Roadtrip TIA: Myakka State Park

It has been my goal to feature one tank trips on the blog. When money is tight sometimes it is hard to travel as much as you would like. In this Roadtrip TIA feature I will take you to Myakka River State Park courtesy of Mazda and DriveShop USA. There was no payment provided for this trip but the 2016 Mazda CX-5 was provided free of charge for use as transportation.

It was a Saturday evening and I realized my schedule was clear for Sunday. I figured I would call my friend and adventure blogger Lauren of Outdoorsy Diva to see if she was up for a day trip. With pleasure she agreed to join me and she suggested we visit Myakka River State Park near Sarasota. Leave it to her to suggest an outdoor adventure, right?! Truthfully, I think I would have been more surprised if she hadn’t. Even though I was thinking more along the lines of visiting the Ringling Museum and having lunch at Yoder’s, I agreed.  What better person to enjoy this nature outing with than the Outdoorsy Diva herself.

Fortunately, since I was test driving the Mazda CX-5 we did not have to squish in my little old compact car. The Mazda CX-5 fits 5 comfortably and has plenty of room. Look at my Periscope video for the full view.

When we hopped in the car, opened the moonroof, tuned into our favorite Pandora station using the in dash radio integration and enjoyed our own version of carpool karaoke as we drove to Sarasota County.

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During our hour drive I enjoyed many of the awesome features including: Mazda Radar Cruise Control with Close Proximity Warning, Blind Spot Monitoring with Rear Cross Traffic Alert,  Mazda Navigation System, and the Mazda Mobile Start-Smartphone RES. These are not features I used for convenience only but safety as well.


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During the drive we stopped along the way for an impromptu photoshoot. This house was super cute and quaint. We are cute but we definitely need to work more on our model poses.

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The car is the real star of the shoot though.

We continued to Myakka River State Park where the signal on my cell phone faded. Fortunately we had the gps in the car to get us there safely.

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Myakka River State Park is one of the oldest and largest state parks. The park spans 58 square miles of wetlands, prairies, hammocks and pinelands. Visitors can participate in a range of activities ranging from boating, hiking, fishing, camping and much more.

While at the park, we went kayaking. I totally thought I would be riding tandem with Lauren as we paddled down the river in a kayak together. Much to my chagrin, there are only solo kayaks available. I am not a scary cat by any means but I cannot swim and had never been in a kayak alone. This is not a guided tour and we would be out there alone with nothing but our life vests to save me if something happen. After a brief moment to think and the reassurance of the shop owner and Lauren, I agreed to give it a try.

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Despite getting caught in a sand bank along the way, I survived. We returned wet but safe.

Had we been thinking we should have brought our bikes with us since there are several bike trails within Myakka River State Park. The Mazda CX-5 would have been able to accommodate us and the 2 bikes perfectly given the ample amount of space and ability of the back seats to lower.

After enjoying our water adventure at the Upper Lake, we went to hang out in the trees. Myakka River State Park has the only tree canopy in a subtropical forest. The Canopy Walkway is 25 feet above the ground and extends 85 feet through the tree tops above the Myakka floor.

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After crossing the bridge, we climbed stairs to get to the observation deck which was much higher. The views from this height were amazing – once you got passed all of the flies buzzing around. I couldn’t help but think, what are the flies attracted to at this altitude, surely there is nothing to eat in the trees.

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On the way back we stopped to enjoy the view and peer at the families of gators who call Myakka River State Park home.

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The ride home was smooth and safe. Sarasota County is about 70 miles from Tampa and despite being an SUV, the Mazda CX-5 was very good on  gas. The mpg on the 2016 Mazda CX-5 is 35 miles on the highway and 25 in the city, allowing this to still be an affordable one tank trip for me. The Mazda CX-5 is a vehicle I would gladly take on any of my future installments of Roadtrip TIA. 

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