Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.

Henry David Thoreau

Fanning Springs

Manatee Springs State Park Site #29
Chiefland, Florida

Had chocolate chip pancakes for breakfast.  Yum!   This is getting to be a habit.  After that, as David puts it I was “fussing around with that blog”. Actually I was trying again to upload pictures to it and still having trouble.   He did some cleaning and then we left to go visit Fanning Springs State Park about 13 miles away.

Fanning Springs has cabins but no camping.  It allows swimming in the springs but we didn't see a kayak put in that was easily accessible.  It is a first magnitude spring which the state defines as 65 Million gallons a day or more so we wanted to see it.  The park charges $6 per car or $2 per person if you walk in or bike in.  They don't really have any parking outside the gate or nearby so we drove in, parked in their lot and walked to the springs.

This was our first view of the springs

A closer look revealed that it had been turned into a swimming pool.  No boats obviously although as you'll see a bit later, they allow even power boats to come right up to the edge of the pool which must be really difficult for the manatee who might also want to use this springs.

The two guys on the left in the above picture were standing on the platform walkway above the springs and one of them did a back flip into the water.

We noticed the Lifeguard sign just opposite the "high dive" and figured that if anyone needed any rescuing the guard would have to dive off as well.

We walked around and down the other side of the pool and toward the boat tie up where a couple had come to get some "concessions", paid their $2 per person entry fee only to find the concessions closed for the season.  Wonder if they open back up for the "winter season"? 

As we walked by -  what was that in the pool?  It couldn't be manatee.  Nope scuba classes.
Underwater and

above water

We walked around the bottom of the pool containment to get a better look at the cute cabin overlooking the springs.

when I saw the sign about my big fish.  Remember yesterday.  Well here he is.

David was helping me get a readable shot of the sign and slipped the park trail map under his arm where it promptly fell out into the water.   Uh oh,  littering in a State Park...........

A friendly boater happened by and tried to help us.... she had no success and the paper was getting mired in the mud

 But the Captain came to the rescue, retrieved the water logged map that she holds in her hand and we were saved from the guilty conscience.   Hoo Ray!!

We set off to walk the trails or at least one of them.  Just around the far edge of the springs the trail goes by the beginning of one of the springs.  Not sure you can see that the ground is perfectly dry and then out of no where there is the water running.  Click on the picture to make it larger and hopefully it will be more apparent.

The trail led to the inevitable river overlook.  You guessed it, the great Suwannee again.  We're getting lots of view points of this fine river.

We followed the trail down and under the dock where we found huge Cypress trees.  That's only part of the trunk that I'm walking toward.

I'm standing in front of a knee as big as me.  Amazing!

It felt like we were in a magical hobbit kingdom.  These knees were huge. 

Those who have been following along have gotten the picture that we are fascinated with these knees.  David is 5 foot 10" tall and this one is clearly his height.

Further on down the trail we came to Rachel's Stage which is the home of the annual Red Belly Days.
We learned that Red Belly Days is the annual celebration of spring on the Suwannee River.

For those who don't know, like we didn't, a red belly is a fish that lives in the Suwannee River and is a member of the Bream family.  People from North Georgia call it a Red Breasted Sun Fish  Scientists call it Lepomis Auritus.  Natives here call it Red Belly.  It's been the main course at countless Pow Wows, picnics, church dinners and fish frys forever apparently.  Here's a picture of the fish I got from the internet so we could all take a look

The festival includes the following great activities
The Red Belly fishing Contest
The Belly Flop Contest
The Dunkin Booth: "Dump the local high school principal, football coach, teacher or local politician"
The Casting Contest (as in fishing pole not broadway)
The Sack Race
The Rug Rat Race: "non-walking infants placed in circular target area. First baby to make it to the edge wins. Prizes: small trophy & large box of diapers"
Beach volleyball Contest
Horsehoe Contest
The Babe Booth: "Guess the weight of the baby pig. $0.50 per guess. The prize is the pig!."

Sounds great doesn't it?

We walked further on into the woods and came upon a small sink hole which you may or may not be able to recognize from this picture.  Click it to make it larger and see if you can get a sense of the sinking Earth.

This signage was a pretty good description of sink holes including those that have been known to swallow houses and other buildings in Florida.  Again, click on the picture to further your sink hole education.  ;-)

As we walked down the path we literally ran into this vine valiently trying to send its roots into the Earth.  It's just amazing how nature just keeps on keepin on.

I'm also often astonished at Nature's beautiful geometry as we saw in this magnolia blossom empty of its seeds there on the path as we walked by.

And the colors of these lichens on the trees.  Did you know that Lichens are "dual plants" , a fugus and an algae that live together for mutual benefit?  The fungus supplies the algae with water and minerals.  The algae contains chloryphyll and can use the sun's energy to make sugar which becomes food for the fungus.  Lichens obtain all the water needed from the moisture suspended in the air.   Incredible!

As we left the trail we remarked about this rotting log and its vivid red color which may not show as powerfully in the picture as it did in the woods.  Nature turning all waste into food.  Now why can't we be that clever? 

We spent a great afternoon at Fanning Springs and got  back in time to enjoy dinner on the picnic table and walk over to see what the "day after the full moon" paddle was like.

When we got there about  two thirds of what would become 30+ boats were gathering to go on this paddle.  Can't blame everyone for wanting to do it, but we were very glad we'd gone the night before and had the river to ourselves.

I had told our neighbor Mary about this trip.  She is on the road in her Winnebago View from her home outside Houston.  She is homeschooling her two sons as they go and they are all loving it.  I mentioned the paddle to her and she said she had seen the notice when she came in to the campground.  Perhaps my description of our experience the night before was enough to convince her to reserve a double and a single kayak for them.  Hope so!  Here they are waiting for things to get started.   Good looking bunch aren't they??

We also saw this cool paddle as we took pictures for Mary who thought better of taking her camera along.

After they all set out, we walked home in the full moon light and passed our other neighbor's campsite.  They too were clearly celebrating with their lights.  I loved the floor lamp ouside on the right of the picture.

Another great day on the road.  We'll be moving on tomorrow.  Hope you'll join us.


  1. Sherry, I'll be along for the ride, or paddle - whichever. I am really enjoying your blog. You have me very interested in kayaking! LG

  2. You would love the paddle through the Cypress at Cheraw State Park... They are amazing.

    Enjoying your blog...

    Safe Travels and Happy Trails.........

  3. LG. I'm glad to have you along and very glad you are enjoying the blog. Kayaking is great fun for all different types of people. I'm not much for white water or ocean waves. I call myself a binocular kayaker since I'm always looking at the natural things around me. Thanks for the comment.

    Hi Nancy and Bill, From looking at your blog entries from your trip Cheraw is definitely on our list. We do love those knees. :-)


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