On the next part of the journeyAdapted from “Horse With No Name” by America
We were looking at all the life
There were plants and birds and rocks and things
There were gators and crystal springs
The first thing we met was a manatee
And the sky with no clouds
The day was warm and the river was wet
But the air was full of sound
We visited 4 Springs in a row:
- 7 Sisters Springs (Chassahowitzka River)
- Gilchrist Springs
- Ginnie Springs
- Wakulla Springs
At Chassahowitzka River campground (near 7 Sisters Springs) we rented kayaks, and toured the river, enjoying the wildlife (birds, fish, turtles) and particularly the friendly manatee that was often near the docks at the boat rental. We also saw our first freshwater springs – with crystal clear water flowing up out of underground caverns. The water appears bright blue, particularly where the caves are made of light colored stone. Another fun part of kayaking the Chassahowitzka is traveling upstream a mile or so of progressively narrower and shallower water until you reach “the crack” a deep rock cleft where spring water pours forth.
Gilchrist Springs wasn’t too interesting, being closed to boating. Besides we were just stopping for the night before we could get a spot at Ginnie Springs. The park ranger casually mentioned “weather” was on the way, but we didn’t give it much thought until we saw a weather report warning of wind gusts of up to 50 mph, and a tornado watch (and eventual warning 15 miles away). Lori had an evacuation bag packed with food, flashlight, etc. in case we had to run for cover in the concrete block bath house nearby. It never came to that, but Lori was on the verge of making a run for it for 1/2 an hour or so.
Ginnie Springs was lovely. We kayaked one day – visiting at least 5 different crystal blue springs along the Santa Fe River – and paddle boarded the next (the first time for both of us!). Scuba divers explored the caves at the bottom of the main spring, and we spent a long day in and out of the water, on and off the paddle board. Lori learned from a fellow paddle boarder that our phone model is water resistant. He showed us several underwater clips he’d taken earlier. That was enough for Lori to brave it herself, and you can see the result in our video. Ginnie Springs is also set up as a tubing river, with a path to walk back upstream after a lazy drift downstream. It is huge with hundreds of campsites. What a great place for a family outing.
Wakulla Springs State Park is another gem. It has 2 main virtues. One is an excellent hour+ tour on the Wakulla River, only $8 per person. A great deal! We learned to identify many native birds. We saw at least 20 alligators, from 2 foot long babies, to giant elders. We also saw two manatees. There was a wealth of information provided about the river environment and the characteristics, habits, and behaviors of the river’s denizens. The other neat thing about the park is the high-end cafe onsite. If you eat there, they take the park entry fee off your bill!
Well, enough chatter. Here’s the video. Yes, you’ll see lots of spring water, what can we say, we were enamored with it. There’s always the fast forward button.. :)
As we write this, we’re in Mississippi, just east of Biloxi, headed for Louisiana tomorrow. Stay tuned for the details in our next post. Bye for now!
Mark and Lori