South by Southeast late 2018 - early 2019 travel blog

 

 

 

 

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anhinga

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manatees


Today we had another service appointment to repair the alternator in our motor home engine, which still is not working properly. On the drive to and from Tampa it cycled on and off rather than running full time and left us with depleted batteries. The forecast was great and we wanted to give the techs enough time to get the job done, so we planned a field trip to Blue Springs State Park, about an hour's drive northwest. We'd been there once before and had fond memories of this special spot where you can actually watch herds of manatees lallygogging around in the 72º water that is constantly flowing out of the ground.

Manatees are incredibly appealing despite their hang-dog faces and blobby bodies. These incredibly placid creatures eat about 10% of their substantial body weight in veggies every day and have no enemies except for us, of course. They are hard to see floating below the water's surface and boats run into them with the same effect as we might have running our bodies into automobiles. The lucky ones get nicked by propellers and the resulting scars become identifying marks for the scientists who keep an eye on them. It is said that in ancient times sailors mistook manatees for women and men the idea of mermaids came from manatees. After watching them again today, I have to say those say that those sailors must have been a LONG way from home for a LONG time.

We were fortunate to get the last few seats on a tour boat that took us into the channels the manatees use to come into Blue Springs from colder waters. Once the water temperatures go down to about 65º, the manatees begin to die so Blue Springs becomes a winter refuge. The boat moved from one bank to another giving us superb views of many water birds. As these birds fish they have a real dignity and focus, standing erect and tall to better see the fish they are stalking. They appeared to be used to the boat and stood still long enough that we could admire them. The boat captain told us their names, which I immediately forgot again. I need to go on a few more boat rides.

On the drive home the repair facility phoned to say that our alternator had been fixed. Ken took the motor home out for a ride to verify that this was so and sadly, it was not. So we are spending the night in the parking lot so they can continue working on it first thing in the morning. The motor home is home and once we pull the shades, it is easy to forget where we are, bu we need to plan another field trip for tomorrow.

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