We finally made our way to Ed and Pam’s house in Englewood. We had left the skeeters behind and in fact weren’t bothered again once we got to Corkscrew. Ed has a boat and we were going to go out the next day on it but it was really windy so we went to a nice little rookery in Venice.
Next to the rookery was a small pond with about 50 Black-bellied Whistling Ducks and another 20 Glossy Ibis along with a few other wading birds.
After the rookery we went to the beach and walked along looking for shark’s teeth. We found some to save and send to the grandkids along with some pretty shells.
The next day we did go out on the boat before we left.
It was still a bit windy and we had trouble getting the boat back on the trailer but it was an otherwise beautiful day and enjoyable trip.
We then made our way up to Homosassa to camp for two nights at a park on the Homosassa River.
Our friends Pliney and Judy, who used to live in Northfield but now live in Littleton, NH,, spend their winters in Ocala which is about an hour and a half away from where we were. Since we got there a bit late we made plans to meet the next day.
We had originally thought we’d do a ‘swim with Manatees’ thing but that didn’t work out so we all decided to spend the day at Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park. This is a 210 acre park home to native Florida wildlife where you can always see Manatees. We saw about 30 in the river which is in a protected area.
The park used to be privately owned by people who collected all sorts of exotic animals and when the State took it over they only wanted to have native animals so they sent the exotics to zoos but had a Hippopotamus that they couldn’t find a home for right away. The Floridians really liked Lu the Hippo and petitioned the State to keep him there. Eventually the State declared Lu a Florida native and he stayed. He is now 57 years old.
There were lots of other native animals, reptiles and birds, many of which were there because they had been injured and couldn’t be put back in the wild.
Black Vulture, Otter, Bobcat and Florida Panther eating a bird
There are also birds that just happen to be on the river or come in to avail themselves of the food.
The large birds of prey looked particularly wounded, some with no wing or a blind eye.
Red tailed Hawk, Bald Eagle, Golden Eagle
The water comes from a deep spring and there is an underwater viewing area where you can see schools of about 10 different kinds of fish and even a Blue Stone Crab.
There were also nesting birds up in the trees.
And lots of other birds and animals.
Squirrel, Green Heron
White and Brown Pelicans
Black crowned Night Heron, adults and juvenile
We finished our day with Judy and Pliney at a great seafood restaurant. The next day we headed north and got past Savannah where we spent the night. Then we went to Rudy and Audrey’s again just south of Charlotte, NC. We spent two nights there so the next day we had time to visit another friend nearby – Dot. Dot worked with me back in the late 80’s in Brattleboro, VT. She and her late husband became friends and in fact we had visited them after they moved down to Deland, Fl. They even took us to the same rookery that Ed did and we walked along the same Shark Beach! Now Dot is in assisted living in a lovely continuing care place in Rock Hill. She had recently fractured her back so we were expecting her to be in terrible pain. She was looking much better than we thought and said the pain was now down to an ache and she was walking around quite well. We had a very nice visit then headed back to Rudy and Audrey’s for lunch and a long walk on the Greenway. This was a beautiful area with trails through horse and sheep farms along a creek with a suspension bridge. There were a couple of historic cabins dating back to the Civil War. The temperature was perfect and the sun was shining. We ended the day with some South Carolina BBQ.
That was the last of our beautiful weather. The next two days we just made our way home through colder and colder temps and lots of wind. The temps at home were in the single digits and tomorrow we are expecting a nor’easter. Still — “There’s No Place Like Home”.