Free North Florida Springs – In part two of our series we will list another springs area that you can visit and not have to pay an entrance fee. Remember, our natural springs are located near a river and have a tendency to flood when the river rises. You really do not want to go into a spring that you cannot see to the bottom of and you should always be aware of snakes, alligators and other creatures that live in the area. Please do not harass the wildlife. Again, most of our springs are regulated by either Federal, State, County or Water Management Districts. Most charge a fee to visit. One of our favorites is Wes Skiles Peacock Springs State Park in Live Oak, Florida. It is more popular with divers than swimmers but the swimming area is pretty nice. It is not as big as some of the more popular springs state parks but nice nonetheless. On a hot summer day when the river is down you can go to this out-of-the-way area and enjoy the large shade trees, dip into very chilly water and have a picnic on the banks.
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Spring is really trying to be sprung here in north Florida. In the last 7 days we have had almost 90 degree weather and highs in the 60’s. We have had mostly sunny days and mostly rainy and cloudy days. Nothing really seems to faze our visitors here at Alligator Lake Recreation Area in beautiful Lake City, Florida though. They come every single day to walk to trails, ride their bikes, play on the playground, picnic at one of the pavilions and every single weekend their are lots of birthday parties. Generally, the big screened in pavilion is only rented on the weekends and is reserved all the way into August, I think. So we have lots of trash cans to empty on Saturday and Sunday. The other smaller open but covered picnic pavilions are first-come-first-serve so we get quite a few people here first thing in the morning to stake out their favorite ones. Other than picking little pieces of confetti string and candy wrappers the visitors have been fairly good about cleaning up after themselves by putting their trash in the cans. We still have to chase down the occasional piece of tissue paper or paper bag that ends up the surrounding wooded areas.
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Rain, rain and more rain! Over the last couple of weeks we have been getting hit with rain almost every single days. Some days we get at least a couple of inches at a time. Thus for the last week we have had large puddles of water all over our campsite and in the picnic area. One good thing is that we cannot mow. The bad thing is the grass grows faster when its wet. The temperatures in the evening and early mornings have been kind of nice too. But we still have temperatures in the 90s. Well, duh, it is August in Florida.
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St Sebastian River Preserve State Park has been a fairly great experience for us these last two and a half months. The staff has been great to work with, helpful to the volunteers and each other, and always willing to teach us volunteers anything that needs doing within the park system. The Volunteer Coordinator, Heidi, is an extremely nice lady who just wants her volunteers to have a good time while working in the park. She has tried her best to accommodate everyone’s schedule and preferences while coordinating all the projects that the park needs to get done within the month. And as a good volunteer coordinator she makes sure that all of us have been properly trained in all the duties assigned as well as any equipment that needs to be utilized in getting those jobs done. We would not have any problem coming back here again for another assignment. If you are looking for a quiet place to spend a couple of months in south Florida, especially during the late spring to early fall, we hope you will contact the park for a live on-site volunteer position!
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We have left Troy Springs State Park and have made it to St. Sebastian River Preserve State Park in Fellsmere, Florida which is 20 miles west of Sebastian Inlet State Park in Vero Beach, Florida. This is a fairly new state park and being a “Preserve” it doesn’t have a lot of things to do here. They do have a new Visitor’s Center at the North Entrance with very nice and informative displays. We start working the center tomorrow so we will be able to take some pictures for our readers. There is primitive camping here is specific areas of the park, fishing at the spillway along the canal and lots of trails all over the 23,000 acres. They have a Volunteer Village on the north side with electric, water and sewers onsite. They also provide the live on-site volunteers with a washer and dryer to use once or twice a week. They are currently working on getting a shower area but at this time it is just a shower head with cold water attached to the back of the storage shed. We are assigned days to wash and dump our black water as the sewer system in this area is not very big. Someone donated a very nice double door refrigerator that the volunteers can use. Of course, the first thing I did when we got here was clean that puppy up. It is so nice to have ice cold drinks and space in the fridge so we can now buy more food at one time.
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