We decided to take the road less traveled on our way back to Florida from Memphis. We wanted no interstates, only state and county roads meandering our way down to the west coast of Florida and south to the Rainbow Springs State Park in Dunnellon. The first night we ended up in Ozark, Alabama which quickly cured us of any romantic notions of fun-filled adventures on the byways of America. I apologize in advance to anyone from Ozark but we did not have a good experience. So what … we were on our way to beautiful Rainbow Springs.
We arrived in Dunnellon in the early afternoon and checked into a quaint little motel at the confluence of the Rainbow and Withlacoochee Rivers. We met a friend for dinner at Swampy’s, a restaurant with outdoor seating right on the Springs. Great food but bring your own mosquito spray if you want to sit outside. We did.
There wasn’t a cloud in the sky & the temperature was in the mid-70’s.
This trip down the Rainbow River was a present of beauty to my sister. I’d been down the River several times and had tried to describe the almost spiritual feeling of serenity and peace, but I needed to show her. She never kayaked and is not especially athletic or graceful (runs in the family), I was a little trepiditious taking her on a 2-3 hour paddle with no turning back. But she insisted she could do it and do it she did! Her reaction was everything I wished for … an audible gasp when the shuttle dropped us off at the launch site into the River.
We rented a tandem kayak from Rainbow River Canoe & Kayak, parked our car and were shuttled upriver five miles where the owner helped us into the kayak and headed us in the right direction – downriver. The thing about the Rainbow River is that it is a constant 71 degrees year round and flows at the rate of one mile an hour. So if we did nothing but flounder, we would eventually float back to our car. Up to 500 million gallons of pure water flow from more than 100 spring vents ever day replenishing the river with crystal clear water. I assured my sister that there were no alligators or snakes in the river due to the cold temperature and she believed me.
Paddling a kayak for 3 hours is thirsty work so after we returned our kayak we headed back to Swampy’s looking and smelling like swamp rats.
And that was the finale to our Sisters Road Trip 2014 … central Florida to Atlanta, to Nashville, to Memphis, to Dunnellon. Not only was it a chance for my sister and me to re-connect and visit some of our family, but it was an opportunity to share with her my philosophy of going, doing and exploring when the spirit moves you. We’re retired, our children are grown and there are no constraints, no boundaries, no schedules. It’s our turn to have fun and we did.