Sunday, March 6, 2011

Wekiwa & Rock Springs

Wekiwa & Rock Springs

If anyone has been watching the national news, by now you have heard about the “Iron Horse Wildfire” that had been burning out of control in east/central Florida for almost the last week. Parts of I95 and Rt 1 have been closed on and off several times. Since everyone knows where Orlando is in Florida and where the Kennedy Space Center/ Cape Canaveral is, I will use those two well known places as points of reference. The fire started north of Kennedy and Merritt Island, where H and I went to explore, while staying in Moss Park. I95 and Rt 1 run north /south, parallel to each other, from Miami and all along the Atlantic side of the state. Orlando is in the center of the state and the town of Opopka is just north of it. The fire is about 50 miles east of where we are. The news reports today have been stating that we should be seeing smoke and ashes but it has rained on and off all afternoon so we have seen nothing. We are in no danger and finally the fires are getting under control. No lives lost and only one young fireman was injured.

Wekiwa Springs State Park is just on the outer limits of Apopka and is the headsprings for the Wekiwa River. The drive from the main gate to the campsites is a combination of pine and oak woods, dispersed with fields of waving grasses. The campsites are good sized and most are secluded niches carved out of the Palmetto jungle. The spring itself is down in a fairly good-sized “valley” with a great view of the run that leads to the Wekiwa River just around the bend. Lots of canoe’ers rent boats and paddle up to the bridge at the edge of the swimming area. The swimming area is on average about 4-5 ft deep and on the weekend, full of kids and families. On Sunday we assisted in the crowding of the cool waters and on Monday the “pond” was a lot quieter and just a few adults took turns at cooling off! 42 million gallons per day of crystal clear water flow out from the deep dark blue crevice where brave teenage boys show off by diving down into its dark depths. We stayed for 2 nights before moving 7 miles, up and around the corner to Kelly Springs, which is an Orange County Park, just like Moss Park. The price for camping is much more affordable in the county parks!

Kelly Park was donated to the county in 1927 as a park and wildlife sanctuary, and is the location of Rock Springs, a natural free-flowing 37.5 million gallon a day spring which meanders a winding 9 miles to the Wekiwa River. On our last visit here, we floated/ snorkeled down the ¾ mile run within the park proper but since the temps have cooled down just a bit, we felt the 68 degree water was just a bit chilly, so instead, H and I watched an otter frolic in the stream and then watched as a few boisterous groups floated on down scaring him back into the lily pads! We’ve been exploring the small neighboring towns and exercising our bikes around the roads and paths in the park. We’ve walked some of the trails, spotted a few deer and even tried to sneak close enough to some strutting turkeys to get their picture. We were hoping that this one pompous Tom would pay more attention to his “ladies” and not see us. No such luck

Another week has come and now gone. The locals have now filled the campground for the weekend and the parking lots down by the spring are full of vehicles, packed with ice chests and inner tubes. For us it was off to the flea markets up in Mt Dora and then over to Sanford where we found a good sized RV show that filled a whole section of a mall parking lot and then a Red Lobster for lunch. H even got to go thru a hobby store and I shopped at a Joann’s. Too bad their sale starts tomorrow.
When Sunday gets here – we’ll leave Kelly Springs and move 35 miles north to Alexander Springs in the Ocala National Forest. (Sigh) It must be “SPRING” time! (Sorry)