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

Henry David Thoreau

Crystal River State Preserve has a graveyard


Tuesday March 12, 2014
Rainbow Springs State Park
Dunnellon, Florida


I’ve been hearing him sing ever since we arrived.






Today was the first day I was able to get a shot of the towhee who is a very favorite bird of mine.  I love his lilting song “drink your teeeeeee”.   He is in and out of the grasses and brush here and I’ve heard him a lot, seen him several times but it wasn’t until we were on our way out the door this morning that I caught him in the driveway and got one sort of decent shot even though I cut off his tail.  It’s his own fault for being so quick to move.






We’re going down to the Crystal River Preserve State park to see what we find there and possibly kayak the in the river.




First stop is the visitor center which is only open week-days.  No week-ends.  Seems odd doesn’t it?   Not much there other than maps and some dioramas.   We pick up some trail maps and find that they all require driving to the trail head. 

We check out the boat dock and launch here which goes right into the river and we can see that it’s probably bigger than we want to kayak with far too many wave making boats.




We have to check out the entire area of course, just in case there might be some hidden gems.  We walk around the end of the canal beyond the boat ramps and find this skink.  He’s a gem.  Look at those eyes, heavy lids.  I’m beginning to look that way too.










On the opposite side of the canal it appears the Crystal River Boat Builders have set up shop.


They are restoring wooden boats.  No one was around today.  Perhaps they are here on week-ends.  We admired their handiwork.













They have a knot demonstration board with three common knots used in boating.  We untie them all and retie them.







David demonstrates how you use this piece of equipment for clamping.  We’d seen this at Colonial Williamsburg.  The cooper used it for holding a piece of wood in place while he pulled a draw knife to strip bark or shape the board.





Welcome signs of spring although I’ve read that our low temperature on Thursday is going to be 36.  Hope this little flower doesn’t get burned.




From this side I can look back at the interesting wooden sail boat and get a better picture of it.  When we were up close we had no idea what was going on across the canal.  Now I’m wondering if these boat builders built this.   It’s fabulous.  I’d SO love to go sailing on it.   I love sailboats and sure wish I could figure out how to spend a year or so with a master sailor as his/her crew.

Can’t you see yourself sailing down the Seine in this??







Returning to Ruby we pass this cute little tug imitation.  It’s wooden too which of course makes me wonder if it belongs to one of the builders.  Wish its cab didn’t have a tarp over it.






Alrighty then, on with our day.





We’ve decided to drive up to Mullet Hole and put the kayaks in the water to kayak every possibility on this map and then if time allows, hike the loop trail there as well.  We’ll see.

Sorry about the glare on the map.  We’re going to paddle all the blue waters other than the pond there on the upper right since there appears to be a land bridge with the trail on it between the pond and the stream/creek/whatever it is.  We actually end up going off the bottom of the map to the mouth at the Crystal River.

Then when we come back and dock up at the top where the little boat symbol is, we’ll walk down and do the Crystal Cove Trail 1.7 miles they say.

Or at least that’s the plan.   Time of course will really tell.



I check out the launch. 

It’s very nice and only a short distance to carry the kayaks from Ruby.   We do appreciate not having to get the carts out.   Looks beautiful.  Can’t wait to try it out.







David launches first and gets this picture of me coming in.  When we return we learn from one of the fishermen watching us that a giant gator, he claims as big as our kayaks, jumped in the water when we came down and headed toward us.  He said he was going to call to us but then the gator turned away.   It’s amazing that neither of us saw or heard this.  DARN!   Can’t believe I missed seeing a giant gator.  I thought it might be a “fish tale” until he pulled out his phone and showed us a picture albeit from a distance.





For the turtle fans.




Not sure what this smaller body of water leading to the Crystal River is called but it is lined with Eastern Red Cedars.  Seeing predominantly cedars and palms on the bank here in Florida seems odd to us both.








Oh Boy, wetlands!

Just before we get to the mouth of this waterway where it empties into the river and where we intend to turn around, we come to some wetlands.  ALL RIGHT…..let’s check it out.  In we go.  The first two are dead ends, David backs out.  But the third one I go into lets me continue.




It twists and turns.  Taking this 13.5’ boat around those corners requires some maneuvering but it sure is fun.


And then……I hit THE END.  







Now the question is getting it turned around.  Can’t possibly back out of here.  It’s amazing how much difference David’s shorter boat makes in doing this.










But we both manage.  He’s in front now and out we go.









OK, that didn’t work.  Now what??


Back at the bigger water we discuss for about 30 seconds going across to the other side and around the corner to see if there is a way into those wetlands but defer in favor of going back to hike the trail.   We aren’t much for big river waters and the boats that ply them including air boats in this area.





Looking to the left toward the Crystal River.  Nope, not for us.




So we turn right and head back toward smaller waters.




Turtles sunning and anhingas in the trees and in the water are the wildlife for the afternoon









David spots an odd tree along the bank and paddles over to take a look. 


It’s what I call a bottle brush tree and it has its first blooms. (Grammar lesson for the day:   It’s = it is.  ALWAYS!    No apostrophe otherwise ever.   Its is already possessive.)

But I digress… It’s big, beautiful and one of a kind.  The red spike flowers are just starting and in a week or two this is going to be a spectacular looking tree and may well attract the hummingbirds.  Sadly I won’t be here to paddle back and see it.  But if you are going to be anywhere near the park in early April, get a boat and go check it out.  Such cool flowers!







We head into the channel for the boat landing.  It’s been yet another nice paddle.





Next up is the loop trail.  Or so we think.


We get the boats out of the water and up on the car during which our fisherman friend comes to tell us about the giant gator we missed.  

From the trail the view is of the water we’ve just paddled and the palms among all the cedars.




Shortly we come to this set up.  We’re not sure what it is.  It’s a cleared space just off to the right of the trail and has a podium covered in some sort of black fabric that I guess will stand up to rain.  The little well house has an electric socket with a switch and a couple of outlets to allow a light in the roof to be turned on and to plug the light into a generator or some other power source.  I guess they could use a laptop here but there wasn’t any where to project anything.   The audience would have to carry their chairs in or sit at the lone picnic table.   There is a fire in the ring, laid and ready to light.  We can’t figure it out.  Maybe you have some ideas.






The trail is wide and mowed but shortly there is an H configuration which looks nothing like their map.  I’m thinking we just go straight ahead.  David is thinking we cross the middle and go down the other side since there is some sort of half metal symbol on a short marker there.    We decide to each take our own path and see if we meet in the middle.








My trail is wide and mowed all the way up to here where it turns into a tiny trail up and into these little mounds and dead ends up there.  OK I lose the which way to go contest. 





I back track and go off down David’s trail to catch up with him.  Along the way several of Florida’s State Butterfly the Zebra are enjoying this lantana in bloom.   More signs of spring.  BRING IT ON!!





I meet up with David on his way back just after his trial dead ends into the wetlands we had tried to kayak earlier.  Guess we’d better look closer at the map.  It sure looked like a loop trial there.  But it’s not,









The loop trail turns into an H trail.  Are you confused yet?


So back we go only this time when we get to the H, we go straight ahead up the left hand arm.  We came down the right hand, I did the lower right, David did the lower left.





The cedars have strewn the path with their roots.  You definitely have to watch where you are going.




And then, the trail turns into this.   Well this looks  like fun.  Another tiny little space like the wetlands.  So where does it go???  I really love heading into the unknown.





It goes right along the water and makes for great views.



And then, what to our wondering eyes should appear but a graveyard.   Beetlejuice in a state park preserve???





Somebody had a great time setting this up.  We wonder if perhaps they had some sort of Halloween full moon hike or something at one time.   What a hoot to come upon this as we are hiking along.








So today I did a 4 mile run this morning, a 2 hour paddle this afternoon and a 3.5 mile hike according to my pedometer.  I’m definitely tired, time to head back, but it was a great time.



Liv A. Lotmore and  Adam Ordaze


  1. I really like that zebra and lantana shot! I guess your last path truly led you to a 'dead' end. ;)

  2. SHERRY! Slow down - you are making me exhausted! ;->

    Virtual hugs,


  3. haha?! a little bird called a towhee… DANG! I wish I could hear again… blast it sooo cute! … love the little tugboat.

    jeeeez that going until you have to turn around or back out? Id be extremely claustrophobic. reminds of the African Queen! leeches

    glad you do though … thoroughly enjoy going along with you … Beetlejuice? hahaa Stuff to Eat…

  4. The graveyard could be left over from Hallowe'en?

  5. Love the mini tugboat! Now I have to look up Beetlejuice and see what the heck it is and where did it come from.

  6. Soooo? that turtle looked like it was high centered on that rock or limb, do you think it could get off? and I like those multi colored flowers the butterfly was on, do you know what they are called??? Saw those in Palm Desert too!!

  7. It's, Its, To, Too, Your, You're. I'm getting flashbacks on all the reports written by my staff that I had to correct with those words that give people so much trouble...I could have used a quiet paddle back then! ;c)

  8. Another neat place you found!

    Can I learn to Kayak if I can not swim?

  9. You need to see the Georgetown, SC Wooden Boat Show the 3rd Saturday of October each year...AMAZING!!

    Another fun adventure!! Favorite photo is the Zebra Butteryfly on the blooming Lantana...we are still waiting for Spring to show her face out here on the Pan Handle;o(

  10. Love the pics and always, your adventures! So much fun. The VC only open on weekdays hit a sore spot I've probably mentioned before. We've encountered some of the most visitor UNFRIENDLY information centers during our travels. I'm sure there are likely good reasons (i.e. budgeting, lack of volunteers, etc.), but shouldn't information centers be open when the visitors are most likely to need them? Which leads to my second whine...shouldn't they be staffed with people who actually know something about the area? Sounds like I'm in a whining mood today. Not generally my disposition. Perhaps, I should go back to bed and try getting up again! Hope you all have a great day!

  11. We got out on the lake here but it's just too big, oh well at least we got out for a bit, sure glad we didn't see any gators, too cold I think. Have to remember the names on the gravestones for this years Halloween party up at the VT campground.

  12. What a day from birds to boats to beetlejuice ;) I think I would have gotten lost in the wetlands and on the trails! Great exercise for the day for sure! Graves and giant alligators - my oh my! :)

  13. Sounds like a fun day with lots of exercise...my favorite kind of day.

  14. Nice to know that if the gator had got you there would have been pictures of it! You and Dave remind me that taking the road less traveled often becomes the better journey - and that each taking your own path is sometimes the best answer (even when you both have to turn around). Love the graveyard - what a fun find in the middle of the wilderness.

  15. Ooh, wetlands with deadend trails. Don't tell George about the gator as he's a bit nervous about them. Have seen some butterflies here, but no Zebras or Lantana. Love the signs of spring.

  16. Really wishing for a kayak.....you are a good salesperson. But, I guess it would not do us much good here in AZ desert. Ahh well...we will not be here forever.

  17. Lots to do there. Not too sure ow seaworthy that sailboat is:)

  18. Wow, a run, kayak, bike ride, AND you wrote a blog post!! No wonder you were tuckered out! Oh, and I loved your grammar lesson. :)

  19. The brush tree has cool blooms and I love the lizard, the turtle and the anhinga. Pretty butterfly too! YOu got your exercise today and you have shamed me so I need to go get mine. It was 70 here yesterday and we have a watch for 5-8 inches of snow for today. Geez. xxxooo


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