Monday, February 11, 2013

A Walk in the Park

 Denny and I are staying at a campground that's far from shopping, museums, golf courses, attractions, activities--well, pretty much everything.  We're here to visit with friends who are workamping for the season at this very quiet, very new campground that has little going for it other than a great view of the night sky and nice sized camp sites.  After two weeks here of a promised month long stay, the two of us just had to get out to do something so I picked a morning drive to Manatee Springs State Park, about 55 miles away.  The storms that had been predicted for the day were passing well north of us and I thought it was a good time to take advantage of a rare warm day.
A six dollar entry fee allows you access to several miles of biking/hiking trails as well as the opportunity to scuba dive.  The park is home to one of the largest fresh water springs in Florida; between 35 and 150 million gallons of water flow from the spring each day.  The water is crystal clear and there is a system of aquatic caves in the limestone below the water.

A handicap accessible boardwalk leads out to the Suwannee River where the manatees gather to feed.  Cypress trees and tall pines line the walkway from the beginning to the spring to the outlet at the Suwannee.  There's even an area roped off for swimmers for those brave enough for the cool, clear water--and the alligators that may lurk in the area.  Although today the only carnivorous types we found were the black vultures

Better eyes than ours spotted two young deer resting far back in the trees.  The older was well camouflaged with a coloring that was the same dull brown of the trees while this younger fawn was a richer brown and a bit easier to see, especially once he stood up to watch us all watching him.

But my primary reason for coming was to see the manatees.  And we did see a couple, but they were about 100 yards out from us in the wind-whipped waters which made them difficult to see.  When the sun came out and the wind slowed for a moment you could pick out their shape as they rose to the surface to breathe but once the water got rough again the manatees blended in as just a pale shape.

So I've cheated and included a couple of shots from our visit to the Homasassa Springs Wildlife State Park from a few years ago.  There the waters of the Homasassa River are shallower so I was able to get a better shot of these gentle creatures.  Click to enbiggen 'em, folks.

Below is a manatee rolling onto his side.  They seem to like to interact with humans, although this has a downside; many hundreds are gouged and maimed by boat propellers annually.

 Of course, part of our fun today was running into a young couple who are taking a year off from their everyday life and traveling by RV with their two young children.  The mother is homeschooling the kids, using their travels for the geology, history and geography lessons.  So Denny and I offered our suggestions of places they might like to see or the kids would enjoy (noticing a few eavesdroppers at the same time ;))  They were thrilled with the information and we were glad to be able to encourage their interest in the RV lifestyle.

This park does have a few water and electric campsites tucked away in the trees.  It's a beautifully quiet park this time of year and a nice place to spend a few hours to reflect, watch for manatees, swim, fish, hike or just sit and watch the aquatic plants wave in the clear spring water.

Just pick a day when the wind isn't blowing.  Sigh.


Linda Wildenstein said...

Okay lucky whole family is green with envy....Manatee, really, sigh. We just love us some manatee.
So glad you got to get to somewhere interesting as well.
xoxo Oma Linda

Anvilcloud said...

I'm sure it was a nice getaway day even though the manatees weren't too visible.

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