Another weekend, another adventure! I spent this weekend at the annual Labor Day weekend Joinerfest hosted by Ralph and Judy at O’Leno State Park in Florida. This one is dedicated to my Aunt Wave who passed away while I was in Florida. We shared the spirit of exploration. She always encouraged me to see the world and was always keenly interested in the stories of my travels. She will be dearly missed and never forgotten.
Michael and I drove down on Friday afternoon. When I originally invited him on this trip he said he couldn’t camp because he was loaning his tent to a friend this weekend. I told him that wasn’t a problem because I have three tents. About 70 miles south of Atlanta he asked if I’d brought both tents. I had completely forgotten about that conversation and so we discovered we were one tent short. We stopped to pick up a tarp and made plans to setup one tent and a tarp over a hammock but as it turned out Milissa had an extra tent in their vehicle. It didn’t have a rain fly and it was about 4ft by 4ft but with our new tarp and a little squeezing here and there Michael was able to put it to good use. For the weekend.
The next morning we got the convoy together and headed to the Santa Fe Canoe Outpost.
Eventually the kayaks were at the put-in and the team awaited the vehicle drop off. The staff at Santa Fe Canoe Outpost showed us a map of the springs we could visit along the way and warned us of Naked Ed, a man who lives a primitive lifestyle in a loincloth (or less) at Lily Springs. This we had to see!
But before we leave: A group photo!
And we’re off down the Santa Fe River!
Captain Lincoln and first mate Michael.
Grace and Faith zigzag down the river past old bridge pilings.
More of the armada as it travels down the river.
Eventually we arrive at Lily Springs.
Home of Naked Ed Watts.
Coming ashore at Naked Ed’s Lily Spring. You can see his head and shoulders above the wall on the dock. He has a 100 year lease on the land around the spring. His story is a little mysterious but basically he’s a naked or mostly naked naturalist that sits by this spring all day to chat with visitors and make pithy quotes that he paints onto signs.
Ralph contemplates adopting the naked naturalist lifestyle while some other visitors chat with Naked Ed in the background.
The girls decided Naked Ed was harmless enough they could jump off his dock.
Ruger got in a little swim as well.
After seeing enough of what there is to see of Naked Ed and his campsite we continued down the river to Rum Island. We spent the afternoon at a spring near Rum Island before heading back to camp for some time around the camp fire.
Intermission: Here’s one of the many insects and spiders we saw in the woods at camp.
This one was at Naked Ed’s.
The next day everybody pretty much did whatever they felt like. Some people went kayaking. Others went to the swimming hole. Michael, Lincoln, and I hiked over to the sink where the Santa Fe River disappears underground before reemerging three miles away. To get there we crossed this suspension bridge over the Santa Fe River.
Along the way we hunted for one of the seven geocaches of the Florida State Parks. Each park has one.
Here is the sink where the river’s water swirls around before flushing underground. You can’t see it in this picture but we watched a huge alligator swim around and around in the sink. Sometimes he’d lay still and let the current swirl him around and other times he would swim against the current to find a favorite spot before being carried out of it again and starting over.
At Naked Ed’s camp he had on display a bottle of “his” beer. He says he doesn’t drink beer but he signed the contract. It so happened that the restaurant we decided to have lunch at in High Springs was also the only fount of Naked Ed’s beer. We had to partake. That’s Naked Ed on the label as you might have guessed.
All the hiking, lounging, and doing a bunch of mostly nothing really took its toll on the team.
Even Lincoln was exhausted from it. Even Lincoln…
But we were soon revitalized by Judy’s excellent gumbo. See if you can spot the shrimp.
Today it was time to pack it all up and head back to Atlanta. We had such a good time. I always look forward to these trips. Next year we might be back at Juniper Springs!