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September 14, 2012

Prairie Creek

by Brendan

There’s water in Prairie Creek.   Last time I tried to paddle it was probably in 1996 or ’97, and it was pretty much un-navigable back then and has remained so since.  But today at breakfast Rick said that he’d been over the Highway 20 bridge and there was water in Prairie Creek.   (Well, Tropical Storm Debbie, Hurricane Isaac, and some regular afternoon rains have swelled local bodies of water — it’s raining outside my window right now.) Rick and Richard couldn’t go (Rick had a work conflict, Richard thought he needed to work), but I had boats on the roof and volunteered to  check it out.

First thing is to go to Kate’s Fish Camp for their “boat ramp,” such as it is.  Kate’s is a longstanding local landmark, a rusted-vehicles–and-refrigerators-all-over-the-yard example of The Real Florida.  When I was in grad school, all visiting writers or poets who came to read their work were feted at Kate’s afterward, where we all went out for a few beers (and The Real Florida).  Kate’s today is even more dreary and busted-up than it was 25 years ago (as I am, as many of us are).  Cost me $5 to use the “boat ramp,” which was probably too much for what I got — but if part of the $5 was a contribution to the preservation of The Real Florida, it was a bargain.

Prairie Creek, Paynes Prairie, Gainesville, FL

So, Newnan’s Lake is upstream a few hundred yards and is beautiful.  Saw more birds than you could imagine (well, who knows what YOU could imagine, but the bird numbers surprised me).  Herons, al– no anhingas or eagles, at least on that part of the water.  Then back downstream, under the Highway 20 bridge, under the much-lower Gainesville-Hawthorne Trail bike bridge, and I was in twisting, turning Prairie Creek proper.

A little spooky being out there alone, once I paddled past the road and bike path and into the deep woods, so I didn’t go far.  Maybe Sam and I will go out there Monday or Tuesday, or Rick, Richard, and I next Friday.

If we’re ambitious, we’ll paddle all the way downstream to the dam, assuming that the creek remains navigable.   Doesn’t look like much water in the picture to the left, does it?  (Found the picture online, didn’t take it myself today — will take a fresh pic next time.)

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