We couldn’t wait to get out on the water again with our new Sea Eagle kayaks. Today, we headed out early to the Chassahowitzka River, a/k/a, “The Chaz” for obvious reasons. It’s actually not that hard to pronounce:
chazawa… chassowts… .. chazzoowith… chazowitsk…oh, forget it.
Anyway, it is a river fed from a series of freshwater springs that also meets with the Gulf of Mexico at about the 7mi. marker which we did not quite make it to on this trip. Cut us some slack, we are still getting acquainted with our watercraft. The river runs along a National Wildlife Refuge, a 31,000+ acre refuge that was created in 1943 as a winter preserve for migratory waterfowl. We had heard that on a good day we might be able to see some manatee that come inland when the Gulf waters get cold (below 70 deg) to the river that stays a consistent 72 deg all year.
We got unloaded and into the water and barely left the ramp before we saw a couple of manatees swimming around. Kylee was so thrilled to see these graceful water cows swimming under our kayak.
After spending some time with the manatees we decided to go explore some of the natural springs that feed the chaz. The water was crystal clear and in the summer these springs are a popular swimming hole.
We proceeded up the river and were thoroughly enjoying our time on the water. We did not see any gators on this river but we did see some fantastic birds.
- My favorite find today was this Yellow-Crowned Night-Heron.
- Wood Stork
- Brown Pelicans
Needless to say, we are thoroughly enjoying our new kayaks! There is an entire different world to be explored that can only be seen from the water. Plus, it’s great exercise that I really need now that I am on the road and not playing basketball 2-3 times per week like I was at home. But, it is hard work and sometimes we want to just relax on the water and cover a lot of ground and see as much as we can see. So, I have come up with a plan…I’m going to rig our kayaks with trolling motors. My next post will be about this project. My motors have been ordered and should be here this week…so check back if you are curious how I am going to attach motors to inflatable kayaks!
Well, here I sit in Ocala National Forest at 9:00pm and it’s a balmy 70 degrees outside, unaffected by Dean Martin’s Christmas claim playing in the background that, “Baby, it’s cold outside”. It has been this way our entire 2 week stay here at Silver River State Park. And I’m lovin’ it! I am sure it would make my friends of the North feel better if I told them it didn’t feel much like Christmas with a high of 85 today…but I will not tell a lie. It has been a very pleasant stay in Northern/Central Florida so far.
The highlight of our stay here so far has definitely been our canoe trip up Silver River through an absolutely beautiful wildlife refuge on the outskirts of Ocala National Forest. We rented a canoe and hit the gator-infested waters early in the morning and immediately were engrossed in trying to identify the abundance of bird species we had never seen before, outside of of our Florida wildlife books.
I must admit I was not thrilled about spending the winter in Florida. My limited exposures to Florida heretofore have been Daytona Spring Break in college and Disney as a kid. I don’t care to relive the Spring Break thing and the only thing I remember about Disney was that I got lost. But, now…Florida as new appeal to me! The rivers and waterways here are just fantastic. We enjoyed our canoe trip so much, we bought 2 kayaks (review on these forthcoming) and plan to hit as many rivers, lakes, and coastal waterways as we can over the next 3 months. I figure the best way to sum up this trip is with a good slide show. So, enjoy, and Merry Christmas!
A note about the monkeys you’ll see:
A colony of Rhesus macaques was established in the Silver River State Park around the spring of 1938. The monkeys were released by a tour boat operator known locally as “Colonel Tooey” to enhance his “Jungle Cruise” ride some time around the Spring of 1938. A traditional story that the monkeys were released for scenery enhancement in the Tarzan movies that were filmed at that location is false, as the only Tarzan movie filmed in the area, 1939’s Tarzan Finds a Son! contains no Rhesus Macaques. In addition, various colonies of rhesus and other monkey species are speculated to be the result of zoos and wildlife parks destroyed in hurricanes, most notably Hurricane Andrew.
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