Record #434 DATE: 3/12/2017 DAY: Sun ST: FL NAME: Juniper Springs CG LOCATION: Ocala NF SITE #: 60 COST: $11.55+$4.50 reserve fee water, dump, showers This trip was the Windyakers camping/kayaking trip to Juniper Springs. There were 16 campers at 5 CG sites and 8 B&B/motel gals. On I75 after Wildwood, the traffic came to stop/go for miles with over 30 miles to go to Ocala. Finally able to exit and cut over to FL35. This was the same traffic mess I had last year going to Juniper Springs. I was the first to arrive at the CG. It was an easy back into my site and it was level so no blocks. Rain forecast was 70% for the next 2 days, so the first item was to put up the tarps. Yesterday, I made a halyard system for the starboard side of the camper, just like I have for the back of the camper. Now, both tarps can be put up without climbing up on the roof. This was a safety issue that I needed. Lori & Betty arrived before 3pm. It was nice to have the extra help unloading my kayak from inside the camper. I can do it myself, but it is sure easier with help. The 3 of us dragged the picnic table next to the camper so it would be under the tarp from the rain. It was spitting rain. Plans were for Sandy Huff & SarahBeth Reeves to join us for dinner and they were to bring appetizers. We were sure getting hungry when they still were not at the CG by 5pm Finally, with a frantic call and text message WE ARE STARVING, we discovered they were still at their motel. They finally arrived at 5:30pm with enough appetizers to feed an army! Betty made chicken chili for dinner, and we ate chocolate brownies that SB brought for dessert around the campfire. When the B&B gals arrived to join in dinner and social activities with the rest of the campers, they just pulled off the pavement to park where they thought was ok. The CG rangers were very stern that any vehicle off the pavement was $75 fine per tire. Needless to say, we moved all the cars around to fit them in. When I was able to talk and laugh with the CG rangers, they relaxed a bit. I explained that these gals were not staying the night at the CG, that they were sleeping at a B&B. They were here just to eat!
Record #435 DATE: 3/13/2017 DAY: Mon ST: FL NAME: Juniper Springs CG LOCATION: Ocala NF SITE #: 60 COST: $11.55+$4.50 reserve fee water, dump, showers During the night, Betty got up to use the facilities. Somehow, she just cannot figure out what happened, she fell 4’ off the bed unto the camper floor. Wow, what a loud thump. I shot up in bed calling out "Betty, are you alright?" Not an immediate reply, but finally, "I am ok". Thank goodness she did not hurt herself more than some large bruises. We had oatmeal with raisins & mandarin oranges for breakfast. The weather was cool, some light sprinkles sometimes, and overcast with no sun. We added my kayak to Lori's truck, and drove down to the launching location by 9am. We unloaded our gear, and then Lori drove to the takeout location downstream. Betty and I moved the kayaks down the boardwalk to the spring and the beginning of the paddle. Sandy H. transported the deadhead drivers back to the launching location. At 10am, Betty, Lori, and I were the first of the 22 of us to paddle the river. The first half of the run is very narrow, twisty, fast moving current that required you to pay attention and keep the kayak under control. We caught up with 2 guys that were having trouble. The real issue was they both had way too large kayaks for this river. When we were at a wider portion of the river, they graciously allowed us to pass. That was the last time we saw anyone else for the entire trip down the river. What a treat to have the whole experience to ourselves. We found a great spot with a hard sandy area to get out of our kayaks to have lunch. Thank you Betty for a delicious chicken salad that you shared with me. The rapids (yes, believe it or not in FL) were exciting and thrilling. Wow, you just drop down, with excess speed, then shoot up and over the next one, and the next one. (Last year, I was terrified, because I had broken ribs and could hardly steer.) We arrived back at camp, and it was at least an hour before anyone else from the paddle arrived. We discovered that a couple gals capsized, but were ok; just a bit cold. Light rain began about 4pm, and did not stop until 3am. Thank goodness for my tarps. Everyone stayed dry, but the evening campfire was a no go. Sandy & SarahBeth joined us for happy hour and we again dove into the appetizers. I made dinner of Neapolitan Casserole (ground meat, onions, garlic, basil, fennel, can tomatoes, celery, spinach, macaroni, & cheese) which everyone seemed to like. Lori cooked cherry cobbler for dessert in her kettle cast iron pot. Rhondia, Sharon W., Chris Dollin spent the remainder of the evening with us. Lots of stories, laughing, wine, and etc. 10pm CG quiet time broke up the party, and we all headed to bed.
Record #436 DATE: 3/14/2017 DAY: Tue ST: FL NAME: Home LOCATION: Tampa SITE #: no COST: no For breakfast, Betty & I had eggs, bacon, and a blintz. The plans from last night was that we would break camp and then stop at Silver Springs to paddle the river. However, the weather was cold, overcast, and windy, so it was decided to cancel until some other adventure took us back to Ocala. Rhondia, Sharon, Teddi Buel, and I stayed in camp until check out at 1pm. We walked down to Juniper Springs, and then to Fern Hammock Springs. The 5 foot alligator we saw yesterday on a sandy patch of land near Fern Hammock Springs was now under the 72 degree water at the bottom to keep warm than the 50 air degrees. I stopped at the dump station before leaving the CG. I debated how to drive home. I should have drove FL35S to work my way to I75. No, I went west on FL40 to I75, but had to make a U-turn because of an accident prevented getting on I75. After backtracking, picking up FL200, I finally got on I75. This trying to navigate, read maps, and drive at the same time is not something I like to do. Believe it or not, I had not driven very far on I75, when I saw Rhondia, Barb Carrier, and Shirley Anderson's vehicles come up along side me. They had all stopped to checkout Silver Springs for a future paddle, and were now on their way home. Rhondia was the only one I could keep up with since she was pulling a popup trailer. We both stayed in sight of each other all the way to Tampa when I then turned off. It was a two-handed drive for me since the 25mph wind was blowing the camper all over the place. On arrival home, the fridge gas was still going. Glad, but surprised the wind did not blow it out.