Thursday, May 21, 2020

Late February 2020: My Last Kayaking Adventures Thanks Tarzan

Posted:  May 21, 2020                                          Most Recent Posts:
About: Late February 2020                            Mid February 2020: The Knap In
Silver River State Park                           Silver Springs: Unlevel but a Fantastic River
Gamble Rogers State Recreation Area

IMG_20200216_085400209_HDROn Sunday, they held the  second day of the Knap In (See above link to last post), I went paddling instead.  I normally would not go out on a Sunday but I’m leaving in just two days and haven’t gotten nearly enough kayaking.   However, I forgot my good camera and had only my sad little Moto who’s pictures are also sad.

Thus I mostly took pictures of the river since zooming is a lost cause with this phone.


Traffic picked up on my way back down the river.  When I saw so many people in this one spot, of course I had to find out why.



They are all gathered around seeing the Rhesus Macaque monkeys 6 of whom were brought in for a jungle attraction in the late 1930’s.  Their populations have exploded in the 80 years since. They have become an invasive species with a population of over 400 now. 

There are many varied opinions about them being here in the park but they are quite popular.  I see them nearly every time I come but I thought I might not this time.  It’s nearing the end of my stay.  But here they are.  If I hadn’t been here for 2 weeks, I probably would have missed them.


I have not seen them down this low and close to the water often.  I hope someone has not been foolishly throwing them food.  This has been illegal since 2018. They are wild animals and have been known to bite.   They carry the Herpes B virus.

Back in 2012, we were trapped in our boats by one of the three troops of monkeys as we returned to the state park boat ramp.  We all had to sit in our boats until they decided to move on.   Perhaps you read that post if you are a long time follower, if not, you could read it here.  See the monkeys keep the humans at bay.



I stayed a bit too long watching the monkeys and had to hurry back to get some lunch.  On my walk to Winnona, I shared the trail with this Gopher Tortoise.  He was pruning the grasses and flowers.



As a rule, I don’t paddle two days in a row. I give my arms and shoulders a rest in between but I’ll be moving back across the state  to the east coast tomorrow so I head out in the kayak for my last river paddle of this year.

The Common Moorhen’s bill always reminds me of candy corn and I think of Halloween.


The Green Heron is one of my favorite birds along with the Wood Duck.
His hair is standing on end.  I’m not sure what that means but it makes me laugh.

Back to the business of skulking.

I spot this Anhinga as though he were doing a cartoon “splat” up against the tree trunk.

Moving in for a closer shot, I still can’t figure out what he’s holding on to.


It’s another lucky day for seeing manatee and the clear water makes pictures easy to take.


As mammals, they come up for air though they can certainly stay under water much longer than I can.


They are not afraid of boats and will come up quite close.  With motor boats that’s much to the manatee’s detriment.


Great Blue Heron seems to say “who me?”

I took dozens of pictures of Pied Billed Grebes in order to get even one that wasn’t blurry or wasn’t “just after” he had dived under the water.  They are fast!

Some people think these next two birds are not the same.  The Great Blue can certainly make his neck disappear when he’s on the hunt.

A lot like the skulking Green Heron stance only GIANT.

Where did the neck go?

This day I am particularly lucky again to run into a troop of  Rhesus Macaques.

It was their calling that alerted me to their presence. 

I can spend a lot of time watching their antics as they run and swing through the trees.




The limbs get smaller and smalerl the higher they climb.



Very solemn face and then …

I guess that’s a laugh.  I didn’t see anything funny myself.

Every where I look members of the troop are busy but this guy is just looking at me.


Hanging out with mom or is it dad?

How about a little grooming?

Seems like the sort of look Celia gives when you want to put barrettes or pony tails in her hair though she doesn’t sit nearly so still. 

Back in the trees, hide and seek or is it tag continues.


Finally I leave the monkeys and see the turtles are sunning.  Although there isn’t much sun.


And today I see a group of Wood Storks, not just one

It’s hard to tell in these pictures, but Wood Storks are very large birds. Each of them is 40-44” tall.  Think about it.


They are the only stork in North America and have wing spans of five feet..

And so ends my last paddle on the Silver River for this winter. 

The next day, I move on and back to Gamble Rogers.    It’s an 80 mile trip through the Ocala National Forest mostly and very pleasant.

Until the not so subtle DING DING DING of the jacks indicates that one of them is not up all the way.  I find a place to pull over, get out and look, sure enough, the back driver’s side jack  is down just a little.   It has been taking forever to come up the past few times.  Sure wish I’d put those extra set of springs on there rather than the passenger’s front.

I turn the jack store on to no avail.  So I get out 3 leveling blocks and my crowbar to force it up. Takes a while but I get it and  luckily it stays for the rest of the trip.

I set up in site 21 which has no vegetative buffer so I’m hoping for mild winds.



Early cloudy morning almost sunrise on my first day back.



I don’t take many pictures here other than sunrise, above and straight in front of Winnona and sunset, below and on the other side of the park overlooking the boat basin where it joins the Matanzas and Halifax Rivers.



Unfortunately after my first day, the weather turns rainy and very windy as in excess of 30mph.  This on the ocean front is no fun.  I pull in both slides.  Here’s the view out my front window.  The rig is shaking like turbulence in an airplane.

No going outside for several days and to add insult to injury every day I’m getting shut out of campsites for next winter here in Florida.


FINALLY the front moves on and beautiful days return.  What a perfect spot for reading.


Gentle early morning color.

IMG_3203 (2)


I take a daily walk from Winnona down to the beach and north along the water then over to the other side of the park and a loop around the boat basin, the River side campground and through the forest and back.

On this day I forgot to check the tide and found the sea up to the bottom of the steps.


Winnona watches me as I walk by.



On the last day of February I head over to the Bulow Woods Hiking Trail intending to do the 4 mile hike.  All is well at the beginning.  I head into the woods, over the bridge, stop for a picture with one of the BIG trees but can’t really do a very good job with my Motorola Cell Phone.  I can’t figure out why I so often don’t take my good Canon camera.



Over the bridge, under the tree.



Along the path.


Things are going fine, then….


Hmmm, this doesn’t look right.  It’s been a year at least since I did this hike but I don’t remember the grasses or the savannah.



There must be a way to get from here to there.  But the more I walk the less it looks like I’m going in the right direction

Ok time to give up, turn around and see where I did the wrong thing.



Finally this is starting to look right and there is the bridge.  Now which one of those paths on the other side goes where I want to go?  I consult the picture of the map I took on my way in.



I’ve got it.


Back at Ruby I see I have turned my 4 mile hike into a 6 mile hike but that’s OK. 

And so February ends.  March as you know, is the beginning of a whole new world for all of us.  See you then.


  1. Thank You, Thank You....for a wonderful reminder of a great time together many years ago!! Those monkeys are so much fun to watch and just make me smile;-)) Smiles for whatever reason right now are so welcomed!!!

    1. That's just what I thought Nancy as I went through these pictures. They made me smile and smiles are so welcome now.

  2. Great photos! I would see one and think 'that's my favourite' and then I'd spot another and decide that one was my favourite! I enjoyed the pictures of the monkeys especially. Lockdown is easing just a little over here and this afternoon I went for a walk in the marshes near where I live and did a spot of birding. I spent ages watching an oystercatcher teaching her 3 chicks to forage for food, enjoyed the graceful avocets and the less graceful ibis. I spotted a bird on a ground nest on an island in the middle of a small lagoon and wasn't sure what it was. I decided it was a good opportunity to use the fancy new Bird ID app on my phone. You take a photo of the bird and the app identifies it for you. My neighbour has a similar one on his phone and its really good. The only thing is, his cost a lot to buy and has a monthly subscription charge. Mine on the other hand, is a free knock off version with no subscription. I took my photograph and it duly identified the bird for me . It told me that it was .... a flamingo! I don't think so!!!! I guess you get what you pay for!

    1. I really love your story Michele. You must live in a beautiful area to have avocets and oystercatchers. I'm so glad you enjoyed the photographs.

  3. I love your fabulous photos of the manatee! They always make me happy. :-) And your photos of the birds and your captions are a delight. I especially like the Wood Storks and the Green Heron. You have captured so much of what I appreciate about Florida. It's good for me to remember this as we're about to enter into the dog days of summer...

    1. It was definitely a great last few days at Silver Springs with both the manatee and the monkeys. I felt really lucky. I've tried to call you a couple of times and will try again tomorrow to see how things are going for you and whether summer is there yet. I hope it's not as bad as you are anticipating

  4. reading your blog, another blog rving women is on the side of travels with towhee on the right side. look it up it is all women. not me i'm 81, 2 heart attacks and 2 strokes

    1. Marilyn thank you for your comment. I'm glad to see you here. I have looked up RVing women. They are not all solos. I'm sorry to hear about 2 heart attacks and 2 strokes. You must be a strong woman to have come through that.

  5. Love the pictures of the manatees and monkeys. Makes me miss Florida, but only for a second, then I remember the bugs, humidity and hurricanes!

    1. Thanks for the comment you guys. Made me laugh. It's true every place has its good and bad points.

  6. It's true that it is very hard to get a great picture of a Pied Billed Grebe...

  7. We never got to see the monkeys when we were there, I was so disappointed. Thanks for all the pictures you shared of them.

    1. I didn't see them the entire first week I was there but if I'm there for 2 weeks I'm nearly always able to see them. Do you think you and George will ever come back to Florida?

    2. We never say never. Would love to buy a smaller RV, class C possibly, but we'll see how our finances flesh out in the future :)

  8. Enjoyed the pictures. You certainly get to some great places.

    1. Silver Springs is definitely a great place. But I am getting a bit tired of Florida and even more tired of this current confinement. There are lots more great places for me to see and I am running out of time.

  9. Didn't even know the monkeys were in Florida. Very interesting that they've adapted so well to the climate. Great pictures even if you're not happy with the camera. You catch photo's of some amazing wildlife. I often wonder if you make notes of all the things you see or just let the pictures remind you of what happened. Keep it up....

    1. thanks for your comment Rodger. Of course there shouldn't be monkeys in Florida and there's quite a difference of opinion about how to manage them. But they are a big tourist attraction. I keep a daily journal without which I would never be able to write these long past posts. The photographs help but they don't tell me the full story.

  10. A cartoon splat :) Lol. Lovely post. Excellent that you got to see so much on your Silver River kayaks and that you got to enjoy Gamble Rogers after the crazy winds. Getting turned around on a hike can be frustrating, but also a bit exhilarating. Glad you found your way.

    1. Hi sweetheart you have definitely picked up all the high points of this post. I was only worried for a little bit on the hike as it was getting close to dusk and there had been no one else on the trail.

  11. I can't take pictures anywhere near as good as you did even with my fancy camera. Something about not having a photographer's eye I guess. :c(

    Loved the pictures of the monkeys, too bad they are an invasive species. They sure were entertaining.

    Jack issues. Ugh! I don't know if I'd get them again on a future MH.

    1. I think you underestimate yourself Paul. I always enjoyed the pictures on your blog. I think for as old as wynonna is and as many years as we drove her full-time the Jack problems probably aren't unrealistic but they would be a lot easier if David were still here to help me because he,like you, could fix anything. And now I have to find someone to do it for me. That's not nearly as easy.

  12. Once again beautiful pictures!!! Shared pics of birds, turtles and monkeys with my great-niece, she was impressed!!! It is sort of a part of her school :) seeing the different animals that we certainly don't see here in Central Oregon!!! And u got to be at the beach! Can barely contain myself in my need to go to the beach, so seeing your pictures, gave me a little glimpse.... Take Care and God Bless
    love seeing your travels, walks and kayaking

    1. Thanks for the compliment Loree. I'm glad your niece enjoyed the pictures

  13. I'll settle with any pictures while you're on the water and think they're all marvelous. But could do without the monkeys and would much rather sit with the manatees. I do love that front window view at Gamble but maybe not during a wind rocking storm.

    1. So you're not a monkey lover ha Gaelyn. Aren't they African animals too or maybe just South American. The front window view at Gamble Rogers really is very fine. Even when the weather is horrible you can watch the ocean being its amazing self.

  14. Great shots, loved the splatted Anhinga, wish we could have paddled with the manatee, thanks for taking me along. Your site at Gamble Rogers while not having the vegetation still has that fabulous view. Hoping you were able to get some reservations for next winter. February seems so long ago, our last month of the old normal.

    1. Thanks for your comment Faye. February does seem so very long ago. I have reservations for next winter but with Florida opening wide up who knows if they will be shut back down by November. Not sure their campgrounds are open yet though I cannot understand why not. Just don't open the bathrooms. I guess they feel that discriminates against tenters.

  15. I remember how surprised I was when you first wrote about the monkeys! Crazy. I would love to see them.

    1. Just come on down next winter and I'll be happy to host you and we'll see if we can catch some looks at them. That is of course if the Florida state parks are not closed again after the resurgence of covid-19.

  16. I wouldn't miss the monkeys either. We live on a small neighborhood/retention pond with quite a few resident noisy but funny moorhens, a white egret or two, plus a flock of white ibis. They help to pass the time day-to-day.
    I've followed your blog forever and learned much about the natural world around us, especially in Florida.

    1. Barbara how wonderful to see a comment from you. I don't know that I recall your commenting before or if so it's been a while. Thank you so much. Having such wonderful feathered Friends in your neighborhood sounds perfect.

  17. Such a fabulous world you've shared. All the birds are so big there! And the monkeys! OMG thanks for including so many wonderful pics of their antics and interactions - delightful :-) What a blessing to share the clear water with the manatee. They have to be the ambassadors for gentle creatures everywhere. The location on the coast is so beautiful, but those storms can sure make them brutal. Glad you got more days of sunshine.


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