Back on September 30th I had to go up to north Florida for some park business, but I always enjoy a road trip. Florida still has some really great places to visit, or even enjoy driving by. I love driving the back roads of Florida.
Before Ocala, I took CR 484 to Dunnellon. Once in Dunnellon, I went northwest to Chiefland. While in Dunnellon, I passed by the Two Rivers Inn. It has some rental cottages behind a fiberglass statue of the Blues Brothers. I don't know why they were there, but it makes the road trip enjoyable.
I passed Chiefland and first went to Fanning Springs. Here are the springs. They have always been a favorite swimming hole of mine, especially to refresh myself when coming back from Tallahassee.
Next, on to Manatee Springs. It was Tuesday, and although it is a busy park in the summer, the park was almost deserted that day. I love good interpretive signs. This was a sign telling how people have been here for thousands of years. I love the modern family having a picnic, and their reflection of an aboriginal family who is also feasting.
This was the only manatee I saw while at Manatee Springs. They do come in when the water gets cooler in the winter. The spring waters are a constant temperature all year long, which help them shelter from cooler waters.
Here is the spring head. William Bartram visited here in the 1770s and wrote about Seminole Indians butchering manatees for food. From what I heard, Manatee does not taste very good.
Now off to the boardwalk that follows the spring run about 300 yards until it empties into the Suwannee River.
Here is one of the first interpretive signs along the boardwalk. It is warning about a disease called Squirreliosis. The disease is caused by people who have a compulsion to feed wildlife. If you look at the sign, you can see someone who is a known carrier of the squirreliosis disease who has been known to feed squirrels.
Here is the spring run.
And here is the boardwalk that goes by some old sweetgum, bay, hickory, and cypress trees that dominate Florida swamps.
And the boardwalk ends at a dock along the Suwannee, where you can get a view of this magnificent river.
There are many vultures who roost here; nature's perfect garbage men. This sign tells about them, and even has authentic vulture poop in front of it!
Going back down highway 98 near Otter Creek, I stopped at this wayside park of a logging train engine. This is the same type of engine that you will find in the Collier County Museum, known as the Duce, that helped log out they cypress from Fakahatchee Strand.