Lucky me to marry into a crazy family of camping, off the grid living, swimming in streams with the alligators and fishes kind of people. I’ve lived in Florida my whole life and not until I met my husband and his family have I ever been tubing down a river. My first experience was riding down Ichetucknee river. It was before kids, before real adulthood, just me, him and his mom. I was scared shitless but his mom told me something we literally say now everytime we plan a trip and go somewhere.
“ If you don’t like it or aren’t having a good time, fake it and smile don’t ruin my good time”
Naturally we have a good time in everything we do together but it is know!!! Don’t mess up anyone else’s good time. Anyway we got in the car found a place to rent tubes and we were off. I opted for a lounger kind of tube so I was not in the water because again total chicken here. We got to the river, his mom dropped us off at the top entrance and drove her car back down to the parking area and got the shuttle back. She gave me a mental pep talk and we hopped in. The water was chilly and the sun was high. We slathered on sunscreen and traveled on down. It was an experience. The water was so clear you could see the fishes and other wildlife floating by, I watched turtles sunbathing and fish jump down stream it was great. We stopped at the mid way point to rest, grab some food, and reapply. The whole trail with traffic jams every once in a while took an hour or two. Once at the bottom we rode the tram back up to the car and left. It was peaceful and relaxing and a totally new experience.
Well since then we’ve gone down a few more rivers and had a lot more adventures. Once my daughter came along we took her down Ginnie Springs. She was a little over a year old and walking and we’d already been taking her to swim classes as well. But we also came prepared, well her grandparents did I think partly to get us there but it work! She had a life jacket, own floaty and we tied all our floats together. She had a blast, she loved the water and playing with her float.
Then came our trip to Blue Springs it’s right up the street from the Ginnie but a smaller scale. The name says it all, the water there is a pretty blue with water you can see straight to the bottom in. There is a ramp that some jump off of into a spot where the ground seems to open up into a beautiful blue 12 foot deep pool. It is a small spring with a stream that leads out to a bigger spring that if you go down far enough turns into the Ginnie. How do I know? Oh my lovely husband decided once we got to the end of Blue Spring and were all looking out at the water rushing by that he would attempt to float across to a rope he saw and jump from it. Did I mention we were watching the water rush by? As in a current very strong current. Needless to say he never made it to the rope on the other side and once he got down the spring some realized he could not get himself back to us. He caught a leg cramp, we laughed and told him to stop playing. My friend who came with us even walked the woods to try and get next to him along the water and help him but he let go of the tree and continued floating down stream. My friend and I rented a canoe and decided to go down the river to save his sorry butt only we never found him. My arms were aching, my back hurt and by the time we got mid -way through the Ginnie I decided to turn back. He eventually found us, he apparently got out at Ginnie Springs entrance and attempted to walk back(barefoot). A nice lady gave him a ride back up to Blue Springs and we left shortly after that. Not to discourage you from going my husband is just a hot mess.
But one of the best places we visited with my daughter would have to be Weeki Wachee springs. This place is awesome! They have a live mermaid show, nature trails, wild live shows, and riverboat rides. It’s a great time for all involved. Now this place tends to fill up and only has the mermaid show a few times a day so we made sure to get there early. After seeing everything that had to offer we went and got in the spring. Now the spring is a little chilly here naturally. But you can do more than just float. The have small piers to jump off of, lounge chairs and shady umbrellas to sit under and water slides to boot.
With all the places we have been there are many more we have not ventured to, but this weekend we did take the newest addition on his first tube ride. We went back to GInnie Springs same place skyler went for her first ride. He did not have as much fun as she did her first time. I mean to be fair he did just start swim lessons so he has be testy!!!! Which is funny because he has been doing well with the rain and all. By the time we went down again he ventured further into the water without tears.
If you live in Florida or somewhere that has natural springs check them out. It is a great way to bond or just relax alone in silence away from technology enjoying nature. Check out floridastateparks.org to get information on park hours, admissions, peak seasons, and extras like the tram rides(so you don’t have to walk through the woods). Plan a day, pack your bags and some snacks and have a nice float session. I mean some of these places you can camp out too but that is going to be a hard pass for me.
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