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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Free North Florida Springs – Did you know that there are actually some springs you and your family can visit and not cost you anything to go and enjoy? Yes, our Florida State Parks has some great springs in the north Florida area and, generally, it only costs a couple of bucks per car load to visit such as Ichetucknee Springs State Park in Ft White, Florida; Lafayette Blue Springs State Park in Mayo, Florida; Troy Springs State Park in Branford, Florida and Madison Blue Springs State Park in Lee, Florida. You really need to check their website before you come to make sure the springs is open before you drive over for the day. These are day-use only state parks and are opened from 8:00am to sundown every single day. Now until Memorial Day weekend, when the summer season begins, you will have a better chance to get in at the lowest fees.
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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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One month at Alligator Lake Recreation Area here in Lake City, Florida has started out pretty good. We are still trying to establish a good routine that works for us and our volunteer coordinator. It’s not a hard gig by any means and the people have been extremely nice. The coordinator has been very open about some of the supplies we have asked for to keep doing our jobs as we think it needs to be done. For instance, we asked for a small blower to keep the rental pavilion clean between users, a nice long water hose and roller cart to hold it on so that we can keep the bathrooms and pavilion’s harder to reach areas cleaned and we asked for a battery powered inside light for our Gator so that we can see what we are doing at night while we are emptying out the trash barrels. We usually start about 30 minutes before closing to check the trash barrels, pick up any trash we come across and, hopefully, encourage our visitors to start packing up and head towards the gate. We also have to check the outer packing lot for hikers on the trails. For some reason people come into the park close to closing and start down the trails that are clearly marked as longer than the time they actually have to complete it.
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Our Osceola National Forest Wrap-Up post for our assignment as day use park hosts. We enjoyed our six months within the Osceola National Forest and hope that more of our fellow full-timers will give them a chance next summer. The campsites provided in the day-use area are very nice with full hookups, a washer and dryer to use and even great showers in the bathhouse next to the beach. There are only 2 day use park hosts at Olustee Beach and we could have used another couple during our stay to help with the opening/closing, cleaning the bathhouses and restrooms, keeping the Group Landing area cleaned between camping groups as well as mowing the grass, weed-eating, and blowing off the sidewalks, roads and parking lots. Since we were the only volunteers in this area we worked 7 days a week. However, only about 2 or 3 days were spent doing the actual mowing, blowing and cleaning. All the other days we just opened and closed the gate and picked up trash around the park.
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