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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