I would like to share a bit about my visits with my favorite person to hike, walk and just enjoy life with – my now 43 year old daughter. My daughter is a HS History teacher and lives some 1200 miles south of my home here in western NY. Some years ago while at a summer workshop for school, she and her husband stumbled upon Lettuce Lake Conservation Park in Hillsborough County Florida just north of Tampa. They both fell in love with this park.
The abundant variety of nature there and the easy access to see it from the 3 short trails make it practically perfect. One time, I was visiting my “kids” and they wanted to make that 2 1/2 hour drive from where they live so they could share, as my daughter said, “the awesomeness’ ‘ of the park. We spent the entire day walking along all 3 trails then finished my visit with a wonderful dinner. I think that was my son-in-law’s favorite part. It was an amazing day.
Now, every time I am in Florida visiting, my daughter wants to take me back to her favorite little park. This park has also become my favorite too as I get to not only spend time in nature with my daughter, but also enjoy her awe and happiness for hours while we explore. Her husband no longer joins us as he “has seen the park way too many times”, so it’s turned into a wonderful mother-daughter activity where we get to enjoy each other’s company as well as our surroundings.
So, what excites us both about this particular park? The bird species! Every time we go, we see so many varieties of birds – from the tiniest hummingbird to giant Great Blue Herons and so many other species of water birds and those that migrate south. One of my favorites is the Red Shouldered Hawk. With it’s call and awesome appearance in flight – it’s just amazing to watch. We, of course, also see alligators, turtles, water moccasins, and so many other water species. It is Florida after all. But, since I am an avid bird watcher, I am always in my element with the incredible variety of birds at this park.
I look forward to visiting each time I’m in Florida – for the birds and the time with my daughter. Last fall when I was visiting, the boardwalk was damaged by the hurricane’s that hit the Gulf side of Florida last year so unfortunately, our time exploring was much shorter than usual. I’m hoping that mess will be cleared up when I go back down to FL in the fall.
Would this park still be a favorite if my daughter wasn’t with me? Maybe? It is a bit far from my home though, so I probably wouldn’t go as often. But, add the fun of spending the day exploring the park with my daughter and I’m happily making the drive every time. There’s nothing better than precious time spent with precious company.