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Saturday, April 23, 2011

Rainbow River

River Otter at the Rainbow River

Sometimes things do not work as you expect. Other times...things do not work as you expect. I am in a slump right now, like 0 for 12 or something like that. Wanted to take my wife to a new place, a place that has been in my bucket list for a while. Well, I have bad news and good news. The good news is that I kayaked Rainbow River. Bad news is that wifey stayed at home for the second time in three weeks. I hope there is no subliminal message there. I enjoy kayaking with her. The Rainbow River is a place like no other I have been before. Is a mixture of Silver with Hillsborough hybrid. It has the crystal clear waters of the Silver River with a Hillsborough River set up. It also has the characteristic that there are homes all the way up the river almost to the Rainbow Springs State Park. This place is amazing. Period. It is an example of how a community can come together and work toward a common goal. Will let you learn a bit more about this. Just click on the link Rainbow River

Put In\Take Out: Do you remember that I mention in the first paragraph that more than often things do not work the way you expect? As I do before paddling in a new place, studied reports on Rainbow River the Friday night. It is always good to know what to expect and maybe learn some details that can make your paddle trip a boost or a bust. From the research it was decided to put in, and take out, in the CR484 bridge over the Rainbow River. That was Plan A. But when I arrived at the area found it closed because a contractor is working on it, hopefully an improvement. Now what? Remembered a report saying that you can put in at the Dunnelon City Hall and you can park in their parking lot during the weekends. Plan B just out of the blue. So that was my Put In\Take Out today. The Dunnelon City Hall is located inmediately after crossing the bridge on US41 over the Whitlacoochee River. It is more a boat ramp but there is room to the side for a kayak/canoe. Also, there are restrooms in the facility. In the water at 8:45. 

View From the Withlacoochee River
 The change in the put in caused a little concern. Since the other put in is right on the Rainbow River I did not think too much about finding it. Now the put in is the Withlacoochee River and was not sure if I was going to find the Rainbow or how far it was from the put in. With that in the back of my mind started my solo expedition. Just followed my instincts...OK...I made that one up...just follow the logic and paddled to the East hoping to find a spot when clear water joins murky water and then go in the direction the clear water comes from. Sounded like a plan to me but you already know what is going on with me and my plans. Did not take too much time. I was paddling looking ahead trying to find a mouth of a river but when I looked to the water it was clear already. OK...What did I miss? A sign saying Rainbow River. That is what I missed. It was right after the view showed on the pic. Felt like an idiot, a happy one but an idiot anyways. I was on my way up the Rainbow River. Time to enjoy the ride!!!!!!

Wood Ducks
 A couple of wood ducks were on the river. It is funny; after barely seeing this beautiful ducks on my previous trips then this is the third time in the last four I see them. Is not kayaking interesting? It is like a box of Cracker Jacks. You never know what is inside the box. Not really. You always have an idea of what to expect. For example, I did read that there are many otters in the Rainbow River. So, when I saw three swimming was not a surprise. It was the first out of four otter sightings in the day. In three of those there were at least two otters. That encounter with the otters distracted me for a while. I wished my wife was there. It is a pain in the eye to paddle, track the otters, once you find them point the camea...dang it...they went down...there they are...shoot a pic...trash...gotta try again...You already got the idea right? It took me like more than 15 minutes to finally get a pic that I thought was good. When saw it at home was not too excited about it. Anyways, here it is. Just for the effort. Remember that it was taken by yours trully and not my wife so you can blame me with no mercy.

Otter Trio in the Rainbow River
Red Shouldered Hawk
The river was busy today. Kayakers and motor boats by the dozen. Have to say that all the boats were following the No Wake/ Iddle Speed rule. When I reached the CR484 bridge it was when it got crowded. My timing was horrible. A group of maybe 7 kayakers was puting in. Tried to leave them behind but I am not a fast paddler. Also it is very hard to leave people behind you if you stop to take pics. Spotted a Snowy Egret and stopped for pics. All the paddlers that I feft behind did catch me up. This time the decission was to let them go way ahead. When a Red Bellied Woodpecker and a Red Shouldered Hawk appeared into the scene it was an easy and great decission.  It was very cool to see the woodpeckers in their...nest(???) or whatever is called the little hole on the palm tree where the female was. The male had to leave in a hurry when the red shouldered hawk came screaming and perched just in top of where the female was nesting. After a tense few minutes the raptor left the same way it came: screaming. Mr. Woodpecker came back home and Mrs. Woodpecker was more than happy the let him know how scary was that close encounter with the hawk. Like he did not know. He had to fly for his life lady!!!!!!!

By the time I was done with the woodpecker vs hawk drama the armada of kayaks was way ahead of me. But that was the end of the good news. Another group of kayakers caught me. Paddled in front of them for a while until stopped to shoot pics at nesting cormorants. Then another group caught me. Let them go ahead and a couple caught me at that time. Two vs Seven? I can handle that, or at least that is what I thought. Think again. The lady was talking all the time...correction...yelling all the time. I ended up doing the same thing and letting them go way ahead. Took a pic break because the one and only gator I saw and lost them. Then, after a few minutes of enjoying the river found the first group of tubers. The Rainbow River is a very popular tubing area and you can imagine how was it a Saturday. To be honest I was counting on a not so crowded river. Wrong again. There were tubers all over the place. A few of them too close to the vegetation, something I would not do but...that is me.

In front of KP Hole, a Marion County Park, it was chaos. Kayakers and tubers all over the river. Two otters managed to be in the east bank in the middle of that mess. Looks like they are used to people. This time I got a decent pic, the one I used for the opening. Since we are talking about otters it is a good time to Did You Know That? Here we go!!!!!!

Did you Know That? 
 River otters can hold their breath for up to 8 minutes. Unike their cousins, the sea otters, the river otters can walk on land where they spent two thirds of their time. The river otter can swim up to six miles per hour on the surface and 3 to 4 miles per hour below the surface. They have some kind of special lense that helps them for underwater vision and normally are nearsighted above water. If you see two otters and one is much larger than the other, the bigger one is the male, which is about 17% bigger than the female. River otters use the sound, touch and smell to comunicate with each other. Finally they are very clean. Always clean themselves after having a meal.

It was almost 1:00PM when I arrived at the Rainbow Springs State Park. Docked my kayak, paid the $2 .00 fee and streched my legs for a a few minutes. Sat down in a bench near where you leave the kayaks and was having a sandwich when a nice couple came by. They live in the area and have seen the ups and downs of the park. She told me about the years when they had a zoo there, how the state bought the property from a developer that wanted to build golf courses and hotels in the area and how the community joined forces to rescue the park. Most of the contruction in the park was done by volunteers. Way to go!!!!! After talking with the couple took a walk to the Seminole Falls. A wedding ceremony was taking place in the deck so skipped it and kept walking. When I saw my watch it was almost 2:00PM and decided it was time to start my return trip. Stopped to shoot a pic at the waterfalls.
Rainbow River State Park swimming area

Here are the pics of the wildlife I saw on this paddle:



Nesting Cormorant

Blending In Great Blue Heron

Great Egret

Green Heron

Carolina Gren



Little Blue Heron


Red Bellied Woodpecker

Red Shouldered Hawk

Snowy Egret

Tri Colored Heron


Wood Duck

Here is the link to the whole album Rainbow River Slideshow

Thanks for reading and see you next weekend to share the Views From Our Kayak

Seminole Falls at Rainbow Springs State Park


  1. What kind of camera to do use? I'm in the market for one, and I like your photos. It's waterproof, at least a little, right?

  2. The underwater camera we use is the Olympus Tough 6020, 14MP and 5X optical zoom. Now, the other one, our work horse, is the Olympus SP800UZ. This one it is not waterproof. 18MP and 30X optical zoom.

  3. Thanks Luis. I looked at the Tough, the Canon D10 was rated higher. But I had to order the D10, no local stores have it. Impatient guy that I am, it was either the Tough or Fuji XP at Best Buy. Fuji seemed better. Now having done my research, all underwater camera don't have more than 5x zoom. Being used to 12X to get the eagles in the trees, I'll go back to a Canon Powershot in an underwater case.

  4. I think you did the right thing. That was the reason we went for the SP800UZ after we bought the Tough 6020. I was not happy with the zoom power.