Monday, February 29, 2016

What's in a Name? Beauty and Fun on Florida's Nature Coast

Crystal River, our home for the last two weeks, is located on Florida's Nature Coast. We had a great time uncovering the hidden beauty of area ...  and also learning to pronounce the names of the unique places in this area! 

Derived from the Creek Indian word for "Where the peppers grow".

The urban area of Homosassa, just down the road, probably should have been called "where the succulent shrimp and crab are found". Here we discovered a seafood heaven called The Freezer.

It is a little tiki bar that serves up plain and simple ... and darn good seafood. I almost lost out on the crab legs because Doug was a much more skillful "crab cracker" ... but he felt bad and graciously cracked some for me :-)

We are glad that the locals who told us about it also gave us the strategy for getting served. One person gets in a long line leading up to the bar in order to place your order while the other scouts out a table. No matter what time of day, this place is always busy! And once you taste your food and see your bill, you will understand why ... crab legs, shrimp and two beers for about $25. Yes, we went back again!

Weeki Wachee Springs State Park
Derived from the Muskogee Indian word for "little spring"

So, after posting an underwater photo taken at Rock Crusher Canyon RV park's awesome pool, a friend commented that I should try out for the mermaid show at Weeki Wachee.

The idea of seeing a REAL mermaid intrigued me ....

So I dragged Doug to Weeki Wachee Springs State Park to see ...

Live mermaid shows in their underwater spring theater ...

Alligators (and their cute trainer) up close and personal ...

A river cruise on the clear spring fed river...

And even had a chance to try out my "mermaid" pose!

Chassahowitzka River
The Indian word for "land of the hanging pumpkin"

Hum, not sure about what pumpkins have to do with this area, except that our favorite "pumpkin-growing" friends are visiting us here.

Ok, so Doug was not so thrilled with my mermaid find, so he took the RVenture activity planning into his own hands ... and struck gold at the "Chaz" River ... because no one can really pronounce "Chassahowitzka"... except Chris, as it is eerily close to her Polish maiden name.

We rented a canoe at the Chassahowitzka Campground Store for $20 a day ... a real bargain around here!

But it was the clear waters, spectacular wildlife and lack of crowds that hooked us!

We hung out for a while in "Snapper Hole"... just us and a few manatees enjoying the sunshine.

Paddling up Baird Creek, we came to the "end of the road" where we had to get out of our canoe and wade up a short distance to the springhead of the creek, "Blue Spring". So cool to think that this deep blue spring is the beginning of the waterway!

Withlacoochee Trail
The Indian word for "crooked river"

Biking in Florida is best done on trails, and unfortunately, we have not done as much as we would like. But we were happy to find three bike trails in the area. The Withlacoochee Trail is a 46 mile paved trail. We drove to Inverness and biked a 12 mile out and back with a stop at Ferris Groves for some huge and oh, so sweet strawberries!

The Withlacoochee Bay Trail (better known by locals as Canal Trail) is north of Crystal River. It is a pleasant 5 mile ride that ends with a lovely view of the Gulf.

For our mountain biking experience in flat Florida, we did a 7 mile loop at the Crystal River Preserve State Park. Muddy and swampy at times, but no alligator encounters.

Today we have moved south to Little Manatee River State Park in Wimauma, Florida. Another Indian name? Well, my google search revealed a different origin of the town's name.
It seems the town's founder named it by taking the first few letters of his three daughters names, Willie, Maude and Mary! How funny is that??!!

But before we start to explore the Tampa area, we want to leave you with some reflections of the beauty of Florida's Nature Coast.

Our friendly manatee wanting us to get in the water to play
Azaleas in bloom at Rainbow Springs State Park

Dolphin jumping in the Gulf at sunset

We would love to hear the name and meaning of your favorite nature hangout.

Until next time ... have fun in the sun ... and enjoy the adventures in your life!
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  1. I am down with the crab legs. $25 for that meal is a good price.
    This was a really good read.
    Thanks Chris!

    1. The crab and the "peel and eat" shrimp were wonderful ... I crave it just thinking about it now! Glad you liked the blog and thanks for following along! Look forward to when we can meet up in Florida again!

  2. Looks like you are having a wonderful time! Your mermaid photo made me think of the lyrics from Disney's Little Mermaid...
    "Under the sea, under the sea
    Darlin' it's better down where it's wetter
    Take it from me."

    1. The Little Mermaid movie is my favorite Disney flick, which probably explains why I was so intrigued with Weeki Wachee!

      Thanks for following along!