Mossie, in the 75 years before Disney, Orlando was a tiny little town surrounded, for the most part, by nothing but sandy soil and orange groves. Disney, and other venues that followed, dramatically changed the whole community for miles around.
To put it in some perspective, Disney is 120 miles (193 km), to the south of Gainesville. It's reachable by car by driving two hours (if you are lucky) down a heavily trafficked, Interstate highway. Compared to where I live, it's a whole different world.
Beginning back on #53, I posted early November 2012 photos, taken from the shore, of the section of the Santa Fe River from Hwy 27 to Hwy 47. I recently had an opportunity to paddle that section and, though I didn't see much in the way of wildlife, I did have an opportunity to take lots of pictures.
This stretch of the river has many little gushers, as well as some large and beautiful springs famous among divers for their interesting caves. Most of the property bordering the river at the large spring locations is privately owned, but I was still able to paddle up into the spring head areas. As long as I stayed in my boat I didn't have to pay the private park admission fees.
Arriving at the Hwy 27 bridge, the temperature wasn't much above freezing, but it would soon warm up considerably.
Looking upstream I can see there is a small set of shoals.
Going under the Hwy 27 bridge, I can see the remains of the old railroad trestle.
Calm down, calm down! Just keep saying to yourself over and over: Summertime in North Central Florida equals oppressive heat, thick as jam humidity, daily afternoon thunderstorms, poisonous snakes, ticks, and very active alligators. It's not always paradise.
The river water was definitely warmer than the air, and the temperature at the springs is a steady 77 F/22 C year round. In fact, many locals and visitors visit the springs to cool off in the summertime.
As for the blue color, I assume it has to do with the clarity of the water, plus the reflection of light off the water and the limestone formations at the spring head.
I hope you can see from these photographs how beautiful the water is in North Central Florida, However, our water quality and water flow have diminished over the years. Water issues continue to be ferverently discussed in our communities with articles written in the local newspaper almost weekly. Here are a few recent posts for those who may be interested:
Florida Conservation Coalition Chairman Bob Graham is a former two–term governor of Florida and served for 18 years in the United States Senate. Vice Chairman Nathaniel Pryor Reed served seven governors and also served as assistant secretary of the interior for fish and wildlife and parks in the Nixon and Ford administrations.
For decades, Gainesville photographer John Moran has tried to capture the unique beauty of Florida's nature through his photographs. In that same time, however, he turned a blind eye to the less picturesque signs of environmental changes.
That changed more than a year ago when he set out to document those changes, specifically to the state's freshwater springs.
The results of that project, entitled Springs Eternal: Florida's Fragile Fountains of Youth, will be exhibited at the Florida Museum of Natural History starting March 23.
More AnyPort information may be found regarding Paynes Prairie, the natural resource area where water from Sweetwater Branch, Cofrin Park, Hogtown Creek, and other Gainesville streams flows into the Floridan Aquifer.
When I first came to the University of Florida in Gainesville, Devil's Millhopper was famous for wild fraternity parties (I never attended any) and as an illegal dump for garbage. This big hole in the earth's crust gets its unique name from its funnel-like shape.
Behind the interpretive center is a path leading to the rim of the sinkhole. The rim trail encircles the top of the sink hole and is a nice place to either meander, or to walk for exercise.
In 1972, the State of Florida purchased Devil's Millhopper, cleaned it up, and turned it into the state's only geological park. Looking down into the hole, we can barely make out the boardwalk built to allow visitors access to the interior, while also guarding against more soil erosion.
One can actually hear the sounds of water flowing down into the sinkhole before you ever see it. There are at least twelve springs that flow down into the bottom, along with lots of surface runoff water.
I'm sure you'll eventually snap that woodpecker, Htmb.
This whole thread is enthralling & I particularly appreciate how you prepared us early on for some of what you're showing now. The wildlife and nature pictures are wonderful, but the burbling springs are fascinating and mysterious. The explanation of the Devil's Millhopper made a lightbulb go on in my head. I visited the Loltun caves in the Yucatan, with its limestone cap over the whole peninsula, & was dazzled by the sight of sunlight pouring through what must have been a broken sinkhole into the cave.
I am completely blown away by this HTMB. Don't know where to begin......... The flora and fauna, the light, all, everything just magical, mystical, enchanting.... I would imagine leaving here with a clarity and peace of mind so welcoming to one's psyche. 'Tis no wonder you continue to return here.... Thank you ever so much for this. A tranquil Sunday morning treat for the eyes.
Here in England we have the caves in the Castleton area of the Peak District in Derbyshire. While they are not sink holes they were formed from limestone by the action of water. www.castleton.co.uk/caverns/peak_cavern.aspx
Man is not lost, only temporarily uncertain of his position