Monday, February 24, 2020

Crystal Blue Persuasion

Off for a short trip to Florida. Saturday we boarded Sirius and drove to The Villages to visit cousins Marilyn and Terry. They escape the cold Chicago winters in the Florida sunshine each year and we get to see them. Saturday we got to sit and talk while enjoying a home cooked meal.

Saturday we stopped to purchase fresh Florida red navel oranges and ruby red grapefruits. Then we met up with the cousins to enjoy lunch at an outdoor garden area adjacent to a terrific German bakery and deli.

There is a small stage and we listened to a couple who play guitar and sing their own songs and some covers. Marilyn and Terry are friends with the performers and know them from the Chicago area as well as Florida. Their stage name is Patchouli and we truly enjoyed their music and excellent          guitar playing.

Later we all took "Glazer" naps and then headed out for a deli dinner. We said our goodbyes for a short time and will see them again in May and October for two special weddings.

Black Bellied Whistling Ducks and a White Pelican at The Villages

Monday morning we drove east and headed to Orange City, Florida. We found Blue Spring State Park and it was a hubbub of people and very organized parking lots. The focus of the park is the Blue Spring discovered in 1774 and discharging over 100 million gallons of water daily into the St. John's River.

The park is known for threatened and endangered plants and animals as well as many birds and wading birds, black bears, turtles and alligators. Its main claim to fame is being Florida's premiere manatee refuge. More than 300 winter here in the 72-degree spring waters.

We were amazed by the clear water and could clearly see the manatees and many calves swimming.

We also witnessed an astonishing event as a manatee and calf were rescued by Florida Wildlife and SeaWorld. Apparently three calves need medical attention and have become a cause celebre in the area. Newspapers are following this crisis and many locals are coming to the park to witness the rescues. One young calf has a bicycle tire tube around its middle and the situation is becoming urgent.

Snorkelers in the water identified a distressed calf and guided calf and mom near the boat.

The rescue crew put out a floating net and finally the manatee and calf were encircled. Then strong arms hauled them into the boat.

First the calf was secured, put onto a stretcher and taken to the rescue truck.

Then came the struggle with the mother who may have weighed about 1500 pounds. They put straps around her body and then slid the stretcher under her. So many workers then hoisted her up and carefully stepped to and up the stairs. The crowd watching from the boardwalk above applauded their efforts.

Timing was perfect as it was now time for our two hour cruise on the river. We sat in the front seat of the open boat and the day was warm and skies were clear and sunny.

Saw many birds, turtles and alligators. The first photo shows bare spots in the water plants that have been eaten by the manatees.

Great White Egret


Nesting Sandhill Crane

Great Blue Heron


Wood Stork

White Ibis


Male Anhinga

Young gator on log

Little Blue Heron

Yellow Slider Turtles