Saturday, April 11, 2009

Worm Gruntin'

Aimee and I had a big day today. We checked out a couple of houses before going to the Farmer's Market in downtown Tally (that's what locals call it) and had an excellent breakfast casserole of potatoes, cheese, and kielbasa (plus dill and onions, we must recreate it). Then we went to Wakulla Springs State Park, which is about 20 minutes S of town. It's a massive freshwater spring, the deepest spring of it's kind in the world. The water was unusually clouded due to recent heavy rains. The spring gushes 400,000 gallons/minute according to our very entertaining tour guide and boat operator, Park Ranger Luke. We saw several manatee, gators, brown water snakes, and Suwanee Cooters (turtles). Among birds, there were common moorhen (formerly Florida gallinule), pied-billed grebe, barn swallow, anhinga, American coot, little blue heron, cormorant, great egret, green heron, yellow-crowned night heron, and great blue heron. We spent a little over an hour at Wakulla Springs, then went to Leon Sinks in the Apalachicola National Forest for a hike of about 5 miles through beautiful mixed pine/deciduous forest in karst country. It was amazing how quickly the forest changed from longleaf pine to magnolia to hardwood and back again. The "sinks" are big depressions or even holes in the ground, some filled with water, created by water eroding the limestone underneath and the ground sort of caving in on itself.

From the sinks we drove down to Sopchoppy for the 9th Annual Sopchoppy Worm Gruntin' Festival and partook in the festivities. There were lots of people milling around, eating food, listening to the live music, and checking out the sellers of crafts and goods. We bought a 5 lb bag of earthworm poo, which is apparently the best fertilizer in the world, we'll see. We got our official festival shirts and sampled some homemade hot pepper jam. The best booth we found, aside from the worm crap, housed a touch-tank filled with marine life. They had several species of sea star and sponges, horseshoe crabs, spider crabs, lighting whelk, channel whelk, banded tulips, the biggest Florida horse conch I've ever seen (estimated at over 100 years old), crowned conch, and sea cucumbers. The festival was a definite highlight of the trip. Worm grunting, holy crap that's authenticity at its finest. For more information on worm gruntin' and the festival, see the link below:

From the Worm Gruntin' Festival we drove down to the Gulf of Mexico and along the coast for a bit to Carrabelle, then back to Panacea and on to Tally. We stopped at one little white-sanded beach and walked a little. It was pretty, but there wasn't anything remotely like a rideable wave, which doesn't bode well for my surf habit. It was full day and we're wiped out. I got lots of photos, but I'll have to load them when we get back to Wilmington tomorrow night or later. Check back soon, pics to come, probably with minutia about the above as it comes back to me.

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