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June 30, 2012

Tour de Flood

by Brendan

Sam and I went kayaking today — well, almost.  There was no possibility of kayaking on the Santa Fe or Suwannee Rivers: flood stage.  So we decided, boats on the roof, that we’d check out all the flooded river put-in points that for the past 4-5 months we’ve seen draining and draining, drying up in a scary way.

We started in High Springs, at the Highway 441 boat ramp.  There were police blockades on the road, making sure no one drove into the river, I guess, so we parked and walked up, into a small crowd of people just watching and marveling at how quickly the drought had turned into a flood (courtesy of Sub-Tropical Depression Debby).

Flood @ Three Rivers Estates

Got to talking to folks about the water level, and then we took off across High Springs to the Highway 27 boat ramp, appreciating how the water was almost up to the bridge.  We investigated, talked to more folks, and determined that there was maybe enough room between the river and the bridge for a kayak — but not with anyone in it.

Then onto Rum Island, where two Florida Wildlife Commission cops in a powerboat had pulled a kayaker off the water for safety’s sake (we talked to the kayaker, and he was a little crazy).

Rum Island, FWC boat, John’s kayak

Mr. Kayaker, whose name was John, told Sam and me that he’d put into the river at the Highway 27 boat ramp, but DOWNSTREAM from the bridge, of course — couldn’t have got him and his boat under  the bridge.

Next stop Hollingsworth Landing (under water). A sheriff deputy asked us, “Are those y’all’s kayaks?”

“Yes.”

“You’re not planning on taking them into the water, are you?”

“No, we’re only 68% crazy.”  The deputy seemed satisfied, allowing that there were plenty of people crazy enough to go on the water even at the dangerous-looking flood stage.  I wished him a quiet day, and he ruefully said he didn’t think that would happen.

Then on to Santa Fe River Park, Poe Springs, and O’Leno State Park.  More of the same, with  interesting conversations galore. Everywhere we went was like a party, people coming out in force to see the river, to see the extent of the disaster.  Santa Fe River flood stage Woodstock (without the music, of course), a cultural event I’m glad I didn’t miss.

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