We love Florida Springs Part 2

27 Feb

 A Slice of Life

 Bill Lites


The Florida natural springs are some of the most beautiful and peaceful places I have ever experienced.  Floating down a quiet, cool, spring run on an inner tube in the middle of a hot and humid Florida day is one of the best stress relievers I can think of.  You can leave all your worries and cares back at the job and just lay there and drink in nature in all its glory.



If it gets too hot for you, all you have to do is drop over the side into the water and cool off.  We found that snorkeling was another great way to explore the natural beauty of the springs.  A person can float along with the current and be surrounded with some of the most beautiful underwater scenes of plant life and fish.  Snorkeling also allows you to explore the spring “Boil” at the source of most of the springs.



By far our favorite Florida spring is Ponce de Leon Springs located about 10 miles North of Deland, Florida.  This spring is rumored to have been visited and used by ancestors of the Seminole Indians as long as 6000 years ago.  In the early 1500’s history tells us that the Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de Leon went searching for what the local Indians called their “magical spring waters” and he called the “Fountain of Youth.”



In the early 1800’s, after the U.S. purchased Florida from Spain, central Florida was settled by sugar cane and citrus growers.  It was during this period that a sugar mill was built at the spring for grinding sugar cane.  The original sugar mill was destroyed and restored at least two times during the late 1800s and now houses the famous Old Sugar Mill Restaurant.



Designed around the rustic mill equipment, you sit at a table with a griddle in the middle, and cook your own meal.  There are eggs, bacon and sausage of course, but the specialty of the house are the pitchers of stone ground 5-grain and unbleached white batter for you to cook your pancakes.   You can spruce up your pancakes with a variety of items including blueberries, pecans, peanut butter and even chocolate chips.  Top that off with some local maple syrup, honey or molasses and you have a breakfast fit for a king.  There is also French toast and several homemade breads available.



When we first started camping at Ponce de Leon springs, it was privately owned, very primitive and had many beautiful campsites.  It was less crowded and more restful than most of the larger springs and soon became our favorite weekend retreat.  We usually tried to keep our tent camper as open as possible to enjoy the cool spring surroundings.  The screen windows were at both ends of our pullout bed, so our heads were as close to the out-of-doors as we could get and still keep the insects out.  On one occasion, in the middle of the night, I was awakened from a deep sleep by what sounded like heavy breathing.  I couldn’t imagine what in the world could be making that kind of sound.  When I raised up on my elbow to look through the screen window, I almost had a heart attack.  Right there, not an inch away from my nose, was a very large horse sniffing me through the screen!   I almost jumped clear out of the bed!  “Whoa!  Where did you come from?”  I said.  Then, with heart pounding, and as calmly as I could manage, I told the horse to take it easy, and go find another place to sleep, as all the beds in our camper were taken.



Now for those of you who don’t like to get wet, Silver Springs near Ocala, Florida is the largest of the 33 Florida natural springs, gushing 500 Million gallons of clear fresh spring water per day. They feature great glass bottom boat cruises, botanical gardens, wildlife exhibits as well as many other activities.



Try a Florida springs Day Park or camping sometime–I think you’ll like it.

—–The End—–

2 Responses to “We love Florida Springs Part 2”

  1. oldthingsrnew February 27, 2013 at 11:59 am #

    I have had a lot of fun with my children at theme parks but the times we remember the most are those spent camping and hiking. I wouldn’t trade them for anything.


  2. Anonymous February 27, 2013 at 9:18 am #

    I loved your description of the Florida Springs we’ve been to, Bill, but you forgot to mention that we were so inpired by the springs that we started writing novels about them. Sacred Spring is available on Amazon and soon Living Spring will be too. We tried to put as much of that beauty and peace into them as you did into your blog, but still there are exciting and curious things for our characters to go through and to accomplish..


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