Dave's Yak Tales

Cedar Key Sunset

Friday, February 25, 2011

Juniper Creek

I had some vacation time, so instead of working half a day Thursday, rushing to see the Discovery launch, which could have been scrubbed, and working a half day Saturday, I decided to take Thursday and Friday off.  That way, we, John H. and I, could see the Space Shuttle if it was rescheduled, or embark on another adventure.  As you know, the launch was a rousing success, so of we went to the Ocala National Forest.  First stop, Juniper Spring Recreation Area.  Rather, second stop.  Stopped at the Sports Authority to buy a paddle.  My trusty Bending Branches Infusion Dream, which I bought used in March, 2005, had worn all the way through where the two halves come together.  I grabbed one of these.  Briefly thought of getting a cheaper paddle, but I want only the better (not best, I'm not rich) for my friends.
This was my first time launching from the Recreation Area. I usually paddle up Creek.  I had not paddled Juniper since November, 2009.  It's beautiful, but the people who run it are not customer service oriented.  To begin, after paying $5.50 each to enter the Rec Area, then another $12 each for the haul back fee, $35, so far, they ask for a $20 deposit. For what, we are using our own equipment?  "To make sure you come back"  It made no sense to me, either.  But I wanted to get going, so I forked over another 20.  We wheeled the yaks on carts at the canoe concession, took the carts back, and were on the Creek about noon.

Boardwalk to the launch, by John H. We launched just as a couple in a tandem was getting in. John thought we should get out ahead of them. As did I.  But, getting into the yak, I sat on the seat back, pressing it down against the seat bottom. Under mine, I could not get it in place without getting out of the yak.  So, the couple passed me, and later John. We waited for them to get further ahead before beginning our 7 mile down Creek trip.
Into the Wilderness.

Juniper is beautiful,  but not a good place to see much wildlife compared to  other locations. Maybe because even the turtles camouflage.  It can be a good place for deer. I did see 10 on a paddle once.  Just one this trip, and not a good photo.
Two paddlers with camera, and neither of us got a single bird photo.

If memory serves as I compose 3 days later, this is the only alligator we saw.  Next few pics, me, by John.

In the last photo, I'm pointing to where the new spring, which began gushing water after Tropical Storm Fay, enters the Creek.

With the additional flow, Juniper Creek flows fast and furious for twenty-five  yards or so.  I do not think I'd be able to paddle against the flow. My up Creek days may be over.

In addition to the kayaking couple, a couple in a rental canoe was on the Creek.  So few people, you'd. or I would think their might be a wading bird or two in the open section of the Creek near the HWY 19 take out. Nothing at all.  We landed a little after 3:30. The woman at the concession told me the last pickup was at 4:30.  We, and the renter's boarded the van. 
Here is where things got interesting.  The driver seemed like a nice guy.  Saw my Packer hat, said he was from New Holstein, Wisconsin. We had a nice chat.  Entering the parking lot, John said, there's our car.  He did not stop, but drove straight to the concession area.  I can understand not stopping on a crowded day.  But with one other couple, he couldn't stop to save us carrying our kayaks?  Does working at Juniper Creek Recreation Area even turn friendly Badgers into uncaring zombies?  Oh, well.  We carried th yaks to John's van, then I went to the concession.  Which was closed!  Unfrapping believable.  Of course, no one was around.  Having dealt with the Rec Area workers before, I resigned myself to having a swim and dealing with it later.

I got out, and John was gone.  Turned out he had gone to the gate to ask about the $20 deposit.  Neither the young lady at the gate, nor her supervisor could give him an answer as to why a deposit is required for a trip you have already paid for.  I know.  They are figure a certain percentage of people will forget about the deposit and pocket it themselves.  Not having the receipt, John did not get the money back.  I did on our way out. Walked, in. smiled, and said, "I'm Mr. Cannon, here for my so called deposit" "I've been gone thre days and had to come back to this"    Gee, what ever happened to, "I'm sorry for the confusion, Mr. Cannon, we will try to provide better service next time."  As we left, I saw the gentleman who has ot be the supervisor.  The same blowhard who once told me I could not paddle up stream.  Something an actual Dept. of Interior representative told me was untrue.  A private concession runs the Recreation Area.  So much for the canard of private business being more efficent than the government.   I do plan on writing the powers that be about this deposit scam.  But first, I have a 3 days of Yak Tales to complete.

I had found, and John booked, a cottage at the Salt Springs Resort on Little Lake Kerr.

After getting groceries at the one store within 20 miles, less than a half mile from our location, we checked in, unpacked, and sat down to watch the sunset.  Hard to see behind the clouds, but that just makes good pics.
 Looking back at our cottage from the lake shore.

John, pondering, is this really February?
 Sand hill crane.  A moment later, a bald eagle flew past.  Lower and closer than the crane.  I snapped the shutter. Drat ! I had been looking at the crane shot. To photo mode, snapped again, but to late as the eagle flew past a tree and out of sight.

I learned John can cook.  Garlic steak and french fired potatoes. Don't know about the canned green beans. I did the dishes, we caught up on events, friends and family, old, and new.  Tomorrow, Saturday, I would take John to the Silver River.


Luis said...

Loyal fan waiting here. Going to guess about the number of deers you saw at Juniper Creek. Seven????

Octohawk said...

I can't believe I've never paddled Juniper... It's almost embarrassing.

Dave said...

Just sent this off to the Forest "Contact Us"

The following is from this website:
" $33 canoe rental/day
(+$2 reservation fee)
(+$20 deposit for canoe use)
If you bring your own canoe/kayak:
$6 haul-back fee (reservations a must!)

Fees are subject to change without notification."

I was charged $12 for the haul-back fee. Two of us, so it was $24. And had to pay the $20 deposit. What for, when we were using our own equipment, I have no idea. Nor could your staff give an explantion. A staff that closed the concession before our shuttle came back.

I put "Price Gouging" in the subject line.

O'Hawk, Don't tell anyone, but Rock Springs Run is much better than Juniper Creek.

Luis said...

The only time we did visit Juniper was not a nice experience. Someone threatened us with a fine if we paddled up the creek.That turned out to be a false statement by the person who said it. What is going on there?