More on Manatee Springs

It's almost impossible to distinguish the underwater limestone formations from sky reflections.

I was hoping to document in photos the dramatic limestone formations in Manatee Springs along with the steep dropoffs to deep water.  But the water is such a perfect mirror that it’s impossible to tell what is underwater and what is sky reflection.

While I was photographing the spring, I heard a loud commotion and looked up to see dozens of small ducks half

An underwater limestone mound covered with colorful vegetation blends into the reflected skyscape

running on the water, half flying to escape a river otter that had just caught one of their companions for lunch.

Past the spring run, I watched for manatees in the Suwannee River this afternoon without success.  Maybe tomorrow.

Catfish Hotel is a 90′ deep sinkhole that scuba divers enter to explore

Catfish Hotel, 90' deep sinkhole

the surrounding underwater caves.  It gets its name from the large catfish that live on the bottom.  Depending on time of day, it may be completely covered in thick, green pond scum, or there may be a small opening in the scum in the center.  It’s such an ugly contrast to the beautiful clear spring that I didn’t even want to take

Underwater cave map

a picture of it.  But since it’s an important part of the park, I thought I should mention it.

Five miles of underwater caves have been mapped from Catfish Hotel.  Braver people than I did the mapping!

I took dozens of photos of egrets, ducks, hickory nuts, underwater leaves and other things that caught my eye today, but am unable to post them.  Our cell connection here is marginal and I’ve already lost the signal several times.

Between walks, I spent an hour or so tatting Christmas card motifs this afternoon while Ron went into town.   As the campground was nearly empty, I enjoyed the silence, broken only by an occasional squirrel scurrying through the leaves, or the fall of a hickory nut or acorn — or maybe small branches.

Dinner this evening was grilled chicken wings, corn on the cob and green beans.  Food cooked and eaten outdoors is such a treat!

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!



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