That’s a bit of a play on words I guess. I’m sitting in one of the warmest places in the country right now. I’m also surrounded by the warmth of many newfound friends. And I’m adjusting… to a much slower pace after more than fifteen months and 23,000 miles on the road. I gave myself until the end of the year to meander rather spontaneously around this country, absorbing and sharing the beauty and experiences as I went. Now, in addition to saving money on gas, it’s time to sit still long enough to get some work done.
Getting things done is proving to be far more difficult than I had hoped because most everything I have to do involves the internet, and the available WiFi is hit and miss. The speed (and existence) seems to come and go with the breeze. This is one big detail I have to iron out. In the mean time, it’s put me behind once again.
It has been my habit to write about a place after I’ve moved on down the road, but I can’t put this off. I already have far more images than I could possibly share in one post, and many more experiences ahead of me, so this is only a first installment about my time in the Homosassa/Crystal River area.
It was the manatee that brought me here. Swimming with these gentle creatures is an experience I could not pass up, and I was on the phone lining it up within minutes of settling into my campsite. After a quick online search I chose to schedule my “manatee experience” with a group simply called Snorkle with Manatee. The following morning I was on a pontoon boat with two gentlemen from England and the boat captain, Laura. She did a wonderful job of educating us on the Manatee, as well as proper (and lawful) etiquette before we slipped into the water wearing mask and snorkel.
You’re not supposed to swim after them, but if you’re still and calm their curious nature will bring them to you. In this adorable video clip one of the young manatee comes to me and bends for me to rub him when I reach out with my hand. With a video camera in my other I had little forward momentum so I kept slipping away from him, and he reaches out to me with his flipper to pull me back in!!
The friendly guy in the second shot below is literally holding onto me. He held me for a long time, turned me around and held me some more. I found out later they refer to him as Chester the Molester.
The campground I chose couldn’t be better. Nature’s Resort sits right on Halls River, making it easy to get out on my kayak frequently. In addition to the manatee there is a huge variety of birds to enjoy along the river… heron, egret, pelican, osprey, eagles and more!
Then there’s the people! I met several nice folks who came and went, but many of the people here live here full time or keep an RV of some sort as a weekend get-away. In time I got to know and treasure many of the regulars here. They are a fun and funny group! The stories… the pranks… the howling laughter. They remind me so much of author Carl Hiaasen’s characters I think I should write a book! There are too many to list by name, but I call them my “Cast of Characters”.
I have to share a funny story before getting to my image gallery… After a frustrating afternoon of trying to load my Manatee video to YouTube on slow WiFi only to have it fail, I slammed my laptop shut and grabbed my kayak. I needed fresh air and exercise… badly!! Ten minutes up the river I noticed a couple guys who looked like they were trying to paddle a Nature’s Resort pontoon boat with an oar. I know from years of boating that stuck on the water is not a fun place to be so I went to check it out. Engine wouldn’t start. They were stranded and there were no other boats in sight. Not one to shy away from a challenge, I offered to try to tow them back with my kayak. Took awhile, but I got ‘em there!! Now I have two more friends in my Cast of Characters!
There are many more stories soon to come, and many more beautiful images too! Enjoy the gallery below!!!