“Not all those who wander are lost.” – J. R. R. Tolkien

"Everybody dies. Not everybody really lives."

The saddest sound in the world is a man saying, "I wish I'd have done that."

Monday, June 25, 2012

Wakulla River Florida

Good river, bad river.  The Wakulla kind of captures Florida; abundant wildlife, crystal clear water, impressive towering cypress trees and curtains of Spanish moss so what's not to like?

Well on a hot summer weekend how about crowds of drunken rednecks captaining flotillas of rubber rafts; fleets of pontoon boats; discarded beer cans bobbing in the current; and speedboats scattering birds, alligators and ducks as they motor up and down the narrow channel?  A beautiful river ruined.

A little bit about the place: The Wakulla River is an 11-mile-long waterway about 45 minutes south of Tallahassee and near St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge (see another of my posts on this wonderful refuge). The river carries the outflow from Wakulla Springs, site of the Edward Ball Wakulla Springs State Park, to the St. Marks River 3 miles north of the Gulf of Mexico. Along the way it flows past summer homes and boat docks, wooded islands and schools of fish.

The Spring moves a constant and high volume flow of water into the river, making for slow paddling upriver, an easy float downriver.  If you visit the Wakulla on a cool March weekday, as we did the first time, the potential natural beauty of the river is apparent--flocks of waterfowl, swallow tailed kites and osprey, clear water that reveals the sandy river bottom full of schools of fish. 

Probably how the river looked decades ago when several Johnny Weissmuller Tarzan movies and Creature from the Black Lagoon were filmed here.  Nowadays unless you float the river during the off-season the only thing likely to be filmed on th Wakulla is Girls Gone Wild.

I don't think I've ever seen an adult manatee in Florida
that doesn't carry scars from a run-in with a boat propeller.
This one is no exception.
Still, even with all this, during our second trip on a hot June day we spied a couple of gators and, just before we pulled our canoe and kayaks out of the water, we spied a family of manatees, two adults and a large baby.  Wild Florida at its finest.

Details: Kayaks and canoes can be rented from TnT Hide-a-Way, Inc., 6527 Coastal Hwy. Crawfordville, FL 32327.  Phone: 850-925-6412. E-Mail: tnthideaway@nettally.com

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