A Dump — or Just Rustic?

Suspension bridge.  The original one was built by the CCC in the 30's.

Suspension bridge. The original one was built by the CCC in the 30’s.

campground road

Campground road

After I saw the dirt campground road with the sandy dirt sites, and the 90 degree back-in between two trees, I understood why O’Leno State Park had reservations available.  🙂


It’s rustic. Hope it doesn’t rain.

To be fair, when I chose this site online I didn’t know that it was the hardest one to get into in the park.  There were others that would have been a breeze to back into.

But, by the time I got the Casita situated, I would have left immediately and gone somewhere else — if there had been somewhere else to go.

I had read that there are some really interesting history and features of nature here, though.  So Ron, Sheba and I took off to find some.

no jumping

The sign says “No jumping off bridge.” Just in case you were tempted to. 😀

The nature center and little museum closed at 3:00, so we missed them.  But the little we did see whetted our appetite for more.

I’m especially curious about where the river disappears into a sinkhole and resurfaces again 3 miles farther on.  I read that the places where the river disappears and reemerges are not accessible to vehicles — and I doubt very seriously my arthritic hips could stand a 6 mile round trip hike, but hopefully I can at least see where it disappears.

The town that was on this site, settled in the 1860’s, was originally named Keno.  However “due to ecclesiastical and commercial pressures” the name was changed to Leno in 1876.  O’Leno is from Old Leno.  The town was a bustling commercial success until it was bypassed by the railroad and deteriorated into a ghost town.

1930's CCC work

1930’s CCC work

Tonight my floor feels like a beach.  We leashed Sheba to the trailer steps so she could lie on the mat and not get too dirty.  She promptly decided she preferred to  lie in the sand underneath the trailer.  So much for trying to keep the trailer clean while we are here.  Sheba is a giant sand powder puff.

But after I came to terms with all the dirt, I am glad we came.  The area is beautiful and there is lots to see.

Even though the site is dirt and sand, we do have a nice private front yard.

Even though the site is dirt and sand, we do have a nice private front yard.

I took this picture simply because it is the biggest ugliest tree gall I have ever seen!

I took this picture simply because it is the biggest ugliest tree gall I have ever seen!



Hillsborough River State Park, FL

Hillsborough River flooded campsite

Flooded campsite

We arrived at Hillsborough River State Park on March 22.

My opinion is that it’s a great place to RV, but it is too crowded for our style of camping.

It is ideal for day use by locals in the Tampa area, though.  There are dozens and dozens of picnic areas ranging from rustic (rock picnic tables built by the CCC) to large pavilions with fireplaces.  There is a huge pool built to accommodate over 200 swimmers, but it was closed for repairs while we were there.

There are also some nice trails, some of which were underwater during our visit.  There’s a cool suspension bridge on a trail over the river.  They also offer canoe rentals.

Flooded trail

Boardwalk where the trails flood

We enjoyed coffee and donuts at the campground management event.  They had a question and answer session, and I learned some fascinating new things.  I’m a Florida native, very familiar with alligators.  But I learned that alligators don’t eat for 6 months out of the year.  When cool weather comes and their body temperature drops, their appetite disappears.  They don’t eat again until the weather warms up and revs up their metabolism.  When it reaches a certain point, they resume eating.  That was the first time I had heard that.

modern and older picnic areas

No excuse not to picnic

The rainy weather from home apparently got here ahead of us.  Half of our campsite was unusable because  the former occupant had gotten stuck in the mud.  Management had covered the area with wood chips, but we weren’t going to take a chance on getting stuck, too.  So we parked way over, cutting our campsite in half.

Half a campsite

Half a campsite

Hillsborough River from trail

Hillsborough River from trail

We did get out and do a bit of hiking.  Most of the flooded areas had boardwalks, but we still ended up walking in mud for a short distance.  It was worth it, though.  The air plants on the older trees fascinate me.  The fantastically gnarled tree roots by the river, holes which are some critter’s home, the little atamasco lilies, palm “root balls” a foot above the ground… so many things to wonder at and appreciate.

Sunny and I taking a break after hiking

Sunny and I taking a break after hiking a trail

Sunny down for a nap

Sunny ~ "It's been a long day!"

%d bloggers like this: