|Date:||Nov 19 – 21, 2022|
|Campsite:||Magnolia 1 Campsite #9|
|Amenities:||30 amp, water|
|What we learned:||Do not trust Google maps for how long the drive is|
|Would we go back?||yes|
|Park website:||Manatee Springs State Park|
The first stop on our trip is Manatee Springs State Park. Google maps said the drive would be 4 1/2 hours, but it took us 6 hours to get there. We checked in and set up camp. It was overcast and drizzling most of the time we were here. That did not stop us nor did it stop the manatees. Florida had a cold snap which brought the manatees in from the gulf, up the rivers to the springs where the water is a constant 72 degrees. Which is the perfect temperature for them. There were no manatees in the actual spring area due to the water level being too low for them to swim up the channel. Wow, they were grouped where the spring run empties into the Suwanee river. There were 7 manatees the first day and about 13 the next day.
The first night we did not turn on the heat and we slept with the windows open. It was cold. Even Wayne thought it was cold and I was wishing I brought another blanket for the bed. We were not so cold that we had to worry about freezing pipes. The second night we figured out how to turn on the Trauma heating system and slept really well that night. The campsites were far enough away from one another and the other campers were quiet. The park and bathrooms were very clean as well.
We explored the park and learned some interesting facts. The spring is a magnitude 1 spring, which means that between 35 and 150 million gallons of water flow from the spring every day. The park has a few entry stairwells so you could walk right into the water. There were some brave people in the water. I did not get in as all I could think about was how cold I would be when I got out. The boardwalk meanders along the spring run and brings you out to the Suwanee River, which meets up with the Gulf of Mexico about 25 miles downriver. Most of the wildlife sightings below were seen from this boardwalk or from the overlook which also has a boat dock. We rode our bikes on the North Loop Trail which is part of the 8.5 miles of trails that go through sandhill areas and upland pine forests. The trails are very well marked and have signs to explain the various trees and environments you are going through. It is always nice to just stop and listen to nature. We then walked the sinkhole trail which is where we saw 2 armadillos that were out feeding, moving the leaves, and looking for insects.
Wildlife sightings: 15 manatees, 2 white pelicans, great egret, 2 belted kingfishers, pileated woodpecker, red-shouldered hawk, black vultures, turkey vultures, river otter, limpkins, pied-billed grebe, little blue heron, great blue heron, American coot, black and white warbler, 2 armadillos
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