First of all, I’m really bummed!! I spent a couple of hours this morning writing a post including pictures, hit publish and now I see that for some reason it didn’t. If I’m wrong, and you got it, please let me know. I can’t find it anywhere, even a draft. Really frustrating. Soooo, I’ll do it again, it might not be as long or as comprehensive cause I was hoping to do yet another one to catch up to real time tonight.
Salt Springs Recreation Area/Campground. 2/23 – 2/25
Left Hawthorne and drove short distance to the Salt Springs Recreation Area of Ocala National Forest. It’s the weekend so it’s very crowded. I was able to get a site in the primitive camping/tent area where they allow small campers. It’s a real nice spot at the end, all sand, not even paved road, small campground. The RV area is huge, hundreds of sites, mostly huge RVs with snowbirds, close together, row upon row. So glad I wasn’t able to get a site there. Very pleased with my site with no hookups, it costs $20/night, but with senior pass $10. I need lots of these to keep this up. Will be boondocking the whole week at Ocala.
The Springs are amazing. There is a pool walled in on 3 sides opening out to the lake for swimming. The temp is always around 72, very comfortable swimming once you get in. The springs “boil” up from the underground source, making circular ripples in the surface. The pool is very shallow except where the springs are, there it’s very deep, rock lined, eventually down to the springs below. There were people snorkeling down, or trying to, the force of the springs coming up pushed them back up.
You can see the circles. In the larger picture, the people in the middle are trying to snorkel into one of the springs. You can see 2 others.
Out beyond the roped off swimming area, “party” boats were hanging out, playing music, watching the swimmers, some swimming themselves off the boat even tho it was outside the allowable area. Very festive and fun atmosphere.
Since I’m writing this more than a week later, I’ve filed away all the materials I have for the Springs or I would tell you interesting things like how many gals of water the springs push up every hour, or day. Lots! You can probably find that info on line.
The Recreation Area is run by private contractors and I found the “fake rangers” to be not so friendly or helpful, as is usually the case with real Park Rangers. Another example of taxpayer money going to the profits of corporations and their investors. I don’t know how many National Parks use private contractors, we’ll see as I travel through more of them.
Juniper Springs Recreation Area. 2/25 – 2/28
Another 10 miles or so down the road to meet up again with Doreen, this time at Juniper Springs. There are a lot of springs all over FL, many of them here in Ocala NF. The springs at Juniper are very different from Salt Springs. There is also a walled in area where springs boil up for a swimming area, but the springs aren’t so obvious. There is a millhouse at the spillway where the water from the pool spills into streams. It was built by the CCC and at one point provided electricity.
In addition to the spring fed pool, there are many springs boiling out in other small natural pools around the area, with trails leading to them. Beautiful springs, blue blue water, sandy bottom (instead of rocky at Salt Springs) where the springs push up the white sand in boils. Just amazing, beautiful, fascinating!! All in beautiful natural settings.
I have some great videos of the big one on the right but this free wordpress doesn’t allow videos. All the blue sky and trees there are reflections. The circle is just boiling sand. See the fish swimming in from the left bottom? Got it in video moving right over the spring.
There were also many tiny ones everywhere there was water flowing. All so beautiful and amazing.
There were several old CCC build pavilions around, all closed and fenced off. Evidence of not enough money or desire to save our natural resources or aging historical buildings. Sad.
There were lots of warnings about bears and alligators, but these were the visitors we had at our campsite.
You could hear the turkeys all over. Campsites were nice, all without hookups, so there were some large RVs there, some with generators but they didn’t run them very much. Several nice loops of campsites, one where no RVs could be which was really in the woods and rustic, could hardly tell what was the road. Just walking the campground loops made for nice walking. But there were also nice trails. The Florida National Scenic Trail, which goes all over FL, passed through there. I’ve passed by it several times in my travels through the state. We hiked it along interesting terrains of woods and marshes. We weren’t calculating it, but figured we’d walked about 6 miles by the time we got back!!! Haven’t had a nice long hike like that in a while. Felt good, but tired, even Xena!
It was great having another camping experience with Doreen in her home state and in her Biologist element. She is so knowledgeable about everything out there. As we were walking on the dry trail she saw a clump of tall cabbage palms in the distance and said there’s the marsh. Our aim was to get to the water before turning back, and we did.
We left on the 28th, I headed for the WACS (Women Aliner Campers) mini rally at Reed Bingham S.P. in S. GA. Next post.
Thanks for coming along,
Lynn and Xena