Saturday, March 21, 2015

Along the Gulf of Mexico

Boardwalk to Suwanne River
Florida St Rt 316 led us thru tall pine forests and past fancy horse ranches outlined with black, 4 board fences and dotted with grazing horses or large herds of black and brown cattle.  North of Chiefland on a back road was the Suwannee River Hideaway - a Passport America Campground.  We had stayed there several years ago on one of our trips south.  Of course the temps were cooler then and we did have a nice corner spot to park on.  This time we were
Suwannee River
directed to the back of the park and it was like parking in an open field that was covered with sand hills full of biting red ants. The brochure said wifi and cable but the cable was still iffy at best and the wifi was only available in the clubhouse and kept cutting out.  Last time we rode our little bikes out on the 1800 ft boardwalk that led to the Suwannee River and we had to check it out again.  This time we walked the long wooden bridge that had railings made of those thin steel cables.  I could not walk and talk at the same time for fear of falling off the walkway!   All the rain that has drenched the state of Georgia and the Okefenokee Swamp has now drifted downstream and has flooded the banks all along the way - - including the area beneath this boardwalk!  At the rivers edge, the floating dock was still floating but the steps that led to it were under the tannic colored water! 

Sunset at Cedar Key

In December, Cedar Key is not full of tourists and is colder and grayer. Not so in March!  The streets were crowded with cars and pedestrians. Families filled the small beach.  Our usual upstairs cafĂ© was closed so we chose the bigger, more expensive 2-story restaurant in the big brown building that sat next to the boat launch and overlooked the gulf.  Bad choice.  The service in the upstairs section was so slow and we were so ignored that when the waiter finally came and said that the printer was broken and our order had not been completed yet - we chose to get up and leave.  Luckily, we found a back street grill sitting on the edge of a bayou and ordered 2 grouper sandwiches and enjoyed them thoroughly!

Fanning Springs

Manatee Springs State Park campground is partially shut down due to construction but the young lady at the gate allowed us a 15-minute pass to drive thru the park.  We had camped here several times in the past and it still holds lots of great memories.  We strolled across the playground and then down by the springs, which was also over its banks and over the cement sidewalks.  Since it was the weekend and a very warm day, it was still full of kids and families.  

Fanning Springs State Park is just downstream from Suwannee River Hideaway and is the nearest fresh water spring.  After enjoying the sparkling blue water of Salt Springs so much, we were so looking forward to cooling off in this spring.  The springs were closed!   The short quarter mile run to the river was now a dark brown mess because the run was coming FROM the Suwannee and flooding the once aqua blue spring!  The large orange barrels that were strung across the opening to the run to keep swimmers in the spring could not keep out the mess.   Docks and walkways were underwater and covered with slimy green algae. 

Our choice now was to spend an afternoon in the small oval inground pool at the park.  While it was definitely not Olympic quality, it filled the need for splashing in cool clear water once more before leaving Florida. 

The week has come and gone.   Our tan train is to head around the “Big Bend” section of Florida – around that giant curve that leads from the “Nature Coast” to the “Emerald Coast” of the panhandle.