I have not seen the world. I’m not well travelled. I know there are amazing sights; wonders of the world created by both God and man. There are things I’d definitely love to see, places I’d love to go. But out of all the places I have been, Ichetucknee Springs is among my favorites.
I like to think of it as nature’s lazy river. You know, like those attractions at water parks where you fight to get an inner tube, walk down a ramp to a man-made river crowded with people trying to exit, then climb on your tube and float around the park in a circle, squashed up next to tubes holding other people, trying not to bump into their legs or kick them in the head. At some point you get tired of kids splashing water on you, tired of scraping your feet on the concrete bottom, and tired of the sun beating on your head. It’s a lot like that. Except without the crowds, concrete, lack of shade, and repeated goofy structures like whales squirting water in your face. No, Ichetucknee is pure heaven. I love lazy rivers (even at water parks), and there’s just no topping this.
Like Rainbow Springs, Ichetucknee is a spring-fed river, which gives it a fairly strong current. You can bring your own rafts or rent them (there are many places along the way to the river that rent them out), but rafts/tubes are required. When I was a kid I remember swimming in it, but now in order to help protect the wildlife the park discourages swimming and/or walking on the bottom to preserve the grass on the riverbed, which the animals need to survive.
This was another part of the same trip I took with my friend and her kids, and my parents were able to join us for this activity too, which was great since my dad knew how to get there. 🙂 My parents had enough rafts for all of us, and I had brought a small fishy raft for Julia, so we blew everything up when we got there and headed down to the tram that would take us down to the river.
We carried our rafts down to the dock and climbed in – no easy feat with the current, cold water, and small children that we didn’t want drifting down the river without us. My dad had some rope, so we linked our rafts together so we wouldn’t get too separated. Once we were in our rafts and settled in though, aaaaaaahhhhhhhhhh.
The girls had never been before, and they loved it. I hadn’t been in ages, and it still held the same magic for me that I remember feeling when I was just a kid.
The water is cold and clear. The trees are lush and full. Turtles are abundant. And you just float away. Just don’t get too relaxed and close your eyes… you might crash into a half-submerged log or a rock wall or a random tree trunk. But honestly, why would you want to miss a second of the ride? I promise, it’s a major improvement over eye-squirting whales. 🙂