This year for our wedding anniversary Hubby and I spent a long weekend camping at Manatee Springs State Park. This was a pretty big anniversary for us, it was our second anniversary by calendar dates, although we have been married for eight years. Wait...did I confuse you? Hubby and I tied the knot on a Friday evening in February, the 29th to be exact.
About 20 minutes out from the park we pulled over because we spotted a span from an old bridge. I think by now you can tell I have a weakness for cool old things.
Fanning Springs Bridge
The Fanning Springs Bridge was built by
the State of Florida in 1934. It was
officially named the Benjamin Chaires
Bridge, in honor of a prominent pioneer
settler of Dixie County. Located 29 miles
north of the Gulf of Mexico it held the
distinction of being the southernmost
Suwannee River crossing.
When the bridge was completed residents
from surrounding areas were so jubilant
that they staged a square dance on the
structure to celebrate the occasion.
Because the bridge does hold historical
significance, this section of the the bridge,
which was one of the four spans needed
to cross the Suwannee River, was erected
by the state for use as a monument.
It still bears the original plaque inscribed
with Stephen Foster's memorable song
"Way Down Upon the Suwannee River"
After a quick bathroom stop and a walk down to the dock to see the current bridge we got back in car got back on the road.
Neither of us had been to Manatee Springs before so we weren't quite sure what to expect. When we arrived all three of the campground loops were full, good thing I always reserve ahead of time. I had picked one of the largest tent only spots and it turned out to be a pretty sweet pick. I made sure we got a spot with pull in parking and loading, quite a few of the tent only spots at this park you have to lug your gear to your site (even if it is only 50 or so feet, firewood is heavy). For being such a big and busy campground the spots were very well laid out. It was nice to have paved walkways to the bathroom too, I don't usually mind dirt trails but after dodging the roots and rocks at O'Leno it was a welcome amenity- no stumbling or falling while half asleep and having to pee.
After setting up we drove to the spring, after driving we realized it was just around the corner so we walked the rest of the times we went. Upon arrival we were serenaded by a sweet folk duo giving a performance in the amphitheater. It wasn't 2 minutes before we spotted our first manatee of the day, two in fact. Two surfaced together facing each other with flippers held up against each other's cheeks almost like they were kissing. Manatee noses poked up from all over the water, I'm not sure of the count since the water was a little dark that day but I think there must have been about 10 manatees.
We turned the corner to head to the swimming area and spring and as we watched five manatees swam into the swimming area.
I can't resist a cheesy photo prop
We took a short boardwalk around the Cyprus swamp to the other side of the spring. Along the trail was the largest Cyprus tree I had ever seen, I couldn't even photograph it because nothing but witnessing it in person could do it justice, I bet it was standing in 1774 when William Bartram described the spring.
On the other side we watched the manatees graze on water plants till we started getting hungry ourselves.
|Black Vultures were wintering at the spring in great numbers. See them in the trees?|
The sun was just starting to set as we pulled back into our campsite. Hubby split wood and started a fire while I got dinner ready to put on the flames.
We put the ears of corn on first, followed by the beans, and lastly we roasted jalapeno sausages.
After dinner we cosied up by the fire and drank hot tea as we watched the stars. I recently found an electric coffee urn at the Salvation Army for $8, it is some of the best money I have ever spent. I can heat a big pot of water and keep it warm all night so I can drink hot beverages as often as I need to keep warm. I also get it going in the morning for coffee and hot water for dishes.
The campground was a little noisy because of several large groups of children, a birthday party and a scout troop, but the children settled down early and the camp was quiet long before quiet time. Armadillos rummaging and Barred Owl calls were all we heard the rest of the night.
I saw a super bright orange meteor, I almost didn't believe my eyes because it was so vivid. Hubby, of course, missed it but it almost made up for the purple one he spotted last summer that I missed.
It was a perfect start to an amazing weekend. More manatee pictures in the next post.
Some Bunny Loves You!