Myakka is basically a swamp or prarie, or both...depending on what time of year you visit. Mostly it was a swamp, including our campsite. I remember hearing a story of John Muir taking off across the country, and when he got to this swampy area in the south he contracted a horrible illness and nearly died. I don't remember where exactly this area was, but I could certainly picture it being here.
Watching for birds and looking super cool.
Now, that sounds like a didn't like it. Swamp, swamp, swamp...blah blah blah. And that isn't a fair picture, because I REALLY liked it. Not that I'm partial to swamps in general, but it's one of the first places in Florida where you could just relax and be in nature. There was plenty to do, including just hanging out at your campsite. (not every campground is like that, as you will see in one of my upcoming posts)
If you look close you can see the three alligators!
We walked, biked, birded, saw alligators, went to the visitors center, watched a man net a bunch of invasive fish, hung out in our hammocks, read, relaxed...we just chilled. These are the kinds of parks I like the best because they lend themselves to the art of being not-busy, which, as a great side effect has taught us how to unschool. (We are still schooling as well, though in no regularly defined schedule of time) But the point of unschooling is to let the world be your inspiration, and learn not because someone is making you, but because you want to. Parks like this are perfect for that...we stop at every sign and give it's due. We learned to differentiate between a palmetto palm and a palm tree palm. We learned about the invasive tilapia problem, and watched a fisherman yank out 5 or more fish per net throw! We learned how to tell the difference between an alligator and a crocodile and about the importance of burning the forest every once in a while to let new growth set in.
The canopy walk allowed you to see above the entire park.
We had to walk through 5 inches of mud and muck,
and then up 5 flights of stairs, but it was worth it for the view.
I especially love that my kids get really into this stuff. We watched every documentary the visitors station offered. We spent hours looking for, and identifying birds on the bird boardwalk. (By the end, most of the other visitors would stand by Laurel and wait for her to identify them)
Despite the mud, and the smell, and the bugs...this was one of my favorite parks so far. (And just so you know, it is certainly not just us...it was VERY crowded in the visitor areas, the campground was filled, and the ranger said they are one of the busiest parks in Florida. But despite that, there was room for all and it was really lovely.)