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10 Parks in 11 Days / Home Page / Trip Index

In October 2009, I enrolled in an Elderhostel (Exploritas) class on Birding in Mobile, Alabama. This gave me the opportunity to travel in my GTRV Westy camper and visit several Florida State Parks and other points of interest in a period of 11 days.

Map of route

  1. Manatee Springs, Chiefland, FL
    1. Fanning Springs State Park
    2. Forest Capital Museum, Perry, FL
    3. Edward Ball Wakulla Springs State Park
    4. Headquarters, Gulf Islands National Seashore
  2. Ochlockonee River State Park, Sopchoppy, FL
  3. St. George Island State Park
    1. Apalachicola National Estuarine Research Reserve
  4. St. Joseph Peninsula State Park, Port St. Joe, FL (2 nights)
  5. Henderson Beach State Park, Destin, FL
    1. Camp Helen State Park, Panama City Beach, FL
    2. Gulf Marine Specimen Museum, Panacea, FL
    3. Gulf Islands National Seashore
    4. Fort Pickens, Santa Rosa Island
Birding in Mobile, Alabama - 10/13/2009 - 10/17/2009
  1. Blackwater River State Park, Holt, FL
  2. Falling Water State Park, Chipley, FL
  3. Florida Caverns State Park, Marianna, FL
  4. Suwannee River State Park, Live Oak, FL
  5. O’Leno State Park, High Springs, FL

On October 6, 2009, Tuesday, left Ocala East Villas and arrived at Manatee Springs. From the pier in the Suwannee River, it was so much fun watching the flocks of vultures soaring effortlessly overhead.

Manatee Springs

Pier on Suwannee River


October 7, Wednesday, left Manatee Springs, stopped at Fanning Springs State Park, 10 miles up Route 19, and then stopped at Forest Capital Museum, but it closes on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

Fanning Springs

Wakulla Springs

Next stop was Edward Ball Wakulla Springs State Park which is a 6,000 acre wildlife sanctuary. A beautiful bright green snake appeared on the dock before the boat trip which excited the large group of people awaiting the tour. Did the one-hour tour and saw lots of wildlife, including a bunch of manatees, mostly cows with calves, and one wearing a tracking device. The guide said they saw 19 manatees the day before, and today seemed like a lot more. Lots of moorhens, wood ducks, a few ibises and little blue herons, but no limpkins. They haven't seen limpkins for a couple of years - no snails. By an odd coincidence, we were on the boat called "Limpkin."

Green snake on dock


Gulf Marine Specimen Museum seemed to be doing good business with added parking areas and new exhibits and several tourists present. Did not get to see Jack Rudloe, but talked to one of his helpers who looked something like him.

Gulf Specimen Marine Lab

Interior of Lab

Camped at Ochlockonee River State Park without a Reserve America reservation. The rickety fishing pier had recently been replaced with a brand-new state-of-the-art structure. Took a shower and washed my hair listening to classical music being played in the restroom. Never did that before at any park. It was so relaxing.

Ochlockonee River State Park

Re-built Pier

Oct. 8, 2009, Thursday, St. George Island State Park.

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