Saturday, March 25, 2023

Before and During my Visit to Rainbow Springs

February 27 – March 11, 2023                            Most Recent Posts:
Rainbow Springs State Park                                 Last Days at Silver Springs
Site 25                                                                         A Visit to Cross Creek
Dunnellon, Florida

Unplanned Overnight Stop Over on the Way

PXL_20230228_161326128I 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

PXL_20230302_130248455A 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……..

Heather at Modern Muffler Ocala

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 menu

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.


20230221_091811cI 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….

20230307_081238Debra 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.


Tall falls.




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

Debra Townsend

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.


Her name is RachelIn 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.

Rachel at Sweeties

Lunch was quiche and salad.



mapAfter 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.


  1. Thanks for the post! We've seen the same sailboat at one of the campgrounds in different spots throught the past year. Once being pulled by a Uhaul truck, once with a uhaul van, then the last time had a BMW parked beside it.
    It appeared he was staying in it and fixing things while out of the water. Jumping state park sites as he could or had to. A novel idea I thought, particularly if he lived on the water. Quite a discounted way to work on it.
    Sorry to hear about the big bill you surely had. Hard for me to hear that when I wish I was near enough to help out. Thankful for you finding some good company while you waited, although of course I feel like she was probably the one blessed to meet you!!

    1. Love your story of the boat. Shayne you are just the very nicest man! I wish you were closer. I hope things are going as well as they can for you two.

  2. So nice to get some social time in too. Sorry about all the repairs! We had lots of that on our truck back then.

    1. There are always repairs and maintenance. I just wasn't expecting quite this much.

  3. You sure find a lot of interesting little cafes and shops. I'm sure you enjoyed some socializing. I would think traveling by yourself might get kinda lonely.

    1. It's definitely lonely Lynne. Why don't you get a van or small trailer and come along. :-)

  4. I know you have been lonely lately, and I am so happy to see that you had some social with people who seem as though they will be friends to share time with in the future. So very cool! And single ladies who aren't part of a couple all the time is great as well. Love the Rainbow River, but not as much as the Silver River, but did especially love swimming at the head spring in the park when we were there. And the plants, although not native, were lush like Hawaii. Also, it took awhile to figure out we had to drive to the spring. I also remember the waters of the Rainbow River and the Withlacoochie River running side by side, one clear, one muddy. Made for a great photo. Then again, probably not as dramatic as the photo the Nickie took last week on the Amazon River where it ran next to another one. Not gonna go look up the name, but if you read her blog, the stories of the birds, bugs, and trees on their recent Amazon trip are rather incredible.

    1. What a great comment Sue. You definitely have a knack and thanks for the tip on Nikkie's Amazon River what an experience

  5. Look at you with all of those wonderful new friends AND discovering some really lovely little restaurants! I'm so happy for you...and you sound happy, too.

    I know it wasn't fun to discover that Winonna and Ruby needed more attention than you expected, but it's so good to get those things taken care of so that you can travel without worrying. And that frees up more time and energy for making MORE friends!

    P.S. You look great in your new sun hat!

  6. Thanks Laurel. Not sure I will see any of these folks again other than perhaps Deb. Definitely glad to have everything mechanical taken care of at least for now. Too bad we have to keep doing this stuff over and over LOL!

  7. We love Rainbow Springs and that whole area.
    Getting repairs done is one of those necessities of live but never fun. Sounds like you made the most of it though!

    1. Great to hear from you. Would love to know any special things you do in the Rainbow area. This was only supposed to be maintenance. Surprise.....repairs.

  8. I feel your pain having to sit in a repair shop parking lot awaiting parts. Our very first day on the road FT the Journey's alternator failed. Instead of going to were we planned, we sat in a Freightliner truck parking lot for three days until the new alternator arrived. Thankfully it was covered under our extended warranty so it was less painful, but it set us back for our trip to Oregon to see our grandkids living out there. We had to push hard to make it across the country to be there in time for Christmas. It started us on our mega high miliage travel style that became our normal mode.

    1. Wow Paul, how interesting. Thanks for sharing the story. Lucky Freightliner was nearby. Always amazed at the miles you guys drove.

  9. Heather sounds neat and I'm so glad you were able to arrange to see so many friends! Neat places and beautiful flowers! Love your hat!

  10. So sorry we were not able to connect this year! Dave and I spent 8 days waiting for parts in Lake City FL. We were not able to stay in our rig, since we had already spent a week in Lake City waiting to get in for service, we had already enjoyed the area. We found a camper to rent on someone's personal property for 100$ a night, near Panama City Beach. It was not as nice as our rig but at least we could cook our own food, have our dog and explore a new place.

    1. If you come to Michigan please get in touch, we would love to take you sailing! 989-297-0060

    2. What an experience. I should look and see if I was anywhere near Lake City at all this winter. Did I know you were there at the time and my exasperating memory has forgotten

  11. Maintenance and repairs are never fun but hopefully over for a while. You are becoming quite the social butterfly. And in such beauty as well.

  12. One night in the rig for all those repairs on both vehicles sounds pretty good to me :-)))) And it always feels so good to have those chores behind you. Sweeties sounds like a real treat, both inside and out! Fun that you had adventures with new friends. Hope you can meet up with them down the road. I didn't have any issues finding spots in Michigan for last summer but we do stay in more private parks so maybe that's the difference. It's a beautiful state, we loved our six weeks. I think I'm caught up at last!


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