Thursday, January 16, 2014
Chuck and I have been camping for several days at Blue Spring State Park near Deland Florida, just off Interstate 4 north of Orlando. We had cloudy days and rain our first 3 days here so yesterday was our first day to walk along the water and watch the gentle giants of Florida, the Manatee!
I need to apologize for no recent posts. Christmas holidays, visiting family and friends and a bad cold kept me away from the computer! I will catch up! But I want you to know where we are now. Blue Spring has a very nice campground nestled in the scrub oaks and palmettos giving lots of privacy between sites. The MotherShip is 32’ long and with our room extended we are 12’ wide. We fit…. but it was a narrow entrance!
Folks come here to see the manatee in their natural habitat. 4 miles of riverfront within the 2,483 acre park, 8 mile hiking trail, boat ramp/dock, 6cabins and a 51 site campground all with water and electric.
Blue Spring is one of three Florida State Parks where you might be lucky enough to see manatee! Yesterday there were plenty of them! The weather was predicted to get cold overnight and they were all leaving the freezing waters of the St. Johns River to refuge in the Blue Spring run where the water stays a stable 72 degrees! The best time to visit the park to see the manatee is from November through March.
Here, the manatee are entering the Blue Spring run from the St. John’s River. There are close to a dozen here, some hiding in the shadows of the oaks draped with Spanish moss.
These 3 are headed to the river. Manatee stay in Blue Spring at night for warmth and venture out into the river during the day, when the sun warms the water, to feed. Unfortunately this is a dangerous time for them. The only enemy the gentle manatee has is the speeding motorboat. Manatee surface often for air, making them susceptible to boat propellers that often wound them and even killing them. The white stripe you see on the top manatee is such a scar.
The scars on the mature mother manatee show clearly in the top 3 photos and the one below. There is a cage made to fit around the boat propellers but boaters refuse to use it.
The manatee must surface for air. This is a dangerous time for them.
It was quite breezy yesterday, causing a lot of ripples in the water and making it hard to get good manatee photographs to show you. I have been to this park at least a dozen times to visit the manatee, I have never seen as many in the spring run as I saw yesterday! It just wasn’t a good photo op day because of the rippling waters!
Chuck and I were here in 2010 and got some great manatee photos. You can see them on our blog from that visit by clicking this link:
The park had built several very good viewing areas out over the water so you get a good up close and personal look at the manatee. It was a bit crowded yesterday, but remember… this is prime manatee viewing weather and months! We weren’t disappointed!
Chuck meets a veteran of the Korean War and a conversation starts up! Chuck is a Viet Nam vet!
Back at the campground… ( see how nice our site is?) Chuck grills burgers. DoogieBowser and Radar wait patiently in the background hoping for a taste!
Beans with Publix made blue cheese burgers! YUM!
DoogieBowser sits up nicely, hoping we notice a will reward him. Both Radar and Doogie get to lick the empty plates!
Chuck bought himself a Christmas present this year! A folding papasan (?) chair from Camping World. As we get older, most of those sagging camp chairs get harder and harder to climb out of. This one one is very comfortable and folds up much smaller than you would think!
Please take a closer look at Blue Spring State Park as a possible Florida destination. We love it here. We will be here 2 more days and then we head to Kissimmee State Park near Lake Wales FL, we could only book a few days there so from there we head back down to Highlands Hammock State Park for another visit and possibly some job training!
As a treat for you, I found a live web cam for viewing the manatee at Blue Spring! Follow this link:
Here is a link to tell you more about the park:
Hope you enjoyed the visit to Blue Spring! We sure hope you get a chance to visit here is person someday! This is a very special park!
We love you all! From the MotherShip we are Geri, Chuck and DoogieBowser and Radar!
Monday, December 16, 2013
Chuck quickly backed into our beautiful, canopied campsite at the Big Flats campground at Myakka River State Park, east of Sarasota Florida. Huge old oaks, towering pines and drapery of spanish moss welcomed us!
With the camo color of The MotherShip, we blend right into the background!
Looking out our back window, all we see are more palms and the wide open Florida prairie where the deer and the wild pigs entertain daily!
DoogieBowser makes himself comfey! Later, Radar grabs Doogie’s perch!
Camped near us was this cool RV with an even cooler car tag “R RDTRIP”
And even cooler was their towed car and the car tag it wears!
Early morning starts gently at our campground, slivers of sunshine invading the wild woods.
Wild towering palms and draperies of spanish moss catching the sun!
Canopied roads, ancient oak trees reaching out across the road ways to touch it’s neighbor on the opposite side providing shade for all.
Our first day there, Chuck saw this bald eagle. Of course I had my wide angle lens on and had to crop like crazy to get any sort of photo at all….
Great Blue Heron looking for lunch. Myakka River State Park is teeming with wildlife. Grab your camera and your longest lens and you will not be disappointed!
Alligator swimming towards a Roseate Spoonbill, a Snowy Egret and a couple of Cormorants. Below, the spoonbill decides to leave the alligator and heads to the resting area of several wood stork.
Kayaking is popular here as well as canoeing.
Not sure, but the heron above is probably a Little Blue or maybe a Tri-colored.
Just another Gator peeking up out of the water……
The trees at Myakka are loaded with air plants! Everything from Resurrection Fern to Bromeliads thrive here!
Airboat tours are available and these ladies have a front row seat!
Vultures! Lots and lots of vultures! Tis the mating season and they gather in warm sunny Florida to find their love life high in the skies…. and next to some not so prudent tent campers who left their snacks out on their picnic table , below.
More vultures and alligators! Look at that big boy’s tooth…..
This is the beginning of the Canopy Trail. It will take you back to the tall tower below and a suspension bridge taking you from one tower to another.
Since I do not do stairs well, and these towers meant a lot of stairs, I handed Chuck the camera and up he went.
At the top of the tower, you get a full 360 degree view of Myakka River State Park.
Two views of the suspension bridge .
Anhinga, also known as the “snakebird” because it swims below the water with only its head and long slender neck above water.
Great Blue Heron
Osprey sitting in a pine. Just moments before, I saw this bird in the sky and purposely bumping into a vulture making it tumble a bit. After the hit, the osprey gave a loud victory call, bragging to the world!
Wood storks resting by the waters edge.
Fishing is good from the bridge! These folks are using cast nets to catch tilapia.
Tilapia are non-native and considered an invasive species of fish. Myakka will allow you to keep all the non-native fish, but you must return all native fish to the water!
Another deer taking a break in the shade.
The end to another wonderful day at Myakka River State Park! Chuck and I love Florida State Parks so much, we have decided we would like to volunteer here. We got a contact name and number and called and left a phone message expressing our interest in becoming volunteers at Myakka. That was Friday afternoon, and by golly, this morning we got a return phone call and seems like we may have a very good chance of working here this spring for a few months! YaY! Keep your fingers crossed for us!
From the crew of the MotherShip, Chuck, Geri and our furkids DoogieBowser and Radar, we hope you enjoyed seeing this wonderful Florida park with us!
We are now camped at Highlands Hammock State Park near Sebring FL. Another jewel in the Florida State Parks Crown!