Alexander Springs: Hello Goodbye

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.

Comments

  1. C.C. says:

    Aren't there some great places to go snorkeling slash scuba diving in FL where manatees can be seen in their natural habitat? Your post just made me think of that for some reason. Random I know…

    Seems like you probably have some great surf, swimming, and snorkeling/scuba spots where you live.

  2. Karen says:

    Ask me how envious I am… driving distance to Orlando and all those springs. *sigh*

    Lucky girl. I am enjoying your move to Florida (albeit a while ago) almost as much as YOU did..lol..

  3. Terra says:

    Ah, I'm a water girl too. And when my feet are not in the ocean, I long for a river, or springs like yours.
    Good story and photos. I'll be back on my lunch break for a mini vacation, and dream.

  4. Maya says:

    Jeannie, I'd love to feature some of these Springs on Daily Vitamin Sea. Do you have the pictures larger…, I'm thinking the Manatee Spring shot, because the color of the water is just so fantastic and one photograph of your favorite Spring of course! You can just email the photos to completelycoastal@cox.net if you want to.

    Have a great day!!

  5. Sammi says:

    It looks pretty, but I think once you gotta favourite you'll always think its there that is best!!!

    I love swimming, but I'm always scared of fish swimming around me and tickling me or worse biting me!

  6. Rachel M. says:

    Sometimes it's worth a visit to a "lesser" park to remind us how much we love our favorites.

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