Saturday, September 12, 2015

Manatee Springs State Park

We broke camp and departed Vogel State Park near Blairsville Georgia, and drove south down the unforgettable Blood Mountain Saturday, the first day of the Labor Day weekend. After a short stop with family and friends near Athens, Georgia, we headed to another campground we hadn't visited before, the absolutely flat Manatee Springs State Park near Chiefland, Florida. 

We extended our stay at Vogel, which is now one of our favorite state parks, and spent more time there than we planned, but temperatures were becoming milder, and the rainy season in Florida was drawing to a close, time to mosey toward home. Besides, Manatee Springs looked inviting, we hadn't been there before and it was on the way home. If we liked it, we would stay a couple of days as we still had time to kick back and enjoy our vacation.

Entrance to the Magnolia 1 and 2 camping loops at Manatee Springs State Park

We arrived at the campground on Florida's northwest gulf coast, appropriately located at the other end of the Suwannee River – we started at Stephen Foster State Park near Fargo, Georgia, the headwaters of the river some five weeks ago – around six in the afternoon. We anticipated another great vacation experience, but as my mom always said, “If you can't say anything nice, then don't say anything at all.”

Unfortunately, my mom didn't write a blog, and blank computer screens just don't make good reading. But, in all fairness, I can honestly say Manatee Springs State Park is probably a really nice day-use park. The spring is very reminiscent, although somewhat smaller, of Blue Spring State Park near Sanford. Overnight camping is another story.

We were up at 5:45am the next morning and after coffee, started packing up. We were on the road by daybreak and we were home by noon. We were told by campground volunteers the night before we had site 40, the best site in the campground. Fine, let someone else have it.

There was a popular song some years ago by Huey Lewis and the News where part of the lyrics were about a diner where you could eat all you want for a dollar ninety-nine, but a dollar's worth was all you could stand. That's Manatee Springs State Park campground. 

Site 40, one of the few paved pads in the park.  There were only two campers in the campground.

Author's note: 9-14-2015 - In all fairness to those who may read this blog looking for specifics, I've included a more in-depth review of Manatee Springs Park Campground in Florida. This is also in fairness to the volunteers who kept the restroom and shower facilities spotlessly clean while we were there. We had no complaints about the facilities on Magnolia Loop One, but the rest of the campground did not match level the shower facilities. 

It had a been a long time since this campground has seen a mower or a weed-whacker. Our past experiences with Florida State Park campgrounds overgrown with weeds and tall grasses tells us this is chigger city. We carefully avoided stepping off the paved path to the shower. The camping loop roads are sand, and we were thankful it wasn’t raining when we were there. I can only imagine the mess. The pad we had, number 40, was cement, sticking out like an island of refuge in a sea of destitution. Many of the sites are difficult to distinguish, looking just like the unkempt, rutted sand road you drive in on. Many of the sites simply were awful.

Magnolia Loop One has sewer hookups, the only loop that has the full facility along with water and 30/50 amp electrical service, however, one of the unfortunate facts of physics is water flows downhill. Our black water/waste water drain, which I assume is pretty much the same level as most RVs, was below the level of the lip of the sewer hookup. In the many years we have been doing this, this was the first sewer I couldn’t dump into without shutting off my camper valves, disconnecting the sewer hose from the trailer, and lifting it high enough to drain into the campground sewer. The process had to be repeated several times to empty my holding tanks.

I saved the best for last, or the worst part, actually. Never have we ever stayed in a campground that smelled like garbage. Manatee State Park campground smelled like garbage. I walked to both of the dumpsters I could see and checked; they were both empty but stunk so badly I couldn't hold the lid open and look inside. Sorry, Florida, if this is the new standard for your state parks, you may have to give back your past awards. This park is not on our list for a return visit.

1 comment:

  1. Funny how different times can mean different experiences. When we were there in February, the grass was not overgrown and there was no smell anywhere of garbage. Our second trailer had a fairly low discharge valve and there were many many times the sewer port was higher in many private parks as well as State agencies. I got used to just lifting the hose and walking the slug of waste water forward without disconnecting anything. As I told Isle, we really enjoyed our stay. You should watch our video of the visit just so that you can ease your pain a bit :-) Too bad you had to end your otherwise great journey like that.

    So what are your plans for your next excursion ? :-)


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