One of the days we decided to split up and do different activities. Me, C and his parents did an air boat tour of the Marshes around Homossa Springs that also took us out into the Gulf of Mexico. Carl's sister and her family with the girls opted for a day at Universal Studios in Orlando. Both desitnations were located about 2 to 2.5 hours from Anna-Maria island. We all had to make an early start and leave the house by 8 am. It was well worth an early rise and longer drive.
Our ride for the day. There were a number of different excursions of various routes and different lenths to choose from. We chose one that would take us a long the narrow bends of the marshlands and then end up in the open waters of the Gulf of Mexico. A tour of approximately 2.5 hours.
Loved this area that was completly different to the beach areas we had come from. Tucked away in the more green and vegitative costal parts of old Florida a long US 19.
Here you had the live Oak trees dripping from Spanish moss curtains a long the road. The Spanish moss always brings back the sweet memories of life in the South to my heart.
Our excursion and air boat experince for the day was with River Safaris and Gulf Charters. As this was a week day and not many other visitors were around it turned out we were the only ones on the air boat. We were able to get out on the river as soon as we arrived and met up with our captain.
Our first encounter as we walked around back to the dock were this family of Florida Alligators. They were enjoying the sun out in their pond. I am glad they were sitting behind their fence.
The begining of the tour took us a long the greener and denser part of the river.
The day we had picked was clear and sunny but so very cold. This was one of the coldest days during our stay. It was actually the coldest day with a temperature of only about 10 C. As the air boat approched more open water of the outer marshes the captain pushed the boat to top speed. The wind chill factor made the temperature feel even colder. We wrapped ourselfs in the extra blankets on board but were still freezing. We were grateful for the ear protection as the propeller was roaring high and because the extra ear-protection also helped to keep our ears warm and our caps on.
The marshland and coastal barrier islands around Homossasa springs has a rich bird life. Our captain pointed out a number of different kinds of migratory birds to us and told us a lot about the wild life in the area that he had lot of knowledge about.
Reaching the open waters of the Gulf of Mexico. The deep blue water glittering in the sunshine and the horizon stretching out into vast infinity. So cool and so beautiful.
Something special about travelling at such high speed. The thrill factor helped to take the edge off the chill factor. Our captian was familiar with each turn and bend a long the dotted islands and marshes. He would slow down and point out various points of interesst to us a long the way. Show us the Mangrove growing here, tell us about various bird spicies as well as some of the history of the area and the indians that used to live in these marshlands.
There were moments when my heart was beating fast as we approched narrow channels such as this one in high speeds. I felt as though the boat was too large to fit going through or that the turn was too sharp. Somehow I just let myself go and just enjoyed the moment and the thrill of the high speed feeling confident that the captain probably knew exactly what he was doing and had done every one of these turns a thousand times before. C told me I had a big smile on my face each time the captain would step up the speed and make the boat propell iteself forward at high speed.
There is something really beautiful out here. The nature is so different at these outer barrier islands. These are areas you are not able to reach other than by air boat that are able to travel across very shallow water. There were parts where the water was not more than a few inches deep. This is Manatee areas where they come to feed on the grass growing at the shallow areas.
We saw these fisher men out fishing crabs setting out their cages in the water.
As we approched the more inland areas of the marshes again there were a number of nice and beutiful houses a long the cannals.
A cute restaurant that unfortunatley was closed. It would have been nice to have lunch here. We did find another place not far from this one later on. We all orderd hot tea with our meal in order to warm ourselves.
Another Pelican sitting on the water. Not a white one though but a regular brown one. I like those as well.
This was a nice area. There were some pretty big homes that we passed. It must be nice to live right by the cannal. Many of these homes also had nice screened porches with a big pool as well.
The river was a natural inlet into the wild life park so that manatees can enter from open water and come here to enjoy the warmer and shallower waters of the inlet and bay.
The manatees migrate down here each winter in order to come to warmer waters. Pretty cool to be able to see them splashing around in the water like this. They are big animals. Impressive to be able to come this close.
This was a great day that left us with many awe inspiring impressions. A cold but equally beautiful day. Even if the air boat tour left us freezing it was such a cool expirence.