During my first paddling adventure at Silver Springs I was amazed at the variety of wildlife viewable from my kayak. Many species of birds could be seen along the jungle like shoreline as well as flying across the beautiful, crystal clear water. And there were numerous alligators and turtles basking in the sun on a log or downed tree. But the animal I found most fascinating was the monkey. Watching them scrambling around on the ground or jumping from limb to limb in the tree tops was totally unexpected. I couldn’t wait to get a nice photo of a monkey playing in the wild! But it never happened. I diligently looked as I paddled the river but, although other kayakers kept saying there was a large group just around the next corner, I never found them.
So, as we launched again this year for another float down this beautiful river, once again I was hoping for that one special opportunity for a great photo of a monkey. An hour or so into our journey we spotted a couple of monkeys playing in a thicket of trees close to the water. But no good photo opportunities. Then there were several more playing about 20 yards into the woods but again no good photo available. Another hour passes and I continue to see birds, alligators, turtles and even a large manatee, but no monkey. Suddenly, there it is, the perfect shot! A beautiful small monkey sitting on a large log just a few feet from the water’s edge. As I slowly paddled closer and began fumbling around with my iPhone camera, safely enclosed in its water proof case, my perfect photo jumped off the log and ran into the woods. I watched as he began playing with some friends just out of range. I sat for several minutes and waited, hoping for his return, but it didn’t happen.
Over the years I’ve learned there are situations I can’t control. There are problems I can’t fix. There are desires I can’t fulfill regardless of how hard I try. During these times I’ve learned to rely on God’s help. Some people think I’m crazy while others have no doubt. But years of experience has taught me there is no prayer too trivial if it’s not contrary to God’s will or in conflict with my best interest. Just as I take delight in doing fun things for my grandkids, I believe God takes delight in doing the same for me. So, as I have often done in the past when I needed help, I prayed, “Lord, I would really like to get a good picture of a monkey.” And then I began to wait, and wait, and wait. Nothing. Now I’m thinking I need to change locations and begin to paddle back away from the bank. I notice a downed tree and think what a nice place that would be for a picture. Then I notice movement in some brush behind a tree. As I eagerly watch I see a monkey moving around and slowly coming my way. He sees me and stops. Starts again, looks at me and stops again. I’m getting a little nervous. He walks behind a tree and climbs upon the downed tree in front of me. I get my camera ready. He walks out on the downed tree and stops right in front of me and poses for a photo. I oblige him and snap a couple of photos. He looks the other way and I snap a couple more. He then turns around and poses one more time. Snap-Snap-Snap. He casually walks back, jumps down to the ground and walks off into the woods. Out of sight. After saying, “Thank you Lord!!!” I paddle back out into the river and start paddling hard to catch up with my group which by now is way ahead of me. No one else in my group saw this monkey. But they were amazed, as was I, with the photos he made possible. I refer to this kind of incident as a “God Thing”. And I refer to the monkey as, you guessed it, “God’s Monkey”.
Last week I once again had the privilege of going to Florida
for a few days to enjoy kayaking on crystal clear springs and cycling some beautiful
rail trails. It was another amazing trip with 19 other fun loving, adventurous souls.
Life can be so much fun when your camping, eating and playing outdoors with a
bunch of people who know how to have a good time. Some camped at the beautiful
Silver Springs Campground and the Ichetucknee Family Campground. Others chose a
nearby motel or B&B. I did both, camping two nights and staying for three
nights at an Airbnb ran by a most fascinating lady. She had traveled to 80 different
countries and had countless stories to keep one entertained. While there I met
a lady from Minnesota, a man from Michigan, another lady from Canada, a couple
from Paris and a couple from New York. It was a good experience.
The “Pungo Paddlers” (our groups official name) chose Silver
Springs for our first day’s paddle. This is a beautiful place with much
wildlife such as birds, alligators, monkeys, snakes and I’m sure others that I
just didn’t see. Our second day was on the beautiful Weeki Wachee Springs. This
river has a nice current with lots of turns thru some dense wooded areas before
encountering some neat water front cabins and homes along the west end. There
is not as much wildlife to see but you’re almost certain to see some large
manatees. The third day we took on the Juniper Run beginning at Juniper Springs
SP. When I’m paddling here, I feel as if I’m in a jungle. It is very narrow
with lots of twists and turns and lots of large vegetation and trees extending
into and across the water way. It is very common to get entangled in bushes or
caught on a downed tree as you paddle. There is even a short little rapids area
where one is almost certain to get a little water in your boat. This area had
been closed for 3 weeks before we got there due to excessive bear activity. Day
four took us to the Ichetucknee River beginning at Ichetucknee Springs SP. This
is another beautiful float on crystal clear water which maintains a year round temperature
of 72 degrees making it a popular tubing site. One is also very likely to see
manatees on this river as well as lots of big fish swimming around. And I guarantee
you’ll see hundreds and hundreds of large turtles. It isn’t unusual to see 10
or more lined up on a log. It seemed that each spring/river had its own
personality but each shared in having crystal clear water and beautiful
surroundings. They all make for some great adventures.
A few of us got in some cycling as well as paddling. Some
rode the Santos Trail. I chose to ride the Withlacoochee Bay Trail and the Dunnellon
Trail. They were all paved trails thru the woods or along the water making for
some most enjoyable riding.
Overall it was another great week for the Pungo Paddlers. A
special thanks goes to Dennis and Nancy for planning, coordinating and serving
as leaders for our adventure. Well done! Looking forward to our next outing.
Dear Mom, Our new scoutmaster, Uncle Felix, told us all to write to our parents in case you saw the flood on TV and became worried. We are OK. Only 1 of our tents and 2 sleeping bags got washed away. Luckily, none of us got drowned because we were all up on the mountain looking for Todd when it happened. Oh yes, please call aunt Gwen and tell her Todd is OK. He can’t write because of the cast. I got to ride in one of the search & rescue jeeps. It was neat. We never would have found Todd in the dark if it hadn’t been for the lightning. Uncle Felix got mad at Todd for going on a hike alone without telling anyone. Todd said he did tell him, but it was during the fire so he probably didn’t hear him. Did you know that if you pour gas on a fire, the gas can will blow up? The wet wood still didn’t burn, but one of our tents did, also some of our clothes. Casey is going to look weird until his hair grows back. We will be home on Saturday if Uncle Felix gets the station wagon fixed. It wasn’t his fault about the wreck. The brakes worked OK when we left. Uncle Felix said when a car is that old you have to expect something to break down; that’s probably why he can’t get insurance on it. We think it’s a neat old station wagon. And he doesn’t care if we get it dirty. And if it’s hot, sometimes he lets us ride on the tailgate. It gets pretty hot with 10 people in a car. He let us take turns riding in the trailer until the highway patrolman stopped and talked to us. Uncle Felix is a neat guy. Don’t worry, he is a good driver. In fact, he is teaching Bart how to drive. But he only lets him drive on the mountain roads where there ain’t any traffic. All we ever see up there are logging trucks. This morning all of the guys were diving off the rocks and swimming out in the lake. Uncle Felix wouldn’t let me because I can’t swim and Todd was afraid he would sink because of his cast, so he let us take the canoe across the lake and back. It was great. You can still see some of the trees under the water from the flood. Uncle Felix says he is kind of new at this scoutmaster stuff but he isn’t crabby like some scoutmasters. He didn’t even get mad because we forgot our life jackets. He has to spend a lot of time working on the car so we are trying not to cause him any trouble. Guess what? We have all passed our first aid test and got our merit badges. When Bart dove in the lake and cut his arm, we got to see how a tourniquet works. Also Casey and I threw up. Uncle Felix said it was probably just a little food poisoning from the leftover chicken. He said they got sick that way sometimes with the food they ate in the military. I’m so glad he got out and became our scoutmaster. He said he sure figured out how to get things done better while he was in there. I have to go now. We are going into town to mail our letters and buy some more bullets. Don’t worry about anything. We are fine.
P.S. How long has it been since I had a tetanus shot?