The reflections on the water are absolutely fantastic, but even just the weather itself seems perfect. I have always mistrusted turtles... something about their morphology seems dishonest to me. Too much protection for not enough threat. And since I grew up surrounded by snapping turtles, mean and evil creatures, they pretty much turned me off to most animals in the same category, except for the huge and slow land tortoises.
The water of your region seems to be so perfectly clear. I didn't have clear water growing up, just brackish milky water which was pretty threatening, because it was full of creatures, both underwater or slithering across it (water mocassins, etc.). I would have never wanted to dip my hand into the water in my childhood area because there were so many things that could grab or bite a finger. Your water looks so inviting in contrast.
It's a wonderful little slice of heaven, and it's interesting to see how the animals have their own territories. You meet the same creatures coming back down the run, and in the same place, as going up. And, of course, I can't be sure if they are the exact same animals I saw last spring, but I certainly saw the same species in the same places.
The turtles interested me, too. They almost seemed to have their own little personalities. I love seeing those that climbed high up into the overhanging trees. I'm not sure I have pictures of those, but certainly have a lot more turtle pictures to post, along with pics of a few other creatures.
Keep in mind, Kerouac, that this water is coming directly out of the ground almost at the exact spot I show in the last few pictures. It's a constant 72 degrees F year round, and is crystal clear as it comes from deep in the Floridan Aquifer. It's been filtered by layers of limestone and that's what makes this river so special. I could see the turtles underwater as they watched me, and could even get a flash of an otter as it swam under my kayak later in the afternoon.
I love my little camera. It takes pretty good pictures and is easy to carry. However, I have continued to be frustrated over its lack of a view finder and my inability to zoom in on distant wildlife. My last trip to Cedar Key was so photographically frustrating that I ordered a new camera and that's what I've been using for the past several weeks. I love the new camera, but it, too, is not perfect.
Since I had never taken it out on the water I decided to wait until the second half of the trip, when I was headed downstream, to use the new guy. My kayak is very streamlined, making it quite a challenge to get into and out of, so I got myself settled back into the kayak before pulling my camera out from safe storage and putting the strap around my neck. The first problem I could see was, due to the camera's bulkiness and size, tucking it inside my life vest was going to be a problem. Leaving it out was also unsatisfactory because it was left unprotected from inadvertent paddle splashes. I ended up zipping my vest about halfway down, and then tucking the camera inside with the lens part sticking out. Looked funny, but it worked well enough. Before the next trip I'm going to have to splurge on a waterproof cover.
So, the rest of my photographs are from the new camera. See if you notice a difference. I don't, except when I know a distance shot would normally be out of old camera range.
One difference to also keep in mind was the fact I was now paddling almost into the sun. It made it harder to get good photos, especially in the more open areas. At one point I even turned my kayak around and drifted backwards as I photographed the area to the rear.
The orange bag you see is a "dry sac" that held two large plastic ziplock bags and my new camera. Before landing at the take-out dock I also carefully put the camera safely away.
It must be really nice out of season to have the river all to yourself -- or at least that's how the photos make it look. Which makes me wonder -- if you get in trouble, oh I don't know, any little thing like an alligator attack or a rabid manatee sinking your kayak, how far away is "help?"
Good question. I could be stranded for several hours if there's no one else around. However, I always let someone know where I'm going and when to expect to hear back from me. I also have my cell with me; turned off and wrapped in a waterproof bag. This last time I also wrote an emergency number on the tag I must leave at the south parking lot with my car. I figure, if my car is still in the lot when the ranger comes to lock the gate at sundown then someone will some looking. Also, I wear my life vest the whole time if I'm kayaking alone. Because I'm still within a smallish park I feel fairly safe. Being out on a more remote river would be entirely different.
Incidentally, there are no alligators on the Ichetucknee, and though there are surely snakes, I've never seen one. The likelihood of having a run in with an animal is incredibly small, but I give the otters a wide berth. Even the humans in their own boats seem innocuous.
Needing to get outside, away from the computer and phone, I grabbed my camera and made the hour drive to the Ichetucknee River where I has the whole place to myself. Even though I didn't have enough time for a paddle down river it was wonderful to be able to walk in the woods and marvel at the beauty of nature.
We had another freeze last night, so that and the fact it was a weekday probably served to create the empty park. However, the temperature had warmed up nicely and the sun was shining. What more could you ask for.
I have been concerned I wouldn't get back out on the river before trees and plants begin to bud out again in just a few weeks, so am glad I was able to get a few photos today.
Bjd, the light in this area is fantastic year round and makes for very interesting and brilliant colors.
Ansh, I'm glad you've been learning a little about my part of the world. You've certainly contributed to my education about India as well as several other countries!
Kerouac, no doubt those turtles were having a difficult time finding warmth in the 52F temps and the sunshine was most welcome, but I will also remind you of post #33. The water yesterday was actually twenty degrees warmer than the air at the time I took the photograph.
Well, I owe you a huge apology! I remember the first part of this really wonderful thread, but must have been waiting for more pictures to reply. Then what? Dunno -- maybe I fell into a coma.
At any rate, some nagging idea that I'd missed something made me click again & wow! So many difficult shots beautifully captured and rendered -- the birds and deer in the foliage, the foliage itself, whether grassy, leafy green or brown, and that wonderful feathery stuff, and again and again, the water in its million permutations & different ways of reflecting the sky. Also want to mention the great and fun people shots at the beginning.
This world-class, better-than-National-Geographic thread needs more exposure! Hope anyporters will share it on facebook & via email with friends looking for beauty and possible vacation destinations.
It's all well and good to finally notice some threads, Bixa, but now you need to go back to your job and put this site back together. We have even lost our Facebook link, not to mention the flag counter...
*runs aways as fast as possible to avoid a severe beating*
No, no....don't start that stuff here in my beautiful, better-than-National-Geographic thread, Kerouac. Get busy finding those mythical manatee photos you've misplaced. However, if you hurry to the Ichetucknee right now you might be able to take manatee photos AND see this beautiful river. Word is they've been spotted recently because the water is so high.
Beautiful additions Htmb. The robins in your photos are quite different to the robins here in the UK. Glad you managed to get out here and keep us up-dated re the seasonal changes. Such a special place.