Saturday, February 11, 2012

St. Joseph Peninsula and Manatee Springs, Florida


We left after the cave tour at Florida Caverns and headed back towards the coast.
Florida has lots of State Parks with beaches and camping but I'm glad we ended up at
St. Joseph Peninsula State Park.
It was a bit more out of the way and that paid off because the beach was all but deserted.

We got a campsite for the night and walked to the beach before we even unloaded the car.  We were rewarded with the beautiful sugary sand that Florida is so famous for.  Oh, fun fact: that white, soft, fluffy sand is almost pure quartz and is a result of years and years of erosion from the Appalachian Mountains!  

First person we encountered was Jack, a volunteer at the state park, who was doing some fishing.  He and his wife come down from Michigan every winter and volunteer for two months.  In exchange for 20 hours work per week they get to camp for free.  Not a bad deal.
After talking for a few minutes he got a strike on his line which looked like a whopper... 

Turned out to be this sting ray!  Which he released back into the surf.

Hungry from all the excitement and with the sun going down we set up camp and had dinner.
Nothing exciting, just canned soup.

Next morning, since you can't oversleep in a tent, we headed down for a quick swim and a walk on the beach before breaking down camp and heading on towards...

Manatee Springs!

Ugh!  No, this isn't the springs and no, we didn't swim in this, although scuba divers do go into these sink holes to cave dive!

Ahhhh, this is the springs.  Unfortunately, no manatees were around.  A manatee is a mammal kind of similar to a seal or sea lion, if you've never heard of them.  They swim up the Sewanee River into the spring during the winter because the spring water is about 72 degrees.

Sun was going down so we headed back to camp and made a pretty decent taco dinner with canned chicken.  Of course a fresh avocado and tomato made all the difference,and the wine didn't hurt either.

Next morning while looking for manatees we learned about Squirreliosis...

In addition to squirrels, the other thing that Manatee Springs has is lots of vultures!  There must have been a hundred of them roosting in the trees and along the paths.  

video
Very creepy, no idea what attracts them to the area....*shudder*

There's a path from the spring down a creek to where the water joins the Sewanee River.
Alas, still no sight of the elusive manatees...

Next stop: Disney World!


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