Friday, June 8, 2007
I will personally meet everyone flying in at the Orlando International Airport at 2pm on Sunday February 19th. We meet at the bottom of the escalators at baggage claim 5A. For any reason you’re going to be late or can’t find the meeting place call my cell at 407.924.3375. Anyone late or missing without contacting me will have to grab a taxi to our lodge. Folks driving in should call Peggy at the lodge for directions. You can reach her at 407.365.8885 or visit them on the web at www.bigoaksranch.com
Our first day will be pretty laid back. We will focus on instruction and reviewing the week’s itinerary so everyone knows what’s going on and can plan for it.
There is no Internet access or cell phone service at the lodge. If you bring a cell phone please turn it off or be very conscience of the folks trying to avoid the distractions of such devices. The van has a cd player so feel free to bring some music to share.
A typical day starts with coffee, tea, and cocoa at daybreak. A big breakfast follows. After clean up we review the day’s itinerary so everyone can pack accordingly. We drive to the put in, the guides shuttle the pick up vehicle (bring a book for the wait), enjoy a fantastic day on the water, drive back to the lodge for cocktails, a huge southern dinner, and then a nighttime activity. (A massage therapist is on site for $30. half hour, $50. for an hour) Repeat for six days and you got a trip!
Please pack sun protection, lots of swimsuits, snorkeling gear, a camera, sandals, a wide brimmed hat, and outdoor clothing (rain protection) and lodge clothing. Walking shoes are also a good idea. If we get terrible weather, we will do a museum visit or art gallery visit.
On Saturday the 25th I will have everyone back at the airport by noon. Plan your flight accordingly.
I’m really looking forward to meeting everyone and having a great time showing off my great state. If you have any questions or concerns please contact me at anytime.
From 1773 to 1778, William Bartram, a trained naturalist, traveled southern North America, noting the characteristics of almost everything he encountered: the rivers of Florida, the groves of wild oranges, the swamps and lagoons, the fish, the tropical snakes and reptiles, the land and aquatic birds, the festivals of the Seminole, and the customs of the Creeks. He was to Florida what Lewis and Clark were to the North West.
Following the general path of William Bartram, we will paddle our way through large swamps and narrow rivers to the St. Johns River. Traveling north (downstream) the group will stop to explore large springs, flora and fauna, Indian mounds, and other points of interest.
All participants will be picked up from the Orlando International Airport at 2pm. on February 19th. Anyone wanting to drive will be mailed a map prior to the trip.
Day 1: Airport pick up. Settle into our lodge, happy hour and enjoy our first group meal together. Afterwards we will walk down to the river and receive basic instruction on kayaking. We will also go over the weeks agenda, local environmental issues, and of course the travels of William Bartram.
Day 2: Shuttle to Rock Springs run, snorkel, swim, and explore the large springs. Basic kayak instruction then make our way down the spring run to the confluence of the Wekiwa River. Keep an eye out for alligators, otters, wild hog, and swimming deer. Lunch served picnic style at the sight of an ancient Indian midden. Evening will be spent at our lodge hiking, birding, or swimming in the river.
Day 3: After a big breakfast and a short shuttle we will be back into our kayaks for another day on the beautiful Wekiwa River. At this time of year the Wekiwa is exploding with color and the movement of life. The river is edged by arching sabal palms and other trees. Islands of lush green water plants float in the stream, while asters dot the landscape with purple. The trained eye will spot clumps of orchids mingling with resurrection ferns and draping Spanish moss. On occasion, deer hide near the rivers edge for a drink, bears are seen amongst the palmetto, and river otters dance through the clear water.
Day 4: An exciting day for wildlife viewing! We will make our way into the Lower Wekiva river basin and meet up with the St. Johns River, rich in serious wildlife. Have your camera ready. Turtles and large alligators sunning on logs or on the river banks can be observed at distances determined by the strength of your nerves or the power of your binoculars. In addition we will have the opportunity to observe heaps of wading birds.
Our take out for the day will be at Blue Spring State Park. Last year we spotted over 110 manatees in the spring run alone!
Day 5: Today we visit a place of great beauty and rich history, New Smyrna and Canaveral National Seashore. The day will be spent paddling the many islands in the lagoon and hiking on the still undeveloped beaches.
Day 6: We are off to Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge. In my opinion this is the greatest place in Florida for birding and wildlife viewing. There is so much, it just seems too easy. We will be feet away from rosette spoonbills, glossy ibis, reddish egrets, wood storks, bald eagle, and countless species of migrating ducks.
Day 7: After a morning hike and a huge breakfast, we will make our way back to Orlando and the airport. We should arrive at the airport by 1pm.
Accommodations and Food:
The leaders will joyfully prepare and serve all meals. Meals included in the trip fee begin with dinner on the first day and breakfast on the last day. Meals served on the trip will honor and reflect local cuisine. A typical dinner would consist of shrimp and crawfish etouffee, white rice, garlic bread, fresh salad, and something chocolate for dessert. Folks with special diets should contact the trip leader.
Our lodging will be at an 800 acre working cattle ranch and B&B on the Econlockhatchee River. There is a large two story log cabin with wrap around porch and an old fashion “Cracker” house. Bathrooms are shared and rooms are multiple occupancy. Rooms with one bed will of course be given to couples. Camping is permitted for those who prefer tenting it! Because we are staying at a lodge each night, everyday our group will have to be shuttled to that days location.
Travels of William Bartram, Edited by Mark Van Doren.
Guide to William Bartram’s Travels, by Brad Sanders
The Basic Essentials of Sea Kayaking, by Mike Wyatt.
A Land Remembered, by Patrick D. Smith
A great PBS documentary on Florida's unique spring systems:
Small day pack or fanny pack
Personal medical supplies (Prescriptions, inhaler, antibiotics, etc.)
Flashlight or head lamp
Prescription Glasses/Contact lenses and supplies
Leatherman™ or Multi™ tool
Feminine hygiene products
Pack towel/wash rag
Water shoes or sandals
Mosquito head net
Raingear - waterproof/breathable jacket
Fleece or wool shirt or sweater
Light weight camping pants
Long Sleeve shirts - light weight (Great for sun protection)
Gloves (For paddling and warmth)
Optional Stuff (but nice)
Journal and pen
Camera and film
Waterproof Camera Bag
Favorite beverages (I don’t know what you drink)
ABOUT YOUR TRIP LEADER:
Kayaking and the outdoors have been Greg Pflug’s love from an early age. Greg’s adventures began with long-distance backpacking; he and his former wife even through-hiked the Appalachian Trail as a belated honeymoon. Then he discovered water, and life has never been the same. Greg has dedicated the past fifteen years sharing his love of Florida’s waterways and his desire to preserve them. A Sierra Club leader since 1999, Greg has led over 100 national outings for the organization. Overall, Greg has guided sea-kayaking trips from Patagonia to New Zealand, Alaska to Wyoming. His goal is always two-fold: his child side wants to find the perfect unspoiled waterway, which is tempered by the mature desire to educate people on protecting and restoring the rivers, estuaries, and coast lines that have felt the hand of man. Greg is a certified kayak instructor, outdoor specialist, and wilderness first responder, but he truly takes pride tailoring his trips by removing worry and injecting fun and child-like wonder in the great outdoors. His favorite outings are the Suwannee River, Okefenokee, and the Everglades.