Posts Tagged ‘Lake Manatee State Park’

The bucket list for Pat and Ray Ciemniecki is a work in progress.

“Nothing is set in stone,” Ray Ciemniecki said. “We go as the spirit moves us.”

It was in that spirit the 70-year-old couple managed to check off the first goal on the list.

Visit each of Florida’s 160 state parks.

Florida State Park Campground

RVs at Florida State Park Campground

It took the retired Manatee County educators four years to do them all, beginning with Lake Manatee State Park and finishing up last February with Paynes Creek just north of Wauchula.

Just 25 people have done it since Florida State Parks began keeping track in June 2008.

How they got started was simple enough. They’d gone to a festival at Lake Manatee and one of the things offered was a state park passport — a collector’s journal for planning park visits, recording experiences and collecting each park’s unique stamp.

The Ciemnieckis were inspired.

“We said why don’t we make it a goal go to every state park in Florida?” Ray Ciemniecki said. “We started out small, went to this one and that one and then really got going.

“We didn’t care how long it took. Whether it was four years or ten, we decided to go to every single one.”

They’d map out an area and hit the road in their 40-foot motorhome with car in tow for more than a month at a time.

That some parks didn’t have overnight camping wasn’t a problem.

They’d hook up the RV at one that did and drive to the smaller parks in the area on day trips.

On other trips, if the park was unreachable by car — i.e., Honeymoon Island, Caladesi Island, both west of Tampa — they’d take a boat.

“It’s no more expensive than staying at home,” Ray Ciemniecki said. “Except for gas ($300 a fill-up), you’re living in your own little cottage. It works out pretty well.”

Thanks to senior citizen discount rates, the couple stayed at some state parks for as little as $6 per night.

“A lot of Manatee County people like to have a second home in the mountains, but we’ve never wanted that — going back to the same place every year,” Pat Ciemniecki said. “We go to a different place all the time.”

Full Story & Photo…


EAST MANATEE FL— After a long haul, Dawn M. Bastian of Goodrich, Michigan was relaxing at her campsite under a bright blue Lake Manatee State Park sky Thursday.

But next to her wasn’t a Winnebago or fifth wheel.

She was camping out in a 13-foot, turquoise, 1966 Serro Scotty Sportsman trailer coach. It’s shape — like a canned ham — is not conducive to a fancy dining room or entertainment center.

But that’s not what this little dude, which cost $695 new in 1966, is all about, Bastian said.

She says her antique Scotty, which she restored, inspires a bit of happy nostalgia in everyone who sees it since it was born when Route 66 was the main drag across America and there were no cell phones.

“It’s fun to sleep in,” Bastian said with the big smile of someone who doesn’t care about Corian counter tops or a hot tub in an RV.

“It’s classic,” said an admiring Tim Heintz of Panana City Beach, who was parked a few spaces down for the exact same thing, to let people experience history in his 30-foot, 1950 Spartanette travel trailer made by Spartan Air Craft out of Tulsa, Okla., with its shape like a loaf of bread.

Bastian and Heintz are members of Tin Can Tourists, the vintage trailer coach, motor coach and travel trailer club, which continues its 90th Annual Winter Convention today through Sunday at Lake Manatee State Park.

Full Story…

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