Monday, June 2, 2014

Weekend Wanderings: Camping at Ginnie Springs

Florida's springs have attracted visitors dating back to the 16th century when Ponce de Leon trekked around searching for the Fountain of Youth, a fabled, magical spring in St. Augustine. While I definitely wish even one of the more than 900 fresh water springs in Florida really were full of mermaids and magical powers, the clear blue waters and surrounding greenery is enchanting enough for me. I've visited a hand full of springs across my home state and recently added Ginnie Springs to that list. From scrub and pine to manatees and mangroves, driving a few hours north or south in Florida and you'll find a completely different ecosystem!

With our camping essentials ready, my Dutchman and I packed up the car and headed north towards Ginnie Springs. This natural Florida spring along the Santa Fe River near Gainesville boasts 72-degree water year-round, making it a great spot for swimming, snorkeling, cave diving, and tubing down the river (our favorite).

Ginnie Springs is actually a group of six natural springs nestled on about 600 acres of family owned land. Once the home of Timucuan Indians, their arrow heads and pottery shards can still be found around the site today. Fun fact: Ginnie Springs is such a popular spot for divers that even Jacques Cousteau has paid a visit!

Ginnie Springs was a great location for our much needed weekend getaway. We love camping and the natural allure and solitude felt when surrounded by a canopy of trees. Fortunately, we arrived early enough on Friday to snag a campsite with the river in view, an ideal spot for my Dutchman who invested in a fishing pole to keep here in Florida precisely for out door adventures like this one. Together, we filled our days with fishing, morning walks, afternoon swims and tubing down the river. In the evening, we cooked on the grill and enjoyred late nights talking around the fire. And of course, we ate plenty of s'mores! If only the droves of drunk university students slamming whiskey and blasting terrible music could have also embrace a few moments of silence to hear the wind whistle through the trees. Oh well.

On our second night of camping, we made it back to our site after a long, relaxing day of tubing. Dusk was on it's way, so we grilled up a piece of spicy teriyaki marinated salmon for a gourmet outdoor dinner. With our meal prepped and beers in hand, we finally enjoyed a cosy moment (no obnoxious party music... yet!) He was fishing while I snapped a few pictures and settled down with my book, using our tubes as a comfy reading nook. There we were, under a canopy of trees, the sun setting, the smell of food on the grill... Camping success! ...For at least 10 minutes.

As it turns out, the tubes were randomly set on top of a fire ant mound and I only read a few pages before the sting of fire ant bites set in... all over my bum! This is what happens when pants don't replace a bikini at the end of the day. Ouch! For someone as clumsy and accident prone as myself, I'm honesty not even surprised by topical injuries. Going outside, there's a 99% chance something will sting, bite or bruise me and admittedly, half the time the culprit is myself. But to get hurt while sitting down!? Now that's a new rate of success. My Dutchman loves to tease and say, "...But you're only clumsy today!" Thanks, a lot for reminder.

If you've ever been bit by fire ants, you're already aware that they swarm in masses and that the result isn't pretty. Excessive itching aside, at least our evening feast of salmon and couscous was delicious enough to distract from my mishap. Pretty sure that I earned a few extra s'mores that evening too! 

Curious about camping at one of Florida's many natural springs? Check out dozens of locations here.

Want to see inside Ginne Springs? Take a look at this video!

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful pictures! Thanks for sharing! I love Florida springs!