Silver Glen Springs: An Australian Perspective
fbrogers — Mon, 06/29/2009 - 17:05
I've had many opportunities to show newbies the joys of the Florida Springs, but this time was a unique one; I had to debut one to a very-eager Australian. After convincing him to get up at 7am (and a stop at Burger King - not something I recommend before a swimming trip), we departed for the Ocala National Forest.
Lich learns to use a snorkel.
The drive is always nice from Orlando (specifically the UCF area); right up 417, hop onto I-4, exit into Deland, slide onto 17, turn across the railroad tracks onto 40 in Barberville (and pass all the giant metal chickens for sale), and you're home free into the forest. At this point, you've got your pick between some of the finest springs in Florida: Juniper, Alexander, Salt, or Silver Glen. If I'd have had my choice I've have gone with Juniper (it's a very nice place to see a lot for the first time), but alas, both Juniper and Salt are closed for the majority of the summer for renovations. I turned right at that one traffic light in the heart of the forest and headed north.
An interesting side note: the bridge on 19 over the Juniper Springs Run is under some heavy construction. It appears that they are widening the turn and possibly rebuilding the bridge. I stopped momentarily to look over the work, and it isn't pretty. The run is very murky now, with a large "no swimming" sign up (so much for that).
I would like to point out that up until this moment, traffic had been virtually nonexistent. We pulled into Silver Glen at about 9am, and the parking lot was about 80% full. It was Father's Day, but I figured that would have lowered turnout. I was wrong. Oh well.
Talk about crowded. Somehow we were able to snag a picnic table near the stairs into the deeper spring water. A trend I've noticed on crowded days is a bottleneck on the entry points; people want to get the near the water but they don't quite have the willpower to get their chests wet.
Repeat after me: JUMP IN. NO WADING. Not only is it faster and much less hassle, you get used to the water much faster, and you don't CLOG UP THE STEPS. *fumes*
Rodan diving down to the spring mouth.
Overall, my bud had a great day. We took a quick trip to the sand boils to let the sunscreen dry, snorkeled over the mouth of the spring a bit, shot some video with his Olympus 10-ft waterproof, and got out before the park ballooned with screaming kids.
I cannot wait to come back in September when no one will be there.
Lich uses a snorkel. :)
Looking back at the day, I probably should have hit up Alexander instead. He was a little intimidated by the depth of the water in the pool, and it didn't help that the water level looked a good foot or two above normal levels. I imagine however that Alexander would have been more crowded, and it's just not as pretty a park.