Outdoor Adventure: Myakka River State Park

I’ve always loved spending time in Myakka River State Park. One of the oldest and and largest parks in the state, I’ve been coming here ever since my husband’s parents took me and the rest of the family on a boat tour one holiday season. Even though it was a cold winter day (when the northerners are wearing parkas, it’s definitely cold!), the beauty of the mostly undeveloped land left a huge impression on me.

Myakka River State Park Spanish moss canopy

We didn’t see any alligators that day, but the experience was enough to make me want to go back and visit again. Each time I went, I discovered something new I hadn’t seen before. Now that I’m living in southwest Florida, it’s been fun exploring the 37,000 acre park. Recently my husband and I brought our bikes so we could hop on and off the many trails to hike giving us a new and different perspective on scenes we had only glanced at before.

Myakka River State Park spanish moss

I’m fortunate that several of my co-workers are also photographers. We’ve chatted often about getting together to shoot one day and quickly settled on Myakka for our first adventure. None of us had been to the Deep Hole - a place in the park I had only recently learned about. It involves getting a permit as soon as the park opens and hiking about 4.5 miles round trip. The day of our photoshoot, it was a cloudy morning, something we were all grateful for as the day quickly became hot and humid. This is an adventure you definitely have to plan for, which unfortunately I had not done. But at least now I know what to expect and how to make this a better experience the next time I visit.

Myakka RIver State Park Deep Hole

The hole is known for dozens of alligators that congregate on the water’s edge. It’s estimated that the sinkhole is about 140 feet deep which is why the alligators come here when the waters recede in the dry season. We didn’t stay long enough to see what others have photographed, but we did see the alligators moving toward land during the time we were there. One fellow was close enough to the edge that we were able to get some really great shots without needing a super long telephoto lens.

Myakka RIver State Park alligator

We made sure to get a group shot before we left the park. It’s not like we saw a lot of folks out here, they only give out 30 permits a day, so dragging a tripod on the entire hike was worth it! Now that I’ve learned more about this mysterious Deep Hole, I can’t wait to go back!

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Thanks for reading!

xoxo

 
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How my dogs helped me cope

“Change is the only constant in life.” ~ Heraclitus of Ephesus

Some people adapt to change well, while others are slow to adjust. I’d like to think I cope easily, but honestly, change is very hard for me. While the idea of moving to Florida was very exciting (what’s not to love about living just a mere 2 miles from the beach?), it was also very scary for me. After all, I’ve spent virtually all of my life in State College, a small town in the middle of cow country Pennsylvania. I left my family, my home and the business I built up behind. All to chase a dream of mine. 

There’s nothing wrong with rolling hills, farm lands and lush forests. But the beach resonates with me more. The soft lapping of the waves on the shore, the endless ocean and the oh so beautiful colors of the sunset is where I find myself most at home. So when the opportunity presented itself for my husband, our dogs and I to move to the sunshine state, it was hard to say no. 

The two day drive was exhausting. When we crossed the Florida state line, it suddenly hit me - I can’t just run back home anymore. Well, I can, but it’ll take me over 24 hours to get there. I truly am stuck here now. No problem, right? I have my husband and our dogs to lean on.

Unlike me, my husband copes well with change. Well, much better than I do anyways. His family has lived in Florida off and on for decades. For him, this wasn’t exactly new territory. Sure, he may not know all the street names and restaurants, but he had a general idea where everything is. He’s spent extended periods of time growing up and even living in Florida early in his career. I’d hop on the road and couldn’t figure out how to get to the grocery store which yesterday I swore I drove by a short mile down from our home. Unless I used a GPS, I’d get lost. My husband would tell me, just head to the wawa, stay left and then turn right. I’d go to wawa another way, stay left and end up in front of a pond with an alligator staring me down, not the grocery store I intended to shop at. 

At first it wasn’t so awful. It kind of felt like being on vacation - except with my furniture. As the days went by, I started to feel discombobulated. Nothing was familiar - my house, my routine, my meals, my work. My husband got impatient with me because he couldn’t relate. I found myself in tears more than once. Wondering if perhaps I had made the worst decision of my life. 

But I kept plugging away. At least I could watch the same shows on TV, wash my hair with the same shampoo and sleep in the same bed I had for years. But even sleep began to elude me. I started to experience mini panic attacks. Tears fell easily, Suddenly, I didn’t care about my dreams. All I wanted to do was to go back home. 

My dogs picked up on my sadness and anxiety. Izzy, who has always been able to read me like a book, especially noticed. They became my shadow, sat beside me, pawed me to pet them and in general just asked for more attention. I found comfort in their fur, their pleading eyes, their hugs. The more anxious I got, the more needy they became. They helped me feel better, reminding me it’s all going to be ok. And slowly, day by day, hour by hour, I felt like myself once again. I’m sure I would have gotten there in time anyways, but I have no doubt knowing they were there for me - waiting for me to come home from work, encouraging me to take them for walks, cuddling with me before I fell asleep helped me not feel so overwhelmed with all the changes in my life. 

I’m happy to report life is good here in Florida. As I write this, I’m listening to the waves, watching the sunset, enjoying my view. After the death of my friend, I’ve felt lost for much of this year. But my heart is happy again. I have much I want to do and explore, however long I’m in the sunshine state. I look forward to what each day brings, thankful for this experience. But I’m especially grateful for my furry kids who helped me get through one of the biggest transitions in my life. 

Florida summer sunset

Countdown to Florida is on!

Countdown is on for my trip to Florida! My to do list is growing by the day, but I’m getting really excited! Seven weeks in the sunshine state will do my soul some good. Don’t get me wrong, I love State College. And I don’t mind the snow. But as I get older, I like driving in the white stuff less and less and I hate it when we get an ice storm. But one of the many things I’m looking forward to is sunshine. That’s always been one of my biggest gripes about Happy Valley. When it’s sunny, It’s gorgeous out. But week after week after week of overcast days really get to me. So while I look forward to cuddling up on the couch and reading a good book, I dread those dreary days.

Those of you who’ve been following me on my photography journey know that in the last couple of years I’ve gotten really serious about it. Making Trina Bauer photography an official business a little over a year ago, I’ve  enjoyed the ride so far. However, there is so much I want to do that I haven’t been able to make happen. Working full-time and running my pet sitting business means long days during the busy season and inconsistent work hours daily. I find that I can’t always commit to plans I have for sessions, marketing and blogging.

Which is why I’m really looking forward to this extended trip. I will be able to focus all of my time on my photography. I used to photograph landscapes, but the lack of time has kept me from doing so in recent years. I have several marketing campaigns that I want to finally make happen. But mostly I’m looking forward to some down time, clearing my mind and allowing my creative juices to really flow. I find I enjoy spending time outdoors just admiring this beautiful earth of ours. It’s in those moments I get some of my best creative ideas. I plan to explore as much of southwest Florida as I can. I have my sketchbook ready to go. My girls Izzy and Kita will be joining me as well. It’s going to be a fun adventure!

I’ll be posting updates on facebook, blogging about my experience and sharing photos on instagram. I hope you’ll follow along with me!

If you missed my blog post when I announced my plans to hit the beach this winter, you can read it HERE

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Another day in paradise!

Ah! There’s nothing like a relaxing trip to the beach, is there? Especially when heading for paradise means departing in the middle of a snowstorm! But alas, all good things must come to an end. While I love Florida weather, it’s great to be back home and reunited with my fur babies. I sure have missed them!

It was wonderful catching up on some much needed zzzz’s and soaking up some Vitamin D in the warm sun. There’s just something about being able to walk around with 20 pounds less clothing than I’ve been wearing this winter and watching the sunsets while enjoying a strawberry daiquiri. After spending what seems like an eternity cooped up within the 4 walls of my home, I was ready to spend some time outdoors. Summer can’t come fast enough!

My husband is a huge New York Yankee fan so we took in a spring training baseball game in Tampa, ate at some fabulous restaurants and checked out the real estate market as well.

Of course, I never travel without my camera gear in tow. In fact, some of my favorite landscape photos were captured during previous visits to Florida. I’m also really fortunate that my mother-in-law lives on a beautiful beach on the west coast of the sunshine state. We were blessed to have some spectacular sunsets during our stay.

 

I also had fun creating abstract images while the sky changed from blue, to yellow, orange, red, pink and purple. It’s really easy, just slow down the shutter speed and move the camera any way you choose (usually from left to right) while pressing the shutter button.  I never know what I’m going to get, so I just keep experimenting until I get something I like.

 

And of course, I can't help but stop to pet (and photograph!) almost every dog I meet. This is Riley. I ran into her and her dad fishing while walking on the beach one afternoon.


Until next time!