Cruisin' The Loop Aboard Kibon
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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 sunrise is 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 docks.

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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