Thursday, January 31, 2013

Cedar Key - Day # 34 - "The Rain, The Park, and Other Things"

I'm a sucker for interesting song titles....The Rain, The Park, and Other Things was a 1967 song by the Cowsills, and the title, not the lyrics, perfectly describes Wednesday, but not necessarily in that order.

We knew from weather forecasts that a front bearing rain and wind was coming sometime Wednesday, so we got together with Forest and Cindy (Finally Newellin) to visit some of the local springs.  Florida is rife with natural springs.  There are several here on the west coast of Florida near our location, and some of them are visited by Manatees when the coastal waters, or rivers get too cold.  Typically these springs are around 72 degrees.  We hoped we might see some Manatees, but since it is not that cold right now the odds are they would not be retreating to the springs for warmth.

Nice file photo from the internet of Manatees in the springs

We left around 10:30 heading for Manatee Springs State Park, just outside of Chiefland.  Even several miles inland the wind from the onrushing storm was pretty stiff, and as suspected there were no Manatees present.  This is a very nice park, and was mostly empty as it is too early in the season.  The water is amazingly clear.  Manatee Springs is a Class 1 springs, meaning that it puts out 80 million gallons of water per day.  It is on the lower end of class 1 springs, some which put out 200 million gallons a day!

Crystal clear spring water

There is a very long boardwalk that follows the path of the spring water as it flows to the Suwannee River.....some of the boardwalk can be seen in the background below.  There are canoe/kayak launches (not available during this season to protect the Manatees when they are present), a swimming area, rental cabins, and full hookup RV sites.

Mangroves along the Suwannee River

After we visited Manatee Springs we headed back to Chiefland to head north on 19 to Fanning Springs State Park.  It was then, around Noon, that I realized I had not had did that happen?  Well, I am an opportunistic Mexican food hound, so I suggested to Forest we stop off for lunch at Viejo Amigo Mexican Restaurant before heading over to Fanning Springs, which got a quick "YES!" from everyone in the truck!  Nothing like a good Huevos Ranchero to put a smile on ones face and chase away the hunger pangs....:D

I actually thought Fanning Springs State Park was a prettier setting, and its closeness to town, and strong cell signal were pluses if you were to camp here.   Fanning is a Class 2 springs meaning it puts out around 40 million gallons of water a day. They also have nice rental cabins, boat launches, a swimming area, and a nice RV section.  No Manatees were sited at this park either.

 Fanning Springs swim area

Another example of the extensive boardwalks...this one at Fanning Springs

From Fanning Springs State Park it was a short hop to Otter Springs County Park.  Each of the State Parks charged a $6 per vehicle entry fee, but the County Park charged nothing for us to drive around.

After a picking up some groceries from the Winn Dixie and fueling up Forest's Chevy Z-71 we headed back to Sunset Isle.  The westerly winds had been pushing water from the Gulf into the back bay all day, and when we returned the water was up to the bottom of the docks....the highest by a few feet we had seen since we arrived a month ago.

Our NuRVers group had a Tex Mex Buffet schedule for 5:15, and there was some concern about the wind, but we found that right next to Chris and Cherie's GM bus it was pretty sheltered, so we gathered there for some great food, which included a Gumbo offering by Forest and Cindy (Yummy!), a Puerto Rican dish (Cherie and Chris), Black Bean Chili from TLE, Tex Mex Potatoes by Forrest and Mary Clark, some Veegan Nachos and salsa by Bill and Debby doubt I have inadvertently left someone's contribution out, and I apologize in advance.  We had our typical great time together eating, and watching another Cedar Key sunset......#34 for us.

The wind continued all night long, sometimes very gusty (it is still blowing as I write this morning around 9 am), and eventually the rain came, while it was intense for a time, it did not last a long.  

We've only 4 days left in Cedar Key, but we approach our departure date knowing we have done everything here we wanted to do, and are now looking forward to our trip down the coast to Key West!

Thanks for stopping by!

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