Hi Gang,

Let me tell you about a super trip I just took.  I spend three days canoeing down Florida's famous Suwannee River.

We launched the canoe right along side the historic sulphur spring bathhouse in White Springs.


The spring house was once a health spa
for people who wanted to bathe in the
sulphur spring water.
We immediately entered the Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park.  This park honors the music composer,
Stephen Foster, who immortalized the Suwannee River in his song "Old Folks At Home". 


The bell tower plays some of Stephen
Foster's songs and has a museum with
displays of his pianos, sheet music, and
dioramas depicting the stories behind
his songs.

(click on this and the following pictures
to enlarge them.)

The water level is really low, so we were able to see at lot of stuff that is usually below the water.  Some of the limestone has
been eaten away and looks a lot like creepy skulls or skeletons.  We could even see where the roots of the trees growing on
the riverbank extended under ground.

tree roots
Tree roots are exposed by the low water and erosion.
Some of the rocks looked like skulls or skeletons

We saw a lot of wildlife, including an alligator, several turtles, river otters, herons, hawks, and other birds. 

This alligator, about 3 feet long, was
sunning on the bank.  It ignored us.
Turtles frequently sun themselves
on rocks or logs. 
This egret waited until we got
close then flew away.

White Springs is the beginning of the Suwannee River Wilderness Trail, which runs 170 miles down to the Gulf of Mexico.  It is
like a long narrow park with lots of outdoor stuff to do.  There are several campgrounds along the way.  We spent the first night
at the Woods Ferry River Camp.  Although there are screened shelters, we chose to stay at the primitive campsite, which actually
has several conveniences, including a picnic table, grill, and fire ring.

1st Night's campsite

This was our first night's campsite at the Woods
Ferry River Camp "primitive" campsite.

Woods Ferry River Camp landing
fire ring
tent at Woods Ferry
The landing at Woods Ferry River
Camp has a long walkway up from
the river.
The campground provided a picnic
table, grill, and fire ring.  Dinner is
being cooked over the fire.
The tent was set up on a nice soft
bed of leaves.

The next morning we didn't bother with the fire.  With the help of a Jet Boil stove we enjoyed fresh hot french press coffee,
hot cereal fortified with dried fruit and nuts, and fresh oranges..

making coffee

  Making coffee with a Jet Boil and French Press

Back on the river again, we continued down stream past the Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park.  This is a private park and
campground that is a popular place to launch canoes or camp for the night.  They also have frequent country music concerts.
We had originally planned on ending our trip here, but since we were so early, we hadn't even spent our second night out, we
decided to continue on down the river.

Spirit of the Suwanee Music Park       The Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park has a nice launching ramp for canoes

Since the river was so low, we frequently had to avoid sandbars.  They were hard to see and sometimes we got stuck.  It
took a lot of pushing and paddling to get off them.  We decided that one would be a good place to stop for a picnic lunch..

picnic lunch
Sandbars sometimes made it
hard to paddle.
I took a closer look at
the sand bar.
This looked like a good place
for a picnic lunch.

One of the things I learned was how the flow of the water shapes the river bank.  When the river curves, the water has to
go faster around the outside of the curve, and slower on the inside of the curve.  This erodes the outside and causes steep
banks, while the slower water on the inside of the curve allows sediments to settle out of the water and form sand dunes.

river bend

The outside bank, on the right, is a steep
rocky bank, while the inside bank, on the
left, has a sloping sand bank.

These sand banks also make excellent campsites.  There are so many of them that there is always a
convenient place to stop for the night.  So we took advantage of that the second night and camped
on a sand bank.

2nd night's campsite
2nd night's campfire
2nd night's dinner
The second night we camped on
a sandy riverbank.
I helped tend the fire, but I was
careful not to get too close.  We
built it on the sand since there
was no fire ring to use.
Dinner was made
with the Jet Boil
and dehydrated
noodles and

Steripen is used to purify river water
I helped set up the tent Florida Trail
We used a SteriPEN to purify the
river water for making dinner and
I helped to set up the tent.  We
have not yet put on the yellow
rain fly.
The Florida Trail, marked with orange
blazes painted on trees, follows the
river bank through this section of
Florida.  We watched a Boy Scout
Troop hike by.

turtle tracks
Scats & Tracks book
While exploring the sand dune, we
came upon a set of tracks.  They ended
at a hole that an animal had dug. 
We looked them up in our guide book
and concluded that a snapping turtle had
climbed ashore to lay her eggs in the sand.

We went to bed that night, listening to owls hooting, fish jumping, and who knows what else was afoot in the wild.

Chilly morning
Our river bend
Tree reflecting in the river
The morning was chilly for Florida,
but mild by Michigan standards.
This is the morning view of our
river bend.
The reflection of this
tree across the river
has an eerie look.

spider in tent
getting ready to launch
While striking the tent, we discovered
we'd had a visitor.
Getting ready to launch the canoe
on day 3.
Paddling down the Suwannee

Holton Creek River Camp
UF Students camp
Not far down the river, we passed the Holton
Creek River Camp, for those who want a little
more luxury in their camping.
Still further down, we passed the camp of a group
of University of Florida students.  They also chose
to camp in the wild of the river bank.

Junction of the Alapaha River
When we saw the Alapaha River
flowing into the Suwannee, we
knew that our trip was almost
over.  We were arriving at our
pull out point.
After unloading the canoe and
laying out the gear to dry, I
helped take our last navigational
fix for the trip.  We had traveled
35 miles down the river.

We had one last stop to make.  The mother of my friend Morgan, whom Sarah Marsh had met last summer in Colorado,
had helped us  with land transportation, shuttling  us and our car to make the trip possible.  She picked us up at the
end of our trip and drove us back to the Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park, where our car had been left.

at the beach with Morgan
Morgan's family
I got to spend some time with Morgan
playing on th beach at the Spirit of the
Suwannee Music Park.
This is Morgan's family, he cousin Shyanne,
brother Mason, and her mother, Carrina.

Well, that wraps it up.  I had a great time, and am looking forward to more adventures in the South.  I'll write as I do more.