At the Springs

Looking from the swimming area toward where it joins the river.

Looking from the swimming area toward where it joins the river.

We broke the rules today.  We left our dogs in the truck while we strolled around the day use area.  We decided that just because someone made a rule because someone in the past might have left their dogs in a hot car in the sun in summer, it was silly to apply that rule to dogs in a deeply shaded truck when the high was in the 60’s.

One of the deep vents where 72 degree waterboils out from the aquifer.

One of the deep vents where 72 degree water boils out from the aquifer. There is no vegetation next to the vent. That’s the reflections of overhead trees.

So that’s my excuse, officer!  😀

The water is so crystal clear here that you can look through it and see every grain of sand on the bottom.

The swimming area is shallow.  You can walk the whole area, except for where the vents are.  A few hardy souls were swimming when we got to the day use area.  Obviously they are from somewhere a lot colder than here.  We would have frozen!

Despite the name, the water does not taste salty.

We had a wonderful visit with Linda and Marty yesterday.  The day was balmy enough for us to be outside.  When we got tired of sitting, we took Sheba for a long walk.  Marty is undergoing radiation treatment so was not as chipper as usual.  But he was his usual sweet, friendly self.

We will be leaving here Wednesday.  The time has flown!  I’m looking forward to some more family time.  We’ll stay at Mom’s for a night, then head to Gail’s where we will homestead for a few days.  🙂

I had several more photos I wanted to share with you, but my signal is so poor that it is giving me http errors every time I try to upload another one. So I’ll accept the inevitable and sign off now.

Salt Springs, FL

Fishing buddies

Fishing buddies

I was surprised to see an egret calmly scouting for fish next to the fisherman.  They did look like they appreciated each others company.  The egret let Sheba and I approach fairly closely, but then started getting a little agitated.  So I moved around him in a wide arc, and when I looked back, he was searching for fish again.

This man and his wife are camping with a cat, dog, and 22 year old bird.

This man and his wife are camping with a cat, dog, and 22 year old bird.

We have camped at Salt Springs 3 or 4 times before, but when we drove into the park this time its beauty really struck me.  I had forgotten how pretty it is.

We have been unable to go to the day use area and springs this time.  When we were here before, we could leave the dogs in the truck in the shaded parking lot while we explored.  But now, in addition to rules against leaving pets unattended, and no pets in the day use area, there is a new one forbidding leaving them in vehicles.   Maybe Ron and I will take turns pet sitting  so we can enjoy it one at a time.

Our site

Our site

Nevertheless, we are loving being here.  We had a couple of chilly days, but now it’s up in the mid 60’s again.  Wonderful walking weather!

We are planning to have lunch with my cousin tomorrow, then friends from Silver Springs are coming to visit us Sunday.  I’m looking forward to both visits!

Bird prints in sand

Bird prints in sand

There are 6 camp hosts here.  The others have big rigs.  One has this little not-quite-restored vintage trailer.  :)

There are 6 camp hosts here. The others have big rigs. One has this little not-quite-restored vintage trailer. 🙂

This is as close as we can get to the spring area with our dogs.

This is as close as we can get to the spring area with our dogs.

One more picture of Sunny sleeping on his "binky."

One more picture of Sunny sleeping on his “binky.”

There are still things blooming -- even in January!

There are still things blooming — even in January! I’m not sure what the red things are.

 

Cell service is almost non-existent here.  Sometimes we can’t get on the net at all.  Sometimes we can send text emails.  And once in a while we get two bars and can upload photos.  Apparently there is wifi available at the office because I saw 4 campers working on laptops when we checked in.

 

Adorable Wood Teardrop Camper

Beautiful wood teardrop camper

Beautiful wood teardrop camper

(This post is from yesterday.  I couldn’t get a strong enough signal to upload it last night.)

We finally got a warm, sunny, beautiful day!

The teardrop's kitchen.  They removed the cooktop for extra counter space and now use a camp stove on the picnic table.

The teardrop’s kitchen. They removed the cooktop for extra counter space and now use a camp stove on the picnic table.

After Ron had gone out and bought breakfast for us this morning, we learned that there had been a free pancake breakfast in the campground.  We really need to pay more attention to their recreation schedule.  We will if we ever stay here again.

Then this afternoon, they had a parade.  Three trucks pulled Christmas floats past every site in the park, blaring horns, playing Christmas carols, throwing candy, and shouting “Merry Christmas!”  I had my camera with me, but the light was exactly wrong and I knew photos wouldn’t come out.  So I just relaxed and enjoyed watching!

The refrigerator

The refrigerator

Today was one of my ultra low energy days, so I didn’t feel like making a finger food platter for the cantata this evening.  Instead, Ron went to the little Salt Springs restaurant and ordered pizza — plus a hand packed black walnut ice cream cone for me.  They invited him to stay for a movie.  I think it was National Lampoon’s Christmas.  Several others were going to stay.  But Ron wanted to get back to me and the doggies.

The front interior.  Each person has clothes storage space behind curtains.

The front interior. Each person has clothes storage space behind curtains.

I had been afraid we wouldn’t have a campfire tonight because the wood was very wet.  But Ron gathered up enough kindling that I got a hot enough fire going to boil the steam out of the wood, and ended up having a very nice fire.  So we sat around the fire and ate ice cream and pizza tonight.

The high point of our day was when a beautiful wood teardrop trailer pulled in across the lane from us late this afternoon.  I was so intrigued that I figured it was worth being a pest to get a look at it.  The owners were very gracious.  Showed me (and another couple) all of its features and were happy to let me take photos of it.

Rear interior.  More storage and a small TV.  Plus there is a door on both sides.

Rear interior. More storage and a small TV. Plus there is a door on both sides.

They previously had a big rig, but only got 6 miles per gallon.  So they sold the big rig last year and thought their camping days were over.  Then they got a chance to buy the little teardrop — so now they are camping again.

We will be leaving Salt Springs tomorrow and stopping by Mom’s a couple of days on the way home.  Ron’s temporary drivers license is expiring soon, and since they didn’t forward the permanent license, he will have to go back home and get it reissued.

Our campfire with the teardrop camper in the background

Our campfire with the teardrop camper in the background

 

Day of the Heron (oops – Anhinga) & Sheba’s Future

On edit: Reader Gene Masse has identified this bird for me. Here's his comment: "That is a Anhinga. It is in the Cormorant family type of swamp bird. They eat fish. He was fishing. Also known as a snakebird because they sometimes swim with only their head and neck above water."       I will confirm that I saw some birds swimming with just their heads above water. They looked really strange, but I had no idea that they were the same kind of bird!

On edit: Reader Gene Masse has identified this bird for me. Here’s his comment: “That is a Anhinga. It is in the Cormorant family type of swamp bird. They eat fish. He was fishing. Also known as a snakebird because they sometimes swim with only their head and neck above water.” I will confirm that I saw some birds swimming with just their heads above water. They looked really strange, but I had no idea that they were the same kind of bird!

Today was another grey, chilly day.  Not pleasant to be out in.  But since we must walk the dogs no matter what the weather, we walked down to the canal today in hopes that I would find a decent photo or two.

1I’m no good at bird identification.  I’m think this is a heron, but don’t know what kind of heron.  Anyway, this guy was a perfect model.  I suppose he was craning his neck all around looking for something to eat, but it sure looked like he was posing for me.  I took over 40 shots of him, and each one was different.  I finally picked the ones I liked best to share with you.2

The situation with Sheba is coming to a crisis.  We must keep her tied up while in campgrounds, and it is seriously depressing her.  She cries and whimpers when she sees squirrels and birds that she can’t chase.  I think the squirrels know she can’t get to them, so they scamper around just out of leash range and it drives her crazy.3

Finally this afternoon she gave up.  She just curled up in a ball, ignored everything that went on around her, and looked like the picture of depression.

Then, of course, when we do walk her, she goes ballistic.  She needs to run so badly, so she jerks and yanks us around so wildly that it is dangerous to us.  Ron has a sore shoulder, probably from being yanked so hard so often.5

So we have decided that we either must give up camping or find another home for Sheba.  Since camping is the only thing that we enjoy doing together, and since we don’t have that many more active years left, we’ve decided to try to find her a new home.7

This is not the way I wanted things to turn out.  It feels like a no-win situation.

The only positive thing that might come of it is that Sheba might find younger, more energetic owners who will run and hike with her and shower her with all the love that she deserves.

The Springs at Salt Springs & a Bearded Tooth

The swimming area at Salt Springs.  You can see where the water springs up from the vents in the rocks.

The swimming area at Salt Springs. You can see where the water springs up from the vents in the rocks.

It’s another chilly, damp, grey day at Salt Springs.  Our high today was 55.  At home it got up to 59.  That’s not how central Florida is supposed to be!

One of the spring vents in the rock

One of the spring vents in the rock

Nevertheless, the area is still beautiful, even though we are spending most of the day inside the Casita.  Fortunately, today is one of the days we are getting a decent Verizon signal, so at least we can entertain ourselves surfing.

When we were at the springs we saw a huge school of mullet.  Mullet like to jump, and I missed several shots of them leaping out above the surface.  I did capture one slightly murky shot of the school, though.

School of mullet

School of mullet

The trees surrounding the swimming area are ancient.  And bordering the picnic area is a virtual jungle.  It has a very exotic feel to it.

When we were here before, in September 2010, the weather was hot and sunny.  We went swimming, and at the time the 72 degree water felt icy to us.  Today I bet 72 would feel warm!

My brother-in-law told me that many years (decades) ago, he and a few buddies would come down to Salt Springs and dive into the vents to catch blue crabs that clung to the rocks down there.  Now, of course, you can’t do that.  But at least the springs are still there!

Another view of the swimming area

Another view of the swimming area

If you would like to see what the springs look like when the sun is shining, you can see photos of our previous trip to Salt Springs here.

One more totally off-topic thing I’d like to add.  I have been fruitlessly searching for a bearded tooth mushroom back home.  A couple of days ago my sister Hope sent me a photo of a big “thing” that she found in a tree behind her house.  At first she thought it was a small cat curled up in the tree.  Then she was afraid it was some kind of weird egg sac and who-knows-what would jump out at her!

Incredibly, it turned out to be a bearded tooth mushroom!  And since I hadn’t expected to find one when I visited her, I hadn’t even checked out the trees on her place.  So I missed out on that incredibly choice mushroom!

Fishing for mullet

Fishing for mullet

Vegetation-covered tree around spring area

Vegetation-covered tree around spring area

Old trees around spring area

Old trees around spring area

Jungle bordering spring area

Jungle bordering spring area

Bearded tooth mushroom

Bearded tooth mushroom

 

Salt Springs Recreation Area, Ocala National Forest, FL

Salt Springs

Salt Springs. You can see the deeper source of the springs in the foreground.

We left Mom’s house and headed for Salt Springs.  There were no reservations available online, but they hold several sites for first-come, first-served.  Since we were arriving on Wednesday before the Labor Day weekend, we thought we stood a good chance of getting one.

There was a whole section available, so we were fortunate.  The campground has been redone, and all the sites are grassy with shade trees, with a huge common area in the center between

Walkway to the swimming area

Walkway to the swimming area

the streets.  And all sites have full hookups.

With our senior discount, we got 5 nights for $80.00.  I am so grateful for that discount.  It is the only reason we can enjoy camping so often.

Even after the campground filled up, it still seemed spacious due to the open common areas.  However, after all the weekend arrivals put up screen houses, tents for the kids, and filled their sites with bicycles, toys, firewood, etc., it started to feel pretty crowded.

Banana Island

Banana Island in the corner of the swimming area

We were fortunate to have wonderful neighbors.  A family — grandpa (Robert), his daughter (Vianna), her husband (Don), and their son (Joey) who will be going into the Air Force in November camped next to us.  They were so friendly and we had so much in common that we felt as though we were camping with family.

Vianna is a crafter and was working on an afghan for Joey’s girlfriend.

Another view of the springs

Another view of the springs

That inspired me to unpack my neglected afghan and work on it with her.  Among her crafts, she also tats.  I mentioned that I had my grandmother’s tatting shuttle, so she proceeded to try to teach me to tat.  I simply could not get “flipping the knot” even after trying late into the evening and the next morning.

Not to be discouraged, Vianna came over to our trailer right before we were leaving on Monday and showed me how to do needle tatting.  That’s a version that I can do!  I promised to send her a picture of the tatting supplies that I buy, and also a picture of my first tatting project.

Wild turkeys

Wild turkeys in spring area

Unfortunately, we did not pass a craft store that carried tatting supplies on our way back, so I will have to order them online when I get home!

Also while we were down there, my sister Ann’s friends, Linda and Marty came by and went swimming in the springs with us.  The water was COLD.  The daytime temperatures were running in the mid-nineties, so the 72 degree water felt icy at first.  But once we were in the water, it was heavenly!

interesting old tree

The inside and half of the exterior of this amazing old tree have rotted away, but it is still alive with healthy branches.

The water is so clear that you can stand in neck deep water and look down at the bottom and see the individual grains of sand.  Gorgeous!  And little bream swim around the edges, and schools of large mullet (vegetarian fish) frequent the seaweed patches.  Past the roped off swimming area, boats anchor and fish.  And we saw a man fishing for mullet with a bow and arrow.  Apparently they don’t bite on hooks well, so that’s a more efficient way to fish for them.

After we swam in the springs, Linda and Marty invited us over to their home for a wonderful vegetarian dinner.  They took us on a walk around their neighborhood pointing out the various mushrooms that grow in their area, and introduced us to a couple of their neighbors.

Marty built a houseboat that doubles as a camper when it’s on the boat trailer.  So they can camp in the national forest campgrounds, then pull their “camper” into the water and it is a houseboat.  He also showed us photos of the sailboat he built several years ago.  What an amazing couple!

Ron and Robert

Ron and Robert

Viana, Joey and Don

Vianna, Joey and Don

Viana and her dad

Vianna and her dad

Sunny

Sunny

Unfortunately, I did not think to bring my camera with me when we visited with Linda and Marty, so I don’t have any photos of them and their lovely home.   Maybe after enough such disappointments, I will get better at remembering to keep the camera with me at all times when we are out.

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