Sunday, March 18, 2012

Florida 2012 - Week 2

Our campsite at Alexander Springs
We've decided to call this trip our "Spring Tour" since it seems we'll be visiting many of the springs in Florida and - it's spring!  Apparently, Florida has the highest concentration of springs in the world!  Who knew?  We're still camping in the Ocala National Forest at Alexander Springs.  There are four recreation areas in the Ocala NF: Juniper Springs where we were last week, Alexander Springs where we are now, Salt Springs in the north (and the only campground in the NF with services) and Silver Glen Springs which is the only area without camping.

We choose a sunny, open site instead of the usual shady ones so that we can get a signal with our satellite dish (TV is important!) and use our solar panels to recharge our batteries.  These sites have no services (electricity, water and sewer) so we have to fill our tanks with fresh water and provide our own electricity.  We do a lot of relaxing since we are here for 11 days, but other than hanging around our site here's a rundown of our "adventures".

Springs are the bright blue spot on the right
We swim in Alexander and Silver Glen Springs.  Alexander Springs is a huge natural pool with a 25-foot deep hole at one end where the water bubbles up through the cavernous limestone underground.  There are a few caves at the bottom where several springs erupt.  The flow of the water is immense and difficult to tread in.  The water is a constant temperature of 72F (about 22C).  We snorkel in the spring and see a few fish including a black catfish.  While sitting in the picnic area, a guy at a nearby table says, "Hey, that snake just fell out of this tree!"  Yikes, it's raining snakes!  It is a small snake, barely 18" long, but nobody can identify it, so let's not bother it!  Fair enough.
Brad, water mocassin home on the right in the rocks

Marilyn at Silver Glen Springs
Silver Glen Springs is very similar, except that when we pay at the gate, the attendant tells us that we have to enter the spring by the canoe launch because there are two water mocassins at the usual entry point.  She has a man posted there to watch for the snakes and to keep people away from the rocks where the snakes are living.  Water mocassins are highly poisonous snakes.  Fortunately, 72F water is too cold for them to want to swim in.  Are you sure?  We never see the snakes, but one little kid gives the posted sentry a heart attack when he swims towards those rocks where the water mocassins live - the guy rushes to the rocks to save the kid, but the snakes don't make an appearance.  There are many more fish here than at Alexander Springs - some big fish and mullet that keep jumping out of the water.

Stupid sign about Alligators:
"Alligators are present in this forest.  They are an important part of Florida's ecology and may be found wherever there is a natural body of water.  They have a natural fear of man, but may lose that fear by being around people especially if they are fed.  When this happens, alligators can be dangerous.  For this reason, alligators should not be fed or molested in any way."  Who the hell wants to "molest" an alligator?  Besides Crocodile Dundee or the Croc Hunter, Steve Irwin (and he's dead)!  Funny wording.

We also make a trip to Daytona Beach which is less than an hour's drive east, but we never go to the beach (been there, done that!)  We are here to visit our RV friends from Quebec whom we met at the Mojave National Preserve in California last year - Jean and Denyse (Jean is a guy - they're French).  They have been in Florida all winter, 4 months in the south near Miami and two months in Daytona Beach.  They are staying in an RV Park where your trailer is 10 feet away from your neighbour's.  Not our style.  It's also Biker Week in Daytona, so the area, including this park, is full of Harleys and all kinds of motorcycles.  We have lunch with Jean and Denyse and catch up with what each other has been doing this past year.  A great visit.

It's Spring Break, here in Florida as well as all across the country, hence the reason we are staying inland.  We see a lot of campers come and go from the park, but where we camp isn't even full all the time.  Weekends are busier of course, but still not bad.  Next week is Spring Break for the surrounding counties, so maybe it'll be busier then.  We have to find a place to stay next weekend as our reservation at Wekiwa Springs State Park where we're moving to tomorrow is only until Thursday.

Grady is having a good time, although it gets really hot in the trailer during the day (90F), especially since we're in the full sun.  We're not able to run our AC, but we do have air vents in the ceiling with fans, so those help.  It's nice sitting outside in the shade, however we've discovered that we often get ticks on us.  And they hurt when they bite.  Brad has found one on him two or three times, me once.  I'm afraid of bringing them inside the trailer to the cat, so I buy him a flea and tick gel so he doesn't become a flea-bitten varmint.  And ants - ants everywhere outside.  Give me the scorpions and spiders of the west - at least they hibernate in the winter!

I have to admit that I much prefer the southwest where the desert is dusted with the warm reds, oranges, pinks, purples and yellows of the western sun.  I have never really understood people who love to come to Florida, year after year.  Yes, the beaches are nice and the winter weather is great (in the southern part of the state), but I couldn't put up with the frequent humidity and all the nasty bugs.  Our legs and feet are covered with bites from insects we've never even seen!  Oh well, we don't expect to come back to Florida for many more years, when our bodies have given out and we can't hike or cycle and just want to sit on a beach all winter, which we hope won't be too soon.

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