Tracy L H.
Tavares, FL
Joined September 2016
Ranger Review: Grub Stick at Lake Mills Park in Seminole County, Florida

Campground  Review:  Grub Stick at Lake Mills Park, Seminole County, FL

I took part in helping with a Great American Camp Out for 36 families with over 126 people at Lake Mills Park in Seminole County, FL.  This was a special use event so we used the big open field areas in the day use part of the park near the lake.  This was a very, very good and well run event on everyone's part.   I did visit the campground area and give it a thorough inspection as well as talked to staff that was there helping out with the event too.  There were 13…I mean 14 spaces available for camping in tents.  There was a community bathroom with small showers.  This is the perfect place for a weekend camp out.  The camp sites are just a short walk to the lake and the fishing pier.  There is a boardwalk through the wetlands but it was closed at the moment, but the staff I talked with said it was going to be repaired and opened back up soon.  They also mentioned that the park was slated for some upgrades and amenities this coming year. They do not encourage swimming in the lake but while I was there I did see some people in the water.  The fishing pier was nice and in a cove like area.  Several in our group caught some small fish and some turtles too. There is a fit para course that goes around the day use area.  A nice bathroom is there near some picnic shelters that have grills beside them and the small amphitheater area.  There is a nice playground for the kids to play on with picnic tables and grills nearby.  There is also a sand volleyball court.  Everyone in our group….all 126+ enjoyed the park immensely.  I can imagine the lake being a great spot to kayak too.

https://www.seminolecountyfl.gov/locations/301552-Lake-Mills-Park.stml

Lake Mills Park is not to far from the Little Big Econ State Forest and Econ River Wilderness Area.  There are many other places not to far away to that are neat for exploring.  A day to Titusville would be a good adventure.

This park is nice and quiet, But you can hear cars going by on the main road just outside the park at night,  BUT  it wasn't a big deal to any of us.  Just a little background noise once in awhile.  

………………………………………………………………….

Product Review:  Grub Stick

As a Ranger for The Dyrt, I get to test products. At Lake Mills Park I tested The Grub Stick:  The Four Piece set with Cinch Bag and the Thirteen Piece Deluxe set with Zippered Bag.

https://grubstick.com/

The four piece comes with:  a telescopic stick, a grubfork implement, a grubcage, and a release tool and comes in a cinch sack.

The thirteen piece comes with: two telescopic sticks, two grubfork implements, a grubcage, a burgcage, a grubtube, grubpocket, a release tool, a finger protector, a hot pad, a food holder ring, and a zippered bag.

1.  I love the idea of having this telescopic stick to cook multiple different ways and multiple different foods.  It is fun to try out the different implements and foods.  The website by the way has many different recipes you can cook with the various implements.  Who doesn't want to cook over an open fire for fun!!

2.  I love the 4 piece cinch sack since it is great for one person and lightweight for a back pack.

3.  The 13 piece Deluxe set is awesome for family and friends camp out since there are more sticks and implements.  I will take both and use them all when its family and friends.  

4.  I find the metal and the implements hold up well to the heat and use.   The bags make it easy to contain everything in one spot.

5.  It is easy to clean up.

6.  It is also great that you can combine several sets for larger groups and they all work together with all the different sticks and implements.

I can't wait to go camping again with these. Especially with my nephews who will love getting to cook over the open fire.

Ranger Review: ICEMULE Cooler at Camp Chowenwaw Park Treehouse Point

Florida has many many different camping options.  I was looking for something unique and different from what I'd done before and this place popped up on my radar.  Definitely Different and Unique for Florida. And the perfect place to review my icemulecoolers.com 

Campground Review:

Camp Chowenwaw is located in Green Cove Springs, FL adjacent to the St. John's River and on Black Creek.  It was a Girl Scout Camp for 70 years and is now owned and operated by Clay County, FL (https://www.claycountygov.com/departments/parks-and-recreation/camp-chowenwaw-park).  There are many different styles of camping available here with lots of privacy between the different sections.  

I chose to camp in the Treehouse Point for a weekend where there are 9 Treehouses available for camping.  A group of us went and had Treehouse #4 and #5.  Each screened in non electric Treehouse slept 4 in bunk beds.  There were several central fire rings with a picnic table/benches throughout the unit.  A shared bathhouse with toilets, sinks, lights, and hot showers was available in the unit also.  There was a central dining hall for all of Treehouse Point with electric, lights, fans, inside fireplace, stove, refrigerator, sink area, and porch with outside charcoal grill and picnic table.  

Even with sharing the dinning hall with other campers it was great since it was big enough and everyone was friendly.  The Treehouses are spread out with some trees in between so they are semi private.  The pool is available but doesn't open til 10 am where as we were all ready to go earlier since it was HOT.  It was very enjoyable but HOT in July with no electric in the Treehouses.  We had no issues with mosquitoes or yellow flies and the frogs serenaded us every night loudly, so that was a cool experience.  We had decided not to take kayaks since there was a bit of a walk into our area and we didn't want to leave them in the parking area on our vehicles, which turned out to be a good decision because the kayak launch was under repairs.  They are planning on upgrading a lot so it should be great soon.  They recently upgraded and replaced the fishing pier and its awesome.  We are planning to go again in the Fall when its cooler.  I would recommend this place for a unique experience.  On a side note:  Green Cove Springs has a pool also in a community park on the St. John's River that is spring fed and would be a cool stop.

………………………………….

Product Review:

As a Ranger for The Dyrt, I get to test products.  A Camp Chowenwaw I tested the icemulecoolers.com.  I got the ICEMULE Pro XL (33L which equals 24 cans plus ice) in Camo.

1.  What I loved about the ICEMULE was that I could wear it like a backpack and be comfortable and free my hands for something else.

2.  I loved that the straps were wide and comfortable.

3.  I also loved that the chest cross strap could be moved up and down to make it more comfortable for women to use the chest cross strap.

4.  The straps had lots of room to make smaller or larger so it will be great fit  for a variety of people and body styles.

5.  It kept my ice solid for three days in the FL heat.

6.  It has a port to add air to enhance the coolers insulation.

7.  It holds A LOT!!  I had 9 bottles of Propel water and 2 bags of grapes and 1 whole bag of ice.  It wasn't too heavy and there was room for much more.

Only draw back I had was that the camo style is fabric and tends to sweat a lot.  The other colors are vinyl and don't seem to sweat.

I'm ready to use my ICEMULE Cooler again.  I even want to take it kayaking and get some more accessories for it from their site like a dry bag and a waterproof box.

Peaceful Camping

Stayed here for a week in an RV and enjoyed it immensely. The lake, Lake Alltoona is huge with hundreds of miles of shore line and lots of camping areas. This place had a nice campsites very shaded and the lake was nice and cool to swim in.

Lake Alltoona is Good!

These sites were amazing. Most of the sites are right on the lake. There is an abundance of wildlife around. The water is nice and cool. The people here are so friendly and helpful. Perfect lake to boat and fish on.

Tallest Waterfall Around

Loved my visit to this wonderful park. I enjoyed hiking parts of the trail and seeing the trail head for the Appalachian Trail, inspiring. The hike to the Falls was amazing. There is a wonderful Lodge at the top of the Falls too. So much beautiful scenery along the way. I am ready to go back!!!!!

Awesome Camping BUT Best lake to kayak or canoe!!!!!

Nice open group camp area. Has a fire pit and benches around it and two picnic tables. It has a bonus old pole barn for when it rains that is part of the camp site. There are no restrooms but there is a little of water available from a well nearby, probably best to boil it first. It is just up from the lake and the area where the canoes are stored. There is a small camping and canoe rental fee but it is returned afterwards when site is checked. I have kayaked the lake often and am amazed at the beauty. I have hike here a lot. Only camped once but it was excellent. If you want to canoe you can rent and hike a mile in to where they are near the shore. Or you can bring your own canoes or kayaks and put into the Blackwater Creek at the parking area and paddle out to the lake. The creek is very shaded and cool. The lake is fairly big but has a lot of calm areas near the shore. There are tons of cypress trees around the lake and many are even way out in the water. Some you can even paddle through. The only drawback to your own canoe or kayak is if the water level is down in the creek it may not be passable or some portaging may go on. If it is low you can always rent the ones that are kept on site near the lake shore and bypass the creek all together. Must do if you are in Central Florida.

Wild Florida

This preserve has several camping opportunities. You can register (its really free since deposit is returned if site is left as found), to use the group camp which is near the trail head and parking area. There is a restroom in the parking lot and running water at the start of the short trail to the camp area. There is plenty of room for several tents. There are two fire pits, benches and one picnic table. I have used this many times to have camping 101, dutch oven cooking, and Leave No Trace classes. There is the option of primitive camping by hiking out half way through the loop to the campsite over 2 miles. There is a picnic table there, a lantern pole, and a fire ring, and as a bonus a pitcher well for water, although you need to boil it, but its there. Then the third option is really primitive….you canoe (small fee that is returned to use on site canoe which is the only way to get one to the water) to an island and camp. Only a fire ring, lantern pole, and picnic table. (right now it is closed for maintenance Sept 2016) The hiking trail is wonderful and very shaded. There is a wildflower field at the trail head areas. A must do if in the area.

Nice Water Play Spot

Have been here several times over the years. Very near relatives in Highlands Ranch, CO. It is a cool place to visit and relax. Even better if you want to fish and/or boat!!! Very great for day visits.

Most Awesome!!!

I loved this area and have been there twice. Have used the campsites once and they are very scenic and have what you need for primitive camping with being able to drive your car to it. The campsites also double as picnic areas when not used by campers and you can enjoy the wildlife, like chipmunks. The fire tower is a must!!!! Yes I hiked (fairly easy) up to it both times. And yes I went up the steps to the top both times too. The view is worth it and the Ranger makes it a great learning experience. Not sure if Billy is still there but he was great and there was a write up on him in People one year, which inspired me to go there on my next trip out there. This is truly a trip that needs to be on a bucket list!!!! (As a side note, lots of photos attached but I had to use the ones in my scrapbook since a computer crash wiped out the photos themselves, enjoy. Did find just a few that survived.)

High Falls

This was a cool place to stop and visit for a little while. The campground was fantastic with yurts and rv sites. They have two campgrounds. Lots of sites were drive through too which help tremendously. The hiking was great too.

Manatee Sightings High!

This is a great park to camp at especially in the winter when the manatees are in the run taking advantage of the 72 degree water, its that cold year round. During the summer it is really cool to tube. It is a nice short run.

Spring Fun

This is a typical Florida spring. I gave it the stars I did because it used to be a tad better before they put up the wall, but I do understand that the wall helps keep the beach dirt out of the spring hole. This is a very shallow spring water area. Has a really deep deep hole where main boil is. Scuba divers use it for beginners practices. It does have a nice spring run for kayaking and canoeing too. Lots of picnic areas and shelters. I like the boardwalk and hike areas adjacent to the swim area. Very nice park. Been to the campground once and it was nice.

Tubing Fun

Love this place for tubing for the day. Very kid friendly. The have tubes for rent with bottoms!!! We loved our floats down the river. They even have picnic shelters in parking area for a lunch after your float. A couple of families went together with kids and really enjoyed it. The floats with bottoms were a big help.

Juniper Run is a Must Kayak or Canoe!!!

I have been here several times. I love the run for canoeing and kayaking!!! The spring is pretty fantastic too. It appeals to young kids too because there is a ledge for jumping off into the deep spring hole. I have camped here once before and enjoyed it much. It is close to other springs too for day visits all around. The Ocala National Forest has lots of springs.

Sisters Tubing

My sister and I went there to spend a few days relaxing and floating on tubes in the spring. Love the salty water too!!! Gorgeous setting. Lots of oak trees around. Good photo opportunities and everyone was so friendly and helpful. I would go here again in a heartbeat. Real Florida!!