December 17 – Homosassa Florida


You are probably wondering what kind of name is “Homosassa” and what is the origin. 3 days here and we haven’t had anyone tell us yet. We will find the answer before we depart.

Tuesday the 15th we arrived by about our 2 PM deadline. It sure makes life easy when you arrive before dark and you have an opportunity to relax as others come in late and you get a chuckle watching them trying to get set up in the dark. Today we didn’t do a whole lot, except relax. We did do a “drive around” to see the neighborhood. This is a river type area, with lots of fishing boats and small cottages along the river. No beach!

Wednesday it was in search of the Manatee. Let’s try the local state park (on the river). It was confusing, we first passed by the Homosassa Springs Wildlife area, and it reminded us of those 50’s private developments that showed you a tiger, or alligators etc. You remember those, especially on the major old highways. Route 66 had all kinds. So we skipped this and went on to the State Park about a mile away. It turns out they are one in the same. Years ago this was a private development, but finally the state stepped in and bought the property and continues the show.DSC_0117

We first took a tram ride from the park office to the wildlife area (on the return we were able to ride a boat back and see the local wildlife in the river). They had tigers and bears and alligators and birds and a hippopotamus (he came with the original development and they couldn’t get rid of him, in fact he was in many movies, you may have seen in the Tarzan shows).DSC_0001

The main reason for the state park was to preserve the manatee. This site was right on the river where the manatees come upstream to stay warm. There is a natural spring where the water is 72 degrees year around. The manatees are weather sensitive and when the ocean gets cold, they seek warmer waters.

Which brings up the weather issue again. We are really enjoying this 80 degree weather and so do Manatees. We were not able to see any manatees in the Homosassa River in their natural habitat as they were all out swimming in the warm ocean. Brenda was a little frustrated.

All was not lost, that’s what this wildlife development was all about. They have held captive (no they call it “they had them as residents”) four manatees. So we did get to see them up close and hear about their life and what makes them tick and watch them eat. Very interesting creatures – both Brenda and I are wishing for cold weather so the manatees start to move up stream.DSC_0022

They had an underwater fishbowl that you could enter and see the fish below the water. If the manatees would have been in the bay, you could have seen them too, but we didn’t.DSC_0006

We finally got to grill burgers for dinner and then it was Bingo night at the campground. We went but I can’t say I won anything. A good night and we got to meet some of the neighbors around us.

I haven’t mentioned the campground yet. Not bad, older campground, a lot of park models that have been here years, lots of full time residents and snow birds. There is only a few of us that just stop by to visit. Their calendar is full of activities, including golf (on the street, there are holes on the edge of the street for an 18 hole course, and they play twice a day), crafts, bingo, singing etc..

Thursday Brenda and I went about half hour away to ride the Withlacoofee State Bike trail. It is 46 miles long and supposed to be Florida’s longest paved trail. Brenda and I rode 10 miles together and then she sat out and I rode another 15. Great trail, paved, restaurants along the way, lots of homes. Similar to Katie Trail in Missouri.

Tonight we are smoking turkey legs. Haven’t done them in the past, so this will be a new experience. They were good.

Did look up “Homosassa” and it is from the Seminole Indian language meaning “river of fishes” and that would make sense as we did see (water very clear) lots of fish in the water.

I expect we will not return to this area as Brenda has been attacked by mosquitos. The area is very swampy and river-like and the mosquitos are still active. In fact about 5 PM a bug does come out and you can hardly see it but it bites.

Friday we went north to Crystal River, another manatee sighting area that has fresh water springs. Nice park area along the river, lots of people. The rivers are clear and you can see the bottom. Even watched a person swimming, she claimed a manatee was swimming near her. It is said that manatees are curious and will come up close to humans. We walked around the park, enjoyed the outside and watched a bunch of people rent paddle boards and head out into the gulf.

Dinner was at a local restaurant called Riverside Seafood. We ventured out and tried blue crabs which is one of the local catches. Never again, have you ever tried to crack a half dozen blue crabs and find the meat inside. It was quite a challenge, next time we will do crab cakes. It was the hardest I ever had to work for food.

Saturday was our travel day to the “forgotten coast” near Carrabelle Florida.

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