We had an awesome day at Blue Springs State Park.
The weather forecast for today was not great, with lots of rain and thunderstorms. It was raining hard when I woke up. We had plans to go to Blue Springs State Park, so we were monitoring and hoping the weather would ease up a bit, and that it’d be the typical tropical weather where it rains hard then stops and clears up.
I woke up a bit tired as I didn’t sleep great last night. I tossed and turned as I was not feeling too good, and still was not 100% when I woke up. I think it was from the food I ate at Disney Springs, maybe too fatty. I made my coffee and got to writing here, and hope I’ll start feeling better later.
The girls were up a bit earlier than usual and on their own. I’m glad I was able to finish writing before they were up though. They were excited to play with their new Lego sets, so they opened the boxes and started putting together their “lego puzzles”. Bella got her cool Ferrari going, and Bia got her Kittie going.
Carol was up too, and while I changed to get ready for my morning run, we made the plans for the day. We decided to try to get to Blue Springs Park anyway, and take our chance that the weather would improve, and that we would be able to get in since they fill up and stop allowing people in often. We decided we’d leave around 10am, to make it there before noon. I left for my run just after 8am, and Carol was in charge of making sure the girls stopped their Lego work around 8:30 and shifted into school mode, having breakfast too. Carol also started getting things ready for our trip, cutting fruit, packing swimming suits and towels, etc. After I got back from my run, I showered, got things loaded, and we left. I actually went to the truck first once I had everything loaded and started my call. Carol was going to drive, so I got my call and waited for them there. Bia and Bella came in with their school stuff and continued their classes from the truck. My call was only an hour, and right around when I was done, Bia started feeling car sick. Poor Bia. She had to continue the class any way she could, looking out the window a few times, and still participating when she could. I could see her eyes were teary. Her class finished just before we arrived at the park, and she would have to log back in in 30 minutes.
We arrived at the Blue Spring State Park just before noon and were able to get in. Well, the weather was not looking very good as we arrived. The forecast for the day was rain and thunderstorms, so I was not surprised that it was not very full. :). We checked the boat and kayak launch area first, and as we walked around there we could see you cannot swim there, so we’d have to go to the other area for that. Also, the concession stand there was closed, and we were hungry, so we decided to leave and go eat outside, then come back later. Bia would have to finish her class from the restaurant, and she was good with that.
We went to Olive Garden, which was like 10 minutes from the park. I had Carol go in with Bella first and get a table, as Bia had started her class and I didn’t want to wait around with her in class. Once Carol was seated, she let me know and we went in with the laptop and hotspot. Bia is such a trooper for this stuff. She did a great job over lunch, juggling her plates of soup, and participating in her class. We all ate good there. Carol had the unlimited soup and salad, Bella had a pasta dish, and I had pasta. When we were done, it was pouring outside, so I got the truck and waited for them right at the door. It was raining so hard, Carol was not sure if we should even go back to the park, but I said we were already here, so we should and at least try to see the rest, even if we didn’t go in the water, so we went back.
This time, we parked by the swimming area, so we could see that spot and whatever else was there. The girls didn’t want to go check it out, it was still drizzling, so Carol and I went. The swimming area is quite big enough, and the water is a bit deep, so kids would likely need some floatation device. The water is super clear, with sand and some rocks at the bottom, and fish, tons of fish. The water was so clear, it was very easy to see all kinds of fish, small, big ones, etc.
As we were just there looking, a lady with a shirt that said “Manatee Spotter” showed up. She said one had just been there, and there are a few around, but they were kind of hiding today. She also told us to go see the hole, or underwater cave, where the spring spills out of, and that it was a “can’t miss” spot. We would have to walk on the boardwalk a bit, so since the drizzle was almost gone, we got the girls first and went towards the spring head. The boardwalk walk was very cool. You walk in the middle of what looks like a forest (kind of is), with big trees around, and the spring to your left. Most of the time you can’t see the spring on that area, but it is right there.
Soon enough we get to the spot where divers and swimmers can go in the water, so we checked that out, but it’s just a spot with an entry to the water. Then we continued and arrived at the spring head. That is cool! It is amazing to see this underwater cave, with that amount of water just spewing out of it. It is like this incredible site, stuff you see in pictures or movies. It is even cooler to see when people swam or floated over the opening, it gives you this different perspective of depth as you have someone floating over the cave entrance. I said at that time I wanted to swim over the hole, even if it was raining. I could not miss that opportunity. Carol said she wanted to do that as well, so we went back to the truck to change and come back to do it. Bella saw lots of fish, so she did not want to go in the water, she’s been afraid of going in the water where there is any fish. Bia changed to go in, she’s been very brave.
Carol and Bia went first, they got in at the closest entry to the hole, which is marked for divers and swimmers, and swam there. They took a floatie, which was a good idea, to help Bia as there are areas that are deep. The water was a bit cold at entry, but felt great later. They swam to the hole, swam around, over, etc… and had a lot of fun. I could tell Bia was enjoying this a lot, and Carol was loving it all. I took a few pics and videos. Then it was my turn.
Carol and Bia stayed with Bella, and I swam there. It’s amazing. The water is fresh and consistent at 72F all year round, and the volume of water coming out is amazing. It is very cool to swim over. Almost surreal to be over an underwater cave. I swam towards the hole, over it, etc… and enjoyed my time there. One of the last swim overs I did over the cave, the sun light was hitting it just right and creating an awesome view, with the rays of light shining a path down the water and into the cave. I made a video with the GoPro, it was amazing.
When I was done, Carol wanted to take the paddleboard to the water so we went back and got the truck to the boat launch area. Oh, and while we walked the boardwalk, the girls had spotted an owl on the tree. That was cool. She was looking at us from far, and just sitting there, kind of awake and sleeping at the same time, maybe that’s an owl thing hahahaha. Oh, and the more time was passing, the better the weather was turning. Eventually, it was completely sunny with no clouds in the sky. We were so glad we went.
We got to the launching place, I inflated the board while Carol talked to the manatee spotter lady and the girls played at the playground. Carol saw some gators in the water with the lady, and was spooked to go into the river. It was close to 5pm, so the lady just told Carol to take the board upstream towards the spring, where we were at before, as there are no gators there and often manatees are there.
Carol went… under the bridge, then towards the spring. I put the stuff we had out in the truck and then the girls and I followed Carol via boardwalk. We saw lots of fish, some huge fish too. At one of the spots these two ladies had just seen a manatee and showed us pictures of the big body swimming under water. Carol had just passed by and I asked if they saw her, and they said they did, and that the manatee swam right by her. We caught up to Carol and she was enjoying her time in the water with all the fish and such. We did see some turtles as well. Watching Carol on the board from the boardwalk was pretty cool. In some areas, the water was so clear, and the sun light was hitting just right, that we could see the board’s shadow in the sand under water, and the board’s reflection on the water, all at the same time.
Bia decided to join Carol, so at the first stop in the swim area Bia got on the board and they continued together. Bella and I followed from the boardwalk and Bella was all chatty. She even told me that when she grows up, Lulu, Vi and her will live together. They will buy a house and move in together because the three of them do not like to be alone, so they will always keep each other company. hahahaha… that’s so awesome. It was really cool to see Carol and Bia in the water. Often we could see the shadow of the board at the bottom of the spring, really cool to see. It was also amazing to see when people or the board were over the spring head hole, such a cool view. Bia was enjoying the ride and filming with the GoPro. We all saw lots and lots of fish… but no more manatees, so Bia didn’t get to see one. Carol loved it all and was very glad we went there.
Bella had gone to the truck as I waited for Carol to return, so I could take the board, but she stayed inside the truck, and it got hot in there, she was sweating like crazy… hahahaha… silly Bella, could have just opened the door. Once Carol arrived back, they got out of the board, and I took it to the truck. I then deflated the board just enough to fold it and put it in the truck, and we left.
Another storm came in just as we left, with pretty heavy and fast rain. As we were arriving back at the campground. We stopped at a Culver’s for dinner. The girls were missing some home flavors, and we had a nice dinner together. Everyone was happy.
We got back and Bella showered first, brushed her teeth and continued with her Ferrari Lego… and finished it. She was super happy and excited to finish it. Bia was next, but didn’t get to finish hers… almost though. It was close to 10, so we had to put them to bed. Then, Carol and I got things put away and went to bed.
We had an awesome day at Blue Spring State Park.