Makinson IslandI am connected 24-7 to the Internet, and it is a very rare day when I get to actually put down the social media and enjoy with my eyes instead of a camera or through a phone. When we visited Makinson Island on our #DisneyGlobalEvent tour in Kissimmee, Florida that is all I wanted to do from the moment we arrived at the park. I kept thinking how much my boys would enjoy taking in the beautiful nature all around me and how much fun we could have as a family. That was before we even arrived at the Island at the boat dock. The picture above is the first thing you see when you arrive. Doesn’t it just look peaceful? To the right of this area were several families camping out in rugged-style tents, lounging around, laughter and boys running with make-shift fishing poles from the bamboo that grown here. I could just see my boys running across this field feeling free, playing tag and just being kids not plugged in! I could see my husband and I relaxing at the campsite watching them play and truly connecting with actual conversation, getting away from it all, breathing clean air, and relaxing. Even though you can only get to Makinson Island by boat, my cell phone still worked and there are rangers that roam around the property. So, you are safe.

When I was on the island, we were able to use the latrines and then go on a hike through the trails. Our group went the short way even though there was 3.5 miles of hiking trails to explore. Walking along one of the trails, our guide taught us about the bald eagles (which we were lucky enough to spot a rare young one) and that Oscela county was the #2 most populated area for our Country Bird. I also learned that butterflies flock to urine for the salts that it contains and we were lucky enough to pass over a bend that had recently been marked with cougar or boar urine. I know! So LUCKY! There were so many butterflies at the corner it prompted me to ask why, which is how I know that interesting fact! You are so welcome for me sharing!

wasp

Not only did Makinson Island have butterflies and bald eagles, it also had it share of bugs. But, even though this wasp sat about 6 inches from my sister and me, neither of us were attacked. He was just along for the ride; and so was this dragonfly. I guess he did not feel like flying all the way across Lake Taho so he landed on Jamie’s camera for a spell.

dragonfly

On the ride over to Makinson Island in Osceola County, we were able to explore a little bit of Tohopekaliga Lake (It is a mouthful to say, so the natives call it Lake Toho) Tohopekaliga means fortress and this is where some of the Seminole Indians hid out while the soldiers were trying to move the natives off the land. Full to the rim with the large mouth bass, Lake Toho is one of the prime areas for sport fisherman to cast their rods. You can see make shift fishing lean-tos and camps along the shore line, but it is refreshing to know the fisherman are respectful of the posted wake signs.

The reason for such signs are that Lake Toho is the home to 80% of the entire population of the snail kite. The snail kite is a bird that feeds off of the white native snail that breeds here. When we were at Boggy Creek, I kept trying to get a good picture of the exotic apple snail. At Lake Toho, the water had receded some. You can see the snail eggs on the tree below as the pink traveling up the trunks. The reason the snail kites feed on the while native snails instead of the exotic apple snails is because they have a hard time opening the operculum to the exotic snail. The operculum is the opening that forms a water tight seal like a doorway helping to keep predators out. The native white snail is much smaller so the snail kites dine easily.

Apple snail eggs

As we were traveling around the lake, we could see the osprey sighting fish in the water. They call the osprey the fish eagle because you can witness the osprey hovering over the water sighting his fish prey with his eagle-like eyes, opening his talons, scooping the fish while skimming the water’s surface. Because the bald eagles also know that the osprey is a talented fisherman, you will often see the larger bird harassing one with freshly caught prey in hopes of stealing it for himself. Look how glass-like the water is at Lake Toho. This makes for easy fishing for both man and bird.

Kissimmee Florida

You can catch a ride over to the Isalnd by Booking with Visit Kissimmee arriving either by boat through Kissimmee Outdoor Adventures or Tom & Jerry’s Pro Guide Service. Make sure that when you head over, you tour down the creeks. Just look at how beautiful they are. Disney World is always a favorite for many people when they visit the area, but Kissimmee has so much more to offer. The last time my family went their for vacation, we were so tired from the parks, I would have loved to know we had such a relaxing option so close instead of packing up to come home early. I cannot wait to book a trip to Makinson Island to take my family. I do not even want to go to Disney, but plan on showing my boys the wonders of camping. I want to take them hiking through trails, show them real stars and listen to the animals serenade us to sleep.

Creek on Lake Toho