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

Henry David Thoreau

A popcorn find & (of course) Manatee

Sunday March 3, 2013
Site 20, Blue Spring State Park
Orange City, Florida


Baby it’s cold outside

It was down to freezing last night.  In Florida.  This is crazy.  It was only 2 degrees colder than that in Pikesville Maryland where Carrie lives.


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But, remember the silver lining,  the manatee are here in force.  I go out to see them early.  The winds are blowing.  It is cold.  The water surface is being ruffled by the wind which makes the picture taking a bit tricky.


Later in the day, they tell us the count for this morning is 199.  WOW!

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I should have worn gloves.  Can you see the manatee gathered around the bottom of the steps??

Too cool!

For some reason they like to swim under the steps and hang out.  Sometimes 4 or 5 of these massive creatures try to get under there together.   An average adult manatee weights 1600 lbs. 


Here’s a tell tale tail.

Can’t see anything but the tail here under the steps.

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Looks like a conference to me.  Don’t you wonder what they are discussing?

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This is what they call a barrel roll.  S/he rolls all the way over.  Sometimes their tails come out of the water or they slap them on the way down.  For fun I guess.   They do seem to have a lot of fun.


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But then I would too if I could lay around and rest in a 72 degree spring run and then go out in the river and eat 10% of my body weight in salad and come back to the warm waters and hang out with my family and friends.   Nice life except for their only predator – man.


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After walking from one end to the other on the wooden board walk, about 1/4 to 1/2 mile, we determine that today most of the manatee are not at the spring boil but in the lower portions of the spring run.


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It will be interesting to see if they change their heavy concentration spots at various times during the day.


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The sun rises higher in the sky.  The glare recedes off of the water.  The wind calms down.  My pictures become somewhat clearer.


We stop at every viewing spot of course and notice as the crowds pick up when the park opens to the public.  


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By 11am, the parking lot is nearing full.  The temperatures have warmed up although not to what I call picnic weather but the folks are here with food and games enjoying the park and the manatee.


The manatee nuzzle each other a lot.  And the little ones stick close to their moms.


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Ok I know, enough all ready, but they are so terrific. 




We did do at least one other thing today though and that was fun too. 


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Many folks watching the manatee were COLD and went into the little store for coffee/tea/hot chocolate and the chili they being served up.

We have coffee and hot chocolate just up the path in Winnona but we go in just to check out the store.  I find this great egg basket that I wish I’d had when Carrie was gathering eggs from our chickens.  She used a traditional woven oak splint egg basket I made with the low ribs for holding the eggs but this is much cuter.

And look what’s behind it!!



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Amish Popcorn with a label that says “non-gmo”.  I have a real dislike for the idea of GMO (Genetically Modified Organism) foods and an even bigger dislike for not having a requirement that such foods must be labeled so the consumer can decide if she actually wants to eat GMO corn, peanuts, potatoes.   These 3 are among the foods it is nearly impossible to get in non GMO form unless they are grown organically.  These 3 are in nearly everything we eat in one form or another.  

Anything with corn or potatoes or peanuts in it is a GMO food.   And that includes popcorn.   The Amish seldom have their foods certified organic.  It’s too expensive a process for them but they even more seldom use anything other than natural fertilizers and their own seed.


We also find that they offer popcorn on the cob.  We grew organic popcorn like this for years.

And when we did, we got such sore thumbs cleaning those kernels off the cobs.   I never thought to put them in our microwave popper and see what would happen.  These folks say you can just put the whole thing in the microwave and the kernels will just pop off the cob.  COOL!


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We eat a lot of popcorn.  We usually buy organic in bulk at Whole Foods since all popcorn including Orville Redenbacher is made from GMO corn.  There is almost no corn anymore that isn’t GMO.   But we haven’t been near a Whole Foods since our trip to Naples while we were at Big Cypress and that was over a month ago.   We are out of popcorn.  So imagine how excited we are to find not only non GMO popcorn but interesting kinds of popcorn.

So here’s what Nanook of the North came home with.  One 2 lb bag of “Blue: just a little bit sweeter” and one of “White hull less”.  Can’t wait to try them out while watching Season 3 of Downton Abbey that Carrie gave David as a Yule gift.


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Of course they also had a few other types of gifts for sale among the food and camping items.  There is a full gift shop next door so the snack bar/grocery doesn’t have much but I thought these were cute.  Manatee salt and pepper anyone??


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This display had things you could use in the mid 20th century farm kitchen including this great original 1953 cook book.  What a hoot to read the recipes!


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That was our first full day at Blue Spring.



And just one more manatee– Here’s looking at you!

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  1. JEEEEEEeeeeez with the manatee pictures! absolutely stellar stuff! they were discussing that it's coldern a well digger's butt!

    I did not know that about corn ... no kidding.

    love love love that last picture... whatta nose... that is a nose, right? hahaa

  2. That last photo of the manatee is great ... here's looking at you indeed; just be careful it doesn't snort ;-)

  3. Now that is the life. Float on you back and just breathe!

  4. Looks like your stay at Blue Spring is off to a great start. Good to know about the popcorn. I hadn't thought about most being GMO. Have fun with the manatees.

  5. That last picture is really cute!! Would like to watch that corn pop off the cob!

  6. Hate the cold weather but love the manatees;o)) Great photo of David...hard to believe he is not up north but instead is in sunny, warm Florida!!

  7. You got some wonderful pictures of the Manatee. I never tire of watching them and I've seen a lot of them in my day.

    Thanks for the info on GMO products. I really need to read up on it. We don't eat popcorn anymore but I did check the "Joe's Patties" and "Light Life" products and was glad to see both had no GMO products included.

    I guess we need to buy organic potatoes.

    Have fun at Blue Springs. When we were there the spring run was still open and we got to kayak with the Manatee. Boy are those rangers grumpy. We got yelled at for stopping and looking at the scenery! A manatee swam under my kayak and I got yelled at.

    Have you ever swam with the Manatee? You can do so at Chrystal River. I bed you'd love it!

  8. Okay, you're going to have to tell me what GMO stands for. ??

  9. Love your manatee pics! If you ever got up to Shipshewana, IN, you can go to the Yoder popcorn store and really stock up on the popcorn -- it's our favorite! We get there at least once every year . . . lots of good food to stock up on in Shipshewana, including the best meat we've ever had!

  10. I'm curious, Sherry, as Blue Springs is quite inland. I know tons of manatees hang out there, but never thought as to where they come in from? Do they tell you? The rangers, not the manatees, that is...although I do think if they would communicate with anyone it would be you :-).

  11. Those manatee pictures are AWESOME!!!! :c)

    We're Downton Abbey addicts, too, just finished Season One, Season Two is in the DVD player, cued up and ready to play tonight.

  12. I wonder how much of a difference in temperature there is to make SO MANY Manatee to congregate in that spring. Amazing site. This is one instance where "More is Better". Good memory made. :)

  13. The spring bubbles from the earth at a constant 72 degrees, usually reaching the surface between 66-69 degrees. The colder the weather, and the further from the spring boil, the colder the temperature of the water. That 'warmth' is what brings the manatee so far up the spring run. And, there's warmth in numbers.

  14. Awwwww.... FANTASTIC manatee photos! Love them!

  15. I cannot WAIT to see Manatees. Here in California, the thing to have fun watching are the sea otters :) They have the same mannerisms, but much smaller!

  16. Love the nose picture! The Manatee are amazing...so large and calm - sounds like they have quite a nice life. When I saw the egg holder, I thought of collecting eggs in the baskets you made. I appreciated that you had the same thought :) I hope you have some of that popcorn left when I come to visit!

  17. so so wonderful seeing the Manatee like this. You got such great photos. They look just so sweet and happy. No wonder people love to come and watch them. We could learn something. I loved your description of the lifestyle.

  18. Boy, I guess you did observe a manatee conference! Cool!


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