Manatee Springs, Florida

Creative commons photo

We dropped down to the Manatee Springs State Park in Florida hoping to be able to spot a manatee. Manatee’s are big lovable sea cows that swim up into the warmer waters of the river hot springs during winter. Don’t you just want to give one a hug?

Unfortunately we didn’t spot any manatees, but we did make some other friends of the forest…

We met the luckiest deer in Florida, who were very happy to be avoiding the guns and hounds of hunting season. They knew it too, walking right up to our tent to see what was going on. Meanwhile some cheeky raccoons kept us up most of the night as they performed acrobatics trying to get into our waterproof dog food bag (which is now not so waterproof).

Manatee Springs State Park was a detour off our ACA Southern Tier route, but well worth it. Swimming in the ‘hot springs’ (or more accurately ‘tepid springs’) among roosting vultures and gnarled oaks draped in Spanish Moss was magical.

The Road Trip

We loaded everything we own into a rental van and drove down the east coast of America from Maine to Florida. We were very happy to find out there was way more room than we thought – in fact Jack and Paco had lots of room to spread out.

Along the way we dropped into New York City, where Jack was a big hit with the friendly New Yorkers. Christmas was spent enjoying sushi in one of the lovely city parks of Savannah, Georgia. The road trip ended in Florida, the Sunshine State, where of course we were greeted by two days of rain! Now, on with the ride!

Winter Warm Up – The Southern Tier Route

Ok, so our plan for winter/spring 2011 is to cycle coast to coast across America, from Florida to California. We will be roughly guided by the Adventure Cyclist Association’s Southern Tier Route, although we have earmarked some detours already to New Orleans, Austin and the Big Bend National Park in Texas. The trip should take us around 4 months. The winter/spring window should give us some mild temperatures to pedal our hearts out. Here is the route…

In the interests of keeping it simple and updating our blog more regularly we will post a series of images and short and sharp impressions from the road. Sign up to our blog if you want them delivered to your inbox. First up is a shot from our starting point, St Augustine, Florida -America’s oldest city, and a beautiful one at that.