Wakulla Spring in Summer

Looking back, I’ve thought a lot about the trek Joy and I took to south Georgia and on into the panhandle of Florida. I had planned to spend the first week in August with Recovery (the community my parents call “home”) as “HQ.”  We would stay with them and head over to Cairo to visit the Lovetts then go back to Mom and Dad’s house. We would run down to the coast for a few days and then return to HQ.  With Joy spending all of May and June with swim team, three weeks in July with drama camp, the first week in August was our only option since school started on the eighth. So, we let my parents know to mark the calendar with extra bedrooms “taken” and we set our sights on August.

While in a conversation with Stone, I found out that HE had the same plans slated for the week before our arrangements. He and his son, Jet, would be venturing during the last week in July. He would staying with his family in our hometown of Thomasville, but they would also add another stop to Wakulla Springs. My honeymoon began at the springs a quarter century ago, but I don’t remember visiting the springs on any other occasion. Knowing that Stone knows what fun looks like, Joy and I upped our trip by a week, per Stone’s invitation. We got an okay from HQ that the week would work with my folks calendar.  We were set.

Talk about excited?? I had a hard time sleeping off-and-on for a week … or more.

Wakulla Springs is one of the deepest and largest freshwater springs in the world. I still don’t know how I lived my high school years and all of my adult life withOUT visiting there more than once.*scratches head*  The underwater cave system associated with Wakulla is tremendous in size – hundreds of miles long (much is unexplored, so the exact size is unknown)… though I have to admit that snorkeling holds enough fascination to keep me satisfied without donning scuba gear and swimming into deep, underwater darkness.  (Remember my sense of direction? I’d get lost and die underwater. I’m sure of it.)

So, towards the end of our trip, Joy and I met Jet and Stone at Wakulla. We were there for one entire … glorious … awe-filled day …

I remember savoring the day …. moment by moment.
Like the first sips of a fresh squeezed, ice cold lemonade …
or the virgin sips off a freshly opened bottle of beer or soda,
the moments were crisp, vivid and intense.
Each moment seemed to quench a thirst for beauty … satiate and fill.
I would find myself still and searching …
soaking in the glisten of the sun off the water,
struck by the clarity of the clear spring aquifer pouring forth it’s life,
stunned by the temperature of the water on my body
compared to the intensity of the heat of the air above water.
It was almost surreal  … dream-like.

We swam for hours before stopping to picnic our lunch. To say the water is cold is a gross understatement. Joy and I discussed that we were certain that becoming still in the water would surely lead us to hypothermia and death, so we did our best to stay in motion. (And yes, I realize that is another gross exaggeration … but we, in fact, had that discussion.)

There is a wonderful two story diving platform right on the edge of the spring’s mouth.  If you’ll click over to  THIS  photo, you can see the mouth of the springs as a large sandy circle. There is a large tour boat floating on the left hand size of the circle. That boat is just to the right of the diving platform. I jumped off the top platform once …. which was enough an accomplishment for me … just to be able to say, “I did it!” Stone tried persistently to try to get me to jump again. I was proud of myself that I held my ground to his pleads. Caving to peer pressure is still something that I resist. The distance from the top platform to the water was around 20′.  The distance from the water to the ground under the water was 24′.  Joy insisted on jumping into the water and going all the way down to the spring floor to propel herself back UP to the top of the water. It was fun to watch and photograph, though I had no desire to try this myself.

You can see the slope of the ground in the photo below as this diving platform is right at the edge of the mouth of the spring.

We brought snorkel gear
(per Stone’s instruction – I would have NEVER thought to bring such on a trip like this! Silly, me)
which added to the amazement of our underwater adventure. We saw fish, manatee and even a gorgeous snake.

After our picnic, we took the boat tour down river.

More surreal beauty …
gorgeous clear water ….
stunning wildlife.

Jet was as enthralled as Joy. It’s so neat to share an enthusiasm with children for the
wonder of the world around us. I appreciate that Stone loves the outdoors and nature.
Towards the end of the trip, as we headed back to the head of the springs, the afternoon heat began to warm the water downstream enough that a manatee made his way back up the river ….

to the springs’ head where the coldest water originates.
(look closely … he’s in the photo below)

He promptly headed for the mouth of the spring,
just to the right of the blue umbrella/diving platform in the center of the photo below.

Since we had our snorkeling gear, we were able to clearly see this gorgeous creature, endangered
and unhurried
in the world in which he lives. Stunning, I tell you.

By late afternoon, three others joined him for grazing and leisurely relaxation.
I actually got some video of the manatee, the snake and the floating dock
where we swam and dove from for hours.
The shadows grew long,
the sun neared the tree line …
and I snapped this shot before Jet slid his seven-year old feet into his shoes.
I love how Stone has covered his shoes in charms
so his shoes will be like Jet’s with
dinosaurs, a compass, an array of critters and creatures.

To say that the day was splendid …
would not do it justice.
Penetrating sun in hot, humid air,
crisp, cool water with a strong current and gorgeous wildlife
and wonderful company.
I could not ask for more.

5 thoughts on “Wakulla Spring in Summer

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