Jesus in a DeLorean

Another Sunday in the south was coming up so we started looking for churches in the area.  If you are Baptist you have plenty of choices!  And it seems like they all have Sunday School at 9:30 (sometimes 9:45) and worship at 11:00…which makes it easy to plan your Sunday no matter where you are!  But we wanted to try something a little bit different.  Once again, the churchs’ presence on the web was almost non-existent.  But there was a Methodist church just a few miles away that had a web page that informed us that there was a contemporary service at 10:30.  Bingo….that’ll work for us!

Read more

Party crashers

Steph was convinced that the area around Crystal River Florida had enough to see to keep us busy for quite awhile so she found us a spot at an RV park in the metropolis (not) of Inglis FL.  After our meh campground in Carabelle I did not have high hopes.  We’d probably be paying top dollar to be packed in like sardines on a giant concrete parking lot with crappy wifi and a pool thats closed or too cold.  But Steph nailed it!!  The area had LOTS to do, the campground was cheaper than a state park, had full hookups, a nice pool we used a lot, wifi that was useable (not superb), and HUGE grassy sites with lots of room between rigs.

Read more

Yuma the Puma, The Manatees Peed, and Lu Made a Poo

I was told that Ellie Schiller Homosassa  state park would be kinda like a zoo. In a way it was, but it was more like a sanctuary for injured animals that wouldn’t survive in the wild. We saw a ton of fish, lots of alligators, a hippo named Lucifer or Lu, a Panther named Yuma, an otter without a daughter, a bunch of snakes, and a whole lotta birds. We learned a lot. I’m not going to give you all of the facts because there were a lot of them. Opossums have opposable thumbs. If you roll an alligator onto its back it’ll pass out because it can’t get enough oxygen. Adult opossums cannot hang from their tails. they’re too heavy, though the young-uns can. On another note I’ve taken a liking to haikus. Here are some related to the animals we saw at the whatsitsname state park.

Read more

Ellie Schiller – A Day Filled with Wonderful Surprises!!

(I thought I had published this blog post. I’m taking you back in time!)

Several people had recommended we go to Ellie Schiller and based on the website and the brochure I saw it was definitely on our agenda.

It did not disappoint – in fact it far exceeded all our expectations. I think we were all a little worried after yesterday and only seeing one manatee at Three Sisters. We didn’t know exactly what to expect at Ellie Schiller. From the website and brochure it seemed like it might be kind of like a zoo, but it was a preserve, and so far, at most preserves we had seen a few birds and not much else.

Ellie Schiller did start out as an attraction. Then the state of Florida bought it and decided to make it into a wildlife preserve. They gave any non-native animals to other zoos, etc. The only non-native animal that is still there is Lu the Hippo. Everyone loved Lu and petitioned for him to stay. The Governor made Lu an official Florida resident so that he could remain at Ellie Schiller. Other animals are here because they were injured or abandoned as babies and couldn’t be released for some reason. They do not breed here, but if nature happens, then an occasional baby is born.

Our first surprise came because we drove to a different entrance than I had planned. I’m so thankful for that mistake – it meant we got a free boat ride to the park and we learned about Anhingas and the Homossassa area and native people on the way!
Happy sailors   Me and Brie

There are educational programs at certain times throughout the day, so much like our visit to the Zoo, I kept watch of the schedule so we could see and experience as much as possible in one day. 🙂

First off the Wildlife encounter. We were all surprised to learn about opposums! They are so interesting and cute! There were gators – lots of gators! And we learned so much about them in another ranger session. Actually it made sense why we haven’t seen that many. They are resting during the winter season and do not eat (in fact can die if they eat below a certain temperature.) And they don’t move around much during the cold.

We loved this presentation   Its a gator!

Another section had birds galore! So many different types of cute owls and hawks. I wish we had taken more pics. We did take quite a few pics of the water fowl being fed – that was entertaining!! There was a reptile building.  A cute otter and a couple bears were in another area of the preserve. One visitor was particularly loud and she thought she could get the bear to come (which it did) and sit (which it didn’t). Even Brielle could tell the lady was annoying the bear.

The manatees were neat. We saw a ranger session feeding the 2 manatees that are permanent residents. (There used to be 3, but sadly one passed away.) We decided to eat lunch at this pavilion on the other side of the park. I’m so glad we did! There is a covered dock there and we were able to observe probably a dozen WILD manatee over the course of 30-45 minutes. It was so fun to see them! Some were alone, most were in groups of 2-3. One looked like a baby, mama and dad. We were so excited! And it made up for yesterday’s disappointment. It was so neat to see the kids fascinated by these creatures.

This was such a fun day learning a lot about animals we didn’t know much about! And, like most other places, the rangers are passionate about their job, the animals, and the area. Ask a question and the floodgates of information open!

Boat ride

Me and Brie

Happy sailors

Its a gator!

Cute kids and cute opossum

Opposum lecture

He is sorta cute

We loved this presentation

Gator presentation

What the?


Photo bomb

Reptile house



Rub rub rub

My girls!

Watching the birds


Bald eagle

Checking out the eagles


Lu the hippo

Watching Lu eat

Huck the volunteer

Brie and a manatee

Pelican with eggs




Nature preserved

We got into the truck a little after 9:00am…thats really good for us!!  And it was a good thing because we spent the WHOLE day at Ellie Schiller Wildlife State Park in Homosassa Springs.  The rangers here clearly love their jobs.  Several times throughout the day they have programs where a ranger speaks about the animals.  They were entertaining, educational and really left you fascinated by an animal that just moments before you thought to be ordinary.  Other than the hippo, all the animals here are native to the area.  And unlike a zoo, the animals here have been rescued from injury or other circumstance.
We loved this presentation

Read more

Birds of Florida

Lots of people recommended the Ellie Schiller State Park and Wildlife Refuge. We did not know that you could take the tram or boat it was a big surprise to us. While waiting for the boat to leave we were looking at some birds in a cage when a ranger came up to feed the birds, and asked if we wanted to. We said, “sure.” She handed each of us something that looked like cereal. She told us to hold it between 2 finger tips and the blue jay would fly up, and eat it.

Read more

Three Sisters Springs and Fort Island

Our search for manatee was not as fruitful as we had hoped. But the sanctuary is GORGEOUS! I had done a little reading and followed some other people’s posts about manatees. I knew that they were most abundant in this area in January.

At some point I realized that once it got too warm/late we might not see the manatee. By the time I made that realization it was pretty much too late to do anything about our schedule except hope the manatee would still be around.

Read more