Since I discovered the Florida springs last summer I’ve put visiting as many of them as possible on my personal life list, dragging an assortment of children and cameras, snorkels and fins, beach chairs and books – everything I’ll need for a day of swimming, snorkeling, photography and fun for everyone who happens to be in my car.
We have a definite fan favorite – Blue Springs in Gilchrist County. There’s just something about Blue that’s got us by our heartstrings and so far no other spring has surpassed our passion for Blue.
But I’ll keep an open mind, I will, and we’ll continue to trek around central Florida this summer to enjoy the cool, clear waters of these amazing, ancient swimming holes. They’re usually set deep in the boondocks, sometimes County-owned, sometimes privately, but always nestled amidst trees with water bubbling from the headspring.
Yesterday we kicked off Florida Springs season 2010 when we stopped at Alexander Springs on our way home from Orlando. I was fairly excited as I’d heard rave reviews about this place. In fact, we tried to go there last Labor Day weekend but were turned away due to its being full to capacity. The husband is just not a water guy, and the pollen was flying and the Master’s was on TV (and there’s no TV at any springs I’ve encountered) so he was a half-hearted attendee but willing stuff-hauler and chauffeur. Still, the kids and I were anticipating a good time. We trudged a short distance from the parking lot, came upon the spring and looked around. It was … fine. I mean, the surroundings were lovely; deep in the Ocala National forest, but I have to be honest- I wasn’t moved – and neither were they.
The husband wheezed and rubbed his eyes, we plopped our things down and I sat in the sun feeling a bit deflated. The kids went into the water for a little while but shortly returned, not enthused.
“There’s no fish,” they complained. We are accustomed to swimming with plenty of fish at Blue Springs. Of course the large, wooden jumping platform at Blue means hours of fun for kids, and then there’s the spring run that’s open for swimmers, as well as kayakers and canoes. I love swimming up and down that spring run, fins strapped to my feet like I’m a fish among fish. The current coming back is significant but I’m a strong swimmer. I love swimming through the trees and plant life. Blue doesn’t have a retaining wall or steps; it’s very natural. A rickety boardwalk edges the spring run and takes pedestrians on a scenic walk all the way to the Santa Fe River. At other springs we’ve visited, including Alexander, there are retaining walls, and a roped off area. I understand the need for these things but for me, they detract from the whole natural ambiance of the spring that makes Blue so special to me in general.
It’s nice for small children at Blue to be able to wade, ankle deep, in the water, a natural egress as opposed to steps.
There were plenty of people out and about enjoying the water, but I never went in. It wasn’t hot enough for starters, and frankly, these waters didn’t speak to me. You see, I have this special rapport with water, all kinds of water, and yesterday the water at Alexander Springs didn’t beckon.
I got a bit of reading time in, shot some photos and called it a day.
Alexander Springs is a lovely place to visit but for us, our hearts belong to Blue.