Being houseless has not deterred from having fantastic yards both front, and back. Sure some are better than others, none are junk, and one needs to remember trying to find, hiking, biking, kayaking, restaurants, dispersed camping, amenity hook ups, laundry, Wi-Fi all in one spot for a reasonable cost is not easy. Deb puts a lot of effort into finding our next trailer site.
Early on Deb set her sights on Manatee Springs State Park. Unfortunately there had been a lot of rain in Georgia and Florida creating what is called “Brown Out” conditions at the park. The park is open, but the swimming hole is closed to swimmers. The spring generates warm fresh water during the winter months, and Manatees collect up here. During our four-day stay we noticed the water level rising and getting browner. For now we have to imagine the pristine spring pools holding Manatees.
This magnitude one spring releases an astounding 100 million gallons of water daily, and a great place to stroll on the park boardwalk. The park also offers 8.5 miles of nature trails. The 32-mile Nature Coast State Trail is 6 miles outside the park. It was too cold to bike so we walked the trail. Deb really wanted to bike it. Much of it was lined with overhanging trees. On bike we could have seen more.
Steve, who works for Anderson Outdoor Adventures was on duty at the parks concession stand. As a kid he swam with the Manatees. He helped harvest watermelons just outside the park, and would jump in the parks swimming area to cool off. It was a gentler, trusting, more responsible time. He spoke of how docile Manatees are and really liked having their tummies rubbed. If you had enough time, the Manatees would allow the belly rub to last all day.
Back at Topsail Preserve State Park the sand dunes are protected. There are elevated boardwalks stretching over the sand dunes all the way from the parking lots to the gulf. I wonder if it was the same parents of the parents, who ignore the protected dunes, “Do Not” signage, who would also allow their kids to ride the Manatees? Yep sure enough, as we crossed over the dunes on very nice elevated boardwalks, kids hopped over the fence and played. Mom was taking photos of her posing daughter, and the boy raced off up and over dunes. I made a mention of the “Do Not’s” as we passed the parents. We kept walking and didn’t wait for additional conversation beyond dad’s dang, I got caught, “Oh really.” Now there is a proximity limit on how close you can be to a Manatee.
Hundreds of vultures roosted and flew over the spring’s area, especially where the spring water enters the Suwannee River. I asked Steve about the vultures and he said they have always been there. Some foggy mornings when he comes to work at this one-man stand, they are all about the concession area. Sitting on the post and rail fence, the picnic tables, the trees, not doing much other than looking at him. Welcome to your day, who needs morning coffee?