Monday, January 30, 2012

Homosassa Springs and area

Florida has some soft, soft sand and I found it.  Thank goodness for Coach-Net Road Service.

The Yulee Sugar Mill ruins, now a state park, is located in Homosassa Springs.  At one time sugar cane was a common crop in the area and each plantation had its own sugar processing mill.  The mill opened in 1849 and provided sugar, syrup and molasses to the confederate soldiers.

Part of the process was cooking the juice, squeezed from the sugar cane, through a five step or kettle process.  The juice would cook in these kettles, being hand ladeled from the largest to the smallest, each kettle getting progressively hotter.  By the time it reached the final kettle it was a syrup.  After being cooked, it was cooled in large wooden vats.  As it cooled it would crystallize.  Sugar back then was not white, but brown.

North of Homosassa Springs was Crystal River and Three Sisters Springs.   Because the water all around this area is warmer than the gulf, even if only a few degrees, the manatees gather during the winter months. Some of the more inhabited areas are roped off to people and boats.  Manatees are protected and you are not allowed to chase them, harrass them, touch them, feed them or bother them in any way.  If you are snorkeling you are not allowed to dive down to look at them.  If you are kayaking, don't float over top of them either.  You are subject to fines of up to $1000 for bothering the manatees.  But there are still people out there snorkeling and we paddled close, just tried to give them some distance.  There are supposed to be around 500+ in the Kings Bay area of the Crystal River alone.
Manatees, commonly known as 'sea cows', are large, slow moving mammals which live in water.  But they are air breathers and come up every few minutes for air.  They are either used to people and ignore them, or they are unaware of us, I'm not sure which, but these didn't even seem curious about all the people and boats.

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