Florida Travel~St. Augustine

27 Jun

A Time to Live

Melody Hendrix

 

St Augustine. This is one of my favorite places for photography.

 

https://www.visitstaugustine.com/venue/visitor-information-center

 

Go to the visitor center when you get there or online and make your plans for the day. It will save you a lot of walking and help you discover the tours and unique places and restaurants to visit. I recommendthat you get the trolly for the day. It’s a good way to get around. You cannot see everything in one day.

 

 

There is so much amazing history here.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_St._Augustine,_Florida

 

 

 

 

Painted ceiling and dome inside Flagler College

 

There are other great places in the area too, like the St Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park.

 

https://www.alligatorfarm.com/

 

If you go in the spring you can get close up images of nesting birds and their young. You can safely get very close ups of alligators and other wildlife.

 

 

The beaches in St augustine are quite beautiful.

 

There are many nice hotels to stay in right on the beach or you can camp at Anastasia State Park. The beach and sand dunes are gorgeous

 

 

and be sure to visit the lighthouse and museum.

 

https://www.floridastateparks.org/park/anastasia

http://www.staugustinelighthouse.org/

Back on the road again, we will be heading west across north Florida to the Suwannee River.

 

 

Our stop is a quaint resort I have gone to for years. There are many nice places to stay, but River Rendezvous is very special to me.

http://www.suwanneeriverrendezvous.com/

 

It is now a wonderful rustic family resort right on the Suwannee, but when I stayed there many years ago it was a resort for scuba divers.

You see this area of north Florida is the cave diving capital of the world because of an extensive cave system of porous marine limestone. The underground limestone has miles of “Karst” cave formations where cool crystal clear water flows from the Floridan Aquifer through numerous springs into majestic Suwannee River.

 

and other scenic rivers and streams.

In my younger, adventurous days I came here many times to scuba dive in these amazing caves. It was thrilling.

I would like to describe this adventure to you and take you with me. It’s an experience most people have never lived.

It was so long ago that I do not have pictures to share unfortunately.

There are many beautiful springs in this area. Peacock Springs is one of the popular springs and is now a state park.  The link below shows fantastic pictures of the springs and underwater caves.

https://www.floridastateparks.org/photo-gallery/peacock-springs

Check out those pictures, then let’s go diving. Are you ready?

First we put on our wet suits and gear in the parking area and walk down very uneven ground to get to the waters entrance. This is most exhausting from the heat, struggling to get into your wetsuit and the weight of the tank and equipment. Before we go in, everyone must spend time checking each others equipment. You don’t want anything to go wrong down there. Safety is top importance. Once you make it in the water, the 72 degree water rushes in your wet suit. It is really cold at first, but will warm and insulate you the rest of the time. We put on our mask and fins, regulator in our mouth and lower ourselves into the crystal clear water. Looking around you are mezmerized by the fish, rocks, vegetation and sunlight making the water sparkle. You feel that you are totally weightless and have a sense of flying. You see the cavern entrance and go inside. You stop and look around. It is dark, but is illuminated by the light streaming in from the entrance. Fish are swimming in the sunlight outside and inside around you. The plants are undilating from the current of water flow from the cave. The water is gently flowing across your skin. It’s a beautiful sight and you are flying around in it. Your dive buddy signals to head inside the cave tunnel and attaches his line to a connection in the rock.

This line is life or death. It goes with you and you follow it back out. It is totally dark ahead. You turn on your flash lights and you can see the porous limestone, perhaps an albino shrimp or catfish. You may even see an eel laying on the rocks. The whole area looks like honeycombs as you fly through the cave tunnel. At some points along the way, you are only feet from the surface and you become lighter, other times you are deep and a great distance from the surface and you become heavy due to the pressure. You adjust your boyancy and continue. Sometimes the tunnel opens up to a large room. The tunnel  ends and before you realize it, you are past it and you’re looking down 50 feet below you. Like a cartoon charactor that runs off a cliff and realized they are suspended in mid air. It’s a frightening feeling at first. But then, it is so cool to be hovering in space. The water is perfectly clear and it looks like air.

You turn to go back and it’s hard to tell where you came in, openings in the honeycomb all look the same. Oh, but you have the line to guide you back.

The cave is full of silt. Like years of dust on the floor. Once we took a side trip off the main tunnel. We got too close to the floor and stirred the silt with the kick of a fin. In seconds, we could no longer see our hands in front of our face. Because we were weightless, we didn’t even know if we were upside down or not. Luckily, we had our hands on the line and knew it led out. I was following the line out, totally blind, I hit a rock. The line had slipped under a large rock and it took me a while to figure out how to get around it. This was a dangerous moment, but thank the Lord, we came out ok.

Cave diving is extreme, but if you would like to experience it in a better way, try Snuba. Dive in the Keys the easy way. I have tried this and it is truly the way to enjoy the liquid world underwater.

https://www.snuba.com/the-florida-keys/

Please join me next week to a trip to Panama City Beach

 

 

 

 

 

I am retired and enjoying life. My hobbies are my 5 grandchildren, son and daughter, and my loving husband. I am a photographer and extreme nature lover. I love spending time in my garden or in the wilderness connected to God my Creator.
Melody

One Response to “Florida Travel~St. Augustine”

  1. Onisha Ellis June 29, 2017 at 3:54 pm #

    St. Augustine is one of my favorite places in Florida. Your photos and descriptions are wonderful.

    Liked by 1 person

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