Vultures and Dead Jellyfish
By the time we arrived in Manatee Springs, Florida, about an hour north of Cedar Key, the weather had changed and it was cold enough that I had to wear gloves to hold my camera. I couldn’t get a shot of the manatees because only their noses came out of the 70 degree crystal spring water. I had better luck photographing a heron that was stalking its next meal.
The gangs of vultures that also inhabited the state park were more than willing to pose. At night they gathered together and roosted in the trees by the hundreds. During the day, they brazenly mulled about as if they were at a convention.
The people who created the interpretive signs on the long walkway out to the river have a good sense of humor. One sign warns against contracting squirrelitis, the feeding of wild animals. There's a mirror attached to the sign to show who is most likely to catch the disease.
We noticed about ten German campers and met some of their owners who were on a 5 month tour of the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. One German woman expressed, in broken English, her horror at the poverty she saw while touring through Mexico, as witnessed by all the dead dogs they came across. Her husband, who had lived through WWII, was keen to talk politics with us. They had recently come from a rodeo and were uncomfortable with the nationalistic display that included public prayer and much flag waving.
After 5 days camping along the Gulf of Mexico in Cedar Key, Florida, Joe told me he had a Valentine’s Day surprise for me. By the end of the day we were standing on the shore of the Atlantic Ocean in Ameilla Island. “The real ocean!” I squealed with delight.
By then I was wearing my down parka. The beach was littered with thousands of dead jellyfish! Apparently, jellyfish have a very short lifespan and they wash up like that every year. “It stinks pretty bad for a few days,” the ranger said when I asked him about it.
We were still in Florida, but it was cold. By the end of our walk on the beach, I was calling Joe “Kenny,” the South Park cartoon character who can’t talk because his jacket is zipped up over his mouth. It was as if we were preparing ourselves for the icy cold weather we knew we’d come home to. We decided to pamper ourselves after a week of camping. We ate at the “Gourmet Gourmet,” got a motel room, and watched the movie “Dirty Dancing” all the way through for the first time.