Saturday, June 9, 2007
I will be picking everyone up at the Orlando International Airport on Sunday November 6, 2011 at 1pm. We will meet at the bottom of the escalators at baggage claim A #5. For any reason you might be late please call me at 407.924.3375. We will then make the three hour drive to our lodge, stopping for lunch in route.
This is a lodge trip so nobody will need any camping gear. Everyone will want to bring lots of swimsuits, camera, binoculars, guide books, snorkel gear, and any favorite gear needed on day trips. A good pair of sandals will get you through the week. If you can bring something to share with the group, like your favorite wine or a specialty food found only in your hometown.
If anyone has any questions or anyone needing driving directions, please call me.
The phone number to the lodge is 352.489.9983
Well known for its year round manatee population. Made famous by beautiful mermaids, Florida’s central west coast has become the “nature coast”. Enjoy a week of kayaking, canoeing, tubing, hiking, snorkeling with wild manatee, and exploring some of Florida’s largest springs. Every night we return to our private riverside lodge to relax and enjoy great company, river scenery, and southern cuisine done right.
The focus of this trip is education through activity. This area of Florida has so much wilderness and wildlife to offer. Each day our group will travel via passenger van to a different and unique area. Mostly kayaking, however; we will hike, swim, peddle, snorkel and tube these areas. There will be plenty of opportunity to go birding, sight seeing, time to observe wildlife, and time to sit back and reflect. Beginners are encouraged to sign up. People wanting to develop their skills in kayaking will have time for one on one instruction every evening with an ACA certified kayak instructor.
DAY ONE: All participants will be picked up at one pm at the Orlando International Airport. Our private van will the take us to our river lodge near Dunellon Florida. We will stop for lunch in route. (not included in the trip price) After settling in the guides will go over the weeks schedule. Dinner and cocktails will soon follow.
DAY TWO: Today finds us paddling the Withlacoochee River. This river flows out of the Green Swamp in west central Florida. The river twists and bends through the sandhill area as it moves northwest. Hardwood forests with an under story of cabbage palm and saw palmetto border the river. Further downstream the hills disappear as you paddle through lush swampland with cypress, gum and maple adorned with air plants. The overhanging limbs form a lacy canopy. Much of the river flows through the Withlacoochee State Forest, but there are scattered residential areas along the river. The variety of habitats offers opportunities for nature study. Wildlife is abundant along the river. Deer, turkey, otter and alligator are common. Wood duck, wood stork, white ibis and anhinga can also be seen.
DAY THREE: We start the day early to catch an early morning boat ride to Crystal River and the year round manatee that make this area their home. Make sure you bring your underwater cameras because we will jump over board and actually snorkel with these gentle giants.
We return to the lodge for lunch then make our way to the head springs of the Rainbow River. This is a Florida classic lazy river, perfect for an afternoon of tubing and snorkeling. The crystal clear water allows us the opportunity to view otter, turtles, and alligators.
DAY FOUR: Our travels will find us in the Ocala National Forest. Putting in on the Silver River we will paddle to the source, the Silver Springs. A paddle trip on the Silver River in the Ocala National Forest features some of Florida's most beautiful scenery and diverse wildlife. This short river with translucent blue headsprings has been described as magnificent and magical, but in 1873 Harriett Beecher Stowe, author of Uncle Tom's Cabin said it best with "There is nothing on earth comparable to it."
The headwaters start at Silver Springs, the world's largest natural artesian spring, which produces nearly 550 million gallons of water each day. Because of the substantial flow, the paddle upstream can be strenuous but well worth the effort. Seven miles downriver, the crystal clear Silver meets the tea-colored Oklawaha River.
Spending the day on Silver River will reveal why the Silver Springs attraction bills itself as "Nature's Theme Park". Beside the subtropical landscape, the river is famous for its abundant wildlife. Anhingas, ducks, egrets, herons, ibis', hawks, limpkins and kingfishers are some of the many birds that inhabit the area.
The fish species is well represented by bluegill, sunfish, bass and prehistoric-looking Longnose Gar. If you have never seen one, gars are cylindrical fish up to four feet in length with long snouts and very sharp teeth. Reptiles are a-plenty too. Turtles and alligators can easily be spotted sunning themselves while lizards and snakes present more of a challenge.
One animal that you wouldn't expect to find in Central Florida is the Rhesus monkey. Several troops of these monkeys live wild along the length of the river. Legend has it the monkeys are descendants of escapees from Tarzan films shot at Silver Springs; however the Silver Springs web site (www.silversprings.com) lists the source as a concessionaire who operated the Jungle Cruise boat ride during the 1930s. The monkeys were placed on an island in the river and they simply swam off and disappeared into the neighboring forest.
Day Five: A very unique experience awaits us today. We will start with a visit to the large springs in Chaskawitzka National Wildlife Refuge. Then we will paddle towards the coast passing freshwater springs, thick hardwood hammocks, bayou, salt mud flats, then coastal plains.
This refuge provides habitat for approximately 250 species of birds, over 50 species of reptiles and amphibians, and at least 25 different species of mammals. Endangered and threatened species on the refuge include manatees, sea turtles, and bald eagles. The refuge consists of coastal saltmarsh, shallow bays, tidal streams, and rivers, mangrove islands, and coastal maritime hammock.
After dinner we will celebrate the full moon on a late night cruise onboard a private pontoon cruise boat down the Rainbow River or Withlacoochee River. With the bright moonlight guiding us we will seek out the nocturnal wildlife thick in the swamps, creeks, and sloughs we pass.
DAY SIX: Another exciting day! We will visit the Homosassa River and the Homosassa State Wildlife Park. The park has an underwater viewing room, where you can watch schools of saltwater and freshwater fish circling the manatees, plus a bird area, reptile lectures, and a large pen full of large alligators.
In the evening we will have time for more fun at Rainbow Springs or folks can rent bikes and peddle the Withlacoochee state trail that follows the Withlacoochee River.
DAY SEVEN: After a big breakfast and may be a morning hike, everyone will have time to pack up before heading back to Orlando and the airport. We should arrive at the airport between 2-3 pm..
Kayaking is physically challenging and participants should be in good shape to enjoy such a trip. In coastal Florida, storms of huge magnitude can appear quickly. Alternative activities are planned in case of extreme weather. I require that all participants must be at least 18 years of age.
We will be staying at The Rainbow River Club and Lodge. This is a private lodge that we were invited to stay at. Everyone will be staying in two bedroom cabins. One bedroom has a queen size bed the other bedroom has two doubles. Each cabin has a full kitchen, bathroom, and living room. The rooms are clean, there is hot water, and the showers work great. Couples will of course get the rooms with a queen size bed individual participants will be sharing the rooms with doubles.
National Audubon Society; Field Guide to Florida
A Naturalist in Florida, A Celebration of Eden; Archie Carr
Derek C Hutchinson’s Guide to Expedition Kayaking on Sea and Open Water
A Fantastic PBS documentary on Florida's incredible spring systems:
Commissary duties will be shared. The guides will prepare every meal and serve it to you. Everyone is expected to help eat these large southern meals each day. People who enjoyed their meal will be expected to help with clean up. Meals included in the trip fee begin with dinner on Sunday and end with breakfast on Saturday.
ABOUT YOUR TRIP LEADER:
Kayaking and the outdoors have been Greg Pflug’s love from an early age. Greg’s adventures began with long-distance backpacking; he and his wife Melissa even through-hiked the Appalachian Trail as a belated honeymoon. Then he discovered water, and life has never been the same. Greg has dedicated the past fifteen years sharing his love of Florida’s waterways and his desire to preserve them. A Sierra Club leader since 1999, Greg has led over 100 national outings for the organization. Overall, Greg has guided sea-kayaking trips from Patagonia to New Zealand, Alaska to Wyoming. His goal is always two-fold: his child side wants to find the perfect unspoiled waterway, which is tempered by the mature desire to educate people on protecting and restoring the rivers, estuaries, and coast lines that have felt the hand of man. Greg is a certified kayak instructor, outdoor specialist, and wilderness first responder, but he truly takes pride tailoring his trips by removing worry and injecting fun and child-like wonder in the great outdoors. His favorite outings are the Suwannee River, Okefenokee, and the Everglades.
Small day pack or fanny pack
Personal medical supplies (Prescriptions, inhaler, antibiotics, etc.)
Flashlight or head lamp
Prescription Glasses/Contact lenses and supplies
Leatherman™ or Multi™ tool
Feminine hygiene products
Pack towel/wash rag
Water shoes or sandals
Mosquito head net
Raingear - waterproof/breathable jacket
Fleece or wool shirt or sweater
Light weight camping pants
Long Sleeve shirts - light weight (Great for sun protection)
Gloves (For paddling and warmth)
Optional Stuff (but nice)
Journal and pen
Camera and film
Waterproof Camera Bag
Favorite beverages (I don’t know what you drink)
1) The trip leader will announce the next day’s agenda every night at dinner. You will be informed of what to expect, what to bring, and what time we will depart. Participants, who miss this nightly explanation, are responsible to locate the leader that night to hear what was missed.
2) The volunteer leaders prepare all meals. All participants are expected to help in the clean up.
3) If you would like an evening beer, glass of wine, or cocktail bring it. The club doesn’t purchase or provide alcohol.
4) Be honest on your paperwork! This means your current age and weight. Be honest with your skill level and comfort level. If you’re a vegetarian write it down. The leaders want to provide you with the best outing possible. Honest answers on your paperwork help us achieve this goal.
5) Itinerary’s change due to weather, water levels, the group’s ability, and safety concerns. Please do not attend this outing if you are expecting a minute-to-minute itinerary set in stone. Be flexible.
6) ALL TRIP LEADERS ARE VOLUNTEERS. The money you spent for this outing goes to saving the place you are visiting, office expenses, and to cover the cost of the outing. No money goes to the leaders. Tips are not expected nor accepted.
7) GET TRIP INSURANCE!!!!
8) No really, GET TRIP INSURANCE.