Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Travel Tales: May in Florida

I thought I had my blog all under control before we left on vacation. I had pre-written quite a few posts and planned to add some smaller updates from my iPod Touch while we traveled. It turned out that things didn't go quite as smoothly as I'd hoped because I rarely had internet connections and the updates didn't work very well.

Now that we are back, I'll get everything back to normal as soon as possible. In the meantime, I'll tell you about our trip.

Pelican waiting for a handout
Terry and I spent the month of May visiting family and friends on the gulf coast of Florida. He and his brother entered an overnight Redfish tournament that first weekend. They didn't catch anything keepable but we had a good time hanging out in Homosassa.

I had a new camera to play with and the birds seemed to be posing for me. This pelican was hanging out by the cleaning station and refused to let anyone else come around to share.

Monkey Island at Homosass

Homosassa is a spring-fed river with beautiful mansions on its banks. The island in the middle is home to a bunch of monkeys that are well fed by a boat that heads out there quite a few times a day.

The building at the right in the photo is a great restaurant that served the only vegetarian meal I saw on the entire trip. It seemed like everywhere we went specialized in breaded and deep-fried everything as long as it wasn't a vegetable. Not ideal for a vegetarian!

The Super Moon
The "Super Moon" looked pretty nice from where we watched that night. I hope you all saw it, too.

We spent the middle of the next week just hanging out with Terry's father at his home in Citrus Springs.

It's like Christmas for us because we order all kinds of stuff through the internet and it's all waiting for us when we arrive. Terry has boxes and boxes of new fishing equipment and I bought a new computer and new camera.

The Suwannee River from our deck
The next weekend we drove north to the Suwannee River where we got to stay in a mobile home on stilts overlooking the water. We stayed there for two nights and spent our days exploring the Suwannee and some of the many springs that feed it.

The springs are everywhere. The water all comes out of the ground at 72 degrees and is amazingly crystal clear. Unfortunately, they haven't had much rain and all the rivers are very low.

Suwannee River spring
We took the boat up one spring-fed river that was so shallow that we had to pull up the motor and Terry's brother got out and walked the boat up to where the water came out of the ground.

It's kind of hard to see in the photo because the sun is reflecting off the surface of the water, but that dark hole in the center of the spring seemed like it was about 20 feet deep. That's where the main source of the water was. I think it would be pretty cool (pun intended) to snorkel here.

Chassahowitzka Wildlife Refuge
Our next adventure was a day at the Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge. We put the boat in at a ramp near the main spring that feeds the river. Unfortunately, the tides were not in our favor so we had to be very careful so we didn't tear up the under-water grass with our propeller or hit the bottom. The river was already low and the tide dropped fast as we headed toward the Gulf of Mexico. 

It was so peaceful there. We saw only a few boats and all were going as slowly and carefully as we were.  And, most important, no airboat were allowed!

Sunning (and smiling) alligator
I took lots of pictures of birds as we traveled, but my favorite is this alligator that was sunning itself on the bank. I hope you can see him right in the center of the shot. I thought it was nice of him to lift up his head and smile for me.

We followed the river almost to the gulf and then stopped for a picnic lunch at a "rest stop" on an island. As we neared the gulf, there were a few houses along the banks - some beautiful but most quite rustic. I don't think I'd want to be in one during a hurricane.

Chassahowitzka spring-fed river
We tried to follow another river to a different spring on our way back in, but even though the tide had come back in, the river was still too low to take the boat any farther. Most of the other people on the river were in kayaks or canoes.

Too bad my camera didn't have the polarized sunglasses we had - the water was so clear that we could see every grain of sand and leaf of grass or plants on the bottom.

After three wonderful weeks with Terry's dad and his brother's family, we said our goodbyes and moved down the coast to Dunedin to visit Roger and Mickie, Terry's best friends from high school in Califon, New Jersey.

My weirdly distorted legs and feet standing in the Atlantic
Together, we all traveled to St. Augustine on Florida's northeast coast. Fortunately, we got there and back before the hurricane moved in.

I am from the western US, and although I have visited New England, I had never actually "set foot" in the Atlantic Ocean, so I got to cross that off my bucket list.

It was strange, though, to be standing facing the ocean while the sun was setting behind me. It just didn't seem natural!

About the time we got back to Dunedin on the gulf coast, the hurricane decided to cruise on up the other coast. The air got real hot and somehow "thick" so it seemed hard to breathe, but soon the winds kicked up and the air went back to normal. We had a pretty thick cloud cover for most of the rest of our trip but it didn't really cause us any problems. The sunsets, though, were absolutely amazing! 


  1. Kathy, I have lived in Florida my entire life and have not heard of some of the places you visited. I do know Homosassa Springs and will make a point of getting there soon. We want to spend some time in Crystal River this summer and I think Homosassa is close by. Unfortunately, you were here during our driest time of the year. Next time you come you will have to rent a house boat on the Suwannee River - I hear it is quite an adventure.

    Thanks for teaching me something about my state. Glad you are back home safe.

  2. Terry's father and brother live in Citrus Springs and Inverness, so that area is kind of "back home" for us (although neither of us have lived there.) Two years ago, we rented a houseboat and spent a week tarpon fishing at Boca Grande. We had a blast, except for the freak storm that threatened to swamp us one night. Every time I go with him, we have great adventures, big and small. Next time, we're going to take a hovercraft to Key west. We didn't find out about them in time this year.