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A Serious Disappointment at Rainbow River on a Sunday Afternoon

Sunday March 10, 2014
Rainbow Springs State Park
Dunnellon, Florida



I love when it’s warm enough to eat breakfast outside.




I love it so much that I forget to take a picture of the event until we’ve both finished eating.  But David at least still has his plate. 

There is something just wonderful about eating outside in the open air at the picnic table.  When we were tent campers for lo those many many years we always did  of course.  But now that we don’t cook over the campfire or a coleman stove, we often opt for the easy way of just bringing the plates the 5 feet from counter and stove to table.   It has also been a tad chilly at 50 degrees for eating outside but the sun is shining brightly this morning.



Rainbow Springs State Park is actually divided into three different sections.




You can look at the map of the river which is really the spring run for all the Rainbow Springs, and see that the park extends from the headspring down the south side beyond the campground to the tubing area except for two breaks. Not sure what that 3rd one in the middle of the tubing park is. The breaks in the areas going along the river bank must be why there is not a trail to the campground from either other section. That’s too bad. But I’m sure the state would buy the land if it could and maybe some day it will.  But for now, you must either drive or kayak up to the main part of the park from the campground.










We decide that even though it is Sunday and the river is bound to be crowded with people, we’ll take the kayaks out. Because the tram for tubing at the campground is not running right now, the tram loop is open and it goes almost to the boat launch which makes putting the kayaks in much easier.






My discovery puts a real damper on my afternoon. I feel like an idiot.




We get down there, get the boats off and get in the trunk for the paddles. Only David’s paddle is there. I can’t believe it. What in the world?? I look all through the car. No paddle.

I LOVE my paddle it is a lightweight small paddle just for little people like me. The last time I used it was at Blue Springs on the Sunday night sundown paddle. We were there this past Thursday picking up the boats and I never noticed it was gone until now. A week later. I must have set it down to lock up the boat and in the dark and being cold, forgotten to pick it back up.

I’m heart broken. I go immediately back to Winnona and call the boat dock house. One of the guys remembers the paddle being by the two boats. He goes out to look but it isn’t there. Of course it isn’t. It wasn’t there on Thursday when we took the boats with us. Someone must have seen it sitting there for several days and taken it. It’s a nice very nice paddle and expensive. Not in my budget to replace at this point.


Boy am I bummed. I reluctantly get one of the sea eagle paddles to use going up the river.






The current is strong coming from the spring but at least the wind isn’t fighting us too



. As expected there are lots of people on the river. I try to keep them out of my pictures. I want to remember the river the way it can be, not the way it is today. The river itself is outstanding. Simply gorgeous. The noisy people don’t add to its charms but it is still wonderful. The houses within 10 feet of each other lining the entire side opposite the campground all the way almost to the main park don’t add much either




If you just stay on the right and look right and down, it’s a wonderful world.  It is such a beautiful river.










We reach the head spring area.



P1050031It is totally developed although mostly in landscape gardening.

In its prime it was a botanical beauty. I’m not sure what the state’s plan is here.  It looks as though they aren’t changing things but I’m not sure they are keeping up the care of all the ornamentals. 

This spring is nothing like the nearly natural Blue Spring but it isn’t a cement pool either like several others . There are no manatee here.   This is definitely a get in and enjoy it park rather than primarily a boardwalk and swim area.  People are in the spring swimming, in the spring paddling, on the hillside sunning.  

There is a boat dock where they rent canoes and kayaks. We will take out there after paddling around over the head springs. We pass the roped off swimming.



We paddle around the spring area looking for the “head” spring.  There are several springs here as well as at other points down the river which is why it is called Rainbow SpringS.   I take a picture of David taking a picture of the roped off swimming area as he sits just outside it.








We paddle back to the boat dock and pull up to get out and stretch our legs. 


The young man who rents kayaks and canoes here is very pleasant and helpful.  He agrees to keep David’s paddle for an hour or two while we look around.  I just put my sea eagle paddle in my dry well.   The azaleas have started blooming though there are vines growing all through them.  I’m sure the original landscape gardeners of this former arboretum would be distressed to see it.  But the blooms are still lovely






We walk past the swimming pool from the land side.  There are more folks watching than swimming but perhaps some of them are just sitting on the edge drying off.  Some of you know that one of my goals in Florida is to swim in every spring.  I’ve done this roped off pool and don’t have any need to do it again.  I would do Blue Spring every time though if it were open for swimmers other than manatee.  That will happen a few weeks from now I imagine.




I mentioned  in my last post that when we drove over to the park to hike the trails, the parking lot was full and there was an Art show going on.  Today we are just stretching our legs.  We don’t intend to hike the trails but we do go in to see what’s up with the art show.  It is later in the afternoon and the crowds are thinning out.






There are 3 shelters given over to the artists.  Two of them overlook this hillside just around the corner from the pool area.






The third is on the other side of the park.






It is at the top of the hill from this lovely view.




Retrieving the boats and David’s paddle, we are once again in the water and going with the current.

Once we have wandered through all three areas, we head back to the boats and I follow this couple out of the main spring area and back down into the run.





The colors are starting in the maples.  The greens are brightening up.  It is a great day to be on the river.  We are now taking it easy and just letting the current carry us back to the campground.  I’m hoping we can be on it a little each day until next week-end although that’s pretty optimistic.












All the grass I can see in the crystal clear water reminds me of the manatee and I wonder why they do not come up here.  Perhaps they don’t swim in the Withlacoochee River into which the Rainbow River feeds.






The river traffic has lightened up by now though lots of others are in this river. 


How about those blue anhinga eyes.









The clear water and gorgeous color is just amazing. 


If it weren’t for the cypress it would almost seem like we are in the keys.











The sun begins to drop and the colors deepen as we near the campground dock.












It takes us a while to get the boats out of the water.


David is a ways ahead of me and when I get near to the dock I see he has not pulled up out of the water.





When I get close enough I see why.  He doesn’t want to scare off this egret fishing from the boat dock.








But he’s gotten himself in a bit of a jam trying to hold his place in front of the dock and not have the flow of water from the spring send him on down to Dunnellon.





As I come closer, the egret jumps off the pole and  into the water at the foot of the ramp.  We of course take tons of pictures of his performance.  But it’s time to go in and so I do one light paddle and start drifting toward him.  As you can see, he holds his ground until I am quite close.









And even then he doesn’t fly off.  He just resumes his perch. 




Nice eyes huh??



As we both bring the boats up on the ramp and start getting out he gives us some look before flying off.  We didn’t wait quite as long for him as we did for the monkeys at Silver Spring so maybe he though we should have.  I’m sure the ramp must make a fine fishing spot for him.  We leave him to it until next time.




  1. I just can't believe you are without your favorite paddle. What a bummer. Cool Egret.

  2. Beautiful day on the river. The paddles are always so exciting when you take us along as you do. So sorry about the paddle. I hate when something like that happens. I lost an expensive wrench the same way once. Well, at least you had another paddle or you would have been up the creek, as they say. :) Your pictures just keep getting better and better.

  3. another beautiful area AND TURTLES!!!!

  4. I am missing your paddle too - I know how much you liked it and it was just about perfect for you. Hopefully we can find a new or used one you will like as well. Fabulous egret eye!

  5. Love the egret's matching eyes and socks.....wonder where he shops?! Great pics as always.

  6. While I was volunteering at Alligator River NWR, in the summer of 2012, I came upon two young bears cubs in the middle of one of the back refuge roads. They were playing with a short paddle that had apparently fallen off of one of the rigs from the canoe/kayaking concessionaires. I enjoyed watching them for quite a while, but they eventually ran off to find their mother at her call. I picked up that paddle, and have kept it all this time. It is more of a canoe paddle than a double kayak paddle, but you are welcome to it if you would like it. Just let me know. I couldn't just throw it away. Every time I look at it, it brings back those special memories. I know you would appreciate its special significance if it will work for you.

    1. What a kind and generous offer Judy. A canoe paddle won't work for me and I couldn't take such a memory from you even if it would. I'll get another one once I save my pennies and quit grumbling. :-)

  7. You're not alone is losing something expensive. A few years before we sold our home, I bought a new lawn tractor. To get it into my pickup truck I also bought very expensive folding aluminum ramps. I took the old tractor to the dump for recycling in the metal dumpster, left my new ramps on the ground and drove off. Of course, when I remembered and returned an hour later, they were gone.

    At least my head is attached, so I won't lose it (I think). :cD

  8. Are the waters in the springs cold or warm?

    1. Hi Debbie, The spring waters are around 72 degrees all year long. So in the winter they actually feel fairly warm and in the summer cool.

  9. I'm so sorry to hear about the loss of the paddle. When something is taken from you like that it's like a violation of your person and personal space. It makes me angry because you have to lose some of your trust from then on. I hope you stay positive and continue to enjoy paddling. But lock everything up from now on! :-)

  10. Don't you just hate it when you lose something like that? I'm still feeling a bit guilty for taking the sunglasses I found on a trail a couple weeks ago but we did everything in our power to find the owner. Such is life!

  11. Well that stinks about the paddle! I think you should get a new paddle from Shit Creek Paddle Company. Yes, there really is a company by that name. And yes, their motto is, "Up Shit Creek? You need our paddle!" But then again, I think it's just for canoers. Love the wood duck photo today!

  12. What beautiful water to paddle in, sorry to hear about losing your paddle, I think we've all done something like that.

  13. So sorry you lost your paddle, I know how much you used it! Great Anhinga picture. As common as they are, they are still beautiful birds.

  14. So sorry about the paddle. I know nothing about them, but can feel the disappointment in your wording, so it must've really been special. And then there's always just the disappointment in one's own self for doing something careless. I should know....I lost a credit card yesterday! I'd love to blame stress and stress probably caused extra distraction, but still....... I love seeing the pics of Rainbow Springs! Don't keep us in suspense about where you've decided to head next!

  15. So sorry to hear about your paddle. We have a Sea Eagle and I would love to get a new shorter, light weight paddle. But we aren't real avid kayakers so I didn't feel it was worth the price. But I sure would like one.

    The water was so clear. The bottom is visible in all your photos. Fun day even with other people:)

  16. Hate that you loss YOUR paddle...know that it was just perfect for you:o(( Hope that whoever has it realizes how special it was and all the wonderful places it has been!! You'll now have to get a new paddle and introduce it to all those wonderful places:o))

    Just love the Rainbow River but not crazy about the dive boats and spring swimmers that seem to take over on the weekends!!! Hope you get some real quality time (early morning) during the week!!

  17. Love the photo of the anhinga in the tree and the egret's close up is great. So sorry about your paddle- that stinks.... xxxooo

  18. What amazing photos of the water, so clear! Too bad there weren't any manatees, they would be clearly visible.

    Too bad about your paddle. I'd feel that way if I left my hiking poles somewhere.

    Enjoy the rest of your time in that beautiful place.

  19. Gin's phrase about paddling the Rainbow River... "It's like floating on an aquarium! "

  20. Love the Egret's eyes… and the picture below … haha… he's looking right at ya… yellow feet… how cool is he or she.

    Bummer about your paddle but another gorgeous river you paddled down!

  21. Loosing your favorite paddle must feel like loosing your right arm. Im so sorry about that

  22. Great shot of the wood duck- they are just so pretty. Bummer about the paddle.

  23. You present the Rainbow River in the most appealing way -- we really want to paddle it, even though you say you prefer the Ichetucknee. Speaking of which, we paddled the Ichetucknee again today for the third time in two months -- we just can't stay away. It will probably be our last time until next year, though. I'm so sorry to hear about you losing your paddle. But happy that you went on to have a glorious day!

  24. It's too bad you lost your paddle. I know how expensive they are, but at least you had a spare! Al and I have the same paddle, but mine is shorter and it makes such a difference.

    I love the picture of the grass flowing in the water. It's such a pretty river and you got some great photos.

  25. what a lovely day on the water. . .well, with the exception of the missing paddle, of course.

    You did a good job of keeping folks out of your pics. . .and I'm pretty sure you have opened MY eyes to looking at BIRD's eyes. . .ha ha!

  26. I HATE when things are lost and missing and I realize too late! :( So unfortunate about your paddle!! But, you got to see such a gorgeous river and some beautiful birds with their amazing eyes :) That water is ridiculously clear and green. It definitely looks tropical like the keys. If I was a manitee, I'd love to live there!


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