With a forecast of cooler weekend weather, we decided to book a campsite at Clearwater Lake Recreation Area in Ocala National Forest and get away for a couple of days of relaxation and adventure.
As it typically turns out, the week leading up to our adventure was jammed-packed with work and other volunteer commitments, and the usual meticulous camping preparation turned into a grab anything that looks like camping gear and throw it into the car a couple of hours before our scheduled departure.
After an excruciating slow roll through Orlando Friday afternoon traffic, followed by a mad dash through the aisles of the last grocery store before entering Ocala National Forest territory, we found ourselves within the peaceful confines of the Clearwater Lake Recreation Area campsite.
After setting up our new tent and the rest of our usual camp necessities, we ate a quick dinner than walked down to the lake to see the last bit of the sunset.
We were pretty tired from the week, and things get dark quickly in the forest, so we retired to our tents early in hopes for a good night’s sleep.
One thing I like about this campground is that it’s fairly quiet. Since there is no electricity you typically have little or no RVs, and generally the only sounds you here are other tent campers and the occasional vehicle on C.R. 42.
The morning started with cooler temps and a cup or two of coffee while exploring the lake shore, watching the mist rise off the warm water into the cooler air.
Once the sun rose above the trees I hopped onto the paddle board to venture out into the lake in hopes of snapping a sunrise photo or two.
Photography was followed by short fishing expedition to see if the bass were biting.
With the bass not cooperating, it was time to setup paddle board lessons for the family.
Everyone had the opportunity to take a turn, and all of us were amazed at the clarity of the water. The water is clear enough to allow you to see the bottom all around the lake.
After a full day of swimming, fishing and paddleboarding, we returned to the campsite to rest and get ready for dinner. I also took the opportunity to wander around the campsite and practice some photography.
Dinner consisted of grilled BBQ chicken, corn on the cob and of course, beans! There’s just something about food cooked in the woods that always tastes better.
After dinner we decided to head back down to the lake for some more paddling before the sun set and closed out the day. Both boys grabbed a board, and chased each other around the lake while we sat and admired the scene.
Paddleboarding was followed by the traditional making of s’mores and campfire songs. It was at this point that we realized that in our hurry at the grocery we did make one critical mistake. We forgot the graham crackers. Always ready to make the most of the situation, we settled for roasted marshmallows and music.
After a good night’s sleep, we woke up, enjoyed one more campfire, coffee and view of the lake before breaking down camp and returning to civilization with refreshed souls.