We took a trip to Apollo Beach on the west coast
to visit the Manatee Visitor's Center
sponsored by our local power company.
The trip took a bit longer than an hour.
It was a beautiful day for a drive.
The first thing we noticed
when pulling up to the parking area
was the array of solar panels displayed.
Another cool feature was the electric car charging station.
We'd never seen one in person before.
It's the wave of the future!
They have a very special parking space in the lot.
The center consists of an educational area, a gift shop,
picnic area and a boardwalk on which to view the manatees.
On this Sunday morning,
there weren't too many folks visiting.
Great for us, as we don't do well with crowds.
We spotted two right away.
They wander to this area in the winter
because of the warm waters
surrounding the power company.
They enjoy floating in shallow waters
and surfacing only to get a breath.
These critters are protected by law.
The diagonal marks on this one's back
indicate that it's been the victim of
more than one boat propeller.
These crabs covered the sand below the docks.
They would scurry back and forth,
in constant motion.
Inside the educational center,
informative displays could be found.
Next to the informal picnic area,
a Florida-friendly garden greets visitors.
We saw scads of butterflies
enjoying some of their favorites.
All of the plant species were butterfly attractors.
This was a most unusual looking specimen.
The name is fitting, don't you think?
These gallardia line the parking area
and add softness, color and life to the concrete surroundings.
Unusual planters were among the discoveries made.
Water conservation was highlighted
with these vibrant rain barrels.
What a delightful place to visit.
For the manatees,