Superbowl Sunday, we went back over to hang out with Gin and Syl and Sherry and David. The intent was to ride bikes since we had paddled the day before. When we got to Gin and Syl's site, they were already out riding. We hopped on our bikes and pedaled over to Sherry and David's site. They were gone too....so, we set out to find them. We had pedaled a bit when we saw Gin flying thru the campground saying "get the kayaks, we've found manatees"!! We quickly headed back to the truck and loaded three kayaks in the bed of Dan's truck. Gin, Syl, Dan and I were going to kayak with the manatees...Sherry and David were headed back to their rig.
We drove to a point that looked liked it had pretty good "impromptu" kayak launching and parked the vehicles.....
We got in the water quickly and paddled just a few minutes before we saw them. The wind was not in our favor and kept on turning us around. We finally hunkered down at a "Idle Speed" sign and locked paddles.
|Gin and Syl on "manatee watch"|
Dan was paddling very carefully as the manatees were getting closer and closer to us and he didn't want to hurt them with the paddle. Well, one of the manatees wanted to get an even closer look at the kayak and started nudging the back right pontoon!!
This little guy was so curious! We wondered if he thought that the tip of the pontoon favored his mother (if you know what I mean!!). He kept on nudging us and poking his head out of the water right at the edge of our kayak.....
|He snorted so close to Dan once that he got to smell his breath! Ewwww!|
We headed back to Gin and Syl's and Sherry and David joined us for some munchies and a bit of Superbowl watching. I think that there was more chatting done than watching the game! Right before halftime, we bid everyone "safe travels" and "see you down the road".
The next day we left to go to Highlands Hammock State Park. The ride over was a bit uneventful until we got to the dirt county road that had wooden, one lane bridges! We were okay weight wise but boy oh boy did we get dusty! We got settled into our site (101) after a few tricky maneuvers. The roads in the campground are a bit narrow, traffic can go both ways (even though they are only one lane!), and the dump station is not in the best place! Dan also had to stop on the way in and get on top of the rig to pull down a dead tree limb that was hanging in our way. Didn't want it to scratch the roof!!
This was, by far, the largest campground of any of the state parks that we have stayed in. The sites were a bit close together and there was a Scamp Camp going on! There must have been about 50-75 of these scampers! Although as crowded as it was and as large as it is, it was a quiet campground. They also have lots of ranger-led activities like soup night, covered dish dinners, camper coffee, etc etc.
Over the next few days, we explored the park on foot and by bicycle (and by tram, too!). Highlands Hammock is one of the first state parks in Florida and opened to the public in 1931. During the Depression, the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) developed some of the park facilities. There is a really nice interpretive museum educating people on the CCC. There are also a number of hiking trails as well as a bike trail and a loop (which is also the hammock). We wanted to do all of the trails but ended up missing two of them. Everytime that we went out to hike, we would check on the alligator that had taken up residence in a culvert near the entrance of the hammock. She had a number of babies with her too.
|I think we counted 12!|
My favorite trail was the Cypress Swamp Trail.
It had a really neat catwalk over what was supposed to be a swamp with more water than there actually was....
|No water here!|
|Water here but very low!|
|Saw this beautiful cardinal|
|Dan spotted this alligator peering at us.|
|Air plants were all over the trees!|
On the tram ride that we took, Ranger Brenda told us that in the past, when the big trees would start showing signs of decay, they insides would be filled with concrete and rebar. It was thought that this would help prevent further damage.
|Look high up in the tree...|
|and even closer!|
|including this big guy!!|
|Jolly Geen Giant|
and some other wildlife...
|Blue heron on the left; deer on the right|
Today Gin and Syl are coming over for a paddle. Should be fun! We get to try out the kayak carts....stay tuned for pictures.
I'd like to wish my parents an early "happy anniversary".....54 years!! Congratulations Mom and Dad and best wishes for many, many more years together.
I'd also like to give congratulations to my daughter, Ashleigh. She is a freshman at UNC-W and was recently selected to be a student ambassador. A student ambassador serves as an official host of the university during special events. They promotes the "UNCW" way to students past, present, and future. The UNCW website says that they are an elite group of students representing the best of the very best. Their primary duties and services include working with the chancellor, the Alumni Association, UNCW Admissions, the community, and prospective and current students; ultimately, volunteering their time and energy to promoting and serving the University.
|Can you tell this Mom is proud?|
They close in a few weeks and move in shortly there after. I keep asking if the RV hook-ups have been installed yet!!! We are looking forward to seeing their new place when we return to the Wake Forest area later this Spring. Life is good indeed!