Monday, October 21, 2002
We enjoyed watching the local fishermen come past our
dock last night and pull their boats up the ramp behind the marina, but when an
early morning fisherman decided to tie up to the dock 3 feet away from our stern
Kay took umbrage. Anytime before
too early for Kay, even if sunrise is now 7 a.m.
Since the nights are cool in the 60s, we leave the hatches, windows, and
door open for the night breezes. Kay
listened to the boat owner say to female passenger, “I hope frogs don’t
bother you.” “We-e-l-l-l,
why?” replied the lady. “I had
the boat up in storage for the last 2 months, and these tree frogs seem to have
invaded the boat, and I can’t seem to get rid of them,” said the owner.
“Gee,” said a male passenger, “I
just hope they don’t die on you. It’ll
smell bad.” Kay wanted to tell
them what to do with the tree frogs and the boat, but Pearce restrained her. So she closed the back door with a loud bang and glowered
through it. The group looked a
little startled to see her standing there in her nightgown, but they seemed to
get the message and left.
We got the bicycles out and rode about a mile up Kings
Bay Drive to route 19 looking for the town.
Southern Waterways says there’s a grocery store there.
It’s gone. The closest one
is several miles to the south, but there are several drug stores and gas
stations with food marts that we passed as we headed north.
There is also an organic store on Kings Bay Drive a block before route
19. It had some fruits and
vegetables. The owner’s daughter
said her mother brings in different things each day.
We could see the ABC sign a few blocks to the south on route 19.
We rode along the sidewalks to the old part of Crystal
River. The Chamber of Commerce gave
us a map and offered brochures of places to stay and eat.
The young lady couldn’t seem to get it into her head that we were on
bicycles. She persisted in sending
us 10 or more miles to see different sights.
There was no literature on the history of the town, but we were sent to
the Coastal Heritage Museum. Guess
what? Yep, it was closed.
Kay went over to the window to read the sign, and the door was opened by
one of the volunteers. They were
having a meeting and invited us in when they heard we were looking for
information. The volunteer piled
many pamphlets and magazines in our arms and invited us back for a tour the next
day when they would be open. Professionals
wrote most of the information about the surrounding area Citrus County.
The only locally produced piece was a poorly reproduced page about the
building in which the Museum is housed.
There are Archaeological sites in Crystal River that
contain evidence of human activity during the past 5000 years. Little is known
about these people except the remnants they have left behind – ceremonial
mounds, causeways, and middens (houses). Recorded
history begins with the arrival of Europeans in 1528.
This area of Florida saw much of the Seminole Wars from 1818 to 1858.
It was also during this time period that industries grew.
Some flourished and some faded: sugarcane, turpentine, citrus, timbering,
and phosphate mining. Settlers
began to come in 1836, but Crystal River’s beginnings were more likely in the
1880s. The town was named for the
clear, sparkling waterway that leads to the Gulf.
While the river itself is not very long, it is fed by many springs and
there are caves for underwater exploring. The
River is also a winter habitat for Manatees, and the areas off channel are good
for Manatee watching. The shallow
waters off shore provide good fishing grounds.
There are many homes from the 1920s in the village,
and there are funds for restoration. There
are only a few of the grand homes built at the end of the nineteenth century by
the prosperous industrialists because many “went up in smoke in the 1920
fire.” There are large, beautiful
Florida-style homes that line the River and its canals, and the town is
prospering as a result of abundant fishing and the nature-based tourism.
The Old City Hall was constructed out of lime rock by
WPA workers in 1939. It had a
magnolia ceiling, a wood that was plentiful in this area. The main room housed the police department as well as the
city government. The statute books
were kept on the mantle over the fireplace.
The room on the left of the picture housed the fire engine that was moved
out when the town people attended the council meetings.
Along the back were three cells. Common
crimes were disorderly conduct, vagrancy, and petty thefts.
The Coastal Heritage Museum is now housed in this building.
Tuesday, October 22, 2002
Pearce worked on the computer this morning.
Something about the server not agreeing with the system.
It’s only partially fixed and needs some of our extended telephone
hours or someone else’s internet access.
We headed down Crystal River carefully because the tide was just making,
and came out to a beautiful, flat Gulf. There
were fishing boats all over the flats between Crystal River and Homosassa Bay. We left the atomic power plant behind us and headed west to
#2. Pearce decided he had to try
out the new lures and weights he had bought, so we drifted for an hour while he
caught a bunch of different fish. One
is definitely a Sheepshead. The
others will await identification – perhaps Mullets.
Just as he was ready to pull in the lines Pearce discovered the boat had drifted
over a crab float whose line was snagged under the rudder. So he got to go
swimming in the Gulf again. Since the engines were not running, the line
was not caught in the propeller. You can't daydream even this far out in
the Gulf because there are traps all over. We did notice that they
are set out in parallel lines so you can steer between them. We continued
south to #10 at St Martins and #4 & #6 off of Anclote Key. We
followed the channel into the Anclote River beginning at the entrance buoy
#2. Although there is a spot to anchor just off the entrance, we wanted to
visit Tarpon Springs, so we slowly continued up river. We looked for the
Municipal Marina but didn't see it, so we parked at the commercial town dock and
called the dockmaster whose phone number was posted on the sign warning us not
to park there. He came by the next morning and directed us to the
Municipal Marina farther up the river on the right just before the highway
bridge. We must have turned around just before we got there the previous
night. Docking is "with the tax a little less than a dollar a
foot". There is 50 amp and water. There is cable TV on the
outside docks (we're in with the charter boats and don't have TV)".
Wednesday, October 23, 2002
Tarpon Springs was started as a fishing village around 1860. The railroad
came in 1887 and brought tourists from as far away as New York. Soon
thereafter divers from Greece
came to harvest the sponges that grew in the Gulf waters. John Cheyney and
John Cocoris started the Sponge Exchange at the turn of the century. This
industry brings in $3 million annually. Tourism is equally as
profitable. The sponge industry flourished during the first half of the
20th century. It declined in the 1940s when a bacteria decimated the beds,
but it has since recovered. Tarpon Springs is the leader in the world's
natural sponge market. The Sponge Docks are now a tourist attraction which
features the boats that fish for sponge and shrimp, an aquarium, restaurants,
and gift shops.
One of the famous events is celebrated by the Greek Orthodox Church on the Feast
of the Epiphany on January 6. The waters are blessed by the priest, and
the young men (16 to 18 years old) of Greek descent dive for the white wooden
cross that the priest tosses into the water. The young man who finds the
cross is not only feted for the day, he is believed to have a life-long blessing
from God. The original town of Tarpon Springs is about a mile from the
docks, but there is a Trolley ($1 a tour, $3 all day) that takes tourists around
the docks and the town. There are wonderful bakeries along the dock area,
but we found only one produce store. The grocery store, drug store,
laundromat, and ABC store are 2 miles south on route 19A.
Thursday, October 24, 2002
After we got the lay of the town from our trolley ride yesterday, we rode our
bicycles back to some of the places we had seen from the trolley. Kay
bought some sponges at the
Exchange. Did you know that there are different
sponges for different uses? There are wool sponges, silk sponges, finger
sponges, fancy sponges big enough to put a plant in, little sponges used to
apply makeup, sponges used for just about anything. There is a Sponge
Museum that gives a good history of sponge fishing from the days of the
"deep sea divers" to the divers today that swim with air hoses. Some tourists were going out on boats to see where the divers go for
sponges. We passed that trip up! We rode our bicycles past some of
the large Victorian style houses and the small "shotgun" houses, so
named because the rooms were arranged on either side of a hallway that led from
the front door to the back door. We stopped to visit St. Michael's Shrine,
a sanctuary that was built by a Greek family in thanks for the miraculous cure
of their son. We rode through the original town. The railroad
station is now the museum. The tracks have been replaced by the Pinellas
Trail which begins here in Tarpon Springs and goes all the way down to St,
Petersburg, following the original train tracks. The Trail is for walkers
and bicyclists only, so we used it for safe passage between the town and the
Just as we returned from a trip to the Post Office, KMart,
Boat US, and Publix, we saw Seaburds pulling in to the Municipal Dock. We
greeted Jane and Howard Burdick and made plans to go out to dinner
together. Jane had heard that Pappas was good, but we had also heard they
were a bit pricey. Santorini and Mykinos were two recommended
restaurants. We chose Santorini on the waterfront. The food was
OK. (Jane and Howard went to Pappas the next night and said the food was
very good and not as pricey as expected.)
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