Thursday, February 26, 2009

Moving from Manatee Springs to St Andrews park near Panama City

Dunes at St Andrews park

 A sunny travel day today, we were off by 7:40 am. We're looking forward to a coastal drive around the "Big Bend" up to and in the Panhandle area of Florida.

Our first real elevation in quite a while

Bird condos

High elevation coming up

Lots of fishing/marine activity along the way

Very sandy in the Big Bend area

Beach near our St Andrews campsite

 The shoreline drive from Alligator Point to St Andrews (see map) was really pretty. We could see what looked like very scenic campsites out on St George Island. It did get quite windy at times during our 5 days here, and likely would blow harder on St George, as they are basically barrier islands with lots of sand.

We had to go through part of Panama City to get to St Andrews park. The city part was a tough drive, lots of traffic and we had trouble following the route to the park. This got better over the course of our stay, as we started to learn the city better.

When we did get to the park we were pretty much worn out, and ready to just head home. We didn't do that, but did shorten our 8 night reservation to 5 nights. We're glad we didn't head home, as we enjoyed our stay at St Andrews after all. Sunny and up to 22C today.

Our nicely-sheltered campsite






Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Day trip and hike at Manatee Springs


 We headed into Chiefland about 9:30 and spent some time updating blog (?) and email, then had a good breakfast at a Hardee's. 

Afterwards we drove out to the Levy County Quilt Museum. It's in a lovely wooden building, built by inmates of a local prison. Admittance by donation.

In the afternoon we lazed around a while, then rode the bikes around one of the park trails. Cathie found some of the riding hard, as there were sections of loose sand. Beer and chips back in the camp chairs felt good.  5 deer wandered through our site.

Recreation of a shelter from bygone days

We connected the car to the trailer tonight, ready for a quiet getaway tomorrow. 



Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Another day around Manatee Springs

Looking down at the water from Springs to River

 Another cool day at first, just 1C at 7am. It warmed up quickly though. We drove to the town of Suwanee at the end of #349, a disappointment especially after Cedar Key. Then on to Trenton to visit a quilt shop Cathie had seen advertised. She spent some time and a bit of $$ there.

 Back to the campsite by 1pm, 19C now so we had an outdoor lunch, and then some lazy time. 

There were several of the large Pileated woodpeckers around.

Later on we hiked the Sink Hole trail, then back to the boardwalk from the Springs to the River.



The water flowing to the River from the Springs was very clear






Monday, February 23, 2009

A day trip to the town of Cedar Key

Cedar Key beachfront

A cool start to the day, but no wind. After a lazy start to the day we went for a drive to Cedar Key, a small picturesque town right on the coast.

What a nice spot! It has a very small-town feel, with lots of accommodations and restaurants. Touristy but  still somewhat rural. It's a beautiful setting, with white sand beach and palm trees. Free parking was easy to find before noon.

Lots of places built up on piers, to avoid flood damage

There's a large town dock area, complete with public washrooms.

The view from the docks of backs of businesses on the main street

After a fair bit of walking we settled in for lunch with a view at the Rusty Rim restaurant.

Lobster bisque soup was great. Gator bites and fries just ok, but you have to do it once



The map likely looks odd, but after touring Cedar Key we went over to Gainesville to find an Office Depot with internet.  A long boring and mostly wasted drive, as we later found we could get free internet at the Chiefland library, not far from our campground. They even have a Walmart there.





Sunday, February 22, 2009

Camp Lemora to Manatee Springs state park

Our Manatee Springs site

 It's not supposed to be real warm today, but it was 10C in the early morning today, a LOT better than the 1C yesterday. It's supposed to be a cloudy day but no rain. Good for us vacationers but bad for Florida farmers. Some areas have wildfires burning, and we've seen lots of irrigation sprayers going.

We were on our way by 9:30. It was 19C by then. It was an uneventful trip to Manatee Springs, we like that. Alan (my cousin) called to say they had left the Everglades and were working their way home, with a stop at their friends in Virginia. 

We arrived at site #72 about 12:30, a lovely big quiet site. Lots of different birds to watch right from our site - cardinals, woodpeckers, catbirds, vultures etc. 

We took a bike ride to the boardwalks, and walked along the edge of Manatee Springs, down to the nearby Suwanee River. We saw several deer and 3 manatee backs.

The main spring

Manatee roll around here, it's connected to the Suwanee River

You can just see something moving in the above video clip. Those are manatee.

Sometimes the Springs area gets flooded.

This waterway connects the Springs area with the river

The Suwanee River