Yamato Scrub Natural Area Review, Boca Raton

Yamato Srub Natural Area Landscape

Yamato Srub Natural Area LandscapeWe took advantage of the perfect South Florida winter weather to take hike in a new place.  We went to Yamato Scrub Natural Area in Boca Raton.  We didn’t really know what to expect but were pleasantly surprised.

This is a scrub / wetland area (we went in the dry season) and I couldn’t believe how much land there was!  217 acres to be exact!.  I am not usually a fan of sand scrub, but this area has some nice sized slash pines and Spanish moss that breaks up the ground cover, and makes the landscape much more interesting!  It felt like we were walking back in time, like we might even see a dinosaur among all those palms. (By the way we didn’t).

The multiuse trail (sidewalk) is .5 miles, perfect for those with little ones!  If you know your Yamato Srub Natural Area Landscapefamily can handle longer hikes the other trails are 2.5 (yellow trail markers) and .7 miles (blue traill markers), these are rough trails with roots and scratchy palms so light weight pants and shoes and socks are recommended.

Since we had not planned this little hike, we took the yellow trail not realizing it was longer.  There is a fire break in the trail so we cut across until we came to the end of the trail and picked it up again.  My daughter was complaining rather loudly by the time we got to the fire break and my husband had a moment of genius!  He pulled out his phone, put on the compus and said the “car is parked east find the trail leading east off this trail.  Serious, genius!  She led the way proudly and loved it!  I knew there was a reason I married this man.

Yamato Srub Natural Area LandscapeIf you haven’t taken your family on hike yet, check out my 5 tips for hiking with kids.  I have ideas on how to start your kids out birding as well at The place was beautiful and now is the time to head before the mosquito’s regroup for summer!

Yamato Srub Natural Area LandscapeYou can find Yamato Scrub Natural Area at 701 Clint Moore Rd in Boca Raton.  The entrance is on the north side of Clint Moore east of Congress Ave.

Click Here for their website it has a list of the plants and animals you might see on your hike as well as a trail map.

Oh, one last bit of advice, the area only has a portable toilet so make sure everyone has gone before you get there.  I didn’t go into it,  but my husband did and his exact words were “It is not as bad as most, but it is a porta potty.”

The Week Ahead for South Florida 1/23/14

Pondhawk from the Library
Spanish River Sports Complex in Boca Raton
Spanish River Sports Complex in Boca Raton

Back down in the chillies today my friends!  Those who know me know I love it!  I am going to stick with last weeks theme of getting out and enjoying nature this week!  It is the best time to hit the trails in South Florida!  No sunburn, no sweating, and most importantly no mosquitoes!

Spanish River Sports Complex in Boca Raton
Spanish River Sports Complex in Boca Raton

A few weeks ago I wrote about the Spanish River Sports Complex and how much we loved it.  It had wide accessible paths that are great for running, biking, skating etc.

Click Here to see more pictures and read about the playground at Spanish River Sports Complex.

If you follow the path under the road to the Spanish River Library, you can follow the accessible path all the way around a lake, enjoy free wifi on the library patio, or head onto the trails in the Pondhawk Natural Area.

PondHawk Accesible Trail
PondHawk Accesible Trail

Click Here for more pictures and a review of the Pondhawk Natural Area!  There are three different trails in the Natural Area, two are rough paths and one of them is an accessible trail that would be suitable for strollers and wheelchairs.  However, bikes and skates are not welcome here.

Need some tips for hiking with the Family?  Check out 5 Tips for Hiking with Kids or 5 Tips for Birding with Kids!

Here are just a few of the upcoming events that I have found.  Click Here for a full list!

Thanks to our sponsors, please be sure to check them out!
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5 Tips for Hiking with Kids

Fern Forest
Fern Forest Hiking Trail in Margate
Hiking with your family, can be an incredible bonding experience, that will build memories for your kid that will last a lifetime.  Here are 5 tips on how to get started.
Tip # 1: Start out small!
It is important to know what your child is capable of. If your child is one that will not want to walk far, make sure you choose a short path. If the kids are overwhelmed the first time out, they may not want to go again.  So make it short.  Most parks here in the Fort Lauderdale area have shorter trails that would be more manageable for small children. You can gradually choose longer paths as your child begins to get used to hiking.

Tip #2: Give them something to do.
For younger children this may be something as simple as counting trees. For older children you can print out a few pictures of native plants, trees or birds so that they can treat the hike like a treasure hunt. National Parks, State Parks and County Park websites usually have lists of the Flora and Fauna that are live in the parks so you can make sure to choose pictures that the children will be able to find.

Tip #3: Be prepared for weather.
Remember children dehydrate faster than adults do and they are far less likely to mention they are thirsty or hot when they are having fun. Be sure to put the sunscreen, hats, sunglasses and water bottles to good use and remind the kids to take a drink every now and again. Try to avoid high energy activity in the summertime during the hottest part of the day between 12:00 noon and 3:00 pm.

Tip #4: Be prepared for bugs.
It is especially important to keep Safety in mind. South Florida mosquito’s can carry Hiking Trails at Birch Park in Fort Lauderdalediseases so be sure to bring the bug repellent and wear protective clothing. Long lightweight pants and long sleeves will help to keep the pesky critters from making a meal of the family. Wear layers so these protective layers can be peeled off later. The best time to avoid the mosquitoes is winter time.Some parks even post a “Mosquito Report” at trail heads, so you can call ahead.
I really like All Terrain Herbal Armor DEET-Free Natural Insect Repellent Spray (4-Ounce).  I have been using it since my daughter was born and found that it works pretty well. Socks and light weight pants will help protect you from ant bites and poison ivy.  That handy dandy hat that keeps the sun out of your eyes so well will also help deter ticks.

Tip #5: Make hiking a rewarding experience.
Make sure to follow your hike with something the kids will enjoy.  A little picnic with some favorite snacks on a blanket, or a swim in the ocean will give the children something to look forward to and reason to finish the trail.  Many Local South Florida parks like Birch State Park in Fort Lauderdale and John U Lloyd Beach Park in Dania Beach have playgrounds, picnic table are on the beach and have nearby parking so it would be easy to return to pick up swim gear and a picnic basket.  With a little planning, hiking with the family can be very rewarding and lots of fun for all. So get out there and hike South Florida!

Asheville West KOA Review

Asheville West KOA Kabin
Asheville West KOA Review
309 Wiggins Rd
Candler, NC 28715
So I am on a kick now to take road trips and stop in at KOA’s along the way.  You can rent a cabin, or Kabin as they are called for around $50 a night.  It gave us a chance to get the camping feeling and yet not have to wrestle with a tent.  What is even better is that the cabins have air conditioning and heat.  Most of them seem to have free WiFi and you know that doesn’t hurt either!
Asheville West KOA Kabin
We pulled in to this site in the Blue Ridge Mountains and it was beautiful!  We were greeted and sent round to our cabin to get settled in.  The attendant told us where everything was and mentioned that there was a game room out back.  I groaned silently, but went to peek into it later.  It was actually a game room, you know “no quarters needed”!  There were board games, puzzles,  a tv (with cable), crayons and coloring books, and a book swapping shelf!
Everything at this campsite was impeccably clean!  The cabins were very near the restrooms, which is important when traveling with little ones!  There was a pool, and nice tot lot playground, lots of trails to walk, a cute camp shop with reasonably priced items.  Oh and good coffee!
Asheville West KOA Kabin
In the center of the ring of cabins there was a shelter that had a stove and sink, where meals can be prepared.  There was also a community campfire ring.  I was all set to start a fire to make smores when a storm came in.  It was not problem though, we sat on the porch swing, while my husband sat on the larger front porch of the Camp Store on the free WiFi to get some work done.  Next we went to the game room and had a very nice evening in there.
 I loved the way the cabins were laid out too.  My 3 year old could run out the cabin door and there wasn’t too many ways she could get into trouble in the immediate area.  She could run around a bit and still be within my sight line form the porch.  Her favorite thing was the porch swing!  I love traveling with 3 year olds sometimes.  Expensive dinner?  Boring!  Porch Swing?  Best invention ever!
Asheville West KOA camp kitchen
The campgrounds were quiet and peaceful and there was only one thing that I could complain about.  So here it is, the paper mill!  There is a paper mill nearby and you could smell it, mostly at night. We did run the AC at night just to filter out the smell, even though we really didn’t need it in the cool mountain night.   It wasn’t horrible and didn’t irritate my eyes or anything, but it was bothersome when everything about this mountain getaway was so perfect.  The attendant said that you can only smell it a couple of times a year and then it goes away.  I felt really bad for them at this family owned campground, because it was obvious that they take great pride in their business.
Asheville West KOA Camp Store & Office
The staff were extremely responsive.  We had a wasp starting to build a hive under our porch swing and the maintenance guy came right over to take care of it.  We loved walking the trails in the cool mountain air and watching bunnies from our front porch swing!  We spotted lots of birds too.   I cannot say enough nice things about this place.   We were there in June and it was hot enough to swim at midday and cool enough to warrant a sweater in the evening.
Asheville West KOA Pool
I didn’t get photo’s of the kids playground.  It was really perfect for my 3 year old though.  Little ones do need to be supervised there though as there is a little pond right next to it.  I know that I have been in the south too long because the pond looked exactly like a large alligator hole to me, and I kept catching myself scanning for ‘gators.  Duh, I was in the mountains!  No ‘gators here!  There was an awful lot of poison ivy though, so I would suggest wearing long pants and socks.  The good news is that the cool mountain will make the extra clothing very comfortable.  I wasn’t bothered by a single mosquito the whole time we were there.  I was waiting for them, but I suppose I was just barrowing trouble from my sub tropical home.
Asheville West KOA is less than 15 minutes to Asheville.  We spent a day in this great little artist/hippie town.  It was wonderful!  Great art galleries and restaurants there for sure!  I will be writing about that at a later time!
Asheville West KOA
Oh and they had a large pavilion with a fire place for large gatherings and meetings.  It would be an awesome place for a family reunion!  Even with the stinkie smell, I could have spent a few weeks here.  We had a wonderful visit there and hope to return when the paper mill is blowing the other way.
Asheville West KOA Camp Kitchen
Asheville West KOA  1 of many Trail Heads
Asheville West KOA Walk to the Playground
Asheville West KOA Pool
Asheville West KOA Field
Asheville West KOA
Asheville West KOA Community Camp Kitchen
Asheville West KOA
Asheville West KOA
Asheville West KOA
Asheville West KOA
Asheville West KOA
Asheville West KOA Game Room
Asheville West KOA Game Room
Asheville West KOA Game Room
Asheville West KOA Game Room
Asheville West KOA

Savannah South KOA Review

KOA Campgrounds Store
Savannah South KOA
4915 US 17 South
Richmond Hill, GA 31324
On our very long drive back to South Florida from Ohio, we stayed the night at the Savannah South KOA.  I am quickly becoming a fan of the KOA, as we stayed in two of them this summer.  This particular campsite seems like it would be a great getaway for a couple of days this fall or winter since it is about 8 hours from Fort Lauderdale,  The KOA is less than 20 minutes from Savannah, and if you have never had the chance to walk around there it is a fabulous walking town!
Our KOA Kabin
Our KOA Kabin
The cabin cost us around $50 a night so I felt it was a great deal.  It had AC and heat, one full sized bed and a set of single bunk beds.  The bathrooms and showers were a short walk away.  There was a BBQ Grill and a picnic table and you could park your car nice and close to the cabin.
We pulled into the site around 4:30 pm, it was extremely hot and the dashboard said it was 100 degrees Fahrenheit.  The staff were all very friendly and helpful and directed us back to our cabin.
The cabin was clean and set on a lake with a small front porch and bench.  There were all kinds of ducks and swans roaming around on the lake and the scenery was amazing.  I could have set out on the porch all evening if the heat had not been so oppressive.
The good thing about staying in a KOA cabin is that they, as I have mentioned, have AC and heat.  It worked wonderfully for us while on our road trip.  I love to camp, but when you are traveling with a little one the idea of dealing with a tent can be a bit overwhelming.  If you are arriving on a very hot day, I would advise that you call when you about an hour away and ask them to turn on the AC so it can start working.
From our KOA Kabin doorway
KOA Savannah Georgia
KOA Savannah Georgia
KOA Savannah Georgia
KOA Savannah Georgia
The AC in our cabin was a bit small for the space and it didn’t really work all that well.  It kept the cabin bearable but if you like it cold, this unit just couldn’t compete with the unusually high temperatures the area was experiencing in June.  Free wifi is also available and you know that is important to me.
The bathrooms, cabins, and laundry room were all pretty clean and seemed to be well within the KOA standards.

We had a lovely evening there, we took a walk around the lake to look at the birds, kept cool in the pool and tried to play on the playground.  The pool was clean and large and kept us cool in the excessive heat.  The shop had any extras that you might need for very reasonable prices.  They also have a great selection of wine, however just remember that you can’t buy alcohol on Sundays in Georgia, so plan ahead!

The playground is not designed for small children at all.  It has one of those old really high slides and metal teeter totters that big kids will love, but look really dangerous for small kids.  I put pictures of it below so you can make up your own mind on it.  If you have little ones you will also need to keep in mind that there is at least one alligator in the lake, so keep your eyes on the little ones at all times.  There is also fishing and canoeing available.
There was a game room with a TV (I didn’t check to see if it worked) and two pool tables (you need quarters to play).
The other rather odd thing is that the pool does not open until 10:00 or 10:30 am (can’t remember which) according to the sign.  I wanted to have a quick swim before we pulled out in the morning and when I asked at the shop at 9 am they unlocked it for us anyway.  Not sure why they wouldn’t unlock it earlier, but they did accommodate us.
We stayed at another KOA near Asheville NC on our way to Ohio and I will get that posted ASAP!
KOA Savannah Georgia Camp Store
KOA Savannah Georgia Camp Store
This just struck me funny for some reason
KOA Savannah Georgia Coin Laundry
KOA Savannah Georgia Coin Laundry
KOA Savannah Georgia Bathrooms
KOA Savannah Georgia
KOA Savannah Georgia
KOA Savannah Georgia
KOA Savannah Georgia
KOA Savannah Georgia Play Ground
KOA Savannah Georgia Play Ground
KOA Savannah Georgia Play Ground
KOA Savannah Georgia Play Ground
KOA Savannah Georgia Play Ground
KOA Savannah Georgia
KOA Savannah Georgia
KOA Savannah Georgia Play Ground This was our friend who humg out under picnic table!-
KOA Savannah Georgia
KOA Savannah Georgia
KOA Savannah Georgia
KOA Savannah Georgia
KOA Savannah Georgia Game Room
KOA Savannah Georgia Game Room
KOA Savannah Georgia Game Room
KOA Savannah Georgia Game Room
KOA Savannah Georgia Camp Store

Fern Forest Nature Center Offers Nature Exploration for All Ages

Fern Forest Entrance Photo Credit:C Buckley
As the summer rains and mosquitoes move in take advantage of the end of South Florida’s hiking season by heading on over to the Fern Forrest Nature Center in Margate, Florida. This is an amazing place to spend a few hours with the kids. Entrance to the 247 acre park is free and offers guests a serene respite from the hustle of the city. Take advantage of these last few cooler days of spring to take a walk along one of Fern Forests five trails.
Raccoon Tracks Fern Forest Photo Credit:C Buckley

Hiking trails include a low boardwalk through tropical hardwood hammock, and cypress-maple swamp. It is an ideal place to spot birds, armadillo and even turtles.The boardwalk is perfect for small children who may have difficulty navigating uneven trails. Listen carefully as you wonder easily on the boardwalk and the rougher often muddy Maple Walk Trail for the scratching of an armadillo or the knocking of a woodpecker.

Nature Center, Fern Forest Photo Credit:C Buckley
 Be sure to check out the marker board at the trail entrance to find out what kind of wildlife has been spotted recently. The marker board will also let you know the mosquito levels as the wetland trails are great breading grounds, so be prepared with protective clothing and repellent as these little blood suckers can be disease carriers.
The indoor nature center offers a chance to see a very large Indigo Snake. Indigo Snakes are a rare and threatened species in Florida and the nature center offers guests a chance to find just why they are so important to Florida’s wildlife and its wetlands. The nature center offers several small exhibits demonstrating the importance and different types of habits are found South Florida.
Fern Forest, Photo Credit:C Buckley
Fern Forest, Photo Credit:C Buckley
Nature Center, Fern Forest, Photo Credit:C Buckley