Little Life Happy Blog Episode 3 - Spring Swimming (So cool!)

Hey Friends,

I am really excited to post this, the third episode of the Little Life Happy Blog. It turned out so well, and we had so much fun on our trip to Florida.

Looking around online, our original plan was to drive to the Outer Banks and undertake our first overland-style expedition. We were thinking it would be awesome to drive down the beach by day, exploring the nooks and crannies of the barrier islands on the east coast.

We plugged in the destination on Google Maps and saw that it would take 11 hours to drive there! That's not including pit-stops or anything. So we started to look for destinations that were closer to home. Keeping the drive shorter meant that we would be able to enjoy more time at our destination.

Hadlea also put an emphasis on wanting to be able to swim and paddle in clear water. I had been checking out some diving videos on Youtube for the last couple of days, and all of a sudden there it was!

6 1/2 hours away, the crystal clear water at Ginnie Springs was just waiting for us to drive down. This trip is one of the best we have ever taken together, and we are excited to share it with you here.

We trained for almost two weeks before we left to get ready for the springs. By the time we started driving, both Hadlea and I could hold our breath relaxing on land for over 2 minutes and 30 seconds! We improved our breath holds insanely quickly, and it allowed us to easily spend up to a minute underwater, checking out cave mouths and deep cracks in the rock bottoms of the springs.

My dive to the bottom of 'Little Devil'
Free-diving, aka breath-hold diving, is a really cool and meditative sport. We got a lot more enjoyment out of the water by being able to explore the bottom. All you really need is a mask that fits your face properly and a dive buddy that will watch your back.

Freediving Stuff

If you like the practice, it's easy to learn more. I read up a lot on the free-diving subreddit, which is full of helpful posters. We used a free iOS cellphone application called LO2W (what a great name) to improve our breath hold times.

Just please take a second to read about free-diving safety before you go charging off to the bottom! :)

Keeping the cost of the trip down

We kept the cost of our trip down in a couple of key ways:

  • Driving economically. Slowing down, using cruise control, and just hanging out in the right lane meant that even with a kayak on the roof and the car weighed down with camping gear we got almost 30 Miles Per Gallon on the highway according to the car readout. 
    • We drove just over 900 miles on approximately 2 1/2 tanks of gas (14 gallon tank not including 'reserve fuel' capacity). 
    • Gas costs were under $90.00 (about 35 gallons)
  • Eating camp food. We ate out three times on our trip. We stopped at Cracker Barrel to eat in Lake City, FL, we ate at a Cuban restaurant near a dive shop after eating camp food and swimming for three days straight (swimmer hunger is real!), and we ate at the Great Outdoors restaurant in the little town of High Springs during a BIG thunderstorm before we got out of town. I don't have the receipts from the restaurants.
    • Over the 4 days we were in Florida we spent about $70.00 on groceries. This meant that altogether, three meals each day cost us approximately $8.75 per day per person. 
    •  We ate like hikers, which meant that nothing had to be refrigerated and everything was simple and quick to prepare when we were tired and super hungry from swimming.
  • Camping. We each had to buy a day pass at the springs for every day that we swam. Fortunately, our day passes were included in our camp site costs. Compared to the cost of staying at a hotel we made out like bandits. 
    • Camping cost us $22.43 every night per person (Day pass cost included)
    • Day passes would have cost $14.02 per person (Fixed cost either way)
    • Camping ended up costing us $8.41 every night per person ($16.82/night for both of us) (Subtract the day pass cost to compare camping cost to hotel cost, since either way we needed day passes).
    • The hotels in the area started at $55.00 (20.8 miles away - gas cost and time) and $60.00 (12.8 miles away - gas cost and time)
      • MINUS THE COST OF GAS, and assuming that you don't get charged extra for having more than 2 people in a hotel room, with 6 or more people in your group a hotel will start to save you money, since you have to pay per person at Ginnie Springs. Again, that's assuming that you can all pile into a room together.
      • This also blatantly ignores the fact that you are SIGNIFICANTLY less likely to stick to eating cheaper camp food when you stay at a hotel, as there are almost always restaurants nearby.

Again, like you probably saw in Episode 3, we had a heck of a lot of fun. At under $45/day each (obviously not including our camping equipment and water-sports gear), I think we did pretty well.

Thanks for hanging out for a little while.
Have a great day.


Camping Equipment Notes:

If you're looking to get your hands on some camping equipment to bring the cost of your trips down, you can get into a viable camping setup for less than you probably think. I'd encourage you to check out hammocks instead of tents if you are just getting into camping. I'm supposed to be doing an official review (they are sending me a free hammock to test out and giving me a coupon code for my viewers) soon for a super cheap hammock on Amazon. I'll link it here when/if the review happens!
Me and my book!

If you don't know anything at all about camping and need help, you can check out my book for free with a trial of Kindle Unlimited.

It's a hiking-specific guide, so it may be a little more than you need to know for just car camping, but its at least got everything you need to know in one place.