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

Henry David Thoreau

We Saw the River Sink and Now We See it Rise

Wednesday March 18 and Thursday March 19, 2015
O’Leno State Park
High Springs, Florida




Wednesday is the first velcade shot.  It takes over 4 hours to drive there, wait and wait, get his blood draw and wait and wait some more in spite of his having an appointment.  Finally he gets the 2 minute shot and drives back.   That pretty much is the day.   I do a brisk 7446 steps around the park but never get to 10,000 and do an hour of yoga.   Day over.

Many thanks to those 50+ readers who commented on the disappointing news post and an special thanks to those 17 or so who stayed with us into more pleasant topics on the following post.  It seems bad news brings people out but the ordinary and better times, not so much.  Unless you are RV Sue that is.  Not sure how that works.






We are on a bit of a roller coaster.  Very tough day on Monday but better on Tuesday.  Not so much fun on Wednesday but better on Thursday.  We continue to be thankful that “so far”, after the stem cell transplant,  David’s effects from all these powerful drugs have not limited his activities.

So today we want to visit the River Rise, to see the river just reappear out of the ground 3 miles away from where it disappeared.  We find we can couple this with a trip down the Old Bellamy Road. 

The state still maintains a long stretch of the road off of US 441. There are a few driveways off this section of the road but not many.  We drive down the road to the parking lot just before the road ends at the gate with River Rise State Park sign.   We are the only car in the lot.  Looking good so far.






From here we can walk a 1.1 mile section of the road on the way to River Rise.

There are 5 informational signs along the road. They are well done and provide most of the information we have about the road. The first sign tells us that sections of the road flood seasonally and to use insect repellent for protection from ticks. Ok then.

The Bellamy Road once led to the town of Keno which later became known as Leno and ultimately Old Leno, now O’Leno.



The Old Bellamy Road is the Eastern section of the first federally funded road in Florida.  This road, constructed through the wilderness from 1824-1826, connected Pensacola and St. Augustine to the new territorial capital in Tallahassee in the middle of the state.  Of course we all know that Tallahassee is not in the middle of the state but it was then.  The rest of the state was uncharted territory, home to Native Americans and almost no one else.




The Santa Fe River passes beneath the road which crosses the land bridge.  The land bridge and later the road were used by animals and  westward traveling pioneers as any easy way to cross the river.  So here you can see the road going across the land bridge and we will start from the right side and go 1.1 miles before turning off to River Rise.




Once you cross into the park, the road begins to look like it must have during its early years.






The road is dressed up for spring which officially begins tomorrow.   We have to watch our feet not to step on these little white beauties.



We’ve seen these lovely yellow blossoms on the ground many times but have never seen them in bloom on the vine because it is usually high up in the trees but it appears a limb fell down and brought the vine with them. I just love their little yellow bells.  They look like jasmine but we didn’t smell the fragrance I would expect.



One thing I did learn in my several times of taking a ‘birding by ear’ class in Charlottesville from the incomparable Dan Bieker was the call of the Easter Towhee so when I hear it as we walk down the road I stop and look around until I find him and his lady fair.  They are one of my favorite birds.  An old friend.  I don’t even drink tea much but I love to hear him tell me to do it.






David thinks this is opening day for the wild azalea.  Their pretty pink blossoms line on both sides of the road.





We come to the point where we must make a turn to hike over to the Rise.  David sees a pond just off the road and we go over to investigate.  What we find are cypress and knees nearly as big as I am.  A lovely hidden spot.




We’re now on the trail leading to River Rise.  There hasn’t been much rain in the past few days but you wouldn’t know it here.  Good thing we wore our waterproof, mudproof, everything proof hiking boots.


David heads off the trail numerous times to check out big trees.  One of the reasons our pace is seldom more than 1 mph.  I am his official photographer.






I’m amazed to come upon the Red Buckeye.  It is sure beautifying these Florida woods in March.  I read that it is a favorite of the hummingbird and can exceed 10’ in height.  Ten feet.  REALLY?






Every once in a while there are very large rocks just out in the woods.  David says they are erratics but without glaciers anywhere near here I wonder how they came to be.   Does anyone but me see an animal head here?




There are a lot more things we see on our hike to the Rise.  I take so many pictures of this wonderful hike but it’s time to show the Rise and what we do while we are there.


Here it is.  Out of nowhere.  It looks almost looks like a lake until you look closely at the flow and walk down one side to see the river heading further along.  The reflection in the waters make it impossible to see the red bellied slider which is the lone occupant today.








We do walk down the riverside knowing that we will see a beautiful nearly virgin forest with huge trees overlooking the magnificent river views.













We have our lunch here.  What a view.  The Santa Fe is a gorgeous river where it is so well protected.



The walk here was just over 4 miles and we have that much to go yet so before we head back, I find this great resting spot to relax while David, who is having a dex day, continues to roam all around like an energizer bunny.




Before we leave David decides he’s warm enough to peel off the bottoms of his pants and hike in shorts.  I’m shocked after the tick warning.  I’m not untucking my pants from my sox and in my opinion neither should he. He reconsiders but ever the statistician, decides to test the theory.   One leg off, one leg on.  




I really do love sandy forest roads.  They are always a surprise.  Seems trees, especially hard woods, shouldn’t be growing in sand.




Just under a mile and half from the car we come to Sweetwater and it is definitely sweet. Outstanding reflections.   There is a large fire circle in the middle of the trail passing by the lake.  Clearly this spot gets some use by backpackers. It comes complete with an outhouse nearby.  I think it would be wonderful to camp here on a full moon. 









The last bit of the hike continues along the lovely forest trail with more big trees to hug.







When we arrive back after 8.4 miles, we are still the only car in the parking lot.   What a wonderful hike to an amazing spot.  The Santa Fe River Rise.  If you come to O’Leno State Park, don’t miss it.  There are 3 different ways to get here.  This one that we took.  A slightly longer hike from the O’Leno and an entrance which allows you to drive all the way to the sink.


  1. What great trees & knees...I read your blog every day...thru you and David I see things I will never see other wise...thank you... :)

    1. Thank you so much for every comment you post. They mean a lot and I'm so happy that you enjoy the blog and we can bring new things to your life.

  2. I wonder if your hike is leisurely or is it smell the roses along the way. If so I will hike with you, since Steve usually leaves me in the dust. For him it is the destination for me I meander around like you guys are doing.
    Now that's funny watching David experimenting on his hiking outfit. So what was his conclusion of one leg on and one leg off?

    1. We're all about the journey hikers Mona Liza. 1 mph is our speed and we'd love to hike with you.

  3. Sherry, you know I always read but don't comment that often. I remain in awe of the adventurous spirit ya'll share and the wonderful photos you share with us.

    1. I fear you are among the many Rose. I hope to see you here more often. It would be hard to keep motivated to blog without wonderful commenters.

    2. I hear that, Sherry. The previous version of my blog had over 100 followers with regular comments, but the new version has a whopping 16 followers and rarely any conversation. Oh well! I keep plugging away, even just as a journal of our life together.

  4. Thank you for reminding me how beautiful River Rise is. I haven"t been there in about 15 years but it looks about the same. It was a very spiritual place for me. So quiet and beautiful. I do remember that my friend and I had many ticks on us when we finished that hike. I do need to get back and see it again.

    1. Happy to have been part of bringing back wonderful memories of this beautiful place Kathy. Thank you for letting me know it was important to you. I feel the same way about its spirituality. It's wonderful to just sit and be in River rise.

  5. Wow, what a spot. These pictures are amazing. I wanna' go! It looks so peaceful. I am anxious to know though the results of David's one leg on/one leg off experiment. I died laughing at that. I hiked today around my subdivision in an attempt to wear out my 3-year-old grandson. It's amazing what one can see in even in a wooded subdivision if one takes the time. The kids kept noticing things I'd never noticed. It was a lesson to me. Y'all are so good at it. Thanks for taking the time and noticing everything around you so I can enjoy it, too. Love this spot and these pictures.

    1. Your subdivision is the most beautiful in Charlottesville Pam. I often used to sneak in to see the wildflowers on the river path. It is such a shame that adults lose their eye for the little things in nature. Toddlers have to go slower which enables them to see more I think. Or I tell myself that since our pace is 1 mph. Thanks so much for your comment. Come on down to Florida and get away from those winters and we'll show it to you.

  6. Ah life, if we didn't have the downs would we really appreciate the ups as much. Such an amazing environment, so lush and dense, plus the bright splashes of flowers.. I love the knees. I meant the cypress, not David's. Even though I know about the sinks and springs it still seems amazing this river disappears and then reappears.

  7. Hoping the one pant leg on, one off thing confused the ticks;-) That is a beautiful park. I keep telling Jim we need to spend at least one winter in FL but he is the mosquito/tick magnet and has no interest to return!

  8. We have lived in the Panhandle for three years and never heard of the Bellamy road:( River rise preserve is going on the list:)

  9. sometimes there is just nothing excting to say, BUT we can always find something to say in support and we DO support you, even on the good days, when we have nothing to say :) !!

  10. I find the sinking and rising of the river very, very interesting. . .

    1. oops. . .meant to add that I find the roads (the way they used to be) very reminiscent of visiting my grandmother's place during my childhood. . .

      I think we are going to enjoy Florida very, very much next spring. . .I know it's not where you choose to be. . .but I am enjoying all your adventures!

  11. Wonderful trip to the rise... Such an unusual occurence!!! Love the spring when the wildflowers appear. Especially love, that you notice and share them with us. One of my favorite hikes with you two was Abrams Falls in the Smokies when the two of you knew every wildflower we saw. That hike just got me hooked on wildflowers. However, I still need your help identifying them;o)) David is so funny on Dex Days... but hate that he has to go through all that:o( So glad to see you both out doing things you love... Nature does heal the soul!!!

  12. What a gorgeous day and you had it all to yourselves! Perfection!

    The McKenzie River in Oregon is another disappearing river where you can hike from the sink to the rise...only the reason this one goes underground is due to lava. As you can imagine it is in a completely different type of forest.

  13. I'm sorry Davids injection appointment was such an ordeal. Hopefully they won't all be like that. I'm glad you are bouncing back a little from your disappointing news and can appreciate that David has been able to continue doing the things he wants to do. There is usually a little good in everything, isn't there?

    I appreciate the fact that you guys absolutely love everywhere you go, and I always laugh when you are ready to leave a place. You always hate to leave, but then you immediately fall in love with the next place you go.

    You find the beauty everywhere and never fail to notice it. It think I would like to hike with you too. Since I always take a camera, we definitely go slow as I'm always looking for something pretty or interesting to photograph.

    That's a beautiful area and I hope your time there will help you both. Then it's on to VA, spring in the foothills, your beautiful farm, and Carries wedding......which sounds very nice too!

    Take care.

  14. There are so many beautiful places in Florida if you really look, but that goes for everywhere I guess. The 3 months we are down here I feel as if its a whirl of "maintenance"...vehicles, rig, dogs and us! I need to do a better job of scheduling the appointments and having more explore time. Thanks for showing us all the beautiful things to explore.

  15. Carolina Jessamine is the yellow-flowered vine. It is quite lovely, but tends to take over.

    We will have to explore that area in the near future.

  16. That rock looked like a frog to me on first look :) Beautiful pictures of a peaceful place and such amazing trees. I love the reflections in the water - that turtle on the log picture really captured that well. Dad looks like a true wilderness explorer in that outfit! I love seeing the flowers - still waiting for them here! Yet another enjoyable blog - it is fun to come along with you!

  17. How wonderful to see the undeveloped beauty of that area - love the delicate little glimpses of Spring under the shady canopy. Yes please to the full moon at the fire ring :-) Knees almost as tall as you? So just little knees then..... :-) I see a scary beast in the rock (like a giant was beheaded and the body walked somewhere else)......sometimes I can really creep myself out when hiking alone! That last hug looks like he's holding up the leaning tree :-)

  18. What a peaceful area for a hike. I remember seeing a documentary some years ago on the underground water in Florida.

  19. I love to "see people or animals" in mountains and rocks. I saw a mammoth eel in that first rock. And the log with the turtle on it, looked at first glance like the turtle was on the head of an open mouth alligator....til I saw the reflection in the water. I'm so glad you can find peace and rest during this time of yet more stress with David's health. and I'm so glad he feels well enough to continue to be able to hike and kayak. I too was so hoping you could have made it to the Pacific Northwest this summer. We continue to pray for good health for David.

  20. River Rise was listed as one of the 10 best spring hikes in the US- some article I read last week. We have never done it- need to get that done.

  21. I always knew you were a tree hugger, but never knew you were a tree "snoozer". :cD

  22. Love your hikes and the many photos you always provide. I read many blogs, as you know, and sometimes I see this, "keeping it under so many words and less than eight pictures" type of thing....don't know where they got those rules from! If you have a story, tell the whole story, that's how I do it, and love he fact that you do to. We leave in ten days for the west and then Alaska....always wishing you two the best. --Dave (GoingRvWay.com)

  23. Boy, your reflection photos are just spectacular. What a lovely area and to have it all to yourself:) That turtle photo is a real keeper! I must say, though, all I could think about was the mosquitoes and ticks. I don't think I will ever be an east coast hiker.

    The wildflowers sure do add a wonderful touch to the hike, don't they! Those Red Buckeye are so pretty and I love the big yellow blooms.

    Neat trees!!! That is some eye in the one David is looking up at.

    Thanks for sharing the unique river:)

  24. Popping by after a week away from blog reading, seems I missed a lot, as usual. I was thinking about ticks yesterday and how they were the downside to the spring weather about to happen. Of course I was a bit ahead of myself seeing as how this morning I'm listening to the snow plow drive by instead of birds singing! Enjoy the flowers on your hikes, I'm starting to feel that ticks might be worth it. I think I might have a different attitude this year towards pests as long as it gets me out of the house!

  25. What a great hike -- I love when the fragrant wild azaleas are in bloom. The red buckeye is a new one to me. Can't imagine a wildflower 10-feet tall! Sounds perfect for the hummingbirds. I, too, enjoy meandering along, photographing, and smelling the azaleas along the way (or whatever else is in bloom.) :-)

  26. What a great hike, beautiful flowers. Looks like a wonderful state park, somewhere to check out someday when we make it to FL.

  27. One legging on and one off came about as I was removing the first legging thinking we would not be walking in any more grass or brush on the double-wide trail back, then noticed two ticks on the second legging and decided maybe that was a warning so I flicked off the ticks and left that legging on. No more ticks after that on either leg, so I guess it was a draw - both of us were right!


Your comments are the best part of this blog for me.
I LOVE hearing from you!