Manatee Springs, Buzzards & Bites

Incredibly blue Manatee Spring

When we first arrived at Manatee Springs State Park, I was a bit taken aback at how rustic the campground was.  Sand roads, sand campsites, no laundromat.  Then when I got my first look at Catfish Hole, a green scum covered entrance to underwater caves, I told Ron I wanted to leave tomorrow.

But we kept walking…. and then we saw the spring.

Pristine.  Blue. Primeval. Otherworldly.

Cypress knees

We followed the spring run on a boardwalk above a swamp where an alien looking world of cypress trees and cypress knees created a weird jurassic park type landscape.

Eventually we came to the end of the boardwalk overlooking a wide expanse of water where we hope to spot manatees in the coming days.  When I was a kid, we called them sea cows.  In the winter, these gentle vegetarian giants congregate around Florida’s springs which are a constant, year round 72 degrees.

Primeval looking swamp

But this evening, we didn’t see manatees.  What we did see were thousands of buzzards heading for roosts in the trees at the edge of the water.  The sound of thousands of buzzard wings is pretty impressive…. and they just kept on coming!

Very fortunately they are not roosting in the trees in the camping areas as they are a bit away from the water.

Where we hope to spot manatees

Buzzards roosting in trees by the water

Looks like something from Alfred Hitchcock, doesn't it?

Spanish moss

Manitee basics for boaters

Our Casita at Manatee Springs State Park

When we pulled into the campground, we saw another Casita at the beginning of our loop.  Later the friendly owner from Washington State told us that there were three other Casitas at this small campground this past weekend.

We had a couple of notable mishaps today.  First, we had our initiation into the world of dumping disasters when our sewer hose came apart.  We learned the hard way how they are supposed to be secured to the clamps.

And when I put on a clean shirt after my shower this evening, I got two fiery bites on my underarm.  I was really worried imagining what kind of venomous, deadly creature might have bitten me.  Then I saw the wasp on the window blinds.

The Casita got a generous spray of Black Flag insect killer!




  1. Terry

     /  December 4, 2011

    Lovely pictures – great writing!


  2. Kathy N.

     /  December 5, 2011

    This reads and looks like a magazine article! Your adventures are fascinating to read – the good, the bad and the scary (a tree full of buzzards, weird bites, and unattached sewer hoses). However, the photos of ‘mysterious’ blue lagoons, and Spanish moss and manatee gathering places are wonderful! It’s so much fun ‘traveling around’ with you! The Casita looks so welcoming!


    • Kathy, I really loved visiting my family, but it is so good to be out exploring new places that I’ve never seen before.

      Glad that you are along for the ride! 🙂


  3. I have spent a lot of time at Manatee Springs SP! Have you seen deer? They usually meander through the campground at dusk. Also they are sometimes feeding on the new leaves under that boardwalk, but they blend in so well you have to really look for them. There is a nice nature trail that leads off from the spring, to the right as you approach it from the campground.

    Had to smile at your hose mishap since I think everyone has been there at some time (I learned my lesson about making sure the hose pieces/parts are all securely connected before I open that line!).

    Enjoy your stay there! I’m envious–I have been fighting some sort of mega-flu for two weeks now with no end in sight so my camping has been seriously derailed.



    • Peggy, we didn’t see deer last night, but we will look for them. One thing I did notice is that there are regular dumpsters here, so that probably means there is not a bear problem in this area.

      So sorry that you are down with the flu. We had it, too, I think, but were just miserable a few days, not really wiped out with it. I still have a residual deep cough that I hope will disappear soon.

      Hope you bounce back and are out camping again soon.


  4. ukulefty

     /  December 5, 2011

    Wow that picture of the springs is amazing! The water is just so impossibly crystal blue!


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