Old Folks at Home, written by Stephen Foster, is better known as the song that goes "Way down upon the Suwannee River..." He actually never visited the river. According to a fellow camper, he asked an assistant to find a river that ended in "e". He also ignored the "u" in the river's name, calling it the Swannee. I guess it rhymed better.
Before we arrived at Manatee Springs and the Suwannee River, we stopped at Rainbow Springs State Park to take photos.
Archaeological evidence indicates that people have been using this spring for nearly 10,000 years. Rainbow Springs is Florida's fourth largest spring and, from the 1930s through the 1970s, was the site of a popular, privately-owned attraction. The Rainbow River is popular for swimming, snorkeling, canoeing, and kayaking. Canoes and kayaks can be rented at the headsprings. A picnic area at the spring includes tables, grills, and pavilions.
Here are some happy campers holding up a campsitephotos.com card:
Below is the first tent area I have seen that has water and electricity:
Our campground for three nights was Manatee Springs State Park.
The first-magnitude spring at this park produces an average of 100 million gallons of clear, cool water daily. In winter, West Indian manatees swim upriver to the warmer waters of the springs. Popular for snorkeling and scuba diving, the headwaters of the spring are also a great spot for swimming. The spring run forms a sparkling stream that meanders through hardwood wetlands to the Suwannee River. Canoe and kayaks can be rented May through September. Children enjoy the playground in the picnic area. Hiking and bicycling are available on the north end trail system. The full-facility campground is surrounded by red oak woods.
We arrived Saturday afternoon. to cool cloudy weather. Sunday morning we went out to explore the campground, but not before a delicious brunch of chili and crackers:
Our hike took us down a trail which ended up at the Suwannee River. First stop, The Catfish Hotel Sink, otherwise known as The Green Slime Pit.
Yes, those are scuba divers in there. They probably lost a bet.
Next stop, Manatee Springs itself. And more scuba divers.
Apparently you can swim underwater from the spring to The Green Slime Pit. Alrighty then. Past the spring was a canoe launch area and boardwalk which led to the river.
Wherever there are Cypress trees, there are these strange looking things called "Cypress Knees". While no one is really sure of their function, speculation is that they have something to do with respiration.
Here are a couple of views of Manatee Springs before it empties into the river.
At the end of the boardwalk is a dock where visiting boaters can tie up and visit the day use facilities.
On the way back we passed a sign that gave us some insight into a perplexing issue. The last few times we went went canoeing, we were surrounded by lunatic jumping fish. They would be leaping 3-4 feet in the air, almost landing in the canoe several times. Turns out they are Mullet.
I prefer the last answer, that maybe the are just happy fish.
While tramping around the woods behind our campsite, Glenn found a spider. A really big spider. About six inches from tip to tip. I went and took photos of it.
I have never seen this type before but from now on this species will be known as "The Cigarette Butt Spider."
Our last stop in Florida is about 280 miles away at Grayton Beach, on the Florida panhandle near Panama City. We will be there for 3 nights, leaving Friday morning for the mad dash home.
Regards, Park Ranger