Our main destination on the Saturday after CPC was Blue Spring State Park, to see the manatees.
We had a little trouble finding the park. Our GPS directed us down the wrong road, about two miles south of the correct route. We cut over on a residential street that soon turned into a sandy, rutted track. We came upon a yard with two pieces of carnival equipment decorated with stuffed animals that had been pummeled by the weather until they looked like carcasses hung out to warn trespassers.
We arrived around 10:30, and the parking lot was already almost full. We split up early on and wandered about.
The park is situated on the St. Johns River about 20 miles north of Orlando and 20 miles west of the Atlantic coast. The 73-degree waters of the spring bubble up at the end of a short stream named Blue Spring Run. It’s in this run that the manatee gather in the winter.
Looking downstream along Blue Spring Run toward the St. Johns River.
We saw manatee immediately, but they weren’t the only wildlife around. Cormorants and Anhingas perched on buoys and snags. Large schools of gar swam in the clear water and two huge alligators hauled out of the water right across from one of the viewing decks. A Florida Red-Bellied Turtle was sunning near one of the alligators, but it remained cautious.
After seeing what there was to see, I met up with my friends and we headed up to the Thursby House, built in 1872 by the owners of a steamboat landing on the St. Johns River.
There wasn’t much to see inside, so we sat down on rocking chairs on the porch and relaxed after our busy week.