Thursday, 13 March 2014

Chiefland FL (Day 3)

Late post from Wednesday, March 12th

Sorry for not posting yesterday. We went on a field trip for the day and did not get back until it was nearly dark! I am dedicated to posting but not enough that I want to sit in the dark at the concession to do it.....

This picture is actually from Tuesday evening. I made fresh apple crisp!!
Baked right on our Coleman stove. It is just a little 6" x 2" foil dish.
We were getting a bit tired of those Walmart cookies!!

Just a note from the other day. Remember the Catfish Hotel sinkhole picture that I showed you with the divers? Well, we spoke to one of the divers and he told us that there is a cave that goes right under our campsite and surrounding area. You have to dive W-A-Y down to the bottom (90 feet) and then it travels along about 1/3 of a mile. Cool, huh? If you suddenly don't hear from us, check out that sinkhole for us, will you?

So, to that field trip. We drove about 1 hour south to Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park. Someone had told us that there was a great manatee underwater viewing observatory there. We needed something to do so off we went. We paid $13 each to get in. Really, it is just a glorified zoo. We both have mixed feelings about zoos but, ultimately, we as a society have learned so much more about animals because of them. This one used to have all kinds of exotics years ago but they removed all but one. Now they only house indigenous wildlife OTHER than Lou, the 54 year old hippo who came here as a young animal from another zoo. Years ago, Florida state residents petitioned to have Lou stay as it was pretty much the only home he had known. The then governor made him an honourary resident.    He has lived in the lap of luxury ever since.

First, let's start with the little tour. You can take a 20 minute boat ride through the canal to get you to the wildlife area. It is included in the cost so we figured we may as well.

We aren't really that enthralled to be on "tours" but sometimes you just are....
 That is the little boat dock behind us....

Once the boat docks, you walk a short distance to another check-in area and this is the area where the "zoo" part is. Then another walkway. I have to say, Florida has it dialed in for wooden walkways.....
This is the natural spring area. This underwater viewing area was installed a long time
ago and is interesting to go down into. This is looking back up to the big area of the
natural spring. We were hoping to see manatees close up....

 You can see above where the water drops off, really deep!!

We got a few pictures from Josh & Kathy the other day of their trip to the Vancouver Aquarium with Gus & friends. Notice any similarities with these two shots?? Can't seem to get them lined up, so this will have to do!!! Like grandson, like Grandpa!!

However, we were stymied with the manatee viewing part. This large, natural spring is very beautiful and peaceful. We saw many huge schools of fish, which was interesting in how they grouped themselves together....

I think the little guys have it figured out!!!
Anyway, you have all seen a zoo before. No matter it was very enjoyable. The next few pictures show the manatee "tank". It is 50,000 gallons and has a big canal-way into it for them to swim up into. When we were there, there were 4 of them in it. It is used for veterinary applications. They do look after sick and injured manatees.
If you look closely at some of these manatees, you will see scars on their undersides (which they seemed happy to show us.....). These are usually caused by encounters the fishing lines in which they get tangled and props on the boats. This time of year, people are asked NOT to use motors in certain parts of Florida to help protect these gentle "sea cows".
 One coming into the tank...

 You can barely see them in there. The water looks dirty but is
actually just leaves that fall constantly from the trees....

 See the scars on the belly??

Hi there!!! From the tank, they can swim back out
into the huge natural spring area you saw above....

Lots of nice, natural areas....
Lou the Hippo zone!!

I liked mine better IN the swamp!!!



The bird buffet table. There always has to be someone that is
being greedy. What a surprize, it's the turkey vulture (buzzard). He is
waiting for them to put the shrimp in the containers for the flamingos.

Mommy brown pelican and her baby.....

This is for our friends, Mike & Terri Church......

This was a black-bellied whistling duck "gang". They were chasing
the other birds around...they need the anti-bullying program here!!

And after all that, we chose to walk the 3/4 mile back to the main entrance area. There is also a shuttle bus that will bring you along here if you miss the last little boat ride.

We were the only ones on this road and we both thought that it reminded us a bit
of Jurassic Park. There are electrical outlets about every 1/2 block for the little park
vehicles. We were just waiting for the dinosaurs to appear!!

Okay, enough "touristy" things already!!
This was what it looked like when we got back! Like I said above, it was a little dark to sit outside typing!! Instead, we enjoyed a lovely, quiet walk down to the river. The river, overnight and during the day we were gone, rose about 2 feet. Apparently, this comes
down from Georgia and when it rains there, it takes a day or so to get here.
Pretty crazy to see such a difference in one day!!
Looking back towards the manatee area and the swimming are beyond....

...and that was a good day and night!!
So, we are posting this on Thursday afternoon. We will be leaving this lovely park on Friday morning and heading to Anna Maria Island for a visit with my Uncle Alan & Auntie Mary. They are from Marquette, Michigan but are searching out some sun and warmth as well. Nice that we could "descend" upon them!! Thanks guys!! I will post once we have arrived at their place. That will likely be Friday evening....
Thought for the day: Don't be afraid of what you can't do. Be afraid that you didn't try.


  1. We agree with you on the zoo thing but somethings you have to do things like that to get the close encounters. We love the manatees they are just so gentle looking. Love the colour of that water too. Glad you are having a good time.

  2. Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park is used mostly for nursing injured or sick wildlife back to health before returning them to the wilds. Unfortunately some of the injuries are not fixable so the wildlife is then set to spend the rest of their lives at the sanctuary.
    Before leaving the area you should try swimming with the Manatees at the Three Sisters Springs. It is an unbelievable experience to interact with these gentle giants of the sea. We have booked twice with Captain Mike's swim with the Manatees, located at Pete's Pier.
    Be Safe and Enjoy!

    It's about time.

  3. What a beautiful day you had. I love the manatees but have never seen one in person, you lucky dogs. Boy, you're surely enjoying Florida and I'm sad to have missed it on this go-around. Maybe next time; although I'm going to be a little cautious about weather on my next winter jaunt!
    Arizona is wonderfully warm but not too hot - yet. I'm in Goodyear, west of Phoenix - all's good here.