"Two roads diverged in a yellow wood... And sorry I could not travel both. I took the one less traveled by. And that has made all the difference." --Robert Frost

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Paddling the Crystal Clear Rainbow Springs

Dunnellon, Florida
Rainbow Springs State Park


We loved our time at Rainbow Springs State Park.   It's a great, small park with full hookups and a very nice laundry facility.  Just $1.25 a load!  There are very few hiking trails and even fewer bike trails.  There is a great Rails to Trails that would've been nice to bike on, but we are here for the kayaking.

 
 
After we got all set up we decided to check out the little town of Dunnellon and look for somewhere to eat.  We were told of a little place called Penn Station that had great Cuban food.  So off we went.  Steve had the Shrimp and Chorizo and I tried the Bistec de Palomilla en Cebollado.  Both were good, but not as good as we had hoped for.
 
 
Rainbow Springs was first known as Wekiwa Creek by the Seminole Indians.  Later it was know as Blue Springs, then later Rainbow Springs which became a registered National Landmark in 1972 and an Aquatic Preserve in 1986.  This artesian spring produces over 490 million gallons of water each day.  It empties into the Withlacoochee River.  The waters stay a consistent 72 degrees. Special care is taken to keep the spring clean.  They do not allow any disposable items on the river.  So if you'll be kayaking, you need to bring any food items in Gladware or Tupperware.  No plastic baggies, napkins or paper towels allowed.  You must have a metal or such drink container.  No plastic bottles. 
 
Most of our paddling was done upstream, to the headspring.  This is where the river begins.  I found the water here to be very warm.
 
 
The water is fairly shallow.  It's deeper than it looks however due to the clarity.  There are some areas that reach 20 feet or so.  There are so much waterfowl you'll see.  We also saw many turtles and fish.  Still no alligator sightings.  We've heard they are very rare here.

 


See how clear it is?  There was still a bit of fog on the water when we headed out early in the morning.


 

 

 
These fellows loved to sun themselves off after fishing.  It was incredible to watch them dive in the water right in front of us and come out with a fish almost every time.



   


There are some homes built on a portion of the river across from the
land owned by the state.  Some had decorations and Christmas trees up.

I'd take this one.  Nice house with a deck overlooking Mediterranean colored water. 

 


 
There were many types of Cooter Turtles and larger Loggerhead.

 

While exploring a little cove, we came upon some very friendly, what I call, Bluegill.  They swam right up to the kayak and followed us all around.  I put my finger in the water a tiny bit and they all thought it was food and a little frenzy broke out.  Good thing they weren't Piranha!


 
Hurley found the fish very entertaining.
 
 
A rather regal looking Blue Heron.  This large White Heron kept playing Peek a Boo with the tree.

 
Two is company, threes a crowd and five is a turtle party!
 
They didn't even care as we paddled right by.


They really went crazy over some bread.

Blue Heron


It took a while to get a picture of this school of Chad swimming around.  They darted all about and flashed their pretty silver blue colors.
 
 
We ended this day trying to paddle up a little creek.  It was less than a foot deep.  We went back until we weren't able to get past a fallen tree.


Today we paddle downstream.  But first a nice breakfast of Vanilla yogurt with granola, blueberries and a drizzle of Lemon Infused Olive Oil.  Yeah, that's right, olive oil.  Try it!  Also great on ice cream!
 
This will be a longer trek as we want to paddle down to the little town of Dunnellon and eat at Swampy's.  It's right on the bank of the river.  The way back will be upstream and we need to boogy as it gets dark around 5:30.  We brought a flashlight just in case. 
 
 

The view is a little different going downstream.  More Cypress and pines.
 

Also, more kayakers.  There is a popular put-in and some people like to get a shuttle service to bring them back from the end where they park their trucks.  This way they can float down at their leisure making it a one-way trip.
 
This was the largest clump we saw of Cypress.



 
 



 
 
Delicious drinks and we even tried some deep fried alligator.  You guessed it, tastes like chicken!  We kicked back on the deck, relaxed and watched the beautiful scenery.  Here some fishermen were trying their luck.  Nothing today they reported.  But as the saying goes, The worst day fishing is better than the best day working!  That's for sure!!
 
Again, look at that water!

This is as close as we could get to these Wood ducks.  The only ones we saw.

I love these stumps.  Are they Cypress that just didn't grow any taller?  Anyone know?

 
 

I like how his deck canopy looked like a Christmas Tree.



More cool trees  All different types, very large trunks.


Anhinga Cormorant.  Beautiful tan and black colors.

And the drive back took us through this neat tunnel of oaks draped in Spanish moss.
 
We also had a chance to meet up again with Bill and Kelly.  We met them back in April at the RV-Dreams Rally.  They are also 2014 Grads.  It was great to see them again!!  Check out their travels at: BK American Odyssey
 
 

16 comments:

  1. Looks like we are going in the opposite directions and will be going to that area as you head down towards the keys. I wasn't sure whwere to go in Fl. when. All I had to base my plans on was Craig's desire to be in the Keys for Christmas, and we are.

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    1. Darn, would've loved to meet. We arrive in Marathon on Fri, Dec 19. Will you still be there? Maybe you can show us a great Tiki location? You sure hit the jackpot with that beautiful site!

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  2. Can't believe there aren't more alligators. We saw them everywhere we were when we went to FL. Great pictures - the water is beautiful.

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    1. I know, right!? Well, if we don't see any at the Everglades, Florida is going to hear from me!

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  3. I love reading the blog and seeing all the pictures, thanks for sharing!

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    1. You'd love it Trace, just gorgeous water! Nice campground too.

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  5. Damn girl! Your photos rock!!! Absolutely beautiful water - and I love all the turtles :-) So glad Big Red is working out for the three of you. Sure looks like the perfect spot to see gators - other than the ones on your plate - hope you find them soon!

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    1. Thanks Jodee, so much to see here! Just gorgeous! Red is working out well. We finally saw alligators on the way to the Keys (where we are now - BIG smile).

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  6. That water is amazing, Debbie! We are putting that paddle on our list. Thanks for the post!

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    1. It was a great paddle and would be nice to take the bikes on the rails to trails too.

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  7. Did you have yo make reservations well in advance?

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    1. Mike, Actually we got pretty lucky. Most FL SP's are hard to get into, especially the ones near the coast! I think I made them in October. Keep checking too as some people cancel all the time. Of course, it's always best if you can get in Mon - Wed. Even if it's only 4 or 5 days, it's better than nothing.

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