Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.

Henry David Thoreau

New fun and old friends

From Cody's Catfish Pond and RV Park
Weeki Wachee, Florida

I was awakened before 6am by a pickup truck rumbling by at a pace far too fast for the dirt road leading into the campground.   Our site is too close to the road for me both for noise and dust.   The car and the RV are covered.

Even at 7am , it was COLD – 49 degrees.  Brrrrr what a shock after 80+ degree days and upper 60’s nights at Fort De Soto.   I had a cup hot chocolate and then went out running which warmed me right up.

After breakfast, David spent time arranging to see his former high school girl friend who lives in the area and I spent mine looking for a less expensive, less kitchy campground.  At $28 a night we prefer State Parks.

Those efforts resulted in meeting the former for pie at Perkins' Family Restaurant on Friday night and the latter in a drive up to Withlacoochee State Forest where full price for electric and water is $15 a site and for those 65 and over only $8 a night.  We don’t yet qualify for the really bargain rate but $15 will help our budget a great deal and after seeing the lovely sparcely filled campground we decided it was a go.

We then contacted the folks at Weeki Wachee resort about kayaking the  river.  Weeki Wachee is a Seminole Indian name meaning Little Spring.  While it may not be as "big" as Silver Springs it puts out millions of gallons of water a day.  The River begins at the Weeki Wachee Springs State Park which is leased by the state to a concessionaire after having had a rocky recent past in comparison with its glory days of the 50’s and 60’s when it was a private business known as Weeki Wachee Springs and its Mermaids were celebrities. 

In those days it was famous for its water ballet Mermaid shows.  I remember seeing them when I was a kid and my family came to Florida to visit my mother’s aunt who lived in Ocala. 

The “resort” which has added a water park (Buckaneer Bay)  was not on our list of places to visit other than to arrange to kayak from the springs. We found out that they allow you to put your kayaks in at the head of the Springs for a $5 per boat fee, which includes parking your car.  You can then go down the river 8 miles to the Gulf and either paddle back up against the 3-5mph current or pay for a shuttle which they also provide for another $10.  Having paddled the Silver river’s 2-3 mph current, we decided that we wished we had two vehicles like Howard and Linda to be able to do our shuttling but it’s probably cheaper to just pay the extra $10 and send one of us back for the car.   

We prefer putting in about 9am and having plenty of time to enjoy the river. It was too late to do that today and tomorrow is "the week-end".  We don’t really like to do those sorts of things on the week-ends when the crowds of folks madly having fun on their two days before going back to work may make it a less than optimal nature experience. 

Whoopie - that’s no longer us.  We are among the lucky who now have all the time in the world, so the river trip is a Monday plan. 

We proceeded on to the Weeki Wachee Preserve where we had a great bike ride.  The Preserve is an 11,200 acre tract. The southwest section holds lakes that were once a limestone mine. It is one of few places in Florida with the appearance of open grassland and paddling between lakes is possible with short portage although we chose to bicycle rather than paddle. 

Prior to 2001, it had been mined for lime rock. The preserve's lakes are 45- to 60-foot-deep rock quarries filled with freshwater from the Upper Floridan Aquifer. 

The scenic lakes provide protection to local communities from flooding and tropical storms. They are open to the public for boating with hand-launched boats such as canoes, kayaks and rowboats. Licensed fishing is also permitted. Swimming is not.

The waters are very clear near the edge but quickly become dark and swimming is not allowed because the water is very deep and the walls very steep.  I read that there are also some very large alligators out there although we didn’t see any.

There are five and a half miles of partly paved and sometimes rocky bikeable trails and 4.3 miles of additional marked trails deeper in the preserve for hikers and where wildlife is more abundant. The Preserve is site No. 69 of 117 on the west section of the Great Florida Birding Trail, where least terns and Wilson's plovers often nest in the spring and summer.
Although not a long ride, it took us nearly 2 hours as we just had to stop and enjoy the scenery and take pictures.  David particularly loved the varied grasses.

At the end of our ride, we were rewarded again with a lovely sunset before putting the bikes back on the car and going to Perkins' Family Restaurant in Spring Hill for dessert with David’s High School girl friend and her husband. 

David is a big one for nostalgia, me not so much, but the two of them talked about the old days and the people they knew then and there.  Karen has kept in touch with many more people than David so he had a lot of catching up to do which she was happy to provide.

I think that will take care of our socializing for at least another month.
We’ll be reporting from the Withlacoochee State Forest tomorrow.  Hope you'll check in with us.

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