I didn’t realize how long it has been since we all packed up a couple of cars and drove away from the city and the clubs until our recent camping getaway. Allison had just turned 26 and we wanted to do something different for her birthday. So we did just that as we headed out to Lake Manatee State Park in Bradenton. Now I know what you must be thinking, it’s a lake filled with Manatees, well you’re wrong there! Fun Fact: There are actually no manatees in the lake at all.

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Nick, Ryan, and Allison drove up early in the morning on Saturday and spent the afternoon setting up camp and exploring the grounds. I lucked out and didn’t have to do any of the set up. Luckily for the early risers,  the boys had an easy pop up tent and canopy that were set up in no time. After getting things organized at camp, the trio got to spend the majority of their time up early seeing all the great things Lake Manatee State Park had to offer. They explored the grounds, became familiar with the layout of the park and even had time to participate in a new, favorite hobby of ours, GEOCACHING!

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To be honest, I’ve only been camping twice before this weekend. I was expecting a small clearing of ground, a fire pit, and some bathrooms down the way.  When I drove up later in the afternoon I was pleasantly surprised. This was one of the larger camp sites I’ve seen and it fit two good tents(a 4 person and a 6 person), an oversized picnic table, a fire pit, and a seating area for 6 people with plenty of space in between.

Once you set up your campsite it’s time to venture out and see all the activities on the grounds. The lake offers an array of things to keep visitors busy throughout the day. Be sure to bring your own water equipment; the park offers a boat ramp to spend the day boating, canoeing, or kayaking. If water isn’t for you there are plenty of trails to bike, hike, or if your feeling crazy, run along!

Now I must admit, I was skeptical about this next activity at first. As some of you many know, Geocaching is an activity we have dabbled with a bit in the past (Gon’ Glamping). Lake Manatee State Park has an abundant amount of Geocaches. If you don’t know what geocaching is, don’t feel bad; I just recently learned myself. Geocaching is a mobile app that lets you search for hidden treasures inside the park. There are about 40 hidden geocaches in the park. Caches are hidden in the trees, under bushes, and laying on the ground. All treasures are different; some even have presents to take. Be sure to take a pen and small toys to leave behind. Below, are some pics and a vid of us finding some of the AWESOME geocaches around the park.

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After a fun day of checking out the park grounds, we came back to camp to relax around the fire and cook Allison’s birthday dinner! Ryan tried his best to bake a cake in a box (caveman style), but we Nick talked him into not following the directions on the box, so the cake never set. WOOPS! Luckily, as a backup plan, we brought along the ingredients for SMORES! PHEW! We finally got to try out our “smore cooker” and it worked PERFECTLY!

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After a late night of fun around the fire, we packed it in and went to bed. An early morning start to get to Treeumph was on the agenda on Sunday, so we were up and at ’em early.

All in all, a great time was had to celebrate Allison’s birthday! Lake Manatee State Park is a perfect weekend trip. It’s about an hour south of Tampa. So what are you waiting for? Book your camp site, pack your  tent, and take a weekend trip to Lake Manatee State Park.

-Rob

P.S.You may even find a new friend like I did. Meet “Army” the Armadillo

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