This is the Real Florida that very few people experience or even know about – but they should.  Exploring rivers less traveled beats amusement rides and crowded beaches any day.

Under shaded canopies and around quiet bends, Dad provided us a 2-hour guided trip along the Hillsborough River.    I sat in the front of his Old Town (a familiar place when I was a kid) while George rode solo in the kayak from the rear.

On occasion, fallen debris and shallow tree stumps tested our paddling ingenuity but we managed.

Hillsborough Park consists of over 2,990 acres so there’s plenty of space to go miles without seeing another soul.  What we did see was a cypress-filled shoreline replete with reptiles, fish, and birds.  Surprisingly, none that showed fear of our trespassing on their turf.

A sunning alligator, a foraging limpkin, a group of turtles perched on a fallen branch; wildlife was in abundance and it was truly exciting to see.  Dad even spotted a venomous pit viper coiled up atop a rotting stump. Given its’ characteristics, we think it was a Copperhead or Rattler.

Every winter, I road trip to the Sunshine State for these wonderful authentic destinations.  The park system never disappoints.

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