Sunday, April 14, 2013

Blue Springs State Park

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This is Skylar 
1988 Vanagon Deluxe

We also have 1979, 1978, 1977 
All are Westfalia Deluxe.

All of the rental sleeper vans are equipped with everything you need for camping.


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My renters have visited this park in the past, but I never have.  It is my goal to visit every state, federal, and county park in Floirda and share my experience.  There is so much to see in Florida other than the wonderful beaches.  I am not sure why it took me so long to make it to Blue Springs, but I will be back!!!  


I recommend the Florida State Parks Facebook page.  It is a great source of information on events and activities to get you out and enjoy the Real Florida.   

I had to snap this shot.  Seeing an over sized rubber duck floating down the springs made me smile :)


 While surfing facebook I came across a post with a tree with lights.  Come to find out, it is fireflies, not lights.  Fireflies put on a show for a few weeks every year at Blue Springs.  

When I was a child we called them lighting bugs.  These fireflies seem to be quicker and flash much quicker than I remember.  Unfortunately we do not have them in St Petersburg.  It is a vicious cycle that starts with spraying for mosquitoes  that is harmful in every way.

We went to the white house towards the canoe launch parking lot right before dusk.  We seen a few, but it was not until we started walking around that we could see thousands all through the woods.  It was mothers natures light show and it was amazing!


I will never forget this experience and hope to go back next year during mating season to see it again!  With a great breeze blowing and the moon shining on the water, fireflies aka lighting bugs all around you was a priceless moment. 








The campsites differ.  The majority seemed sunny, with a few shady ones.   Some where on top of a hill (uncommon for Florida) and others slopping down.  The sites were small, but we found #40 to be large with nice shade and great trees.  



Great trail that leads to the bathrooms.  The trails also lead to a paved trail that leads to the springs.  It is nice to walk in the woods and not on the paved street.

I seen my first Florida Scrub Jay!  Our campsite was full of beautiful birds.  The Florida Scrub Jay is found only in Florida scrub habitat.  He seemed, brave and landed right next to the dogs.  It seems he was interested in their food.  

If I had to pick one word other than springs to describe this park, it would be trails.  I love this park!  It has huge oaks, pines,  palm trees, with palmetto palms and huge vines hanging all thru the jungle.  It seems  the only thing missing is Tarzan and the monkeys!









Here is a great picture of an oak tree and palm grown together.  IT looks like the oak tree has an arm around the palm tree. 









I have never seen an arm grown out and wrapped around a tree.  It's obvious the oak tree was here first. 












After walking the trail to the springs, you come out to a large section of the Blue Springs.  To the left they had a area roped off for  Manatees.  We did not see any, but our neighbor had a story about seeing a Manatee the day before.  He seen one, touched it, which is a huge NO at this park!  If you want to swim and touch a manatee, you will need to travel to Crystal Springs for this encounter.





The boardwalk is the length of Blue Springs Run until it pours into the St John's River.  If you take the board walk to the right it will take you up to a shallow area where you can walk to the water head.  Or continue you hike to view the springs head without getting wet.

If you follow the path to the left you will follow the spring run with several look out with benches.  It pass the white house and ends at the canoe launch on the St John's River.




 I waded up the river and seen how shallow and gorgeous it was and Mike sat on the stairs




Mike FINALLY got in.  I found it refreshing!  



These waters are warm compared to the deeper springs.  Being that it is March, we usually wait until the middle of summer when the ocean waters turn warm and the days are hot to enjoy these cool springs.  Living in Florida 80 degrees is the water that feel great to us...




The springs are amazing and on the warmer side of spring water.  The spring run is shallow and you can walk all the way to the trail head.  The water is gorgeous and clear.




You can see how shallow it was.  We did not bring our snorkeling gear on this trip, but I will next time.  It looks like it would be a great place to find fossils.  You can see the boardwalk on top of bank above the springs.

The clear cool shallow water of Blue Springs.

There were many really cool places to walk and explore.  But keep in mind you need shoes!



It has a sand and rock bottom, so I suggest bring a pair of shoes.  My Kinos had to go in the water, but they are handmade in Key West and made out of leather, so they can take it!
 Above is a photo from the canoe launch of the St John's River
Lots of vultures hanging around the river!

 Blue Springs Run before it flows into the St John River
 Talk about river monsters!  This is the end of a palm tree that has fallen into the water.  Looks like something from the movie tremors!

I also enjoy watching the moss blow in the wind.


I could lay here all day looking up at the these old oak and cedar trees with the moss blowing in the wind.

 The White House was home to the Thursbys  family.  At first we assumed it was a story of a rich family living in a huge plantation home, but the history is of great hard ship of survival and living off the land.
Wow, what a wonderful place to live!  But they had it harder than we could image.  

In 1856 Lewis Peach Thursbys moved with his wife Mary Ann and daughter Mary Alice arrived by steamboat from Brooklyn, New York.  They purchased 133 acres and a three bedroom log cabin for four hundred dollars.  For several years they lived in the log cabin and in a more rustic they built during the construction of the house.
1872 Construction began on a new house.  The house was constructed of Georgia Yellow Pine and roofed with hand-split cypress shingles.  Each floor had four rooms that open into a central breeze room.  The kitchen was built on the site of the original log cabin.  The house was built onto of a large indian midden which, when excavated revealed an abundance of Indian cultural artifacts. 


 1880 The Landing was built and Blue Springs became a regular posted stop between Jacksonville and enterprise.
1880's five steamboats a day were running, many stopping at Blue Springs for both fright and tour off at the landing for fright and tourist.
1881 Mule drawn railroad was built from Orange City to Blue Spring linked grooves in Orange City to the Landing.
1886 A larger track was built to replace the primitive one, and the Landing at Blue Springs was connected to the East Coast Railroad.  As time passed the railroad took over passengers and freight.
1910 The Landings were no longer a stop and only four steamboats stopped per week.
 Access of the tour is only the bottom floor.

 The view from the  kitchen window looking out over the lawn towards the springs.

 

Above is the layout of the land.  It shows an orange groove, which was destroyed in the freeze of 1895.

This is Mary Ann Thursby.  She like many great family was the glue that kept this family together.  She gave birth to 10 kids, 3 which died at birth.  She lost her 4th child while he was playing under the porch he was bitten by a rattle snake.  
 Robert Thursby died after he was bitten by a rattle snake while playing under the porch.

This old oak was hollow and looked burned with a tree growing up its side.  Image how much history this tree has seen.

'The New House' of the Thursby Family


The banks of Blue Springs Run

 Blue Springs Run overlook hold a manatee that was donated from one of our local beach hotels the Siesta, which is Beach front on St Pete Beach.


One of the over looks on the Blue Springs Run.

Male Pileated Woodpecker 


The banks of the St Johns River where Blue Springs Run ends.  This beach is right past the canoe launch.