Author Archives: Kat Summers

Blue Spring State Park & Hontoon Island

Tranquil Kayaking Adventures

Blue Spring State Park’s exceptional Florida views and crystal clear waters offer swimmers, kayakers, fishermen, and guests an outstanding experience. Guest Services is honored to have now offered our services for over a year at this amazing destination in Orange City. Recently, we sat down with the new GM to discuss his background, the property’s exciting new developments, what it’s like on-site, and what the team is looking forward to.

Welcome to Blue Spring State Park & Hontoon Island
Discover these awesome parks, their concessions, kayak tours, boat tours, and all our offerings.

Two Hidden Florida Gems

Our operations management at Blue Spring State Park also expands to the neighboring Hontoon Island State Park. Located in the center of St. Johns River in Volusia County, the island is only accessible by private boat or park ferry that we also maintain and operate. It has a small museum, playground, retail shop, fishing spots, and 10 slips for boats to park.

Both of these outstanding properties feature great experiences that align with many of our other Florida properties. From the refreshing and awe-inspiring waters to the recreation classics like boating, canoeing, and fishing, our guests enjoy a wide variety of Guest Services premiere offerings.

Meet Ron Nance
General Manager at Blue Spring State Park and Hontoon Island
Ron tells us more about his background, his family, and his experience we Guest Services so far.

Manatee Festival

An annual festival in celebration of the adorable sea cows is held annually at Blue Spring State Park. The return of this exciting event last month saw a massive turnout due in part to its absence during the pandemic. “It went very well,” says Ron. “Unfortunately, the weather wasn’t really agreeing with us but the turnout was still fantastic. We had food, a beer garden, and ten or so vendors set up. It was terrific seeing so many come out to enjoy themselves.”

What’s Next?

The team looks forward to completing the construction of a pavilion and a deck as well as the addition of bike tours and various other upgrades. April 1st is the first day back for the season where they will be welcoming guests for tubing and swimming. The upcoming Firefly Festival is also a local favorite during which visitors enjoy the unique cascades of fireflies that light up the park.

The Horizon and Beyond
Learn what the team at Blue Spring is looking forward to, including finishing construction and a local partnership.

Meet the Team  

Stacey Tyson – AGM  

Nathanial Cook – Retail/Dock  

Grace Dickinson – Retail/Dock 

Angela Hatfield – Supervisor 

Kennedy Dixon – Retail/Dock 

Soren Anderson – Retail/Dock 

Tonya Scott – Retail/Dock 

Jonathon Perez – Dock 

Jacob Seago – Retail 

Zachary Sisk –  Dock 

Kimberli Kulik – Retail                         

Verania Sosa – Dock 

Evan McElhaney – Supervisor 

Debra Wood – Retail/Boat Tours 

Susan Toner – Retail 

Shane Fox – Supervisor Dock 

Rebecca Keith – Boat Captain 

Albert Thibodeaux – Ferry Hontoon 

Ronald Woxberg – Boat Captain 

Drake Neese – Supervisor Hontoon 

Casey Meyer – Retail/Dock 

Mariah Newcomb – Retail/Dock Hontoon 

Thank you Blue Spring State Park and Hontoon Island team members for all you do!

Finding the Perfect Autumn Aesthetic for an Unbea-leaf-able Group Selfie

Ahh, fall time. Leaves are changing, families are gathering, and group selfies are taken. Whether you are with your family or at a Friendsgiving, capturing that perfect fall moment is a must. Check out these few locations that will make you want to stop and say, “But first, let us take a selfie.”

BIG SUR LODGE

When you think of fall, you think of tall trees with bright leaves. The Big Sur Lodge is surrounded by the redwood forest, making it the epitome of autumn. Group selfie opportunities are found all over the place: from the heated pool and swimming hole to the largest tree in the park measuring 31 feet in diameter – The Colonial Tree. We are going to go “out on a limb” and say that is the perfect place to take your group selfie. But, if that doesn’t sound fall-like enough, there is also hiking, wine tasting, and wildlife all through the “mini-Yosemite.” LEARN MORE

NORTH CASCADES LODGE AT STEHEKIN

If you want a group selfie with nature, North Cascades Lodge at Stehekin is the place for you. To get to the quiet lodge, you have three options: fly in a plane, ride a boat, or take a beautiful hike. Having the fall foliage shown from a whole new perspective in your group selfie will make any newsfeed unique. When you get to the Lodge, make sure to partake in the Red Bus scenic tour, kayaking, or horseback riding for that extra autumn magic. So, throughout your entire trip at the Lodge at Stehekin, there are so many opportunities to get that social media worthy pic that it is hard to choose just one!  LEARN MORE

BEAR MOUNTAIN INN

Bear Mountain Inn is the perfect escape from city life. The colorful foliage and historical presence create the perfect autumn aesthetic for any social media group selfie.  Not only will the view be breathtaking, but there are so many activities held on the grounds to keep you feeling that fall atmosphere. A variety of guided hiking tours are offered weekly for those adventure seekers, and the spa is opened for those wanting to relax before the holiday season. For the perfect photo opportunity, while on your hike, try to find the brightest-colored leaf to add that pop of color to your social media feed. LEARN MORE

ECHO BLUFF STATE PARK

If you have seen the Netflix show, Ozark, then you should be very eager to visit the Lodge at Echo Bluff. This Lodge is centered in the Missouri Ozarks and is the perfect getaway for any outdoor enthusiast or traveler. When you think of fall, you think of relaxing on a rocking chair in front of a bonfire surrounded by all the things you love – including your favorite pup! Yes, you can enjoy life in Echo Bluff with your favorite adventure buddy by your side. All social media worthy moments with your dog are found here—kayaking, hiking, mountain biking, geocaching, and, most importantly, cuddling! LEARN MORE

MOUNT RAINIER NATIONAL PARK LODGES

Being 14,410 feet above sea-level is one thing, but also being on an active volcano is another. At Mount Rainier National Park, you get both! Being the most glaciated peak in the continental US, the Paradise Inn and National Park Inn are both great places to really disconnect from the world and enjoy the company and fall spirit around you. Afternoon tea in front of the fireplace or enjoying a glass of wine overlooking the fall foliage views are both great moments to capture for social media. LEARN MORE

All these places offer a wide variety of opportunities to capture that perfect autumn aesthetic with your friends and family.

Don’t leaf us hanging, and make sure to tag us in your favorite fall group selfie location! #bigsurlodge #lodgeatstehekin #bearmountainin #echoblufflodge #mountrainer

Bear Mountain’s Oktoberfest: No Internet, No Problem.

Keep your social media connection in a place of internet disconnection.

You just took the most perfect photo with your friends dressed in lederhosen and dirndl while drinking steins of endless beer. You need to post it online ASAP. So, you scroll to your favorite social media app, apply filters, and press post! But, you come to find there is no Internet! Don’t panic!

When you come to Bear Mountain’s Oktoberfest, don’t let Internet limitations stop you from making posts online. We have tips on how to stay on top of your offline social media game.

Instagram

The Instagram creators know we need access to our social media at all times. In a recent update, all of Instagram’s features are now available for use even when offline.

It’s very simple. Just go through the picture posting process as you normally would while on the Internet – pick photo, apply filters, add caption, etc. Once you are done, press post! It will give you a “posting failed” message, but that’s okay. The app already recognizes it is in a “dead” zone, and will automatically post your photo as soon as you get back on the Internet.

Don’t think Instagram stopped their features there! If you like, comment, or direct message an Instagram post while offline, it will automatically process those actions as soon as you’re back online.

Twitter

You will have to go old-school for this one, but you can text your tweet! Here’s how to do it:

Before leaving for Oktoberfest, make sure your Twitter settings are set correctly for text tweeting.

  1. Go to settings
  2. Click “mobile”
  3. Insert your cell phone number under “Activate Twitter text messaging”
  4. Text “GO” to 40404

Anytime you want to send a tweet, just write your message in a text and send it to “40404”; that’s it!

Now, there may be some spotty cell reception since so many people want to show-off their time at Oktoberfest too. But, that shouldn’t stop a social media mogul like you!

Another way to tweet is to save your message as a draft. Compose your tweet like you normally would. However, don’t press post. Instead, click the “x” in the top-left corner and choose the option to save your tweet as a draft.

This tweet will be moved to your Twitter draft folder, which you can find by clicking on the quill icon on the bottom-right-hand corner. You can access this at any time and hit post.

Facebook

If you liked texting in your tweets, then you’re in luck! Facebook also allows status updates sent over text. You can also sign up to receive updates from friends you are “subscribed” to and your Facebook chat! Do we need to remind you this is all without the Internet?

Again, before leaving for your amazing Oktoberfest experience, check to see if your Facebook settings allow you to text in updates.

  1. Go to your account settings
  2. Click “mobile”
  3. Insert your cell phone number under “Activate Text Messaging”
  4. Text the letter “F” to 32665
  5. Go through the confirmation process sent to your phone

Ta- dah, you’re all set! You can now show your Facebook followers the fun you’re having just by texting “32665” with your status.

If you want to post more than a status, like a picture, for example, you can set up that post similar to Instagram’s offline posting process. Create the post you want to upload and press “share” once finished. Again, it will come up with a “posting failed”/“not connected” message. That is okay because the system will automatically post it for you once you connect back online.

Snapchat

There is a trend within the social media outlets because Snapchat processes offline posts very similar to Instagram and Facebook.

Whenever you see the perfect Snapchat moment, just snap and share it as you normally would. It will say “failed to upload”, but it will be added to your Snapchat queue. Once you get Internet access again, tap on your queued snaps and they will be uploaded in the same order in which you posted them.

You won’t be able to add geofilters. However, everyone will know you are at Oktoberfest with the German-themed foods and attire in your photos!

There you go! Those are all the ways to keep your social media connection, while enjoying a time of internet disconnection at Bear Mountain’s Oktoberfest!

Follow Bear Mountain online to stay updated on all things Oktoberfest, as well as any fun activities happening at the Inn!