Elephant Butte Lake

Elephant Butte Lake
Elephant Butte Lake

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Kayaking on the Blackwater River

The Blackwater River is considered one of the purest sand-bottom rivers in the world. The river's sand-bottom, dark tannin water, and contrasting large white sandbars have drawn worldwide attention, and provide the perfect setting for this 590-acre park. The river has been designated a Florida canoe trail, and the last two miles are located within the park.  Glenda and I wanted to do some kayaking while we were in Florida so we did some research and found out we could rent a couple of kayaks from an outfitter near the entrance to Blackwater River State Park. We headed north on Hwy 87 for about 20 miles then we took a right turn on Hwy 90E, 7 miles to the town of Harold, Left turn onto Deaton Bridge Road, then about 1 1/2 miles to the outfitter. We paid for the kayaks and then we had to drive another  mile up the road to the parking lot just outside the park where a gentleman, whose name was Paul, from the outfitter had kayaks and canoes loaded on a trailer behind an open bed truck. We climbed in the back of the truck with  2 other couples and Paul drove us to the put in point up the river.


Glenda was one of the first to get started so she had to pull up to a sandbar and wait for me to get going. The scenery was fantastic with all the natural habitat and white sandy beaches.


The wildlife was a little sparse with only a few turtles sunning themselves on logs along the river. I don't have a camera with a long range zoom so I had to be very quiet and slow moving to get close enough to get a decent photo. Here's what I was able to accomplish.


The river had a pretty decent current so we actually moved along quickly. I was able to get out of the main current a few times to get some pictures of the aquatic plants. I got this picture of what I found out later to be an American Lotus. It was still early in the season so the plants hadn't opened up yet.


The water is fairly clear and you could see the sandy bottom easily. From what I understand this is the only sand bottom river in the US.


We continued to paddle and pass by numerous sandbars and into the Blackwater River State Park.




It was such a relaxing paddle down the river and with the current it took us about half the time that we were told it would take to go the 4 miles on that part of the river. We weren't really looking to spend all day on the river but we got a taste of what the river has to offer. People can canoe, kayak or even tube down the river. If it had been a little later in the season(it's only March) we probably would have taken more time to picnic on a beach or swim in the river. But we came to the end of the canoe trail as we passed under the one and only bridge we came too. Signs told us it was time to take out on the other side of the bridge.





One of the other couples(Keith and Deb) that we were on the river with were staying in the state park in the campground so when we came to the take out point they were waiting for Paul to come and take them back to their campsite so we offered for them to jump into the back of our truck and we drove them about a mile to the entrance of the park and then on around to their site. They had a Class C camper and were planning on leaving back to Alabama the next day. It was nice to talk to them and we found out that Deb was a Social worker at an elementary school and they were out on Spring Break too. The funny thing is Glenda is a secretary at an elementary school. So they had some things in common. It was great meeting them and we wished them well as we headed back to our RV park on the beach. We will definitely consider coming back to the Blackwater State Park in the future.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Spring Break in Navarre Florida

We had a great week in Navarre(NAV-are) Florida. Our first trip out of Illinois. We learned a few things about longer distance travel. Semi's can really do a number on your driving as they pass you by. Everytime one would pass it would pull the truck toward the passing lane and I would have to compensate by steering to the right. When traveling and everyone else is going to the same area (in this case Florida) it is hard to find a rest stop or truck stop that isn't completely full when you are ready to rest for the night. I will either stop earlier or figure out about where I want to stop and get a campground reservation ahead of time. We ended up driving until 1 am and stopped at the Alabama Welcome Center.


The next day we got to Emerald Beach RV Park around 3pm. They had our reservation and gave us a map of the park and we found our site at the far end of the park.


The sites are level with full hook ups, WiFi and cable TV. There was only one camper between us and the beach area.


As soon as we got set up we went down on the beach to enjoy the view. I was so happy that we were able to reserve this site at this RV park. Even though it is a little expensive compared to other types of parks or campgrounds it was well worth it for our trip.


Once the sun began to set we decided to get some dinner at a little restaurant across the street from the park. This is the view we had that first evening.


Glenda and I love the beach so our first full day in Florida we started there in front of the RV park.


Since we had our bikes with us we talked to the staff in the office about where would be a good place to do some riding. They told us that by going over the causeway to Navarre Beach and the Gulf Island National Seashore we would find a great bike path. So we loaded up the bikes and headed over the causeway and sure enough we found a great place to ride. This is something we did every day were in Florida.


This protected area has pristine natural habitat for birds and other wildlife where no structures can be built to obscure this great beauty.









Once you are in the Gulf Island National Seashore the bike path becomes a bike lane along side the road from Navarre Beach to Pensacola Beach. The glow you can see in the distance is either the sand blowing in the air or the suns reflection from the pure white sand. I haven't figured that out yet. Very unique though.




One of the last evenings we were in Florida we took a walk along the beach and enjoyed the cool breeze and pounding surf.


The waves crashing onto the shore is quite loud and looks very powerful.



We had so much fun and look forward to returning to this area in the future. We also spent some time on the Blackwater River doing some kayaking which I will post in the next couple of days with some photos. This is Part 1.