In March, we decided to
meet at Porkies BBQ in Mims Florida.
After a good meal and lots of
conversation, we decided to
paddle the Econ and set a date.
One of our other paddling buddies Randy Pieper decided he would like to come
along also so we said sure.
Look for this sign at Hwy 419 bridge.
We set up our tents and gathered some fire wood for later while exploring. New for Bill, Randy and Mac but old for me. I often walk down here from my house for some peace and quiet or to camp overnight. After a supper of steaks and baked potatoes we sat around enjoying the quiet and night sounds. Lots of owls! It started to cool down so we started a fire and then we really kicked back to enjoy the evening. The smell of the campfire, the call of the owls, and a sky filled with stars, no bugs, good company and a couple "cool beverages" before and after supper, what more could a guy ask for? As the evening wore on, the temperature dropped and our stomachs were full, the tents and sleeping bags sure felt good.
After being sung to
sleep by the owls, in the morning they acted as the early morning rooster trying to get us up along
with the song birds. So I woke up about daylight, lit a fire
and made coffee. It sure smelled good. At the smell of coffee the
other guys also rolled out one at a time. I got out my "treat" for the
guys and whipped up a humongous breakfast of bacon and eggs to go with the hot
coffee. ( We normally don't have a large breakfast when we are on the longer
river runs -- but since this was a short run I thought I would surprise them)
After breakfast, we
up our gear and took our time
loading our canoes. We
were not in a hurry, in fact we were going in slow motion for the simple fact
we only had to paddle about 3 hours to get to our next stop at Big
Oaks Ranch, the area of the river she calls Fish an Fun.
Bill and Mac tried their luck
fishing with lures but were stumped. Bill decided to
try for cat fish since I had told him I had seen some thirty pounders caught
here -- but he had brought no regular bait so he cut a piece of his
Pepperoni and set the line out while we kicked back and had a "cool beverage."
It wasn't long before his line took off. Thinking he had a large cat fish he
worked it slowly. It fought a hard battle. When
we got it close enough to see what it was we were all surprised. He had
caught a humongous soft shell turtle. Almost 12 inches across and probably 6 or
7 lbs. Randy piped up and said "he wanted to cook it." We all
laughed and voted him down, and let the big guy go. So Randy asked for a
piece of Pepperoni so he could try his luck. Twenty minutes later, he got his
wish. He had a large fish that was also a fighter. He played it well and
in a few minutes -- he had landed one of the biggest mud fish either of us had
seen. When he announced he was going to cook it -- we all laughed and
explained to him that mud fish are not fit to eat but he insisted 'he caught
it and he was going to cook it.' So -- we wished him well and
let him go about his business.
Sure enough, at supper he did cook it and started
eating it, saying it was not too bad. He coaxed all of us but Bill to
taste a tiny bit of it -- and though I wouldn't want to eat it as a meal, it was
not as bad as I had expected.
Soon, we doused the fire and lantern and had been in our tents about 20 minutes when one of the larger owls decided to come back and look for that sassy little thing that had answered his calls. He lit in a tree right above our tents and must have been an old grandpa for he was one of the loudest darn owls in this world. Could be he wanted to tell the world that he didn't like us there disrupting his search for a little female, or whatever reason. I'm sure he could have been heard for miles. Have you ever had the idea of owl soup for breakfast, anyway it was going thru my mind that night as I tried to get some sleep. To make matters worse, Bill decided to again have conversation with the darn thing from inside his tent. Mac and I could have throttled him. He seemed to know that as he started laughing and soon we were all wide awake again. Mac offered to shoot "Both the darn owls" so he could get some sleep -- and Bill laughed even more. Soon we all were laughing and throwing joking barbs at each other. In the morning I made my big breakfast of bacon and eggs and hot coffee again -- but no owl soup, though it was a good idea. Mac suggested maybe next time I should put Bill in the pot with the owl. Randy agreed. (grin)
our canoes and began the final leg of our trip.
I should mention -- From Snow Hill Bridge to the St Johns is about 10 miles so we had about 7 miles to
paddle. This area the river gets wider and goes from oak
trees to cabbage palms and
then the grassy prairie of the St Johns River. Paddle
is the wrong word because it is down stream and you put the paddle in just
keep the canoe straight. When the water is down you
actually have to paddle but we were luck on this trip and as I said everything
was just right for a trip. We had planned our trip to pull
out at the fish camp at the St. Johns river and Hwy 46, and had left one of our
cars there for a shuttle. We pulled in about 3 PM and after getting something
cold from the restaurant, we were commenting on what a great little river it was
and how much we had enjoyed it. As we were loading
we got a pleasant surprise.
St. Mary's River (Florida - Georgia line) -- by Bill Logan
St. Mary's River (same) -- by Roger Thomas
New River --(Florida) by John Deppa
Amicalola River -- (Georgia) by Roger Thomas
Apalatchicola River --(Florida) by John Deppa (Not yet posted)
Taccoa River --(Georgia) by Roger Thomas
Ochlawaha River --(Central Florida) by Bill Logan
Santa Fe River --(Florida) by Bill Logan (Not yet posted)
Rock Springs Run --(Central Florida) by Bill Logan
Wekiva River -- (Central
Florida) By Bill Logan
(Not yet posted)