Before we left Orlando, we spent some good quality time with Kyle’s family while we got the last of our affairs in order. Then we headed over to do the same with Kate’s family in Lecanto, Florida just in time for her dad’s 60th birthday celebration. Kyle had to travel to South Florida in the van for work for the week so Kate got a head start on the adventures.
While in Citrus County, Kate went to the Chasshowitzka River with our friends Jordan, Morgan, and Salaya. We launched our kayaks from the Chassahowitzka River Campground, you can rent kayaks, canoes, etc. if you don’t have your own. We took our kayaks over to Seven Sisters Springs. They are immediately to the right of the marina within a five-minute paddle. Many people miss this beautiful series of springs because they’re easy to miss once you start paddling downriver.
It took quite a bit of convincing, but Kate finally went swimming through the caves at Seven Sisters and was so glad that she did. There are air bubbles on the ceiling of the caves that sparkle like a hundred little mirrors. Super cool.
From there we kayaked to “The Crack”. To get to The Crack from the boat ramp, go downriver about ½ mile and then turn south (left) into either of two openings of Baird Creek, which flows around a tiny island at the mouth of the run. Paddle up main channel for ½ mile to large basin for Blue Spring. Pass through a narrow opening at the back right of the pool and continue upstream another 100 yards until the creek is too shallow to navigate. Walk up the creek another 250 feet to the spring and you’re there.
The Crack has a couple of sandy banks where we had a picnic, swam, and painted. Jordan and the girls are extremely talented artists who always jump at the opportunity to bring supplies to capture Mother Nature at her finest.
At this point, Kyle came back from South Florida to pick up Kate. We had to backtrack a little for our first stop together, but it was well worth it. Our friend Louis, the very unsuspecting badass motorcycle mechanic, resides in Palmetto, Florida. While visiting him we did some real Florida shit – canoeing through the mangroves of Frog Creek to go fishing.
The boys didn’t catch anything and Kate caught four catfish. She released all of them but not before one stung her with it’s barb, of course.
Close to where Louis lives is a little gem called Beer Can Beach on Longboat Key. After you walk onto the beach, head to the right and take the path that goes through the trees for a couple hundred yards and you will happen upon a driftwood laden paradise. Pretty much everyone’s family photo dream location.
After an awesome weekend with Louis, we finally started to make our way out of Florida. It felt like it took forever to start this journey and like we didn’t have enough time to prepare at the same time.
Our first stop on the way up and out was deep within the Ocala National Forest where we made dinner and braved the biggest (and most ruthless) bugs we’ve ever tangled with. Most campsites have a picnic table and maybe even a grill you can cook on, but when we find ourselves in the woods with no official campsite we use our Trekology camping chairs and table, which are both extremely lightweight and fold up small enough to fit in a backpack. Our Coleman stove also comes in handy to prepare our tasty vittles in the backwoods on the road.
The best part of spending the night in the wilderness is waking up and taking a dip in the river before you start your work day. Its all about that work/life balance – thats kind of the point of our trip.
From Ocala, we made our way to Devil’s Den Spring in Williston, FL where we camped for the night in their very quiet campground. We explored the property which has some outdoor activities, little walkways, restrooms, and showers. There were fire pits with fresh cut wood at every campsite accompanied by a big sign that had some legal jargon on it stating you will be fined for fires. That was a little confusing so after some debate we decided not to risk it. Fires are awesome but you have to respect the drought.
On weekdays we both have to work during the day (again, work/life balance). Devil’s Den was awesome for that because the wifi reached us all the way out at the campsites which was a good 5 minute walk from their office. We sat and enjoyed our beautiful office for the day.
Visitors have to snorkel or scuba in the springs, swimming without gear is prohibited. You can bring you own snorkel and flippers or rent them a reasonable cost. Once geared up, you walk down the stairs into the prehistoric cave, put your fins on and flipper around. Standing on the shallower rocks in the water isn’t allowed so you have to stay in motion, which might be a bit of a challenge for weaker swimmers.
Swimming in an underground spring in a cave is rare and pretty cool for the first ten minutes as far as Kate is concerned. If you’re scuba diving, this is probably a much more rewarding experience but to be honest we felt like the hype of Devil’s Den made the actuality of it a little lack luster. Don’t get us wrong, its worth it for sure, our expectations were just a little too high.
So our voyage continued on to one of the most magical places (for music loving hippies) in Florida, Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park and Suwannee River State Park. We roamed the trails through the forest and let Meatball take a dip in the river which she freakin loved. Who would have thunk an English Bulldog would love hiking and swimming? She’s not built for it, but we are starting to mold her into a real adventure dog.
By this time, we were really trying to get out of the Florida heat so we booked it out of Suwannee and headed north. Next stop – ATL.