Friday, April 1, 2011


Gators galore at Paynes Prairie
We left the Gulf beaches and headed for inland Florida staying at several state parks. Paynes Prairie Preserve, Rainbow Springs, Silver River and Myakka River. These are magic, quiet, beautiful jungles preserved for future generations. Places of refuge for wildlife with peaceful rivers flowing through. A birder’s paradise. We love all wildlife, even the alligators and snakes which we saw plenty of.  At Paynes Prairie there were even buffalo and wild horses and Whooping Cranes. 
Water Moccasin - watch where you're stepping!
We are enjoying our little blow-up Sea Eagle Kayak. At first I was hesitant to navigate the alligator infested waters, but we started out on the Rainbow River where there are very few and worked our way up to the Myakka where they are all along the banks sunning themselves or cooling themselves in the water. As we would approach they would slowly lower down into the water where we could only see their eyes. I would rather they stayed sunning themselves on the banks where I could keep an eye on them. We enjoyed every minute of our river trips. 
When deflated, our kayak is stored in a bag and weighs 32 lbs. It was a mile hike to the Silver River to the launching site. After one day of Dick carrying the bag over his shoulder, we found a used golf cart at a thrift store and it works great!! The Silver River is still our favorite. It is located east of Ocala where we spent our winters from 1978 until the mid-80’s when we were full-time “gypsies” before Maggie was born, and then a few winters with her. We lived in our home on wheels on the banks of the Ocklawaha River and from there we’d paddle up to the Silver River whenever we had the chance. The family who owned the property became our family. For several of those winters we worked at Ocala Breeder’s Sales Company, a thorough-bred horse auction, to save enough money to travel for the summer months. The man who managed the company invited us to meet his family who adopted us immediately. We have kept in touch with all of these people and enjoyed seeing them again on this trip. Lots of reminiscing about all the years we were together. We also connected with a few other friends in South Venice who gave us a tour of that area. 
We're now in Sebastian Inlet State Park on the ocean. We’re here for a few days to enjoy the beach and Dick is now hunting for some washed up treasure from the Spanish Fleet that went down off this coast during a hurricane in 1715. He's getting bored with his metal detector just finding small change.

The beautiful Silver River

Lots of birds, gators, turtles, fish and even monkeys!
Birdwatching on Upper Myakka Lake

Sandhill Cranes Photo by Jerome

Kayaking the Myakka River 

Sheba napping on the motorhome step

Lunch at Snook Haven with the Barkers and Jankowskis

Watching an eagle at Paynes Prairie

“What has happened to awe? Where has wonder gone? I suspect that too much has been "explained" by the ignorant to the stupid. Modern man's greatest loss of spirit may be that he has ceased to be amazed at the wonders all around him.”  - Ernest Lyons, My Florida


  1. Enjoyed your trips on the rivers and on Lake Myakka. I'm not so sure I would have enjoyed boating amongst the gators but I'll bet it was beautiful. How are the temps there. We've been enjoying a heat wave, 30's and 40's here of late but very cold nights!! No more snow since the last 10 1/2" dump last week. Oh well it took care of the mud...

  2. Found your trip to Florida to be informative and inspiring. Richard and I have made plans for Glacier in Sept. and than I'll start to scope out a "not quite as adventurous" trip to the southeast. Stay safe!

  3. Back in Michigan, where it is Thunder snowing!! Oh to be back in sunny Florida. Enjoy:)

  4. Great hearing about your travels in Florida - all those are parks we didn't visit and didn't know about. Daughter Mary kayaked on the Silver River when she lived in Florida nd worked at Panther National Refuge (down near Everglades) She thought it was beautiful, too. We're just back from two weeks in SE Arizona...stayed at Portal, Muleshoe Ranch and Madera Canyon. Folks didn't melt all the snow in the woods while we were gone. Keep on enjoying!