Thursday, August 25, 2011

Canoeing with teenagers 102

YES, I got them to do it again!  And only a week after the "three hour tour".  They are suckers for adventure!
This time we did the Silver River.  It is very mild as compared to Juniper Springs Run.  For starters, you don't have to move your canoe that far to get it the water.  The river is wide and deep.  There is a strong current that you have to paddle against on the way up to Silver Springs, but the way back is mostly steering if you are tired and want to go slow.  There is no shade, so bring a hat and sunscreen, plenty of water and snacks for good measure, if you plan to be out there for a while( it takes about 2 1/2 hrs to canoe up and back at a leisurely pace).
There are plenty of birds, fish, gators, monkeys and turtles to be seen on the river.  We saw 6 gators the day we went, and we even "had lunch" with one of them.  This time, I was in the back, and Zman started out in the front.  I figured we could switch around if we needed to.  The paddle strokes needed on this trip were different than last trip and I tried to instruct him how to hold the paddle and make the strokes needed to beat the current.  Believe it or not, he didn't want to listen to me!  : )  Ahhh, teenagers...   So, whatever, I ended up doing most of the work steering, propelling and correcting the whole way.  But isn't that what the back seat does anyhow?
The river was beautiful that day.  We got out there about 11am, just in time for the heat of the day!  By the way, NOT A CLOUD IN THE SKY!  The Silver River takes you all the way into the head spring for Silver Springs.  It is a huge spring!  One of the largest artesinal springs in the world producing 550 million gallons of water a day.  Timucuan Indians used it and settled around it, until the Spaniards came and ruined that.  In current history, the TV show I Spy was filmed there along with several movies like Tarzan, and The Creature from the Black Lagoon, as well as some James Bond movies.  A small portion of Hoot was also filmed there and gets the mention because the book was written by one of my favorite Florida authors, Carl Hiaasen.
As you get into the Silver Springs attraction, the glass-bottomed boats come by and you can hear some of their spiel.  They don't kick up that much wake so it's not a problem, however they do have the right-of-way on account of them being bigger(and they are making a buck off the tourists).  The head spring is kind of hard to see real well when you get there, on account of  being so close to the water.  There is no dockage so getting out is not an option, and it's busy there because that's where the glass-bottomed boats take off from.  We did go over to the side to stabilize the canoe while Zman and his friend changed places.  While there, I think we rousted this little guy(he was only about 3ft long) from his hiding spot.  There's a dragonfly on his head! : )
After we left the main spring, it was time for lunch.  There are many minor springs and coves along the way that make for good places to hang out and eat lunch.  We shared one such spring/cove with a gator and a couple tour boats.  It was field trip day for area summer camps so there were alot of children gawking at us from the tour boats.  We made the most of it by making faces at them and waving to them.  The gator was not a problem either, even though he was really big!  He watched us and the boats a bit and was just there.  Generally, they don't bother you unless you bother them.

Usually, the rhesus monkeys make an appearance at some point along the way.  I don't know if it was too hot for them, or if they were just tired of the tourists for the day or what, but we didn't see any.  On the way back, we fed the fish, and saw a few more gators.  
The boys stayed in the canoe this time.  There is only one spot where it's feasible to actually get into the water and on the way back it was occupied.  Otherwise, it's just too dark and bottom mucky to try it, besides, who knows what's lurking down there!
At one point, everyone was quiet and we could hear some people around the bend coming up the river.  The boys thought it would be funny to "mess" with them by making weird, loud noises and then acting like nothing happened when we came up on them.  I don't think it worked, but I got a really funny video of Zman's noises.  I wonder what those people thought?
On the walk back to the parking area( which is about 1/2 mile!), I asked the boys which canoe trip they preferred.  They both said Juniper Springs Run.  I am proud of that!  It's not that they didn't like this trip, the other one was just more adventurous!  This canoe trip will be an after thought in their minds to the first trip.  It was fun, but without incident to make it an adventure. 

 I am planning for the next one...muwha haaa haaa ha!(evil laugh, screen fades to black)

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