We needed to start racking up some miles once we were through with the Everglades, so we hopped in the car and drove up the West Coast of Florida, through Tampa (decent, but it was going to take a special kind of city to make us stop) and towards the panhandle. We needed miles to both escape Florida and the South before heat-induced lethargy and to get into the Southwest before it was going to start to feel like hell.
Had the transmission not failed on us, we might have had some more time to explore the glades and springs of Florida, but them’s the breaks. We weren’t going to leave Florida without camping in a spring, however, and thankfully the wonderful Manatee Springs State Park was en route, so we stopped to set up for two days to relax, swim, and hopefully see more manatees.
All the manatees were further South that time of year, but we did see deer.
Naturally, we had to swim in the springs, however. They stay a very pleasant and constant temperature, as well as a very interesting sounding cave that people can scuba down. I would have loved to do that as well as take a kayak out into the surrounding waters. Seriously, now that we’ve done some traveling through Florida, it feels like without a kayak you can’t really say you’ve seen the state.
You can see a lot and have a wonderful time without one, of course, and we did. The springs were crystal clear and perfect for swimming. Some people brought inflatable toys, some people had swimming goggles, and some people just wanted to hang out near the water.
The swimming was excellent, but I was surprised and a little nervous to look down during my swim and see a snake swimming 4 feet below me in the water. Oh, Florida, you really are the Australia of the USA in terms of animals that can kill you.