in around that area are private or you have to own your own for the public launches.  I called around and found that there was a place we could go and rent them from.  Buzzard Beach Bar and Grille was located in Tavares and rents their kayaks for $10/hr per person - 2 hour minimum.  Upon arriving at the place we parked and were given a brief description on the lakes and the areas. 

We started out on Lake Eustis and had to paddle to the right to make it to the canal that connects Lake Dora to Lake Eustis.  Upon first arriving in the canal we had to be careful with the electric boats, but about a mile in we were able to take a right into a less traveled more peaceful canal.  A blue heron was our guide for the day.  He flew ahead of us pretty much the entire trip, always staying a few yards ahead of us.  The canopy of trees was unbelievable and was so intense in some areas the temperature fell a good 10 to 15 degrees.  Unfortunately, we did not see any gators as mating season just ended and most are with their babies and not normally visable.

After the kayak we stopped into Buzzard Beach bar and grille for a beer and lunch.  The food was delicious the prices extremely reasonable.  I would recommend this to anyone that loves hanging out doors. 

Click here to find Buzzard beach bar and grille

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

CSI Experience - Orlando, FL

One day I was driving down International Drive and I drove past a sign CSI experience, so I turned the car into the parking lot to see what it was all about.  I found out it was an interactive game created by students at Rice University that allows you to be a Las Vegas CSI detective.  There are 3 cases to solve and you work through the whole process.  I asked around and one of my girlfriends was really interested in going, so we went.  They allow no photography inside - not even the lobby area.  Upon entering you sign in and get a CSI detective vest and clipboard with your crime scene form.  You are then ushered into a room where Gil Grissom discusses the importance of CSI and how they work with law enforcement to solve crimes.  We then proceeded to our crime scene where you are told to draw all the important information onto the crime scene grid.  Anything can be important!!!!  Once done with the scene you go to your colored evidence table for comparison - did you see everything?   Once you have verified that you know what evidence there is you move throughout the different areas to verify the evidence.  For instance you check the tire tread, fingerprints, substances, etc.  You walk through several of these areas and then meet the coroner for the information from the 3d autopsy.  Once you have collected and examined the evidence you will need to go through and answer questions to determine who is the killer. Will you pick the right person?  Did you find all the clues? Come out and try it today!!!!

Get your tickets online:

CSI: The Experience Online Ticket Shop
7220 International Drive, 32819 Orlando, FL
407 226 7220

Adult: $ 19.99
Children (5-12): $ 12.99
They do have FL resident specials as well and if you want to do more than one case, it is only $5.00 with 24 hours.

Child Policy: CSI: The Experience is recommended for ages 12+. Children under 12 must be accompanied by an adult. Kindly note no photography, filming nor food and drinks are permitted at CSI: The Experience.

Check out their website today - they even have an online case as well!!!!