Assimilating

The ‘loop’ was great!  If there was anything ‘wrong’ with it, it was that after paddling the Silver River, all else had somewhat of a mundane feel to it. ‘Paddling,’ seems to hold my greatest interest at the moment.

The back roads were relaxing, plus the ride was more peaceful and efficient than I expected – worth every mile.  Still finding it difficult to ‘just stop’ and snap a picture, but its coming – seems like there are a thousand in my head that I missed.  But the trip remained one of a few simple objectives with no itinerary, no plans – the only one that loomed was the one of a return date prior to Thanksgiving.

From Madeira Beach I returned to the interstate and the ‘hypertension’ that radiates from the frenzy of it all – the drive to Fort Myers was swift in comparison to the ride of the last few days.

Once in Fort Myers I tried to slow it down a bit and ride a few of the small streets that at one time encapsulated my whole world.  Most of the familiar places were now camouflaged under forty years of change.

I remember a few years back in riding past the home that I was pretty much raised in and noticing a couple relaxing in the driveway.  I stopped and chatted with them for a short time, in the conversation I mentioned that I had been raised in the house – and the lady began telling me how her family and children (now grown) had also been raised in the house, the only home that they knew – my homeplace.

I felt a mixed emotions as I returned to my car and drove away, there was a little bit of a loss to my special place.  The feeling of ‘home,’ at one-time my complete safe-haven, my families home – now belonged to others.

I suppose too that I began looking at things a little differently on that date, I was forced to realize that generations of folks cover the trails of our past, likely as we covered those before us – its an ongoing cycle of life.  The true meaning of the statement “you can never go ‘home again’ rang clear in my heart.

Saturday night at the gathering of long-time friends and classmates I put my camera down and enjoyed a full evening of reminiscing with familiar eyes.  It was held in a large nursery of Palm trees and exotic plants, a very nice setting full of fun conversation surrounding past endeavors.

Hall, Herring, Haynie

I stayed afterward spending the night among those familiar Palm trees.

 

The following day I visited and stayed with another friend Dewey  I slept on his porch 16 floors above the water – a good nights sleep while my feet and senses slowly returned to normal after the previous evenings cocktails.  Sure he had an extra bedroom, but heck – anyone can sleep in a bedroom… I slept with the sounds of the Caloosahatchee river surrounding me.

Next objective was to visit my Dad in Sanford, so I tried to run all the old back roads to see and feel the changes – two-hundred miles later I walked in to find Dad napping in his easy chair; at 83 he can rest anytime he likes….

The sharp-witted, vibrant, active father that eagerly anticipated – showed obvious signs of forgetfulness and clarity.  The man that was always up at daylight pushing his son to follow, “let’s get it!” – now needed assistance to stand – and he depended on a ‘scooter’ for mobility.  This was all new to me… another of life’s curves. I suppose being able to experience such crossroads should be considered a privilege.  Dad was in and out on conversation, and slipping far faster than I realized – three months later he passed-on; WT Haynie 1926-2010.

After a perplexing afternoon with Dad I was back on the road driving the bacroads of Georgia – my heart was heavy as my head was full.  It wasn’t as fun as the trip South. My father and I shared many miles on these highways, and I just love traveling, the ride, the character of the land; getting from here to there.

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Six hundred miles later I made home, the lakehouse (4am) and fell soundly asleep in 20 minutes – that’s quick for me.

 

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So I guess this ‘loop’ (the lap south and back) was practice, a first adjustment to traveling in a more relaxed (retired) manner – life is so very good.

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Madeira Beach

little chuck-wagon

I remain on the ‘bac roads after leaving the Silver Springs/Ocala area – have yet (until today) spent any time on an interstate and the ride has been perfect.  Sixty MPH (life at 60) is comfortable as can be with no schedule, only simple objectives.  I remained on Hwy 40 from Ocala through all of the ‘Springs” area, little towns and parks (Crystal River area) ripe for canoeing and kayaking (paddlin).  It’s all been a simple and pleasant ride. I have never minded going at a slower rate; I just hate for someone to ‘force’ me to go slow (go slow in front of me) – but I have not ran into that – its a good pace.

Wooden Kayak

All the way down into Clearwater Beach, and further down the shoreline to Madeira Beach to my niece’s place.

Hooray for Neices that have done well; stopped by and spent the night with Jill/Don and Lainey and my sister Elaine came over – had a great ribeye dinner while lazing around the place – why would anyone want to go elsewhere?

But it was a wonderful night of visiting.  Don and I walked over to a neighbors house and watched them put in some seawall, OSHA would have ran out of paper with this set-up, but the folks were working hard.

Tomorrow will be a Interstate run to FM, not a long one but will get off early and enjoy the ride – we’ll see from there.

ok, short post – I’m on the road….

The Silver River

Water clarity- 10 (this river is my ‘benchmark’ for all others)

Natural Quality – 9 (only the traffic noise took away here)

Difficulty – moderate to advanced

Wow, how could I have guessed that a day paddlin would be so simple and enjoyable?  As a kid our family frequented a number of these Florida springs several times a year (Rock Springs), I still get cold thinking about that water.

I don’t recall if we shivered because of the temperature or with the anticipation an alligator strike (which never came), I suppose we just floated right on past them.  This is the first time that I have returned in many years – specifically for the same spring water, this time in a kayak.

I headed to the boat ramp at Ray Wayside to meet-up with my cousin (a plan), Jo-Anne was one of those that swam along so many years ago.  Its my nature to run ‘early’ for about everything – no different on this date, needless to say I was at the ramp at 630am waiting.  With me traveling, our communication had been a little shady, so I really wasn’t sure if Jo would make it – but I sure hoped so.

I waited until about nine and knowing her spirit and gusto as a paddler, that she wouldn’t have any problem catching up with me – I went ahead (might have waited a little longer but some guy walked up and started talking, wouldn’t shut-up).  Another part of my nature, I appreciate ‘short-stories, not long ones.

Wanting to enjoy the ‘peace’ of it all – I paddled on.

So I left the ramp and paddled up the Silver and against the current, really not bad just a matter of keeping to the inside of the curves and outside of the main current.  It felt like I might have paddled for hours – and I don’t mean that in a bad way – the time along the way was thoroughly enjoyed within the natural peace that surrounded me – no fishing, no big boats, no noise…..  The turtles and birds did not always leap off of the stumps as I neared – and I could usually get within two feet – on the return float it was even closer.

With the crystal clear water the turtles in the water appeared to be suspended between me and the river-bed – large dark fish idled along the bottom too and ‘lazed ‘ in the clear sandy areas.  There were gar passing in between also – much like Ichetucknee Springs.  The cormorants would dive and swim after a fish, all easily witnessed from the kayak above.  It was possible to see thirty feet down, the nooks and crevices added to the character of the bottom while the current moved the occasional seaweed like a slowly waving flag on a warm summer day..

Comorant drying his wings

The natural peace of it all was everywhere – the shorelines were filled with cypress trees and their knotty protrusions, palmetto bushes, tall oak trees, and dead lifeless ones too.  I passed complete trees suspended under the water, it all had that three dimensional feel to it (like Tahoe) – a different view in volume that’s for sure.

The time paddling upriver was much less noticed that the surroundings and before I knew it I was hearing voices.  The Captains of the glass-bottom boats were describing the scenery to the tourists, so I floated along and listened….

At the mouth of the springs was the tourist attraction corral (Silver Springs).  When arriving as a paddler (as I did) it is necessary to stay in the water – in your vessel.  To do otherwise within the park you could be charged with trespass – but I understood this and simply put my ‘feet-up,’ opened my Subway, and began to ‘go with the flow’…… soaking it all in (the property now belongs to the state and is no longer private).

For the next three hours I coasted in a very peaceful manner, only seeing two other paddlers and a troupe of ‘bantering’ monkeys along the way.

Now that I had a little calibration and located the single ‘beverage’ (in my pack to keep my Sandwich cold) – I thought “What the heck?”

Proper disposal required.

as I floated along……………..

Again, it was all really nice and I was plenty comfortable – at times floating along with my feet in the water……  With the bright sun and clear water, the shadow of my vessel (and feet hanging out) moving along the creeks sandy bottom was like soaring in an airplane.  As I basked within the wonder of it all, I recalled the PBS show about killer sharks coming up on their prey – and then I thought about the alligators.

Now the Native Florida Black Alligator is not an aggressive beast, we can live in harmony and do – I saw three on this date – still, I did put my feet back in the kayak.

Actually, the ‘banter’ from the troupe of wild monkeys received more attention than the ‘gator,’  – there really was a natural cycle going on here and it was great to be in position to just ‘listen in’ to it all……

Reluctantly I made the turn back to the boat ramp around 4 pm, it was an incredibly nice float….

and worth every single moment….,

Fall/winter/weekdays are positives, insects are minimal – larger animals moving slow….. traffic low.

Holler if you want company..I’d go again in a minute….. (tomhaynie@yahoo)

Bac Roads to Florida

It was a nice ride down through Georgia on Highway 441 from Athens into Florida (the old highway) all the way to Ocala, without the ‘luxury’ of an interstate…… sure, there were some stop-lights here and there – but other than a very few inconveniences the ride was pleasant.

The towns were quiet, school-buses were fewer than expected, antique stores were common, and there was an overall desolate feeling to the ride – I bet I didn’t cross 12 other vehicles in 6 hours.  To enhance all of this the November day was very distinctly outlined in comfortable clarity.

Its difficult to realize that I am out of the “gotta get there” mentality, but I have continued to find a way to make it fit.  After so many years “travel” meant that we gotta GET THERE! almost a bee-line mentality. To finally feel the comfort of the highway passing along with the ability to stop and capture any moment of the wayside air has been a long time coming – it was tough not to lean back and put my foot up against the door frame like a recliner.

Cone Bridge Boat Ramp

Just before crossing into Florida I had noticed the Suwannee River at Fargo and it looked ‘paddleable’…. to tell you the truth I didn’t realize that it was a product of the Okefenokee Swamp in Georgia  and not a Florida derivative…  any way at the first opportunity of a boat ramp to it, I took (for more reasons than one).

This troupe of girls were at the ramp and had been on the river (180 miles of it to the Gulf) and were stretching their legs as I took my walk – interesting, and yes – it certainly has me thinking that I would like to float the Suwannee river too, no – not for the girls….. but what an awesome setting.

I could only imagine that at one time Stephen Foster might have rode this creek and was inspired, “Way down upon the Suwannee River...” (later I learn that he had never seen this river, the words simply fit into his song, good fit).

but the river was compelling…

– as I said, it unusual NOT to be on a schedule, but I think I like it. From there I pulled myself away and went further…

coming into Lake City there were was a giant wildlife mural, birds and stuff….

and places further along the way (if you had a kayak on top of your car) to check out.

chuck-wagon

so I did -this was the Santa Fe River – and I really did check-out some other neat places but I’m just too tired to write about them now….

plus I checked out the place where my Cousin JoAnne and I will paddle tomorrow (The Silver River/Springs), it will be a chore upstream – but a nice ride back,,,,, more later.