Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Alexander Springs - 02/29/12

We awoke to another beautiful warm sunny day here at Alexander Springs Campground in the Ocala National Forest. This is our last day here so we decided we would revisit one of our favorite areas today.

We took the self-guided boardwalk tour that goes around the pond and along a portion of the river. Under the boardwalk flow the various tributaries of the crystal clear spring water, just a few inches in depth. This area is populated with several varieties of trees; among the most prevalent are cedar, cypress and pine. The boardwalk ends at an overlook area that protrudes out onto a portion of the river. Portions of the shoreline on both sides of the river have small fields of giant lily pads separated by thick patches of bright green grass at least six feet tall. The water is so clear you can see the river has a bountiful supply of fish, some less than an inch in length to some perhaps as much as six inches in length.

An alligator, about five feet long, was swimming slowly near one of the fields of lily pads. A large stork, with beautiful dark blue feathers, was standing near the shore by one of the patches of green grass. It looked to be at least four to five feet tall, standing perfectly still, looking for it’s next meal of fish swimming in the clear water below it. Its’ color blended in so well with the backdrop of the patch of green grass it was almost invisible to the naked eye. A group of four turtles went swimming by. It was such a unique experience to see them so clearly. They stayed underwater, occasionally swimming to the bottom to munch on the lush green vegetation there. Then the fun began! A family of otters were frolicking about in one of the fields of giant lily pads across the river from us. What a commotion! There were just too many of them to get an accurate count. A small one swam over to one of the lily pad fields on our side, stuck it’s head above water, looked at us for a few seconds and then submerged and rejoined the others on the other side.

Upon our return to the area of the pond roped off for swimming, I told Sharon our boardwalk tour would not be complete without our testing the water in the swimming area. She was definitely not receptive to my suggestion, so it was to be a solo event for me. Off with my shoes and socks and into the crystal clear spring-fed water I go. Since the depth of the water throughout the pond is only about three feet deep, the water was a little bit above my knees. Indeed, the water was warm and felt like it was 72 degrees F, as advertised in the park literature. The pure white sandy bottom was soft to the touch on the bottom of my feet. When I stepped into the lush green vegetation I had the sensation of tiny little fish flittering about my feet. I was tempted to wade further into the pond but was mindful of the alligator we had seen earlier, that was really not that far from the pond. Common sense prevailed, time to exit the pond. Mission completed! I had tested the waters at Alexander Springs.

Tomorrow, another new adventure begins!

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