Friday morning we left Cedar Keys and headed up to Stephen Foster state park, which is above Gainsville to the west. It was a 106 mile drive. We are about 15 miles from the bottom of Georgia, so we are for sure heading north now. The park here is very nice, the spots are BIG, We are in a 100 foot curved pull through. We have live oak trees with the Spanish moss on them and some pines around. We will be here till next Friday. Below are a few pics of our spot.





Cedar key has quite a bit of history. Remember now Cedar key is not in the keys it is on the curve of the panhandle in the Gulf of Mexico. It is made up of a number of small isles, just off shore, and they are not very big. The maps below show how it is layed out. There is only one main road coming in from the mainland and you have to travel twenty-five miles, from the nearest large crossroad to get here. The drive is basically over swamp areas, with nothing around.


This map shows all of Cedar key as it is today. The thick black line indicates the only road in from the mainland.  Where it ends basically is what the picture below shows. This is where all the restaurants and shops are. Plus the pier and all that , the rest of the isle above and left of it are residential areas, where homes are.


This shows the tourist area and the pier,. Plus all the condo’s and villa’s that are around. Only in the left side loop area is where the shops and restaurants are. If you live here you are lower middle class. Most houses are from the 50’s to 60’s vintage, some earlier. There is one school, one post office, one small grocery store, one car mechanic and no gas stations here. Plus there is not a doctor, dentist or hospital, or emergency room here. No McDonald’s, burger King or any fast food places at all. There is a lot of commercial fishing here, so that’s what you do if you live here. Mostly Clamming and shrimp fishing now. The water around here is not very deep so it is good for that type of fishing. You have to go thirty miles out in the gulf to get to water over twenty feet deep. The boats they use are called Bird Dog Boats, they have an open back ,with the engine up front and the controls in the very front. Nets are lowered in the water from the back as they move along and pick up the schrimp. Clamming is pretty big here, they start out here in the main building in a petri dish as they grow they separate and are moved into tanks, they then are moved to the clam beds in the surrounding waters to grow to maturity, then scooped up with a big bucket type machine. Only one restaurant ,which is close to us in Sumner has fresh fish ,all the rest get it shipped in from the main land, go figure.


It is a pretty neat place but after a few weeks , time to go. We have met people who stay in the condo’s for three to four months here, we could not do that. The census of 2014 showed 700 permanent residents here. Some say only 300 people. When snowbirds come down for the winter, it can double or triple.


Cedar key is one of the oldest ports in the state of Florida. While not very deep, it was a gres area to have a port. Mainly because it it is near the Suwannee river where it enters the gulf. The original Cedar key was actually on a little isle further out in the gulf, about a mile from present days. Remember the only way here back in the early 1800’s was by boat and the Suwannee river was used to get to the interior of Florida. Anyway back in 1836 the U. S. Army put a supply depot on Atsena Otie key as it was called then. From there the Army could wage war against the seminole indians. In 1843 there was a very bad hurricane which totally destroyed the area. A guy by the name of Steele got permits to buy the old depot and acreage. So he turned it into a residential and commercial area. This was the founding of Cedar key on what was then Atsena Otie key. It flourished, here there came stores, hotelss, steamships, visitors, entertainers, saw milling, fishing oystering, boat building and most of all, milling of cedar logs to slats so they could be shipped up north by boats, for pencil making. Yep all the cedar pencils you have ever seen came from here. As the only way here was by baot the railroad finally came in the later part of 1860, the last twenty miles built over the swamp. When the civil war came the union army came and occupied the cedar key area with a navy blockade and was union held for the entire war. After the war the town was in its hayday, with industry i mentioned above. In 1896 a hurricane came and heavily damaged the entire key. All the residents and business were moved to present dasy Cedar key. The town was rebult and renamed Cedar Key from then on. Also from 1860 to 1929 there was only the train to get you to and from here. No roads of any kind until 1929 , when one was built again down through the swamps to get here. The railroad closed in 1933 and from that time on the road is the only way in or out. So there you have it. Nice place to visit but would not like to live here past or present.







The last few days we have been out and about in cedar key exploring. Over at the state park, they have a museum and an original 1930’s style home. They also have their a plaque to John Muir, who made a 1000 mile walk, journey from Indiana to Cedar key. How in the heck did he do it back then beats me.



IMG_0508 (1)



We also went to the historical museum and learned a lot about Cedar key ,which I will talk about in another post. We then wanted to see a sunset and the noted place around here is at the Tiki Bar, about a mile or so out of Cedar Key at a small Rv park, 8 spots and a small hotel. It was quite the unique place to say the least. We bought a few drinks and saw a great sunset that night. As the pictures show it is a very quirky place, which is nothing more than a four polled hut with a room and bottles for the walls, all motored in. You can get any kind of drink you want here and is noted as the place to go world-wide.









FullSizeRender (3)IMG_0483

Then we went out to the dock and saw the sunset.


Back of the Tiki hut.




We also went to breakfast at the world-famous Annie’s. Why it is world famous, I don’t know. The breakfast was very good, and again a place of the quirkiness of the area.




FullSizeRender (2)

After breakfast we drove into town, and went to the beach. It’s a small beach but a beach none the less, it is surrounded by a lot of condo’s and a small park.





We then walked around the town a little, it is very small ,but has a lot of restaurants and gift shops on the main streets.


This is Cedar key all the shops and restaurants are on the left area by the loop . Condo’s and stuff to the right bottom, and the residential area is in the upper part of the photo. The center also has some shops, and was the main hub of the town back in the day.


One of the restaurants




Main street.



The back of the shops and restaurants from the pier.


You can rent bikes and golf carts here.



Would you rather drive a golf cart or a car?  It doesn’t matter here.  The history of Cedar key is pretty neat ,so i will make a seperate post on that in the next day or so.




Holy hole in a donut batman, to the bat cave !!!. Well sort of, last night we went to the Lower Sawannee River Refuge. There they have two large bat houses. With as far as we know 60-80 thousand bats living there right now. Each night at sundown or so they come out. So we went to see what all the whoopla was about. At first we were the only ones there then a few other people showed up. Around sundown you could start to smell then they smell like a strong ammonia smell. I guess they relieve themselves before they head out for the night. Then you could hear them kind of peeping. Then all at once they started falling out of the houses, which have small slots in them. It was awesome they came out in droves for at least eight or nine minutes, a never ending stream of them. You could barely hear them as they came out and off they went to feed for the night. It was worth the wait. I made a video but can’t seem to get it to my e-mail, if I can I will put it up.


These are the bat houses. We heard from a guy there that sometimes there are snakes curled up around the poles, waiting to catch a bat or two.


Before we saw the bats we took a hike to the Sawannee river by way of the one mile trail, boardwalk. It was pretty neat walking on the 1000 foot boardwalk over a cypress swamp, I would not want to be in there during the day or night, never. There we walked to the edge of the river for a good view.



It’s way murkier than it looks, Yuk.



We are now at Cedar Key RV Resort. We got here Friday afternoon. It was a 68 mile trip from Rainbow Springs. The resort is 7 miles from Cedar Key Florida, why they call it Cedar Key I don’t know. It actually is in a place called Sumner, it’s not even on a map and is less than a one horse town with a broken leg.  It’s a cross-road actually with a gas station and two Rv parks next to each other. There is also only one road leading into Cedar key from the interior of Florida. The park is pretty nice with pretty big sites. A lot of people we have met come here in December and leave in early April, how they found this area is beyond me. Our spot is on a corner, and all sites are concrete which is nice. There are a bunch of live oak trees here and with the Spanish moss on them they look really neat. We will be here two weeks, and soon be exploring Cedar key itself and some of the surrounding area.IMG_0379




Spanish moss-covered live oak tree


We did take one hike to a cemetery in cedar key ,which had an old cemetery ,a boardwalk trail,  a disc golf course and exercise area all in one. Go figure.





The boardwalk looking out to Cedar Key.


The boardwalk out into the marshs


Melissa doing her exercises.




After I got the truck back we headed over to Rainbow Springs campground, it was only a 30 mile trip, and we set up at our site by 1 pm. We then decided to go over to the  state park, where they have the Springs. This area was once a tourist attraction Theme park. They had a zoo here, rodeo’s and all kinds of attractions, almost just like Silver Springs but much smaller. The main attraction here was also swimming in the springs. This spring is only about 1/4 as big as Silver Springs, but still turns itself into a river about 5 miles long. We took some of the trails and walked around the park. The concrete walk ways and all that were right out of the 60’s era, brick, cobblestone concrete and the like. It was bought by the state in the early 1990’s and turned into a park, with the only thing really going on is swimming and kayaking. We were a little disappointed in the park although it is a great place to swim if you live here. After that we went back to the campground, which is on the other side of the river and 10 miles away from the park. The Rainbow Springs Campground used to be private until it went belly up in the late 1980′ ,so the county bought it then the state bought it. It is not a bad campground at all, just if you do not like to canoe or kayak or take a swim there is really nothing to do here. As we were only here for one night it was just fine. About 5 or so we went to Swampy”s restaurant on the Rainbow River. We had heard about it so we went. It was a great place, right on the water, all kinds of kayakers and tubers going by .We even had two airboats go by, they are loud and mean looking. Dinner was good and we had a good time.IMG_2743


Our spot at the state park.


The swimming hole at the springs.


Swimming area from one of the hiking trails


Another view, the water here is also very clear.


Melissa getting her feet wet in the spring water.


This is the kayak launch from the campground, which is about 2 miles downstream from the headwaters at the park.


Another view from the dock.



Our table right on the dock



This morning before we left Silver river, I had to go to the auto mechanic. For the last month or so it seems that the left back wheel on the truck is making a grinding noise, plus since we got here it has been making a clicking noise when I first back up and go forward. So today was the day just before we left. But first let me tell you the rest of the story.

When we left back home in early September I had new brake pads put on all around. The rotors and stuff were all fine. That was about $300.00. Come October, I had to have a caliper replaced on the back driver wheel because it froze up, along with a new set of brake pads on that wheel. There goes $480.00. Then come December while we were in Key Largo ,I had to have both the front rotors and brake pads replaced. There goes $660.00. And now to today, the same back wheel the caliper froze up, what now. The guys took the wheel off and after also taking the rotor off they found it was full of brake dust ,a lot. Plus the inside of the rotor where the Emergency brake is was full of ridges and high spots. We decided to just clean everything up ,and I would be on my way. But wait how long will that last, so we decided to put new rotors on both back wheels. All said and done another $440.00. Not sure what that adds up to , but it is too much. Todays repair did solve the grinding noise so I am happy about that. So that is enough, hopefully on the brakes.

After I got back to the 5er, we got ready to go, and it was only 30 miles to Rainbow Springs, which is where we are for the night. Tomorrow we go to Cedar Key, about 95 miles away for two weeks.


It’s been a real nice two weeks here at silver springs. The park is nice with big sites and the springs area was a real nice surprise. Learned a lot about the area and the springs. Tomorrow we head for Rainbow Springs State park. It is about 30 miles away so it should be an easy drive. We will only be there one night and then on Friday we go to Cedar Key RV Resort. There we will be very near Cedar Key Florida which is on the gulf side by the curve of the panhandle. Will be there for two weeks.

Below I have a few parting pictures of Silver Springs


I look like Lloyd Bridges, scary sight actually.


Early glass bottom boats



Down the road they had the worlds largest collection of Flamingo related objects. Quite unique


Silver springs, millenia ago was once but a trickle, then a giant sinkhole formed about 500 feet round. This opened up a giant fisher about one hundred twenty-five feet wide and forty feet high. Out poured the water from the aquifer below. Today what we know as the Silver river was formed. Where the spring starts it is about fifty feet deep. Over the last fifty years they have found over one hundred forty-one fishers where the water under pressure comes out, all this right about where the springs start. The river is a total of about five and one half miles long where it flows into the Oklowaha river. Over five hundred million gallons of fresh spring water comes out of the ground each day, and it travels about five miles per hour downstream. It is a pretty neat place. We took a glass bottom boat tour around and they show you all the bigger fishers. The water is super clear. It is 100% pure spring water when it comes out and then drops to  about 98% percent pure due to the nitrates man has put in the ground.



This picture shows where the springs start under the ground. Divers have traveled into the spring underwater a total of 2000 feet, after that it gets very narrow and branchs off. Also since the advent of modern scuba gear they have found wolly mammoth bones and other bones of ancient animals. Plus relics from the first man to come here about 12000 years ago.


The water from the spring then flows off to the right. You can actually see it bubbleing out of the ground.

In recent history the springs are the place in 1835 where the Seminole tribe leaders came to meet, and said they have had enough of the U. S. Government pushing them around. Thus started the Seminole wars, which lasted into the 1840’s. During the Civil War, there was a confederate depot here where supplies came up the Silver river. Once off loaded they traveled up north to help the  confederate war effert. In the early 1880’s is when it started to become a destination. Many northern soldiers came down this way in there older years, to be by the healing spring waters as it was said. Also a guy with a small boat cut a hole in it placed glass under it and charged five cents to see the springs. Hence the glass bottom boat attraction was born. They still operate to this day.In the 1920’s with the advent of the automobile, it became easy to travel and here it became,  in just a few short years, a meca for vacationers coming down south. It thrived as a tourist area, hotels, motels resturants, game shows carousalls and all that stuff, became the norm here. Even during WWII it was populal. They even had a zoo, here with exotic animals. Small monkeys was one of them, they were put on a small island here, and it was hoped, the visitors woiuld go to the island and visit. No one knew at the time that they could swim and as soon as they were released they swam away. Today there are about 150 monkeys kiving in the park. It was a very popular spot until the early 1960’s when two things happened, the interstate highway system, and Disney Land over in Orlando. It hung on even until the late 1980’s but then the state bought it and gave a lease to the theme park owners .That failed and the state took over in 2013. It is now part of the state park and only the glass bottom boat ride is left, which is very popular.IMG_0494


This water is fifty feet deep,look how clear it is.

The springs are also famous for some of the movies shot here. One was “Creature from the Black Logoon”. A lot of the underwater scenes were shot here. Five of the Tarzan the Ape man movies, were also shot in the water and nearby jungle. The treehouses he lived in were here and when you see him dive in the water it is here at the springs.Also scenes from three James Bond Films. The most famous was the TV show “Sea Hunt” with Lloyd Bridges. Of the 155 episodes over 100 were filmed here.



14324588_326368727696784_8685436141456036101_o - Copy

They have a nice museum here with a lot of original artifacts from the springs.


One of the glass bottom boats, and me inside of a twisted tree.


Part of the long boardwalk they have here at the park.IMG_0475

On the boardwalk, we saw our first Manatee, a kayaker was following it. That was neat




Melissa spreading her wings, she didn’t get off the ground, if she did we would be in trouble! She is an angel though.


Me relaxing with my Bayou Billy’s birch beer. Boy was it good, but a lot of sugar.IMG_0496

Behind out campsite. This was aneat park to visit for two weeks, we leave here in a few days .



Our second day that we went to the space center, we had a guided bus tour set up for 11:00 am, so when we got there we went right to the Atlantis building again. We wanted to experience again going in the theatre rooms and seeing the Atlantis through the screen .It was awesome again as people were clapping and hooping it up. After that we walked around a little till our bus tour. Your daily ticket includes a 40 minute bus tour out to some of the launch sites and a drive by of the Vehicle Assembly Building, VAB for short. But we decided to take the guided two-hour tour. The bus tour took us out over the water causeways to some of the launch pads, and then to the some of the headquarters buildings and final assembly buildings of some of the capsules and main pieces of spacecraft. We then had a visit to the historic launch pad 39A, and 39B ,where most of the Apollo flights and a lot of the Shuttle missions took off from. Then we had an outside tour of the Vehicle Assembly Building, WOW. This one story building is over 525 feet tall and is the largest single floor building in the world. This thing you cannot even grasp how tall and big it is. The VAB is where the Apollo and shuttles would be mounted upright and attached to the main service structure. After that a huge crawler would go under it and affix itself to the bottom. The whole assembly then transports itself to the launch pads. We were lucky enough to see one of the main doors open and inside is the new space launch system superstructure. Again its hard to fathom how huge all this is. After that we ended up at the Apollo/Saturn V Center, where there is an actual Saturn V rocket inside. The building is over 400 feet long, houses the complete rocket along with the lunar lander, and the Apollo 14 command module. I was in heaven as this is what I wanted to see most.  We spent about 4 hours in the center ,more than Melissa wanted but oh well. It was a great experience and the power and technology it took to get man to the moon.



Historic launch pad 39a


Launch pad 39b


Closer pad 39a. The towers are not only for communications, but serve as lightning rods.IMG_0285

Notice the elevation of the concrete launch pad, under which in the center it is hollow and allows the exhaust of the rockets to escape. The water tower, on launch releases @ 400,000 thousand gallons of water into the channels and instantly vaporizes the flames. I always thought it was to suppress the smoke, but the water deadens the sound of the rocket by over 30 percent. Also if you are within 100 yards at launch you are instantly vaporized, if you are 800 yards away the vibration of the sound kills you. The safest distance is 3 miles away.

IMG_0297 (1)

The VAB building, read below to get a feel of how big it is.


A bus can drive on the stripes.



The VAB with the new space launch system.


The swivel control arm that let the crew into the ship. Huge



Launch control building attached to the VAB. Notice the road, this is what the massive crawler drives on. Each lane is 30 feet wide. The top layer is of Alabama river rock, which does not contain anything to cause a spark, it is 2 feet thick, under that is four feet of granite rock ,and then four to six feet of compacted clay . Over ten feet deep of road ,and over three and a half miles of it.



gpw-20051129-NASA-GPN-2000-000967-Space-Shuttle-Atlantis-STS-79-rollout-to-Launch-Pad-39A-Florida-19960820-large[1]The shuttle being taken to the launch pad on the giant crawler.. Amazing


The crawler.


Notice the tracks each one is the size of a greyhound bus, a total of eight.


This crawler is on its mounting, but you can get a size of it by the huge crane underneath. A monster.


Close up, the crawler id driven by one guy, it has a top speed of two miles and hour. When a spacecraft is on it, it goes a whopping 1/2 mile an hour. There are eight men total that drive the crawler to the pad, each one drives for twenty minutes then another takes over, all they can take with the stress involved. Not for me, and remember these were built in the late 1960’s


Saturn V rocket and gantry. Saturn V is over 350 feet tall.


The five main F-1 engines for the Saturn V rocket. The rocket was over ninety percent fuel so it took engines like this to get it into space.


Perspective with people. Huge



This is the main engine, over twelve feet wide and sixteen feet high. And five of them on the Saturn V.


The bottom line tells it all, the power is unreal.


Once the first stage was spent it was let loose and the second stage rockets took over smaller than the main engine it got the ship into orbit.


Second stage propelled the ship to orbit and kept it there, then propelled the ship to the moon, was jettisoned in space, where the third stage took over.


Third stage took it to the moon ,had to get to 24,000 miles and hour to get there.


Once at the moon the third stage was let loose and just left the command module and the lunar lander, which was housed in this bay, the command module, up front would separate ,turn around and go into this cone and retrieve the lunar lander.


The lunar lander, which went to the moon and landed. The upper part above the silver would be what the astronauts were in and what they lifted off the moon in. The lower part stayed on the moon.


Command module and service module all that’s left of the massive Saturn V rocket. The front clear part is where the lunar lander would be connected to and let go of to go to the moon and back.


Three men sat in the command module to the moon and back, two left to go to the moon on the lunar lander. After returning from the moon only the command module, Silver thing came back to earth. About 12 feet wide and 10 feet high.


Actual Apollo 14 command module.


They also had a tribute area for the three astronauts killed in the Apollo I ship while doing launch training. The ship at that time had pure oxygen in it and a spark caused a fire. Because of this the program was delayed getting to the moon for a year and a half, but over 1100 issues were found and fixed.