It's been ages since I was there. That Florida sunshine sure gave you some clear bright shots of um, stores & stuff. Knowing you, Htmb, I'm sure we're being set up for some singular sights from the Sunshine State, though.
Okay, someone has to comment on the wheelchair: there's an empty, unattended wheel chair out in the middle of the Walmart parking lot!
Impossible that it's the same sign, but the Homosassa Springs sign looks as though it's been there since the 50s.
Oh, I know that road all too well. Never crossed my mind to photograph it, though! ;D
But we definitely need this kind of documentary evidence without picturesque alligators and (too many) palmettos!
Kerouac, did you REALLY think I could do a Florida post without alligators? Stay tuned...
Bixa, I'm almost positive that's the original sign. I cheated a bit. It's actually back by the main park entrance, which is off US 19.
I took the picture of the Wal-Mart parking lot early in the morning (Notice you can eat at McDonalds while shopping in Wal-Mart). There's also one of those motorized scooters parked to the left. I assume they were used late at night and a stock person just hadn't been out to retrieve chairs. Or.......perhaps they were dragged away by alligators in the middle of the night.
(Notice you can eat at McDonalds while shopping in Wal-Mar). There's also one of those motorized scooters parked to the left. I assume they were used late at night and a stock person just hadn't been out to retrieve them.
Same as here in North Phoenix.... McD right inside of WalMart..... What's the world coming to
OK, I am intrigued now.... there seems to be history here that I am not yet knowledgable about, so I will sit back and enjoy (while drinking my Chardonnay)
The reason I posted the photos of US 19 was because I wanted to illustrate both the differences between the highway between Gainesville and Cedar Key, shown in the first photograph, and the area to the south where the roadway becomes congested with traffic. The road to the south is lined with big box stores, motels, and strip shopping centers.
US 19 parallels the west coast of North Florida. It's approximately ten miles from the Gulf, but drive west, even down near the beginning of the congested area, and you come to protected wetlands and a beautiful part of North Florida. This is the part of Florida that lacks white, sandy beaches, but instead features marsh and mangroves teeming with wildlife.
I had never visited Homosassa Springs, even though it is one of the "old Florida" tourist attractions. Since it is now owned and operated by the State of Florida Park System, my entry fee was covered by my annual park pass.
The park is unique in Florida since it is the only park featuring captive animals. These animals, most of which are native to the state, are at the park because they have either been injured, or because they have become so attuned to humans that they are at risk.
I do not like zoos and have not visited one since the 1980's, but I have to admit it was fascinating to see so many wild animals up close. For some of the animals, their injuries were quite obvious: missing limbs, injured eyes, an alligator that appeared semi-paralyzed on one side. The animals appeared relatively healthy otherwise and I was impressed by the number of park service workers on the property, as well as the numerouse volunteers. While this is a park service operation, it is financially supplemented by a support group.
The park is located off US 19 just north of Weeki Wachee and south of Crystal River. Upon entering the visitor's center, I took a pontoon boat a couple of miles down a little creek.
The ride took about twenty minutes and was narrated by a park ranger.
Along the way we saw wood ducks.
The park service has also lined the creek with nesting boxes.
Here's another pontoon boat waiting for us to pass.
Can you see the alligator stretched out at the edge of the grass?
As I was reading the start of your post I thought that I must have travelled US19, on my way to snorkel with manatees at Crystal River. I then reminisced about the day and remembered we had stopped off on the way home for a short time at a wildlife park .
Lo and behold as I continued to read I realised that the park was in fact Homosassa Springs. I am not sure if I had forgotten the name or never knew it. It was the pictures of the observation pod that gave me the eureka moment. I cannot remember if we saw manatees from the pod but will ask my daughter later , she may be able to recall more than me. I think it was about 20 years ago when we were there . Anyway enough about me!
I love all the photos as always but the reflections on the river are stunning, even better that one can more or less ignore the lone alligator I like your fish photos of course and they are great even through the glass. I will have to see if I can find out what they are as they are mostly unfamiliar to me except the mullet in the first pic. Looking forward to more and fingers crossed that you managed to get some pics of one particular animal that I would love to see and know is found in the park.
Here's a view of the pen area, looking across from a bridge over the river.
Down river from the park there were fishermen, as well as private homes and resort spots. Many years ago I stayed in one of the rustic resorts with my family. This was where a large television fell off a wall-mounted stand, nearly striking my older daughter on the head.
The bridge has gates that can be opened and closed to allow manatees access to the river, as well as to the spring.
How wonderful that the Florida park service is putting the area to such great use and that the public gets to enjoy it. You really got some super pictures -- the first one in #14 has got to be one of the best photo-ops ever, & you captured it beautifully.
How'd that hippo get there?!
Love the fishy pics, particularly the one where the river begins.
Htmb, I must say that it seems you can't pass an open body of potentially alligator-infested water without wanting to hop into a boat in order to get closer. Good thing for us!
The hippo's name us Lucifer, Lu for short, and he is 53 years old.
An African hippopotamus, Lu was a part of the Ivan Tors Animal Actors, a troupe that used the then-privately owned Homosassa attraction as its winter home beginning in the late 1960s. He and some of the other animals were left at the park when it changed hands.
The hippo's best friend was a fellow animal actor, a donkey named Susie. Because he would follow her anywhere, park handlers used the donkey to move Lu from place to place.
They used to also have a "monkey island" out in the swamp, but when the state took over the park, they decided to get rid of all non native animals whenever possible (clearly the hippo has retained the right to remain for the rest of his life). I suppose the monkeys were farmed out to Busch Gardens and other similar zoos.
One thing that is distressing to see when looking at the manatees is there is hardly a single one without major propeller scars on its back.
You have posted some fabulous pictures here and all around the forum, but I think you just officially surpassed yourself. Wonderful photos. You really have the art of capturing water, either still or splashing. Those crane shots -- gadzooks! (& you can scroll down fast to see the crane move, too )
Those otters may be lazy, but they sure are cute. Are those vultures hanging out with the bears, hoping for a tragic park visitor mishap?