Since last year I have been wanting to make this trip. About two hours north of Tampa are the Crystal River Archaeological State Park and Crystal River Preserve. I have had a lot of fun exploring this area of the state. It is not totally over-developed, even with a nuclear power plant in Crystal River.
In the 1960s, famous Florida archaeologist Ripley Bullen and his wife Adelaide studied and excavated the mounds. Unfortunately a large part of the temple mound was carted off for road fill, but it was probably the Bullens who prevented the rest of the mound complex from being destroyed. This has always been special for me, because my Mom was good friends with the Bullens and worked with them on a few archaeological sites in Florida during the 1960s and 70s.
There is an observation platform on the remainder of the mound. And the big treat for me, was seeing it from the other side along the river.
There is a boat tour that departs from Crystal River Preserve several times a week. They have a sunset tour once a month. Show up early because it is first come, first serve until the pontoon boat is filled. And it can fill up fast.
While waiting, I looked over several wooden boats at the marina. The Crystal River Boat Builders hand make wooden boats like during the 19th century / early 20th century. Being interested in anything connected with Seminole War history, this certainly has a historical connection.
The Crystal River starts a few miles up at the large series of freshwater springs, and runs down a few miles into the Gulf of Mexico. Salt marshes and coastal hammocks dot the landscape.
This area reminds me of the Ten Thousand Islands down where I am at, without the Mangroves. The estuaries are important for breeding fish and sea life. That is why man has lived here for thousands of years. All the high areas are shell mounds or middens built by ancient people to get safely away from flooding. As we get to the gulf, the boat turns around before we get to the last island. Even the white beach on this island is composed of shell left behind by ancient people, used to build the middens.
Another highlight of the tour was seeing an active bald eagle nest in a distant pine tree. (I had to hit zoom to catch this view.)