A Living Horse Conch in the Shallows

Photos of a living horse conch living in the shallows of the Indian River Lagoon.

Another beautiful day out on the water brought some nice finds. This beautiful living horse conch was crawling along the sandy flats. I picked it up briefly to get a few photos. It was a gorgeous orange snail. The shell was muddy and not so pretty, as is usually the case.

  • living horse conch
  • living horse conch
  • living horse conch
  • living horse conch
  • living horse conch
  • living horse conch

This is the area where this mollusk lives. The water temperature was around 86 degrees F. Air temperature was close to 100. Very few boats came by and we were all alone.

More on the blog

Hillsborough River Camping Trip

Camping review of our two day trip to Hillsborough River State Campground near Tampa.

We are camping for two nights at the Hillsborough River Campground in Thonotosassa, Florida. My son is going to a concert in Tampa which is about thirty minutes away.

Because it’s July and the weather is hot, I did not plan to do much outside during this trip. I work online and hoped to get a lot of work done, but internet was not great here.

The Campsite

Our site was number 56 on Loop 3 and it was nice. The site was big, with nothing but nature behind us. When booking a campsite, it’s tough to figure which site to choose because not a lot of info is given. Loop 3 seems to have a lot of very nice, shady sites. I did not closely check out either of the other loops, but did walk through one where the permanent tents were set up.

  • Campsite
  • grilling food at campsite
  • wooded campsite
  • Campsite Imagine trailer
  • back window camper view of green woods

The Campground

On Saturday morning I took a walk. It was hot and I barely made it back (LOL) but I got some photos of what is offered at this state park. It seems that mostly there are a playground, picnic tables and little pavilion, kayak and canoe rentals, fishing, and trails to explore. This is what I found on my quick walk.

The pool is closed, and I bet that was once a huge draw. The grounds are kept nice with tables near a playground in that area. It’s nice and shady. I’m not sure how long this pool has been closed. It seems that this area has not recovered from the hurricane. There is a Fort somewhere, but it is closed also.

  • closed pool
  • playground and tables
  • canoe and kayak area
  • gift shop store at pool

The River Trails

The walk took me to the kayak and canoe launch area. I suppose they need to be rented, probably from the store across the street. It was way too hot for me to consider kayaking, and I’m not a fan of fresh water in Florida. Alligators can move very fast when they want to, and I’m sure this area has plenty of them.

One bridge was closed and had been since Hurricane Irma-2017. I’m not sure why it hasn’t been fixed by now, or taken down. The other bridge was open and it took me over the water to some trails. I did not get much further because of the heat and mosquitoes. Hiking in Florida is not my thing either, but they have lots of trails for those who like it. I have no idea what condition the trails are in.

  • wild florida path
  • footbridge across the river
  • closed bridge
  • brown river water
  • brown river water
  • Long steps near the river
  • Florida river

Hillsborough River Campground

Overall Observations

I would not make it a point to go here to camp, but for anything having to do with Tampa, this place is close, and affordable, for campers. This is why we were here. We did not have noisy, obnoxious neighbors (like our last trip) and enjoyed our two days.

I will say that navigating this campground can be a bit confusing at first. I took the map with me when I went walking. On the drive in, you follow a long one-way road around to the area with three camping loops. Each loop is marked with campsite numbers, so just pay attention.

Bring a bike. Saw some people on electric bikes – and my son brought his and rode all over, but I would bring my normal bike – if it was a cooler time of year.

  • campground road
  • campground road

On this trip our camper awning quit working. It was out and then wouldn’t go back in! The site was pretty well shaded, thankfully and with a push we got the awning retracted.

I have to say that I am not extremely impressed with this camper. We’ve had it for a year and have had to fix the outside door, the bathroom sliding doors, the window shades, and now the awning. It did not rain, other than a few sprinkles, so the awning would have been nice to use.

Our next planned camping trip will be in September with some friends. We are returning to Salt Springs, where the water is clear and cool! Can’t wait.

More to read…

Quiet Day On The Boat

A hot and beautiful day on the boat took us to a remote river island, a stop in the ocean, and then to Ponce Inlet.

We chose a hot, sunny day to take a much needed boat ride. It had been a while. But, this day was very hot with a heat index over 100. The water temperature was around 87 and felt very nice, but not very refreshing.

The first stop was a little place along the Indian River. We’ve been here before. In fact it is the place I saw my first and only spider crab.

Anchored boat at shallow beach on Indian River

I did some beach exploring and took photos of what I found. See the shells, a live crown conch, and one feather, in the slideshow below. Every shell, except the crown, had a hermit crab inside.

  • shiny sharks eye seashell
  • muddy tulip shell
  • hermit crab gathering
  • faded banded whelk shell
  • shell under a bigger shell
  • beach view with shell in sand
  • faded lightning whelk on sand
  • living crown conch sea snail
  • sharks eye shell with hermit crab
  • gray mud caked whelk shell
  • muddy whelks
  • hermit crab walking
  • feather on beach

Took a trip to Ponce Inlet

We don’t often boat up to Ponce Inlet, but my son likes to take our 18 foot flats boat out into the ocean! It is not an ocean-going vessel and is made for shallow backwaters, so I’m never happy about this. We only go just off the end of the inlet and only when it is calm.

The ocean water is a pretty deep blue, and we just sat and enjoyed floating. The photos make it look very calm, and it was, but there were swells. It was hot, as I have mentioned, but swimming in the ocean from the boat, is out of the question. There is no way to get back onboard.

boat in the ocean
In the ocean

After our quick ocean trip, we went back inshore and followed the channel around by the lighthouse and ended up at a sandbar.

Ponce Inlet Florida lighthouse from water

Anchored at a Sandbar by Ponce Inlet

These sandbars by the inlet are party places and fill up on the weekends. A deeper channel runs along behind the shallow area and it’s how we get to the island. The sandbar has some calm, clear, pools (and I took a dip) but the water behind the boat is running with the tide. A swim in the channel is nice too because it’s deep and at certain times, the water here can be very beautiful. This is a great place to take the kids, and everyone brings their dogs! We met up with some friends here a while ago.

  • Hewes boat anchored in shallow water
  • sandbar shallow water anchored
  • boat anchored near Ponce Inlet
  • people and boats on sandbar
  • view across the shallows

We had a nice day and managed to keep cool between dips in the water and the wind from traveling. Luckily we get to go boating during the week so there are no crowds.

me sitting at inlet beach

More stories from the blog…

%d bloggers like this: