Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.

Henry David Thoreau

Hiking the Swamp Trail at Silver Springs

Saturday December 17, 2016                                                        Most Recent Posts:
Silver Springs State Park                                            Headed to Silver Springs, the Dreaded Oil Light Comes On
Silver Springs, Florida                                                                 One out of Two Isn’t Bad


There are several trails at Silver Springs and I figure we’ll have time to walk at least two of them.  We walked the river trail taking the kayaks down to the dock so today we do our favorite, the Swamp trail.   Each of the trails is about 2 1/4 miles long round trip.



The swamp trail begins in the forest and is lined with palmettos and Sable Palms, Florida’s state tree.




When Sable Palms are young they are difficult for me to tell apart from the palmettos.  I have to look at the fan.  The Sable has a spear center and the palmetto a semi circle.







Such thick undergrowth of palmettos with their sharp fron blades made traversing and exploriung the interior of Florida very difficult.  Imagine walking through here with no path.



You know when you’ve come to the swamp part  when you see the boardwalk that takes you over it and to the river front.




Looking back down the river.  On my paddle yesterday this is about how far I got before I turned around.


I caught this anhinga in mid swallow.  Take a look at that neck.


The fish is making its way down.   I never get over the size of the fish they swallow whole.


He is soon back at it, fishing right from the rock..




Widening my view looking up the river, I can see a cormorant on a fallen tree trunk on the left.



Both the cormorant and the anhinga dive underwater to search for fish and fly in the air landing in trees.  The both spread their wings to dry them.  They are often mistaken for each other.  The cormorant has the hooked bill and yellow facial markings.




On our way back across the boardwalk we run into a guided trail hike we didn’t know about.  The are almost finished but the guide points out some some wild lilies just over the edge of the boardwalk..   They are really small and we would never have noticed them had he not pointed them out.






Back at the ranch, David whips up some oatmeal pancakes for breakfast.



It’s just a lovely morning so we are cooking and eating outside.  What a way to spend a December breakfast.  SO glad we’re not in the mid atlantic any more.



Yes these are chocolate chip pancakes with mixed fruit as the syrup or genuine maple syrup we brought back this summer from South Londonderry Vermont.


Mmmmm – good!



Tomorrow is the paddle all the way up the Silver River to the Spring Head, hope to see some gators and the monkeys.



Headed to Silver Springs, the Dreaded Oil Light Comes On

December 15 & 16, 2016                                                          Most Recent Posts:
Thursday and Friday                                                               One Out of Two Isn’t Bad
Silver Spring State Park                                                         St. Augustine’s Night of Lights
Ocala, Florida




Before we leave Anastasia for Silver Springs we take our holiday hat shot by the beach.  We’ve done one of these every year we have been near the beach at Christmas time.



Everything is going perfectly until we pull out of the site and go to the dump and the oil light comes on.  NEVER drive your rig with the oil light on.   But we can’t leave it at the dump site so we pull it over into the luckily near by RV slots on the campground road.  It chatters all the way.  Now I’m really worried.

One of the things David did while we were here was to change Winnona’s oil.  A check of the oil shows that it is full up and perfectly clean.   But a check of the oil filter shows it is dry as a bone.  For the first time in more than 40 years of changing oil in every vehicle he’s ever owned, Fram has sold David a defective filter.   Well Great!



At least we’re out of our site and don’t have to worry about check out time but there is no way we are leaving the park until this is fixed.

David unhitches Ruby. drives out to Advance Auto and gets a Mobile 1 filter.  He returns and its back under the rig to swap it out.  Light goes out, chattering stops. 

Problem solved with not much expense but over 2 hours of complete inconvenience.   There’s no life without problems and I’m very thankful that it appears we have  not damaged the engine.

But by the time we can get to Silver river it will be after dark and the gate will be  locked so I call the park, explain our situation, and they give me the gate code.  Now I think everything is covered.

We get on the road.  It is late in the afternoon, we are heading west.  Can you see visibility problems?  Finally the sun goes down and we arrive and set up in the dark.  I think this is the first time in now 6 years of full timing that we’ve set up in the dark.  It will be very interesting to see what it all looks like in the morning.  Luckily it is a pull through so changes will be easy to make.   It turns out none are necessary.





We awake to 47 degrees.  Now I know those of you for  whom this is your high temperature aren’t going to be feeling very sympathetic but that’s pretty cool for a low in Florida.

The plan had been to be at the Silver River campsite by 2 or 3 in the afternoon yesterday, set up and take the kayaks down to the river and lock them up so I could get out on the river first thing in the morning.

That didn’t happen so we walk them the 3/4 mile trail from the campsite to the river.  It’s not a difficult walk but wheels are necessary.

David has calls he needs to make to doctors and pharmacies.  He’s tired and needs a nap so he chooses to lock up his boat and go back to Winnona..

I’m sorry he doesn’t come along.  It is a sublime day to be on the river.  The skies are blue, the water is like glass.



Everybody is out but the people.   My kind of day.   Lots of turtles sunning.



The female Anhinga has a distinctive furry looking brown neck.



The water is reflecting the Bald cypress roots and trunks.









The male anhinga has the black neck.



Then the day turns in to a study of a few of the birds I see beginning with my amazing stroke of luck to be floating up stream against the spring current when I drift by a pair of wood ducks who even more amazingly do not fly off.  Somehow my boat stops about 10 feet from them and they still do not fly off.   I snap picture after picture as I watch them but I do think the male must hear the lens of my camera though I have all the sound turned off.  He seems a bit skittish.  Perhaps they are always like that.  I still can’t believe they didn’t fly away.




Wood ducks are among the most beautiful of all North American birds in my opinion.



At first I didn’t recognize that there were a pair though I know they usually travel in pairs.  I didn’t see her at the other end of the log.  I am trying not to turn my head.   Actually they are both pretty difficult to see among all the green unless you look closely.







Even here when they have moved closer together she is difficult to spot.  He takes all your attention.  I suppose that is the point.





Really this is almost impossible to believe unless you see it for yourself.





They do finally fly off together and I paddle on up the river.




I enjoyed myself so much staying for a half hour or so watching the wood ducks that when I see a group of common moorhens, I pull over and float into the water plants on their side to watch them.  They are much less skittish and much busier than the Wood ducks.



Their bills remind me of candy corn.






Another, can you believe it part of our natural world.




Further up, I watch a Green Heron for a while.  They sure do look different depending on how they stand and what they do with their necks.


And then an adult Little Blue Heron.





Not sure what got the Green heron all riled up  but he looks great!   I’ve never seen him with his “kingfisher hair” before.



I’m not making much progress to the spring head but there are just so many birds to watch.

The sun is slipping low in the sky when I see this anhinga with his shadow on the cypress tree as he dries his wings from fishing in the river.





When I paddle further back I can see him with his shadow in the water.  Which picture do you like better?




At this point, I’ve turned around and headed back to the dock.  A group of cute Pied Billed Grebes are the last that I pull  over to watch for a while.






Another Green Heron shows off his beautiful wing patterns from the side.  Just look at the intricate designs and colors.


I dock the kayak, pull it up and lock it to David’s on a canoe/kayak rack from which the campground used to rent boats.  Now all boat rentals are done at the head springs on Route 40.   I didn’t make it up there today but I’ll paddle another day with greater purpose.  Today was just a wonderful lazy bird filled day on the beautiful Silver River.

My walk back to the rig on the River Path isn’t too shabby either.