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February, 2000

Vicky and Valerie by a backyard pond in Illinois, 1963.

Juniper Springs

Originally from Moments by Valerie, a collection of memories (1961-1983), written in 1986 and presented to Larry on their first anniversary.

One of the most beautiful kayak runs I have ever taken is that of Juniper Springs in Florida. It's a short 7-mile trip from the spring head to a wide marsh where the creek ends. The springs bubble out of the white sands in big aqua pools, then flow down the narrow, twisting stream. The bottom is sandy and one can walk a good portion of the trip. The banks are covered with thick tropical vegetation including vines and palmettos. The stream gradually widens, slows and warms as it flows out of the heavy forest into a more open marsh. While fish, turtles, and an occasional otter are the upstream fauna, farther down are added birds, snakes and alligators. I once cornered a 4-foot 'gator on the bank and the strong thrashing of its tail almost capsized my boat! The stream divides into many channels as it moves through the grasses and other vegetation, forming a maze of possible routes. At the takeout is a large, inviting swimming hole, luckily too open and frequented to be attractive to alligators.