I slept like a rock! I don’t think I’ve ever slept so soundly in the Airstream, especially without A/C to drown out the noises of nearby campers. Juniper Springs doesn’t have hookups and the weather called for rain and cooler evenings, so our only option (aside from lugging a generator) was to leave the windows open. I think the light rain lulled me to sleep and the temperature was perfect, somewhere in the low 60s.
Our second day started bright and early with a walk around the campground, down the trail to Fern Hammock Springs where we saw a small alligator, and a quick dip in Juniper Springs, followed by breakfast burritos. We wanted to fit a lot of exploring and paddling into this short trip, so before we left, I prepped all our food and pre-cooked breakfast burritos with bacon, egg and cheese and wrapped them in foil so we could quickly heat them up on our propane camp grill and go. They were yummy!
After breakfast, we loaded the canoe, stand up paddleboard on top and pups and headed to Salt Springs, about 20 minutes from camp. We went to the marina, paid the $5 recreation fee, and got the pups in the canoe with Justin and me on my SUP. It was Remington and Jackson’s first canoe trip and it took them a minute to get their “sea legs” in such a tiny boat. They are great swimmers and they’ve been known to abandon ship, so they wear life jackets with a convenient handle on top. It makes it much easier to wrangle a 60+ lb. wet dog back into the boat.
It soon started to drizzle, the wind picked up, and we felt we had seen all there was to see, so we cut our paddle short and packed up. We weren’t that impressed with this spring from a paddling perspective, but the marina has a ramp and rents pontoon boats, canoes, kayaks and SUPs. I think the ideal mode of transportation would be to rent a pontoon boat and motor it 5 miles down the Salt Spring Creek to Lake George. You won’t hear me recommend motorized boats anywhere else in this forest, but for Salt Springs, I think it’s the best bet.
Next, we drove to Alexander Springs and learned that we couldn’t bring dogs in the park, but we could launch from the little bridge just down the road and paddle to the spring and back. The sky was getting pretty dark, so we decided to try again later in the afternoon. We stopped at a gas station fueled up the Vue, then got some Cajun boiled peanuts (Jackson’s favorite) from a roadside stand. The vendor said he loved the name of our canoe (Gator Bait) and remarked about how he had a scary run in with a gator near Alexander Springs. Note to self: stay away from the tall grass near the banks of the creek!
Back at Juniper Springs, we assembled our chicken salad sandwiches (another item I prepped ahead to allow us to maximize our time) and relaxed for a spell. The skies eventually lightened up a bit, so we loaded up the pups and headed for Alexander Springs.
We launched the canoe beside the bridge and paddled up Alexander Creek toward the headsprings through dense water lotus, bird watching along the way. The dogs really seemed to enjoy the sights and everyone who paddled by got a kick out of the paddling dogs with life jackets. We stopped for a refreshment break at the spring, just as another canoe capsized. We chuckled at the husband and wife scrambling to get their belongings back in their rental canoe. There wasn’t much we could do but paddle back. We couldn’t take the canoe out and walk around the park because dogs aren’t allowed. It was a short and sweet paddle, about a mile in each direction. The light current made for an easy return paddle. We loaded the canoe and headed back to camp.
Our friends arrived and started setting up their campsites while we got our fire started. Everyone came over to our camp and we had a fabulous potluck dinner. We feasted on Brie fondue with French bread, barbecue chicken, fire roasted veggies and fresh corn on the cob. For dessert, we had s’mores and roasted marshmallow Peeps - after all, it was Easter weekend! I’m not a fan of “raw” Peeps, but they are fabulous over the fire because the sugar caramelizes – just like crème brulee.
We lounged by the fire for a while, and then the lightening bugs came out and gave us a show. It was the perfect ending to our day. Again, I slept so deep; I didn’t even notice the downpour in the middle of the night.
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