Monthly Archives: November 2017

Campground Review: Alafia River State Park, Lithia Florida



  • Name: Alafia River State Park
  • Dates of stay:  November 26 – December 4, 2017
  • Location: 14326 South County Road 39, Lithia, Florida 33547
  • Type of campground: Florida State Park
  • Cost: $22/night; with reservation fee and taxes totaled $25.50/night
  • Additional fees: none known
  • Stay limit: 14 days
  • Accepts mail / packages: unknown/did not ask
  • Cell reception:  AT&T: fair signal
  • Website:
  • Pros: Incredibly spacious pull-through site in a beautiful State park
  • Cons:  no sewer hookup, summer would be hot and buggy

Full Review

018I’m coming to really love camping in the State and Local park system. Compared to commercial campground sites that I’ve seen (so far), campsites in the parks are much more spacious, beautiful AND less expensive! Maybe they don’t have all of the amenities of the commercial campgrounds, but I haven’t missed them yet.

We chose to stay at Alafia because it has an awesome mountain bike trail system. Jeff will post a review of the trail system separately. We had tent camped here years ago, so we knew the campground was nice. Although, tent camping and RV camping are very different animals!

014The Alafia River campground offers 30 family campsites, twelve of which are for equestrian campers.  Campsites are spread out along two loops, offering plenty of privacy and space. Our campsite (#28) is huge. There is a curved paved pull-through  section, and a large grassy area with fire ring and large picnic table. You could pitch several tents out there without crowding. At night, the campground is extremely quiet.

The one negative of camping here is that it is not full hookup – water/electric only (50/30/20 amp). There is a dump station centrally located near the bath house. It is our first extended stay without sewer hookups, so we are only using our bathroom at night and putting minimal dish/hand washing water into our gray tank. No showers in the bus and no washing machine use. However, it’s no hardship to use the nearby bath house which is clean and has plenty of hot water.  So far, it looks like our holding tanks will have plenty of capacity for our current use rate. A week is fine, two weeks would be harder! No park laundry facility coupled with no sewer hookup means either doing minimal hand laundry, venturing out to find a laundry mat, or wait until the next stop to do laundry!

015There is no campground wifi, but our AT&T hotspot combined with our cellular booster antenna allows for reasonable internet access. It is sufficient for email and web surfing, but transferring large files is slow. Satellite TV is no problem, and Tampa is near enough to pull in a number of over the air channels.

The park feels way off the beaten path, but a full service grocery store and other civilization amenities are only 10-15 minutes away in Lithia. The park closes from sunset to 8 am, but a gate code is provided for late entry.

Besides the mountain biking trails, Alafia offers equestrian and hiking trails, fishing areas, canoeing/kayaking, boating, and wildlife viewing.  We are here in late November, and the weather is absolutely perfect – 50/60s at night, 70s during the day, and dry. It’s weather that sucks you outside into nature!


Launch Day!!!!

At long last, we are free to go! Sunday, November 26, 2017 marks the start of our new, grand life adventure!

Our last evening at Markham Park was wonderful. Sean and Marissa drove down from Orlando to spend the night with us. We built a campfire, toasted hot dogs and marshmallows, drank a couple bottles of wine and played cards. It was a lovely evening of conversation and laughter.  The next morning as we packed up to go, they took possession of my Camry and drove her away.

I have to take a moment in honor of my Camry. My beautiful silver 2015 Camry XLE was my favorite car, ever. She was beautiful and so smart. I loved driving her. I called her Miranda. However, we can’t take two cars on the road, and the F-150 meets our needs. He’s not quite as beautiful and intelligent as my Miranda, but he is sturdy and loves to have adventures. I shall miss Miranda, but she is going to a wonderful new home.

IMG_2919After packing up, we left our home of the last 2 months, bid farewell to South Florida, and headed north toward Alafia River State Park!  (campground review later). As I write this at the dinette table and sip my morning hot tea,  I see woods and meadow out my window while the sun rises through the mist. I could definitely do this every day. Oh wait … I CAN do this every day!

Our long awaited grand adventure has begun! Thanks for going along for the ride!

Divine Timing

trustI’ve been ready to start this adventure for a very long time. I’ve been pushing things along for several years, trying to speed up the timetable, any way I could. But, somehow, all of the needed factors just wouldn’t come together. I have just had to be patient (never one of my strong suits) and wait until all was in order.

Now I understand why.

Jeff’s parents moved down here many years ago to be near us and our children. Although the relationship hasn’t always flowed smoothly, they have been nearby to celebrate the holidays with us, go to kid concerts, and generally share in the ups and downs of life. Leaving them aging and alone, with no family anywhere around, has been a long-time concern.

Early last year, Jeff’s mom’s ongoing health issues worsened, she went physically downhill quickly and passed away a few months later. That experience took a significant toll on Dad. He soon found a lady friend and seemed to be doing well, enjoying life and a new relationship. However early this year his health took a turn for the worse, and he never really bounced back. After another hospitalization in early October, it has become very apparent that he is no longer able to live independently.  Reluctantly, he has agreed to go into assisted living at a facility in Indianapolis, near his daughter and other family.

We expected this time to be a gentle wind-down to retirement, but the last few weeks have been an unanticipated flurry of activity to develop a plan of action, find a suitable facility, arrange to manage his finances and sell his property, all while dealing with his existing health issues and needs. It’s been physically taxing as well as emotionally draining. It’s so difficult to see a loved one decline physically and cognitively.

Had this all come to a head AFTER we were on the road, everything would have been so much more difficult to manage. The fact that we were still here, is a blessing. It is a blessing that a spot just happened to open up at the assisted living facility nearest my sister-in-law. She is a nurse and has worked at similar facilities most of her career, making her the ideal person to oversee his ongoing health care needs.

It’s God’s perfect timing (again). We needed to be here long enough to see to Dad’s needs and get him settled into the best long-term situation.  It’s been a scramble to get everything done, but by Thanksgiving Dad will be settled in his new place, his condo will be cleared out, and finances put in order. We’ll be able to head north as we planned next Sunday.

God is always good and I am truly thankful that His timing is so much better than mine.