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 🙂

Conversation with a Tree

Conversation with a Tree

I roamed the night looking for the fog.  I could only steal a glance as he whispered away whenever I reached out. The tree was rooted and though he had passed years before, he stood tall and embraced my reach.

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This is a beautiful old tree that “progress” is gaining on.  I wanted to stop and catch it at least once before the inevitable bulldozer barrage.

I have a bit of editing to do on the roll but this is the first image for me to play with.

Have a beautiful day!

UPDATE:

just a couple more shots:

 

 

Bridge to Heaven

Bridge to Heaven

I have been playing with some photos from a recent trip to St. George Island off Florida’s panhandle.

May I present to you, the bridges to heaven and hell…

 

Her Now heavens bridge-publish

 

 

Her Now Hells bridge

 

PSA: Please be very careful about the time of year and where you are when using any white lights near the beach.  Baby turtles can get confused by artificial lights and lose their way.

Playing with Filters

I knew my schedule was taking me back near the bridge from the last post.  I wanted a crack at it with more filters and a tripod.  The neutral density filter that I used before came with 2 friends that I layered on top before loading the camera in my bag.  I did not have much time, because, well, I was still “working.”  I parked, grabbed by bag and my tripod and hustled back to the bridge.  

On the way out, it was apparent that a few storms had been by since my last visit.  The water was higher.  There was more debris.  It was a little creepier.

The photos all came out with a red tint. Maybe it is because I did pretty much pick the filters by size and price only.  Luckily, tint can be largely corrected with the magic of LIGHTROOM.  I was able to take longer exposures before light blew out the image.

Fliters3

Fliters3-2

 

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the other side of the bridge

Fliters3-3

No tint correction

 

Where the Black Water Rolls

Where the Black Water Rolls

The first 2 views on the page were taken with a new toy I am playing with.  It is basically a low cost neutral density filter. I got the idea from Richard Bernabe.  He does some fantastic work and his blog has some great tips and information.

The insects were fussy today.  I just could not get them in focus.  The blue guy had 2 buddies but they were so fast I basically just popped it in sports mode and hoped automatic fire could catch them.

BlackWater-3BlackWater-2BlackWater-4BlackWaterBlackWater-5BlackWater-6BlackWater-7

 

This is the song that kept coming to mind as I walked on the path surrounded by black water. Warning-Bluegrass sound.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

State Park After Dark

State Park After Dark

I was gifted an annual state park pass this year and have been trying to put it to good use.  One thing that I learned from the friendly, and amazing, park employees, is that you can request a special pass to be able to stay a little after dark or to come in early.

I have just started to play with the photos but wanted to share a few.  I recruited a volunteer to come on the adventure with me and I think it was a pretty good initial outing.  It was certainly a fun way to spend a Saturday night.

The park was busy enough to close to new admissions during the day, but at night…Us, the raccoons, the glowing eyes from the forest, and some campers.

I recommend getting to know your parks.  I lived in Florida a long time before I realized how many there are and some closer to home than you may realize.  City, county, state, federal…enjoy!! And, maybe take some bug spray 🙂

 

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)

Take a Hike

Need to SUP without water

Lil’ Red has a cold.  Let’s leave him to take a nap and go for a hike.

We arrive at the park and head out on the trail.  We were warned by park staff to be out by 6, so let’s get to moving.  The first half mile Getting through the crowdshas some traffic.  Once we get past all of the ruckus, I am sure we will see some wild life.

We cross over an access road and things begin to quiet down. Oh, wait there is some activity over to our left.  Just some campers, but after one shot turns out like a surveillance photo, we move on.

Hiking the fields

Campers hidden in the woods

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Remembering the Weekend

This weekend Lil’ Red and I went out on the river.  I renamed him to Lil’ Red because the board is so maneuverable and fun.  Compared to the longer boards that I had been renting, he is just little.

It is a good thing that he is so responsive and easy to handle.  We had to maneuver around a very enthusiastic Boy Scout troop, a kayak group, a volunteer cleanup group, and many more.  Random fact of the trip:  the cleanup group found a beer can from 1988.  The water was the clearest I have seen there.  A fabulous day that I hope will carry me past any stress of the week.

While I did see some turtles and fish in the water, I was not fast enough to capture them in good light.  Here is what my magic Nikon was able to capture: Continue reading