Friday, November 14, 2008

They Had to Pry Me Out

As everyone who reads this blog is aware, I prefer to vacation in the mountains. It's pretty obvious from the photos that I post here. However, from time to time I do head for the low country. I often have a great time in such places. My wife and I like to go canoeing and kayaking.

Salt Spring flows into a river that leads down to Lake George.

We've had some great excursions on the flatwater in swamps and rivers and in spring runs. And we do a hell of a lot of swimming and snorkeling when we end up where the water runs slow and clear. We really like heading down to the first and second magnitude springs in Florida. Some of these springs are so large that entire rivers gush right out of the earth at a single point to flow for many miles until joining up with a larger river or pouring into a lake.

Salt Spring and its limestone floor. You can stand in a couple of feet of water in one spot, then step off into a twenty foot hole. What a great place!

We generally spend hours in these types of waters filled with fish and offering endless opportunity to swim and float and snorkel. But one of them stands out for me. It's called Salt Spring in the Ocala National Forest in central Florida.

Hovering over the deepest hole in the spring. Below me were dozens of Atlantic blue crabs.

It gets its name from the fact that the water wells up through a mineral dome that makes the fresh water mildly salty. Salty enough so that the spring and the run adjacent to it are filled with animals you'd normally associate with the ocean far to the east. Since no fishing is allowed in the spring, these animals have the freedom to live out their lives without having to worry about the ultimate predator.

Huge schools of mullet were all around.

When I was there a few years ago, floating above the main spring, I could look down into that limestone maw and see truly enormous Atlantic blue crabs moving about in the vegetation waving in the powerfully upwelling curent. And mullet swam all around, often leaping into the air. This was such a great place that I didn't want to leave it.

Whaddayamean, "It's time to go"??!!

Like a big kid, all I wanted to do was swim around there and explore every inch of the spring.
Eventually, though, both Carole and Andy got tired and wanted to go back to our travel trailer, which was parked at Juniper Spring about twenty miles away. I kept fighting them off, though, and managed to spend about two hours more in that place--far longer than we would have remained if I'd been fair about it.

Come and get me, copper!

Finally, though, they pried me out of there. I don't know of any other place I was sadder to leave in Florida.
Eventually, I'll head back to Salt Spring. I'm not sure when, but the place will definitely be a destination for us in the future.

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