By: Paul S. Cilwa Viewed: 9/20/2019
Occurred: 7/18/2009 2:00:00 PM
Topics/Keywords: #AlexanderSprings #Florida #Travel #Zachary Page Views: 4423
Michael, Zach and I visit Florida's Alexander Springs and take lots of pictures.

Yesterday when we were visiting my sister, Mary Joan, I mentioned that today we planned to visit Alexander Springs and would she like to come with us? "Oh, we don't go to springs," she replied. "They have amoebas in them that get into your head through your nose and eat your brain."

When I pointed out that I've been to Alexander Springs, and other springs, many times before without my brain having yet been eaten, she added, "Well, anyway, there's a storm coming down from the north. It's not like our usual Florida storms that come from the south. It's going to rain all day. Hard. You'll have a terrible time."

I love Mary Joan to pieces but she can be a tad negative at times.

My other sister, Louise, was more pragmatic. "You'd better get there by 9 o'clock," she said, "or it'll be full up."

Despite the storm "coming down from the north" the weather was absolutely beautiful, giving Zach his first opportunity to see Florida's interior in the daylight. We took the faster route along US 1 and I-95 in an attempt to beat the mob.

When we got there, it was about 9:10 am and, sure enough, there was already a line of people waiting to get in so they could have their brains eaten out by amoebas.

In fact, the place had been open since 8 am. But there was still room for us to park, and after we put on our bathing suits in the changing room, I led the way down to the springs.

Zach and Michael at Alexander Springs.

Alexander Springs is located in the heart of the Ocala National Forest, but is managed by the state. It is delightfully not commercialized—for contrast, travel a few miles further west to Silver Springs. The water in the springs is a constant, year-round 72F making it a perfect summer getaway for heat-weary travels such as ourselves.

There is even a sandy beach for those who wish to lay out in the sun or build sand castles.

Michael crosses the beach at Alexander Srpgins. Zach wading in Alexander Springs.

But the main reason to visit is the crystal clear water.

The place where the water emerges from the Earth is called the "boil" and is about 65 feet deep. The water here is as fresh and pure as it can get. Surrounding the boil is a shallow, sandy perimeter perfect for wading. And, since the depth very gradual increases to about 12 feet before there are any drop-offs, it's safe for non-swimmers and swimmers alike.

Since Zach is a strong swimmer, the boil was of course his goal. Michael went out with him first while I took pictures.

The Alexander Springs boil.

We had picked up some inexpensive goggles which the two donned. And then came the short swim to the deep water.

The boil itself is plainly visible from shore, as a place where the surface is roiled and bluer than else­where.

The Alexander Springs boil. Zach and me in Alexander Springs.

Michael and I then switched places so I could play in the water with Zachary.

By now the number of people visiting the park was increasing, and our time here was limited—Michael and I still had our second Class Reunion event to attend tonight. There are other activities to enjoy at Alexander Springs, including picnicking and canoeing. But we decided to take the nature trail around the boil to the far side, which would give Zachary a chance to see the Florida jungle in which I had grown up and played.

We slipped on our sandals and stepped into the dark green woods.

Michael, Zach and I on the Timucuan Trail in Alexander Springs.

Although the overall impression is green, green, green, if one looks closely there are a million points of interest to be seen.

A banana spider. Beach Morning Glory

The trail finally emerged onto the far shore of the Alexander River, from which we could see the swimming area.

The swimming area at Alexander Springs.

By now the clouds from Mary Joan's storm were beginning to build up, and it was time for us to leave anyway. We returned by driving through the Ocala National Forest, past the town of Salt Springs, and into the small city of Palatka, Florida, where I had attended junior college and where Zach's grandmother and I had had our very first home after marrying. I tried finding that house so I could get a photo of it, but the spot where it was located is now a vacant lot.

We then continued through Hastings back to St. Augustine, to dress for the night's event.