As I mentioned earlier, we spent an afternoon in Tarpon Springs, a lovely town that was built up around the sponge industry. It's a nice town to meander though, interesting collection of stores. We had lunch at Hellas, one of the best Greek restaurants I've enjoyed in awhile, and we bought fudge, salt water taffy and ice cream...
We also spent time in two of Florida's State parks, Homosassa Springs and Weeki Wachi. Both parks started as privately-owned tourist attractions, but are now state-run wildlife sanctuaries.
In Homosassa Springs, you park your car at the visitor's center, then take a tram or a boat ride to the main part of the park. We opted for the boat ride, which led to a tragedy of sorts -- Drew's very expensive camera and very expensive lens wound up in the water. Too expensive to repair, he's going to have to replace both. He's hoping his memory card, which contained all of the photos he took on our vacation (much better than my poor offerings, I'm sure), will be readable.
The boat ride was interesting, we saw a lot of native waterfowl and other creatures.
They have three manatees in the park, all of whom were injured and cannot be returned to the wild.
You can even see the manatees under water.
Yeah, I was a bit preoccupied with manatees, wasn't I?
What's Florida without a few gators?
The eagle has landed.
Flamingos, of course:
And then there's Lu. The only hippopotamus to be made an official resident of the State of Florida. All of the animals in the park must be native to Florida, you see, and poor Lu was part of the attraction when it was privately-owned. Lu is about 56 years old, it wouldn't have been fair to move him. So the governor allowed him to stay.
This gator was not part of the official exhibit, he was just hanging out near the park:
I'll save Weeki Wachi for another day...