Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park – Micanopy, FL – January 26 to February 7, 2024 (Part Two)

We were quite busy during our stay at Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park so I’ve divided our posts into parts one and two.

Friday morning we drove up to the North Entrance (which is closer to Gainesville), and hiked the La Chua Trail on the edge of the prairie. This trail is teeming with wildlife – alligators, herons, turtles, snail kites – and we got some great photos and videos during the hike.

The alligators looked fat and happy sunning themselves in the water and on the banks of the prairie. In fact, they’re so lazy looking that you might be tempted to get too close to get a good photo or video. But don’t be fooled, these creatures can run as fast as 30 mph if you look appetizing (or annoy them) enough. Even the fastest man alive, Usain Bolt, could only run 27 1/2 mph and that was basically a short sprint. In other words, these gators will get ya!

Snail Kite

Most interesting to me, though, were the snail kites and their arrival in Paynes Prairie.

The snail kite, a raptor with sharp talons for grabbing and curved beak for tearing, is an oddity in the bird kingdom. Most species, as they evolved in a variety of habitats, developed a wide diet that allowed them to adapt to diverse conditions and food availability. Not so for the snail kite. Their nourishment comes from a diet of one exclusive fare; snails. In particular, large freshwater snails that are common in the southern areas of the Florida Everglades. For decades, in Florida, snail kites were found only there.

Then, in the 1950s and into the 1980’s, the Everglades and wetlands across the state were reduced more and more by development. Snail kites began to lose their habitat and their food source. In 1965 there were only 10 snail kites counted in Florida.

Several years ago what would normally be considered a bad thing occurred. This was the arrival of the invasive giant apple snail in southern Florida. As snail kites began to prey on the invasive species, their numbers began to grow. Even more recently, the invasive snail migrated north into Paynes Prairie and their numbers grew greater, especially after Hurricane Irma filled the prairie’s basin with water in 2017. It was not long before the snail kites migrated north as well, following their food source.

In 2018 there were 29 snail kites recorded in Payne’s Prairie. In 2019 that increased to 104, an exponentially large increase and the largest concentration of these birds anywhere in the country, including their original home in the Everglades.

Their story, and seeing these beautiful creatures up close, was a highlight of our hike along the La Chua Trail.

Gainesville and a Farmer’s Market

Partway through our hike Cindy was hit with an allergy attack, so we only did part of the trail and then headed back to Nomad. After lunch Cindy rested and then we watched the season 4 final episode of “For All Mankind” (which as I’ve stated previously will probably be where we leave the series).

Saturday we made a trip to a nearby Farmer’s Market for some fresh fruit and produce. Irritatingly enough, it was the same market we went to last year when we were camping in another nearby park. Irritating because we didn’t like it last year and would not have returned if we had realized it was the same one. Almost no fruit (only strawberries) and no produce. It was more of a craft fair with bakery items and strawberries.

Then we stopped by a local Books-A-Million, even though we have NO ROOM for more dead tree books. Amazingly, neither of us bought anything. But it was fun to stroll among the books and magazines for a while.

Sunday that Pineapple Express coming from the west coast finally arrived and brought torrential rain all day long, with a small break in the early afternoon. Regardless, we stayed in our jammies all day.

Monday was errands day. I went into town and did our laundry, stopped back by Books-A-Million to buy Cindy a Valentine’s Day gift, and then went grocery shopping since there won’t be a store near our next stop. When you’re moving to different, unknown areas you’ve got to plan ahead.

Maintenance and Micanopy

On Tuesday we took down the slide-out awning cover and trashed it. Despite the mobile tech’s best efforts, the thing was still popping over the flange and seemed to be making the slide-out motor strain to extend the slide-out. Although it’s not really a one-man on a ladder job (Cindy was on the ground to hand me tools and help as I brought the tube down) I was able to get it disconnected. One spring-loaded end whacked me in the face and the other hit my index finger so hard I thought it had broken it, but we finally got it down with no further incidents.

Then I replaced our inline water filter. We usually use a 10 micron filter and have had no complaints with the taste or smell (though we also use a filter pitcher for our drinking water) and they usually last 6 months. Back in November I put a new one on the line, but that one was a much more expensive and better filter (only one I could find in the store at the time) which filters down to 1 micron. The last couple of campgrounds we noticed our water pressure in Nomad was low and thought it was the fault of the park. But when it happens three times in a row you begin to get the hint it might not be the park. Turns out that the denser water filter gets filled or clogged much sooner, thus less water pressure. Fortunately I had just bought two of the 10 micron water filters for us to use during the coming year, so I put one of those on in place of the clogged filter. Voila! Normal water pressure in Nomad.

I also crawled underneath Nomad and patched up the underbelly where it had been cut to access the slide-out motor back in September. I’ve patched it twice with Gorilla Tape, but the underbelly is exposed to the elements AND is textured. That makes it difficult for the tape to stick. This time I bought some all-weather Gorilla Tape and am hopeful it will keep the opening sealed longer.

After lunch we drove over to nearby Micanopy (mic-uh-no-pee) to take a stroll around the old, historic downtown area. Most places were closed during the week, but Cindy still managed to find a couple of antique stores and, of course, a crystal shop. That place held her attention for quite a while. Then we got some ice cream and sat at a table in the grassy area of the town square before heading back to Nomad.

We spent the rest of the day getting ready to leave for our next stop on Wednesday, Torreya State Park, which has a very interesting type of tree and a civil war era house. I hope you’ll join us.

Thanks for following The Wandering Wetheringtons.

1 thought on “Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park – Micanopy, FL – January 26 to February 7, 2024 (Part Two)”

  1. Pingback: Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park – Micanopy, FL – January 26 to February 7, 2024 (Part One) - The Wandering Wetheringtons

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