A white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) buck foraging very closely to us in Hickory Campground Site 65 at Manatee Springs State Park in Chiefland, Florida.
Near NW 115th Street, Chiefland, Florida: 22 October 2016
part of the Manatee Springs State Park 2016 album
After my first camping trip there in October 2014 turned out to be amazing — see "The Creatures of My Dreams" — Manatee Springs State Park in Chiefland, Florida has been atop my list of parks to revisit. Beyond the standard fare enjoyments of a state park along a waterway, Manatee Springs stands out as a favorite because it is absolutely teeming with wildlife.
The white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) that live in the park are very curious and friendly, coming through our campsite several times daily to check us out while foraging. Nine-banded armadillo (Dasypus novemcinctus) and raccoon (Procyon lotor) also make frequent visits and can be found elsewhere in the park. In warmer seasons, several species of snake can be found in the brush or swimming in the waterways.
A follow-up visit in October 2016 proved to be even better than the first. We had more frequent wildlife encounters and amazing photographic opportunities, most of which took place in our campsite. We also enjoyed a fantastic barbeque dinner followed by a boat tour up and down the Suwannee River thanks to concessionaire Anderson's Outdoor Adventures.
I was especially pleased that a white-tailed deer buck with antlers was among our regular visitors on this trip, since I rarely see them while camping. In addition to his visits to our campsite, I also saw this buck foraging alongside the park's main road not far from the Hickory Campground.
If you enjoyed these, you can view all twenty-five photographs featuring the buck in the Manatee Springs State Park 2016 album.
The Times I Am Watching Every Word You Say
A payphone installed in Lake Talquin and the public dock at The Whip Waterfront Pub and Grub at The Whippoorwill Sportsman's Lodge.
3103 Cooks Landing Road, Quincy, Florida: 15 October 2016
part of the Mobile album
Today I went for a drive heading west, eventually finding myself at the The Whip Waterfront Pub and Grub at The Whippoorwill Sportsman's Lodge. Situated on the shore of Lake Talquin about thirty miles or forty-five minutes west of Tallahassee, The Whip has a covered wooden deck outside with seating for about twenty people and an indoor bar. There is also a bait and tackle shop, boat ramp, campground and cottages.
While overlooking the lake and watching alligators, herons and egrets, I thoroughly enjoyed the "Carolina Rig" BBQ bacon burger with potato salad ($12.50) as well as draft pints of Cigar City Brewing Oktoberfest ($5.00). I found the slogan "great view, good food, lousy service" to be inaccurate as the view, food and service were all quite excellent.
Before leaving, I asked my server Samantha if there was a story behind the payphone in the lake, accessible only by boat. She said that it had originally been in the parking lot. Once it stopped working, the owner thought that it would be funny to move it into the water next to their public dock, where boaters can moor whilst enjoying a meal at the restaurant or purchasing supplies.
On my trip home, I pulled off of Cooks Landing Road not far from The Whip for a hike along the Lines Tract Off-Road Bicycle Trail in the Lake Talquin State Forest managed by the Florida Forest Service. From the small parking lot with a picnic area and toilet, one can hike or bike through the forest on the Talquin Loop Trail (6 miles) and Longleaf Loop Trail (4.5 miles). There is an honor system $2 fee per visitor.
I enjoyed my little day trip today so much that I have already invited a friend to come and join me repeat it in a few weeks. Learning a lesson from today, I will be sure to bring my camera bag with me for that trip. Smartphone cameras may be good enough for many people, but I always find them to be inadequate and regret not having my real camera.