Myakka River Ramble

Something interesting happens geographically when you cross from Georgia into Florida. It’s as if all the hills disappear. You might be thinking I’m exaggerating. Surely Florida has lots of hills, but no… The entire state has one hill of note. Which is labeled a mountain. With it’s summit only 246′ higher than its base… It would be lost among the hills back home.

To put it into perspective. An study determined that the state of Kansas is literally flatter than a pancake. And the Geographic Review published a paper showing that Florida is the flattest state in the Union. So Florida is flatter… than a state proven to be smoother than a flap-jake!

Now before you think I’m picking on Florida. Let me assure you that I’m not. I’m actually bragging on them. I enjoy hiking the hilly trails in the various state and national parks I visit. But when you suffer from a lung disease… Hills, steps, stairs, curbs, ramps, and inclines in general. Are all things you dread. But the hiking I did in Florida… nice and level. You still have distance to contend with. But walking a mile on level ground is much easier, then a mile traversed going up and down even small hills.

Which makes my first hiking stop in Florida, Myakka River State Park, much easier to recommend to my fellow lung disease patients. Than some of the other parks I’ve visited and reviewed. Not because there’s anything wrong with the other parks. But simply because this park is so flat and level. In fact, as I was leaving, I meet an elderly lady preparing to go on a hike with her family. And she was using a spiffy red rollator, identical to the one I once used.

The big limiting issue at Myakka River State park is going to be one’s personal endurance. Which is true whether we’re walking through a park or walking across our living rooms. Pulmonary fibrosis can be a very limiting disease. And it’s progressive, so one’s endurance becomes less and less the longer they’ve suffered from it. But if you’re good to go, as far as safely taking a stroll is concerned. Than the only other factor will be how much oxygen can you bring along.

The terrain is nice and flat. Kinda sandy, but well packed. So a rollator, wheelchair, or oxygen cart should have no real issues. The swampy/rougher areas have nice board walks crossing them. And I don’t recall a single step or stair on any of them. I don’t even remember any roots on the paths. Which are things I usually keep an eye out for. I mean sure, walking off the beaten path looked pretty rugged. But why would you do that? Its Florida… there’s a good chance gators are in there.

In fact as I was walking through the denser areas. I couldn’t help but think about the first (and best) Jurassic park film. Specifically the part when the Robert Muldoon character says, “Clever girl.” Right before a pack of raptors jumps from the foliage to eat him. Now was I actually scared hiking here? No. But a part of me found it humorous that should an actual alligator appear, I already had a reactionary comment prepared and repeating in my head. And yes, there are gators present there.

Unfortunately I was unable to enjoy everything offered at the park due to that one virus… The visitors center was closed, the souvenir shop was closed, camping was limited, as was the seating in the restaurant. Plus I had Marin with me. Meaning I couldn’t take the ferry ride around Lake Myakka. As dogs aren’t allowed onboard. Something I didn’t know until I got there. But I wasn’t about to leave her locked in the car. So just a heads up for those of you travelers with pets.

But not seeing everything was okay, because there was still a lot to enjoy. And though viewing it from a boat may have been neat. I loved hiking it with my new lungs. Besides, I was on holiday. And when you’re on holiday you don’t stress the little things. Though if you’re oxygen needs are really high and you just have to visit. Then the boat ride might be your best option. But, seen via boat or by foot, Myakka River is quite beautiful. With lots of places to sit and catch one’s breath.

As the amount of fibrosis in our lungs increases. The number of places we can get out and enjoy decreases. It is simply a part of living with an interstitial lung disease. For some, like me, this progression is rapid. For others the progression is slow. Allowing them to enjoy more things, longer than other patients. But if you live nearby, or plan to be in the area on vacation. Then, in my subjective opinion, Myakka River State park is worth the visit for most stages of progression.

It’s not very long, it isn’t anything extreme, and it’s really pretty. In fact with my rollator or a wheel chair, I think I could have enjoyed it quite a ways into my progression. I would simply suggest you make sure to calculate your oxygen needs correctly. Leaving enough in the tank to get home or to the hotel without running on empty. Yes, getting around with 02 is a hassle. But seeing more than your home and the doctors office, from time to time… is worth the hassle. So don’t give up on yourself. And keep enjoying life for as long as you’ve got the breath to do so.

Myakka River State Park, 13208 State Rd 72, Sarasota, FL 34241

Thank you so very much for taking the time to read my blog. I hope if you’re a fellow patient, a care giver, or just into travel. That you got something positive out of my blog. If you’d like some pulmonary fibrosis merchandise, check out the BorrowedBreaths Store. Or if you’d like to simply encourage me to keep writing, a tip in my virtual tip jar would be greatly appreciated.

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