Blue Springs Florida Getaway

Blue Springs Florida Getaway

Blue Springs State Park in Florida is the “winter home to the manatee”.  During the summer months you can catch a manatee hanging out there, but during the winter, the spring run is filled up with manatees enjoying the consistent temperature of the spring water.

If you are thinking about visiting:

They have cabins and campgrounds available. There are 6 cabins surrounded by woods.  Each (as far as I know) has a front porch, 2 bedrooms, one bathroom, kitchen, dining table, family room, air conditioning, and a gas fireplace that is shut off in summer months.  Outside each is a grill, table, and fire pit. There is a camp store on property that has small items you may have forgotten/need and a sandwich shop.  Right next to the camp store is a souvenir shop and a place to rent tubes for the spring. The Blue Spring Park has picnic tables scattered in several areas and a large covered pavilion.  There is a wood/sidewalk boardwalk along the length of the spring run with look out areas scattered throughout. There are hand rails on the hill portions at a height that appears designed to assist wheelchair users.  There are 2 main areas with access to the swim area and are spaced so that you can put in at one spot and relax to let the current take you to the second access point if you wish.  I did not notice a way for a wheelchair to access the swim out areas but I also did not ask the park staff about options, so please contact the park to inquire if you are planning a visit. (link to park website)  Everyone I spoke at Blue Springs was really nice and more than helpful.

Blue Springs empties into the St. John’s River and there are kayak, canoe and boat tours available from inside the park.  I have been on a couple of boat tours (from outside tour companies) over the years, and it really is a wonderful way to see the area.  The tours last around 2 hours and your are almost 100% sure to see birds, turtles, gators, and plenty of various foliage.

I posted a camera about 20 feet outside a cabin and caught some good images.

During my visit, the swim area was closed for all but the last morning due to a gator hanging out in the safety zone.  I saw the trappers looking for him the first night I was there but they did not catch up to him until the second night.  A local resident, that has been swimming there every day for years, told the story of how an old time gator had killed a friend a couple years ago.  The gator had been around back when it was common for people to feed gators.  The theory was that after the victim, and a couple of others, swam past him and did not feed him, that the gator got mad and went after them.

I heard this story right after I had just enjoyed a quick dip in the spring.  I was the only one around when the rangers had opened the swim area and could not resist.  The current is a little more noticeable in this spring compared to others that I have been to, so I am sure the tubing is popular.

The sunrise photos were taken from the east coast of Florida that looks to have escaped a direct hit by the hurricane.  Blue Springs State Park was closing early the day I left due to Hurricane Dorian.

(Warning Spiders 🙂

Monarch

Monarch

My latest art project has been completed!!

It started with an acrylic pour technique to establish the backdrop for the main character.  The layers built from there using combinations of different mediums. A bit of digital adjusting thrown in at the end to add the finishing touch.

There is a silent army of backyard monarch enthusiasts.  They create optimal conditions for monarchs and watch as hundred of monarchs fly away each year. A milkweed buffet is prepared and maintained. Watch is kept to deter predators, like wasps, from over harvesting.

Some general information about monarch butterflies

Thanks for stopping by!

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Mother’s day gift chosen by recipient 🙂

https://www.zazzle.com/z/lbumg

https://www.zazzle.com/store/active_art

 

Vacation Slide show! With a side of Bug Bite Prevention.

Spent some time at a cabin surrounded by the Ocala National Forest. Ahhhhh.

Bug bite prevention ideas below.

Click a photo to start a show.

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I spent a lot of time outside during the day and at night.  I have 3 mosquito bites and no found ticks.  The bites may have come from the first day I was there when the car was stuck in a mud hole and I was caught out without any protection.  That’s a story for the next post.

First, spray shirts, shorts, hats, socks, and shoes, to be worn in the woods with Permethrin. Take clothes outside and spray.  Let dry prior to packing.

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Second, ideas for while you are out:

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If you get bit:

Ticks

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Mosquitos

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Treadmill Lake

I was determined to get out on my paddleboard yesterday.  Weatherman said there is rain coming, but not until later that day.  He also said that there was some wind, but not too bad. That is what I heard anyway.  Thus began…

The Fear Factor Workout

Lil’ Red and I started our way out of the protected launch area.

Safe Harbor

As we made our way across the lake the wind was blowing left to right.  I can handle this.  It was blowing me towards the bank so I could not rest without risking being driven into grassy shores.  I can handle this. Continue reading

Beware The Duck

Ever wonder if there are gangs of ducks roaming the streets at night?

Shady characters in the parking lot.

Shady characters in the parking lot.

Maybe you should.

I celebrated my one year blogging anniversary by taking the week off.  To avoid withdrawal symptoms, I tried to keep myself busy…

I made some pantry cleaning, chicken stew.

Chicken stew

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Build Your Own Biathlon

By Land and By Sea

A friend had told me about an environmental awareness event at a state park this weekend so I decided it would be a great chance to use one of the great parks. To make the most of attending the event, I decided to go stand up paddleboarding in the park’s spring. After a little SUPing, I went for a hike on one of the trails.

As I came off the trail, the speeches were beginning. A lovely day, a great workout, and I was asleep early last night.

New SUP Lake

I explored a new lake last weekend.  It is not as popular with the local stand up paddleboarders as my usual spots, but some do go out there.  As the first speed boat passed by, I realized why I was the only paddler there that day.  There are very few wake free zones.  There were only a few boats out that day, and it is a big lake, so it was not a problem.  There was no launch fee, so, I will go back.

Have you explored anywhere new lately?

Day Trip: Manatees and Mediums

Getting Lunch

This past year it seems that I have spent a great deal of time reconnecting.  Reconnecting with real food is important but, also, being connected with your environment and the all of the natural beauty around us can go a very long way in keeping us grounded and at peace.

This weekend I took a long but beautiful drive over to Deland Florida.  There is company there called Blue Heron River Tours that offers two hour tours twice a day.  The tour takes you along the St. Johns River and through old logging canals from the past.  It is a taste of old Florida that is a fantastic and easy way to have a break from the tourist area.  If you live in Florida or are a visitor, I highly recommend you spend a couple of hours here for a relaxing and interesting look into Florida’s beautiful nature.

We saw several manatees surface for a quick breath before hiding back under the water.  This was the weekend of the annual Manatee Festival, and with the cold weather, there were hundreds of manatees seeking the warmer waters of the nearby spring.  We also were able to see alligators, turtles, and so many types of birds, that I cannot remember them all.  From the boat, we could also see the signs left by those who harvested Cypress trees before they realized that they were not easily renewable because they grow so slowly.

I will let the pictures tell you the rest of the story.  Click on a photo for a full sized slide show. Part 2 will come tomorrow with the ” medium” half of the day trip.

My SUP down the Venetian Canal

Up the Lake Without a Paddle:

As the fog began to rise over the trees, I headed out, eager to embark on my next SUP (stand up paddleboard) adventure.

~ wait ~ I forgot my paddle…turn my steed around and head back to the homestead.  Paddle now on board, off to the refreshing ambiance of the lake.

Traveling to the Canal:

When I pushed off from shore the wind was fairly calm.  I decided to go for my longest paddle thus far, 3 miles round trip.  I passed a few paddlers and a fisherman along the way.  A beautiful morning, a fabulous workout.  There were a couple of homes for sale along the way so I stopped and put in bids.

Florida’s Venetian Canal:

The canal is a beautiful, long and narrow passageway between lakes.  It was used by loggers a looong time ago.  The canal insists that you are in the moment.  It has twists and turns that you you hope to not find a boat behind.  I only had to pass one boat and, luckily, we met in an area that only required him to back up a few feet into a a small recess.  It was a boat that gives tours of the lakes and canals in the area.  Hopefully, the clients did not hear my colorful declaration when I realized we were headed for each other.

The Long Journey Home:

I had decided to see how fast I could make it back to the launch site.  It took me about 40 minutes to get out there at a leisurely, take pictures, figure out where I am going, kind of pace.  When I came out of the canal, I was blown back by the wind.  I discovered that I make a pretty good sail.  This prompted a decision to sit and paddle kayak style.  That lasted about 15 minutes.  By then my arms were crying and I had made it to the other side of that lake.  There, the houses and trees provided a bit of a wind break.  Two ladies were emerging from the short canal leading home and asked where something was.  I did not know but told them where the Venetian canal could be found.  I was thinking, “good luck with that in this wind.”  As I made my way through the mini-canal, I heard them coming up behind me.  They turned around fast…Am I going that slow?  Ugh…I paddled and paddled but they still passed me with ease after we exited the canal.  I blamed it on being tired at the end of a long paddle.  Once we made it to shore (with a 30 minute time) I discovered that they run a SUP tour business in another town.  I suppose it is okay for professionals to pass me with faster boards. 8)

How many dogs can you find? (Click photo for a slide show)

NRS Kicker Remix Water Shoe

Kicker Remix

I had to figure a way to stand up paddleboard (SUP) in cold weather.  My feet were my biggest worry.  They get cold with socks on in the house.  I needed to find something to wear in the water.  At REI.com , I found a few different things that I could try.  I decided on NRS Kicker Remix Wetshoe Water Shoes – Men’s.

I followed their sizing guide and was mindful of the comments on the page.  So I ordered a size 10 in mens though I wear a 10.5 in womens.  It was a good thing because the pair that arrived was the perfect size.  My foot is apparently too monstrous for the women’s version.

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