Monday, May 3, 2010

2010-11 Inverness, Dunnellon Florida

Another week in the Country.


Thousand Palms Rv Resort.  Nice Rv park, with pool.  Some sites have cable Tv.  Cost:  $17 Passport America.

I finished off my visit to the west coast of Fla. By revisiting Homosassa Springs.  The last time I was there, their boat ride wasn’t functioning due to low water levels.  That’s been taken care of along the 20 minute ride through the winding river by a newly installed water control gate.  Lush tropical vegetation leading to the main part of the park brings we passengers into a world of native animals and birds.  All except for the Hippo who has special privileges and has been at the park for about 20 years.  

This is one of those unique parks that was originally a private commercial park that the State of Florida has taken over.  Keeping that special layer of kitschy tourist attraction that were so prevalent back in the 60’s.  Instead of exotic animals, it now contains native animals to Florida.  Many in rehab due to accidents, like the playful manatee with their numerous scars from errant boaters.  

I had a great conversation with a volunteer Ranger who’s planning a visit to Alaska this summer.  Wildlife was everywhere, including a large black snake on one of the trails.  Ekk!  And no I didn’t go in the reptile exhibit after seeing one out in the wild.  I was really caught by the beauty of the swans in the exhibit.   And I got what I consider a really pretty shot of the Flamingos.  

Back in Lecanto, I went to the local Flea Market, within spittin distance of the park I‘m staying in, which is open only on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.  Lordy, I thought about my Canadian friends who were surprised in AZ see guns being sold at a yard sale.  They would have had a heart attack in this rural Florida community, where there must have been at least a dozen booths selling rifles and shot guns.  Gheez Louis, I’d never in my life seen so many guns out in the open and all for sale to the first person to come up with a couple hundred dollars.  

I bought a bunch of bananas $1, two paper back books (50 cents ea.) and a cool felt cowboy hat for $3. Sorry no guns, I’d probably shoot my foot off the first time I held one.  I know, I went wild on my spending, but sometimes one has to treat oneself.    

On Thursday I drove all of 17 miles to my next destination, Inverness Fla.  After setting up next to a pond at 1,000 Palms Rv, I joined a small group going out to dinner.  It’s so easy at many parks to join others for these planned events.  And a great way to learn about the area.  

The next day I drove into town and took my bike along as well.  The Withlacoochee Bike Trail goes right through Inverness.  Had a really nice ride on this 48 mile long paved rails to trails route.  Just went a couple miles south to Fort Cooper State Park which is nothing to look at.  No fort and only a couple descriptive signs to let you know the history behind it all. It played a major role in the Seminole Indian wars.  20 military soldiers were wounded and one died.  Unknown was how many Seminoles died.  

I road around some of the unpaved paths throughout the park and then headed back on the Withlacoochee trail for a bit of lunch at Two Sisters, a restaurant housed in the old train stations right next to the trail.

I have to tell you, I am stunned by the beauty and charm of this community.  The older part of town has been well preserved and all the shops surrounding the restored County Court House are thriving.  The surrounding countryside, filled with numerous chain of lakes that are just gorgeous.  Lilly pads and aquatic weeds fill small harbors.  The shoreline is dotted with perfectly maintains homes surrounded by lush oak, magnolia and pines. The Withlacoochee River  flows through the area and again, is just stunning.  The river looks like black gold. Cypress trees line the edges of the river draped with Spanish moss.

This is an area I could see myself living in, or at least coming back to over and over again.  Wish my Niece and her family as well as Dorothy and Dave would look into this area to live.  You know I’d be visiting them all the time if they did.  And it’s a short drive to the west coast of Florida as well.  

Sunday I took a trip north to Dunnellon to the Rainbow Springs State Park.  What an awesome park.  It had been years since I had been there.  This is a magnitude 1 spring, flowing at between 530 and 550 million gallons per day of crystal clear pure spring water.

John S had organized a N Florida Great Outdoors group to go for a swim, short hiking/picture taking excursion and later a pontoon boat ride up the Withlacoochee and Rainbow Springs river. The pontoon ride even include the Capt. Singing and playing guitar.  Some really cool songs about Florida.  An eco lecture was also included.    

For those who only think Florida is ocean beaches, Gulf beaches and theme parks, your missing so much of the Real Florida.  There are something like 600 springs and over 30 magnatude 1 spring fed rivers, perfect for swimming, kayaking, canoeing and fishing.  

The colors of the springs all shades of blue, green and aqua and lush green forests surrounding them are so intense, I get the feeling someone must have enhanced the colors somehow.  The springs were a constant 72-73 degrees and felt sooooo refreshing, especially since the air temp. had reached 94.  So clear I could see 30 feet in front of me.  The numerous shade trees were a welcome relief from the sun as well.  Oh and you know how I love a bargain.  It only cost $2 to enter Rainbow Springs.  

All of my friends in Orlando should treat themselves and spend an entire weekend at one of the springs in Florida.  Go camping or rent a cabin.  Check out the pictures on Picasa and I think you’ll see why I was so taken with a part of the Real Florida.

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