Today had marked my second visit to Gemini Springs in the past few years. The last time out, I was visiting some friends playing flag football in the open green spaces of this park. On this October afternoon, I had searched for solitary moments for recording video and stills; however, human activity had reached a fever pitch filling the air with sounds of conversation and horse play.
Making my way to the lake and spring boil, I had run into stray squirrels going up and down the various bridges. Despite all the surrounding water and soft mud on the water’s edge, noticeably absent were mosquitoes from my previous week’s journey to Green Springs, just a few miles away.
Circling the lake, I had looked about for a slithering reptile or two. No such activity had existed to satisfy my curiosity. The only water borne creatures that had swam about, mullet and a turtle. With soft yet firm cool breezes pushing through trees and across the water’s surface, I had focused on some red and purple flowers. These blooms I had concluded wouldn’t be around much longer.
Last time leaving this park, a thunderstorm was rolling in a with palpable change of weather. With an overcast morning giving way to sunshine and blue skies, a transformation had begun.This tangible sense of nature had resurfaced with a prelude to the fall.
Gemini Springs Park is located at: 37 Dirksen Drive, DeBary
Hours: Sunrise to sunset
Gemini Springs Park (volusia.org)
During a scouting trip through the Florida Keys with a buddy, I had searched for a location for hopping into the azure blue salt water off the coast with little effort and few people. On the second day of driving southbound toward Key West, Veteran’s Memorial Park just past the Seven Mile Bridge @ Little Duck Key had provided that venue. The opportunity also had provided the chance for testing out my new GoPro3.
After clearing the Seven Mile Bridge at Little Duck Key, I had pulled into parking lot on the right accessing the now defunct bridge. Walking down the decommissioned run of the Seven Mile Bridge, I had passed some folks fishing from each side of the bridge. Before reaching the end, I had come across the dried out corpse of a moray eel. Apparently the little guy had missed the memo about hydration and sun screen. After walking down a bit further, about a good half mile, I had reached the end. At this cut off, I had a clear view of other end of the bridge no longer in service. I had thought this would be a perfect location for a photo op at dawn or dusk.
Once returning to the car from the escapade on the bridge, I walked across the road to Veteran’s Memorial Park. Entry was free with park hours dawn to dusk. The beach and shallow waters were easily accessible. On this side of the key there was decent amenities like restrooms and shaded picnic tables. If looking for a pit stop going to Key West, this had seemed an ideal location for a breather. For myself, I had fired up my GoPro3 taking a test round of footage. Despite some shaky camera work, the footage had still recorded enough material communicating the natural beauty and feel of the park.
Though a brief interlude, each location had definitely caught the spirit of the Florida Keys I had yearned for from afar. Moments in the sun that had embodied the American ideal of manifest destiny driving toward tomorrow.
Seven Mile Bridge (Wikipedia)
Heading out on State Road 40, I had passed this park a few times going to various destinations (Silver Glen Springs, Alexander Springs and Juniper Springs) in the Ocala National Forest. Heading out to Salt Springs this past Veterans’ Day, I had finally taken a stop to check out Wildcat Lake Park. After parking, I had explored the boat launch area. There, I had an unobstructed view of the wide open body of water of Wildcat Lake from a wooden pier. In the distance, one fisherman, on his boat, had waited patiently for fish to bite. For being around 9 am in the morning, on a holiday, there was very little activity, less the one visitor. Wildcat Lake had embodied the serenity and peace of rural Florida.
After taking some photos and video off the pier, I had walked up past the on-premise restrooms to check out the swimming area. Moving to the waters’ edge, the swimming area had seemed shallow and fit only for small children. Though, I had wondered how wise that might be with an alligator sign up the hill. In these shallow waters, I had seen quite a few tiny fish darting around avoiding the camera’s gaze. With the uncooperative stars, I had decided to get back in my vehicle to complete an impromptu journey to another portion of Ocala National Forest.
If you had looked for a place to picnic or fish with a great open view, take a stop. It was a good pit stop for us before heading out to Salt Springs and Silver Glen Springs.
Park fee is $3. Hours: dusk to dawn. Wildcat Lake Park had lacked an address; however, is located up US 40. The physical location is Latitude : 29.1704370217539 Longitude : -81.6276197855908.
For reference, on Veteran’s day, most national parks had offered free admission (i.e. Wildcat, Salt Springs, Silver Glen, etc..)
Wildcat Lake Park (US Forest Service)
This state park had offered about 4,000 acres for various activities from hiking, fishing and canoeing. For reference, I had not confused this land for Salt Springs in the Ocala National Forest. Visiting two entrances off US 19, hiking trails and port-o-potties had immediately been visible for any weary travelers. After making a quick visit to the northern entrance, I had ventured down to the southern entrance. Keep your eyes open, I had effortlessly driven by the southern entrance by the nearby Walmart. After parking, I had noticed surrounding acreage a recent target of controlled burns. Walking down one of the hiking trails, the park was exceptionally quiet. Upon nearing the water, I had come across some folks fishing in the salt marsh. For a quick or extended excursion, I had thought this park a great choice for avoiding the hustle of the Tampa Bay area.
Werner-Boyce Salt Springs State Park address was 9120 Old Post Rd, Port Richey, Florida. Admission was $3 for those without an annual Florida State park pass.
Werner-Boyce Salt Springs State Park (www.floridastateparks.org)