February 27 – March 11, 2023 Most Recent Posts:
Rainbow Springs State Park Last Days at Silver Springs
Site 25 A Visit to Cross Creek
Unplanned Overnight Stop Over on the Way
I reluctantly pulled out of Silver Springs Campground on Monday and headed west on Route 40 through Ocala to PatRicks Auto and Truck Repair. I have begun to use them as my 6 month oil change lube and inspection place. They came highly recommended. Also, they are just outside Ocala and near I 75 AND between Silver and Rainbow Springs. Convenient.
My appointment was for 8:30am since I wanted them to do both the car and the RV. So I was up and out early.
Without the car, I had to wait. Maybe 3 or so hours I thought.
But Ruby had problems. . . . lots of problems. Some of which I knew about – new brake pads and 2 new tires but the calipers and rotors also had to be replaced. I hadn’t had them looked at in the fall in Charlottesville. My bad.
And so I waited. And waited some more . And when it turned out one of the needed parts wouldn’t arrive until tomorrow, I was an unhappy camper.
I wouldn’t be spending the night at Rainbow Springs and kayaking in the morning, I would be spending the night at PatRicks. Boondocking. But I have water in my tank and solar panels on my roof.
Such is life on the road.
Campground Site and Neighbors
I arrived a day late to my site #25, glad to have all that out of the way and two clean bills of health for driving on down the road.
Over the course of the two weeks less one day I was at the park, I had some interesting neighbors.
Tow your houseboat anyone? Pretty sure that was where they slept. Most folks who tow boats back the tow vehicle in and leave the boat to the side so they can take it out. But of course the van could have sleeping also.
I just loved the name of this bus.
Very interesting truck camper.
Meet Kindred Spirit in the Waiting Room
A couple days after arriving finally at Rainbow, I had to take Ruby over to Modern Muffler back in Ocala. Luckily Dunnellon and Ocala are only just over 20 miles apart. It turns out that in their VERY thorough inspection of both vehicles they found only minor things on Winnona (but a complete inspection at $140/hr labor is never minor) and the aforementioned things on Ruby plus the catalytic converter, which I had been ignoring, was at the point of possibly leaving me stranded. PatRicks doesn’t do catalytic converters. So……..
This waiting for work to be done was the most pleasant I’ve ever had. If only she had been with me all day at PatRicks.
I met Heather, also having her car worked on. We struck up a conversation and found that we had tons in common. It made the time pass so much faster than my earlier waiting room experience. Of course this one was much shorter. I hope we will keep in contact as Heather is a traveler as well.
Other than Kayaking, What did I do?
Once all that vehicle stuff was taken care of I could finally get down to the business of playing and having a good time.
Of course I took my kayak down to the launch, locked it up and went out every morning it wasn’t raining. But more on that in my next post.
There is only one trail at the campground though there are some vehicle service roads one can hike if one doesn’t mind deep sand with vehicle ruts.
I walked the “Nature Trail” numerous times to get in some “other than kayaking” exercise. The habitat is slightly varied with some Live Oak and Palmetto understory.
I discovered a giant Red Oak leaf on a tiny seedling. I wasn’t surprised to see him here as they grow in dry sandy soils. His leaves are huge comparatively in order to capture as much sun as possible. Notice his red veins. For obvious reasons his nickname is Turkey Oak.
At least these sandy paths are relatively hard packed.
All over this trail and everywhere around here are these little sand mounds. They are made by the native Scarab Beetle. They are found only in the pine sandhills of Florida. They are harmless and actually help in rotating and aerating the soil.
Tall pines reaching for the sky don’t make much shade.
Friend Meet Ups
While at Rainbow Springs, I met up with several people I had actually met originally at Silver Springs. Two were nearby neighbors there and the other a couple I met at the boat dock several of the times I was kayaking.
I met them for lunch, Kathleen and Bill, on the first Friday I was at Rainbow Springs. They had planned to return to Dunnellon to eat at Sweeties and were kind enough to ask me to join them. They are from Buffalo NY and were familiar with Chautauqua, a life time favorite place of mine.
Sweeties is aptly named. It is a sweet place adjacent to a plant nursery.
Only open from 10 to 3, after which they serve a full afternoon tea with all the trimmings and dress up hats and clothes if you want. The link above is to their facebook page. Great pictures. No website.
Here’s a sample menu.
This is the side porch eating area where no reservations are taken and only paper or plastic plates and cutlery are used. We ate inside. They had made reservations knowing we would need them as this is a very small and popular place.
And after lunch you can easily stroll around the nursery and through the greenhouse.
The inside was charming, the food delicious and the company wonderful.
Thanks Bill and Kathleen for introducing me to Sweeties.
I met Debra when she was my neighbor for a too few short days at Silver Springs. She was in her darling vintage trailer, a 1969 12’ Shasta with the Blue Wings.
Is it darling or what. She refurbished it herself. She’s from Michigan. I hope we’ll keep in touch and perhaps next summer I can go to Michigan if I get my research and reservations made in time. I was shut out this summer trying in January. This reservation thing has gotten to feel like a job. What happened to the earlier footloose and fancy free? But I digress….
Debra and I met at the Rainbow Springs Head Springs park where I could get us in free because I was still staying in the campground. Although I think the entry fee is only $2 and you can swim in the spring, launch your kayak here, walk the paths and trails, have lunch or bring a picnic. A seriously amazing bargain.
Unlike Silver Springs, there is not even a long hike to go between campground and head spring. There are private neighborhoods in between. There are many more houses on the Rainbow River than the Silver River. So we drove.
It was fun seeing the spots from above that I had seen from the water most mornings. You’ll have to remember these shots when you see them from the river. In the far distance there is the roped off swimming area. You cannot swim in the head springs area of Silver Springs.
Originally Rainbow Springs was fabulous gardens. It is maintained, more or less, by the state now that they own it.
Love their purple tips.
The azaleas were at the end of their bloom. We’d missed the profusion by a week or so I’d say.
Many of the pools were empty but these waterfalls were still working. Of course these are garden waterfalls not natural ones. Still they are lovely and add to the atmosphere.
Small falls tucked away.
After we had walked all the paved paths, we checked the map and decided to “hike” the yellow nature trail.
On the left is Deb on the trail. On the right is me at the top of one of Florida’s rare hills. These are the discarded soil from the phosphate mines of the 1890’s.
Deb took this selfie of us at the park before we headed out for lunch
We went to The Front Porch for lunch. It’s a down home local favorite. The sign over the door reads Put A Little South in your Mouth.
Unfortunately I didn’t think to get a picture of us with our food or even of the food itself. But as you can see there were leftovers. I hope to meet up with Deb on down the road.
In writing this I realize this is the most number of restaurants I have eaten in during a 10 day period in I cannot remember how long.
I ended my socializing streak back at Sweeties where I met my Silver Springs neighbor Rachel who also travels solo but carries a Scooter rather than a car. Check her out.
She gets around all over on that thing - to the library where, because she was at Rainbow springs before Silver Springs she bought a temporary library card, to flea markets, to all sorts of music venues.
We sat outside with plastic and had a fine time. She’d been here before, brought her own hat and looked quite colorful. Here we are having desert, coconut pie for dessert, Rachel had a scone and tea.
Lunch was quiche and salad.
After lunch Rachel headed north. On my way back to the campground, I stopped at Dunnellon park near the mouth of the Rainbow Springs Run where it empties into the Withlacoochee River. There are a boat launch and trails at the park so I took a new to me hike.
On the map, the top arrow indicates the boat launch where it says you can put in to tube or boat the Withlacoochee. You could also kayak up the spring run if you like but it would be quite a paddle. I’m content with my nearly daily kayak from the campground launch up to the spring head and back or perhaps a bit south toward this spot.
I parked in the lot beside all the other arrows and took the pond trail past the “you are here” arrow, around and up to what they are calling the Blue Run Trail. At that point I turned left and followed the trail out of the park and across a lovely Withlacoochee River walking bridge.
I came back the Blue Run Trail and to my car. Unfortunately the Rainbow Spring run is not visible from the Blue Run Trail. Still, it was a very nice hike.
The pond had many different looks depending on what section you were on.
I believe this is a part of the Withlacoochee Bike Trail. It’s certainly a lovely bridge. I learned that Withlacoochee is a Creek word meaning “little big water”.
There are cut out spots on the bridge to stop and see the river with seats behind the pillars.
It’s a beautiful river at this spot.
On my way back the blue run trail I heard the unmistakable rat a tat tat and finally spotted a pileated woodpecker. I watched him move around the tree for a while but my phone camera just isn’t good enough to get a decent picture at a distance.
So there you have it, what I did when I was not kayaking on the spring fed river. Those delights will be the next post.