Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park, Okeechobee, FL

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 Kissimmee Prairie Preserve We just came out of a 10 day stay in no-where land.  Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park is 40 miles from the nearest town and it truly sits in no-where land.   This 54,000 acre preserve is very unique.  Besides its vast size it is home to 12 birds that are classified as endangered such as the Grasshopper Sparrow but also so many other birds.  It also is known for migrating butterflies and a premier location for stargazing.  There are more than 100 miles of bicycling, hiking and horseback trails.  But if you go out on a trail you have to be prepared for snakes, alligators and water that can be waist deep that covers the trail.  Also during the winter months on weekends there is a ranger-led prairie buggy tour that takes you out to the remote areas of the Preserve.  Joe was able to go out on the buggy ride but it broke down the next day so I couldn’t go out.  He saw many birds, wild boars, and deer plus learned so much about the area in his 3 hour ride

Our Campsite  Buggy Ride  Walking or Bike trail Walking or Bike trail Site on Trail

Anyone that follows our blog knows how much I like to talk about the people we meet.  As in all state parks we always meet such nice people.  Sometimes we meet people that are just a little “too” nice but mean well.  Joe and I have been in our 5th wheel approaching the beginning of our second year but have been RVers for a long time before that and we work very well as a team when getting into our site by using walkie-talkies.  As I got out of the truck with my walkie-talkie in hand at this state park ready to help Joe back the 5th wheel into our site between huge oak and palm trees, the gentleman that was camped behind us came over to “help”.  Now Joe gets extremely nervous when someone is watching him back into our space but even more he knows that he can trust me in telling him how close he is to objects like trees and posts.  I think the man attempting to help us didn’t think I knew what I was doing so he told me to go up to the front of the truck and he would watch the back and tell me what to tell Joe.  As Joe was getting more frustrated and being the nice guy he is and not wanting to tell the guy to get the heck out of our campsite, a second guy came to “help”.  Now we have two strangers, a frustrated Joe and me (who doesn’t know what I’m doing) trying to get our 5th wheel into our site.  It would have been all okay if it just wasn’t for that post.  You got it!  The post and the side of our 5th wheel met and it wasn’t pretty.  Our first boo-boo and it wasn’t pretty.  After we finally got all settled in we could smile about it.  Joe worked on pounding out the dent and it doesn’t look to bad.  We talked about how we could politely tell people we didn’t want help to back-in but we realize that even these little bumps or dents bring people into your lives.  We ended up spending a lot of time with one of the guys that helped us and acquired so much information about the park.  People enter our lives in many different ways and we have to always be open to that.   

You have to enjoy listening to the birds or taking a hike or bike ride or just visiting if you want to stay in this very remote park.  Every day we would hike but mostly on well managed trails or the main gravel road that came into the park.  We were afraid (I was afraid) of the snakes.  In the evening when we walked we saw deer or alligators alongside the road.  One of the trails we walked we saw the rare Crested Caracara.  It is a beautiful bird but I guess it was beautiful to us because they are rare to see.  We also saw the largest alligator we have seen in the wild.  Joe got a little to close for my comfort.  He enjoyed his new long lens camera the kids gave him in this park.  Because he really enjoyed getting out taking pictures we walked a lot and appreciated all the little things in nature.    So every morning and then again in the evening you would find Joe, I and Ivy walking the trails, I with my binoculars and Joe with his camera hoping we would see something and we were never disappointed.   One evening we were fortunate to see a Grasshopper Sparrow.  It was exciting!   We also saw a Red-shouldered Hawk, Wood Storks, Great Egrets, Little Blue Herons, and so many more birds.  Who would have thought Joe and I would become birders!

White-Tail Deer Wild hogs Alligator Alligator closeup Red Head Vulcher  Crested Caracara   Heron Wood Stork Red Shouldered Hawk Ibis Little Blue Heron  Flicker Anhinga Grasshopper Sparrow  Butterfly Butterfly Flowers Flowers

In the 10 days we were at Kissimmee Prairie the farthest we wondered with our truck was 10 miles to a very run down store (?) with bars on the windows, a very old man behind the counter, and a little of this and a little of that that probably has been sitting in the store for many years.  I wanted an onion and I was lucky enough to get a nice fresh onion but I don’t think I’d try anything else in his store.

We would go back to this park in a second and probably stay just a little longer.  It was so peaceful and the only time it filled its thirty some spaces was over the weekend and even then it was quiet and dark.  Because the park is so remote there are no city lights and because of that the Astronomers are abundant.  One of the volunteers had a huge telescope set up and opened it twice a day for park patriots to check out the sky. He was there explaining what we were looking at. We were able to look at the sun around noon through a green protective lens and then after dark we were able to see Jupiter with its four moons and many other constellations.  It was thrilling to see Jupiter.  The night before we left we counted at least seven other people with their huge telescopes just waiting for the stars to come out.  The stars were amazing even with just the naked eye.

Volunteer Astronomer Telescope

Also a first for us was the “moth” people.  Again after dark, people would set up a heavy white sheet close to the woods with a blue light behind it and then wait.  Moths would be attracted to the light and land on the white sheet and then they would photograph the moths.  We observed three different sites that had these set up but in order to do this you had to have a permit from the park ranger.  As in all state parks, the rangers are all about protecting the environment and the species that live in that environment.

Screen to photo Moth at night

This place is another example of a place we wouldn’t have gone to or found if it hadn’t been for someone we had met previously and told us about it.   We have to always stay open to the people we meet and be thankful for them coming into our lives even if it might cause a dent in our home.

Stay safe and enjoy all the new people who come into your life!