Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Weeki Wachee River, Florida

usbackroads destination--Weeki Wachee River, Florida

Trip date--February 18, 2015

There were three reasons for going to Florida.  The first two were the Everglades and the Florida Keys.  The third reason was the "spring" rivers of Florida.  These creeks and rivers offer crystal clear water and spring full blown from underground springs.

The closest "spring" river to Tarpon Springs was the Weeki Wachee River.  And as a bonus it had a kayak rental and shuttle.  For thirty-five dollars we could get a rent a tandem kayak for a four hour float down a crystal clear stream.

Out West, there are plenty of spring creeks.  Just ask any trout fisherman and you can get directions!! The temperature of western spring creeks is usually in the low to mid 50's.  The Weeki Wachee River is a very comfortable 75 degrees.

For the folks from Wenatchee there was no way we could turn down a float trip on the Weeki Wachee River!!  Say that three times fast.....Wenatchee folks floating the Weeki Wachee!!  We even bought a Weeki Wachee tee shirt.

The Weeki Wachee is world famous for its Mermaid shows.  We took a pass due to time constraints, but next time we will be ready for this underwater spectacle:  History of Weeki Wachee Mermaids.

The Spanish wandered all over Florida looking for the fountain of youth and mermaids.  I suspect after a certain age you really do need to find both, since finding one of the two is sort of pointless.

The story is that the Manatees were to closes thing to mermaids.  So for this trip Susie was rather hopeful of seeing a large, water living mammal.  Her track record with whales has been rather poor so she was hopeful that manatees would be more accommodating.  She was hopeful after seeing this sign.

So our two boat fleet pushed off looking for the manatees and other sights along the river.  Terry was guide on the trip.  He was a Florida native that moved to the Northwest after getting his Forestry degree.  I suspect he found working in the woods in Oregon and Washington was much easier than slogging your way through the swamps of central Florida.

Terry does know the local fauna and flora.  As we were floating down the river a beautiful copper colored snake jumped in and floated close to the kayak.  I did maneuver the kayak so Susie can get a good close look at the pretty snake.  Terry wondered if the snake was a copperhead.  Now I always thought that for some reason a copperhead was a rattlesnake and I could clearly see that this snake had no rattles.  Yes, it was that close.  At this point, I led the conversation into Copperheads and their role in the American Civil War: Northern Copperheads.

After awhile both Susie, Terry, and the snake got tired of the discussion of Norther Copperheads and the American Civil War.  Only the snake had the option of leaving the discussion which he did after floating close to us for several minutes.  Once we were back in the rig heading home I used the smartphone to look up Florida copperheads.

Well, I did learn something new that day.  While rattlesnakes are vipers, not all vipers are rattlesnakes.  A copperhead is a viper.  It is a venomous snake:

Not mentioned in the article is that discussion of copperheads in history is a good way to get the snake to move on!

We did see other wildlife on the trip.  But the copperhead was definitely the highlight.

Though the sign hinted at manatees we did not see any on the trip.  We did come around a corner and in a deep pool where folks were gathered waiting for a manatee to surface.  After about 10 minutes we gave up and once again started paddling downstream.  It must be that manatees can hold their breath for more than 10 minutes. So Susie continued her losing streak with seeing marine mammals.

Here is the information of renting the kayaks from Paddling Adventures:  Paddling Adventures.
It is interesting that their web site shows NOBODY wearing their bulky life jackets which are mandatory at all times on the trip.

Areas for stopping and having lunch are rather limited due to private land and the general swamp land surrounding the river.  So take advantage of rest areas when then come up and be prepared to eat lunch on the boat if necessary.

Here is additional information on the kayak trip:  Weeki Wachee River Information.

Do explore Florida's spring rivers.  Just like the Everglades and the Florida Keys they are a special part of the natural landscape of Florida.

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