>Gator Nation

>I live in Florida.  As you might suspect, water is a tremendous natural resource in our state.  Jacksonville sits along the St. Johns River – a roughly 300 mile river that has headwaters near Orlando, and then runs north to meet the Atlantic Ocean near Jacksonville.  The St. Johns is an amazing river to visit.  There are tons of small (and some large) lakes, myriad streams feeding into the river, and countless springs that send millions of gallons into the river daily.

This weekend, my wife, kids and I rented a pontoon boat and went out on the St Johns River to visit Lake George (also called Lake Welaka) and cruise into the Salt and Silver Glen springs. 

So, we had a blast.  The weather held out for most of the day; not too hot, and only one 30-minute shower the entire day.  We cruised south out of the small town called Welaka, and visited Lake George and the springs.  The really amazing thing about the springs is that the water is almost always about 72 degrees!  We did a little swimming, watched a river otter play, collected some shells (believe it or not, there are shells in a river 130 miles from the ocean…perhaps they are millions of years old and left over from an ancient sea…perhaps they are from fresh-water critters that just look like their salt-water relatives).
After lunch, we went up a few “creeks” that feed into the river in search of the sole reason I don’t like to do too many open water swims by myself:
We saw at least 50 alligators in just over 90 minutes.  Many were relatively small (7-8 feet), but we saw several in the 10-12 foot range.  We also saw one MONSTER gator (we didn’t get a picture of him) that had to be close to 14 feet long.  He was just plain immense!
All-in-all, we had an outstanding day on the river.  What a great way to spend the long weekend.