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ON THE INCREDIBLE RAINBOW RIVER

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Dear Folks:

This is our second trip to the Sunshine State. Sara and I traveled to Florida two winters ago. After South Florida, as the months pass by, we slowly move across the Gulf States towards Texas. This travel plan creates a three season trip.

Spring consists of the trip down. It was very spring-like when we were in Tennessee, Kentucky, South Carolina and Georgia. It even smelled like spring in the Smoky Mountains at Caves Cove; very earthy. South Florida during the month of December was definitely summer. We know that this may be hard for our Packerbacker friends in Wisconsin to take, but it was almost too warm. Our daughter Polly who visited us for Christmas had a 100 degree temperature difference from when she got on the plane in Minneapolis (-14) and landed in Miami (86). Our fellow RVer's in Homestead kept exclaiming how great the weather was and we thought it was just too damn hot and muggy.

After a month in Homestead near the Everglades, we knew that the only way to move was north (you run out of land if you go farther south) and this would mean colder weather. The trick is to move as slowly as possible so that as January and February approach, you still have reasonably warm weather. This strategy works only so long and sooner or later you will hit fall. This means warm days and very cool nights. Well, it is fall in Citrus County. What Sara and I find so humorous, however, is that for native Floridians this is the dead of winter and they consider anything under 45 degrees as "brutal." There is talk of wind chill factors, warnings to cover plants, and bring in pets and in one instance the establishment of city shelters for the homeless because it was going to drop to a "bone chilling" 40 degrees. Most of these folks would never make it through a late season Packer game in Green Bay and ice fishing would be considered insane. Well, it was 42 last night, hardly a "two dog night" in Wisconsin, but for Sara it's always a "two dog night" as Rudy and Ollie usually get lonely. When not cuddling with Sara, Ollie resorts to other methods of staying warm, usually involving the heater.

We are at a small state park on the Rainbow River near the little town of Dunnellon. The park is located due east and a little south of the city of Ocala. We can see the river from the windows of the RV.

What is so unique, however, is that this river thrusts out of the warm Floridian soil at an incredible 90 million gallons of the most crystal clear water that you can imagine per day!!! This makes it an ideal location for snorkeling or what a SUBA fan would call "free driving." You wear a light wetsuit, mask, flippers and snorkel and minimum weight to keep you in a horizontal position. A diver's warning flag with its red field and a white diagonal stripe is an absolute must as there is motorboat traffic on the river.

Imagine a river that instantously springs from the earth in which you can actually run a pontoon boat. The water is a constant 73 degrees year round. Amazing....... You tie the floating flag to a line attached to your weight belt. The rest is so easy. This is drift diving. You simply put your face in the water, breathe through your snorkel and float. The current of about a mile an hour gently carries you over a crystal clear panorama of sand, rocks and aquatic plants. The plants wave back and forth in the current with an undulating rhythm that often makes the entire background seem alive. You will see bass, some very big bass, and schools of garfish with their long snouts, pan fish and turtles. Some of the turtles are over a foot across and donít seem to mind your intrusion. As you pull your head out of the water, there are majestic great blue herons along the shore, egrets and osprey in the trees that line the banks. I never seem to tire of it. Sara sometimes joins me in a rental canoe. She paddles along sometimes in front of me and sometimes behind and sometimes she gets stuck in the weed banks. She is getting very good at handing a canoe alone.

I was drifting along yesterday when suddenly I was bombarded by a series of rocket like objects that shot through the watery just in front of me. They were snake birds or Anhinga diving for fish. What a sight!!!! The birds blue green eyes sparkle in the sunlight. Anhinga trap air under their feathers which sheds off their backs as they plunge through the water leaving a silvery trail of bubbles as they grab a fish. The sound is incredible..............plop......plop.........plop.......... I did the river 3 times and my last drift dive covered three miles from the campground to the bridge in Dunnellon. I took almost three hours which is a long time for my 60 year old body to be in the water. I wish that everyone I know could experience this type of drift diving just once. It is incredible.

Sara and I will stay on the Rainbow River for two or three more days and then move to Destin, Florida, west of Tallahassee on the Panhandle. We will be right on the ocean on the Gulf Shores and hope that our "fall" does not suddenly turn to winter. More later. Hope all is ok with you.............................

https://pbase.com/ravenoaks/the_incredible_rainbow_river

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VIEW OF THE RIVER FROM OUR RV AT SUNSET
VIEW OF THE RIVER FROM OUR RV AT SUNSET
CAMPSITE ON THE RAINBOW RIVER
CAMPSITE ON THE RAINBOW RIVER
A TWO DOG NIGHT FOR SARA.......45 DEGREES
A "TWO DOG NIGHT" FOR SARA.......45 DEGREES
OLLIE IN HIS WINTER COAT NEXT TO THE ELECTRIC HEATER
OLLIE IN HIS WINTER COAT NEXT TO THE ELECTRIC HEATER
IN CAMP ON THE RAINBOW
IN CAMP ON THE RAINBOW
SARA, OLLIE AND RUDY ENJOY A CAMPFIRE
SARA, OLLIE AND RUDY ENJOY A CAMPFIRE
LOOKING UP RIVER TOWARD THE SPRING
LOOKING UP RIVER TOWARD THE SPRING
LOOKING DOWN RIVER TOWARD THE BRIDGE 3 MILES AWAY
LOOKING DOWN RIVER TOWARD THE BRIDGE 3 MILES AWAY
SUITED UP FOR A DIVE.......
SUITED UP FOR A DIVE.......
THIS IS 15 FT DEEP.......CAN YOU BELIEVE IT
THIS IS 15 FT DEEP.......CAN YOU BELIEVE IT
EGRET ON THE RIVER
EGRET ON THE RIVER
AN AHINGA OR SNAKE FISH DRYING ITS WINGS IN THE SUN
AN AHINGA OR SNAKE FISH DRYING ITS WINGS IN THE SUN
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