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Old 28 Jun 18, 12:51 AM  
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scottishnellie's Reviews
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Scottishnellies Redundancy Trip Jun18. Day 9, Paddle Down Rock River Run, Wekiwa State Park, Ovation

I woke up at 6am. Which is just as well as I was supposed to set an alarm for 6am, which of course I hadn't as I had passed out the minute I hit the hay.

Into the living room and there's kieran all dressed ready to go. Said he had been up since 5:30. Woke Hannah who jumped out of bed and went for cereal - result. Then woke kevin who said he thought we were to be up at 7. No dear - we need to leave by 7.

Everybody ready, picnic packed into the coolbag with no glass or polystyrene as per park rules, and we set off at 7:06 on the 1hr drive to Kings Landing.

The aim today was to do the full rental package. This means renting kayaks or canoes and paddling down the 8.5 mile river from Kings Landing to Wekiwa state park (pronounced we-kee-va). This takes approx 4-5 hours to do. And there should be plenty of wildlife to see. Which is the reason Hannah leapt out of bed.

I had read about this on the internet and it looked absolutely stunning so I showed it to Kevin as an option, who of course immediately wanted to do it. Both kids were also up for it. I then started to panic a wee bit. I do no physical exercise of any kind. I like a right long walk in nice weather, but that's about it. I have no upper body strength, and regularly have shoulder and neck pain. That's one of the things I want to focus on when I am not working any more - trying yoga or Pilates or something to build strength and improve my posture. How on earth would I cope with 5 hours of paddling?! Why oh why did I not think of this before showing it to Kevin?!

In the months before we came I tracked their Facebook page and saw lots of people talking about how the run was a bit more difficult as last years storms had left trees down and blocked some of the river. Although some had been cleared, It said this made some spots tricky and you had to get out and push the boats over the submerged logs then get back in. Oh goody.

It was an easy drive up to Apopka and we found the place no bother using our waze app as usual.

We drove in and a couple of young guys and an older woman greeted us, told us to park out in the street then come to the office.

We did this, and she explained the options. We went for 2 canoes which cost $100 dollars, including them picking us up at 4pm from wekiwa and driving us back up to the car. She gave us a map, pointing out what we would see as we went, telling us which camp meant we were halfway there, explaining about pushing the boats over submerged logs.

I was half excited and half worried by this point. I had visions of being stuck halfway done the river unable to finish it!

We were warned to put everything in waterproof pouches or plastic ziplock bags especially the car key and phones. I was prepared for this as I had read it all online. There is a good chance of a capsize and everything going in the water. I had my Kipling round my waist with my phone inside it in a ziplock back then another around the Kipling itself.

The only problem with this is we have hardly any photos as I did take some through the plastic but they're kind of hazy. Hannah and I climbed in the first canoe, Hannah at the front and me at the back. It's the person at the back who really steers it.

Kevin and Kieran got in the one behind us and off we went. We were on the water less than 5 minutes when we saw our first alligator. It just swam right across in front of us.

We then saw loads of turtles, some basking in the sun on logs at the side, and some popping their heads up by the side of the boat then ducking under.

There were loads of birds and squirrels too. Apparently people sometimes see raccoons, deer and even bears, but we didn't see any of those.

The water was very clear and you could see masses of fish of all sorts of sizes.

Hannah and I actually did quite well at this and we decided it was because we had good communication going. I would steer from the back and Hannah would use her oar to either lend extra power on the clear straights, or to brake left or right when we needed more turn.

Kevin and kieran were not having such an easy time and we could hear them behind us bickering most of the time!

The scenery here was stunning and it was so quiet you could hear a pin drop. Hannah and I agreed that it felt like we were in the middle of the Jurassic park jungle - but without the dinosaurs!

The only negative was the 🕷 spiders. Lots and lots of spiders. Because of the storms and there being trees down across the river, you would pass alongside or under their big leafy branches, sometimes straight into webs and the spiders would all fall into the boat. Hannah loves wildlife in general but oh my god how she hates spiders. She is bloody terrified of them and every time they would fall in she would start freaking out and rocking the boat all over the place trying to get away from them. Then I would be screaming at her to stop rocking the boat whilst trying to scoop the spiders out. If I didn't get them out quick enough she'd start whacking them with the oar, at one point losing the oar over the side. Aaaarrrgh! I then had to manoeuvre the boat to get it back. We had about 4 of these encounters in the space of an hour. Poor kieran got it just as bad. We would hear him shouting Daaaaad! Then would turn round to see him heading face first into a set of branches! Poor kid.

This first half of the run we did encounter lots of submerged logs and we did get stuck in a couple of them. Each time, Hannah and I managed to shoogle ourselves back off then go over at a bit where the log was a bit deeper under, so we managed not to have to get out.

The other pretty hilarious ones were where the trees were right across the river at our chest height. For this we would lie straight back and limbo under them! One particularly low one Hannah went under then sat up at the other side but when I lay down my Kipling got stuck and we had to go backwards to let me wiggle it to the side then go under again. I practically scraped my face on the log it was so low! But it was good fun

We seemed to paddle forever until we reached the first camp, which Hannah and I gaily sailed past before realising and then had an interesting 10minutes of trying to turn the boat round and paddle back UPstream. Made it, climbed out and pulled the boat up then kept an eye for the boys so they didn't make the same mistake. Even with us yelling and waving at them to turn right they still overshot the entrance, albeit by less than we had. It was 11am so the first half had taken us 2.5hrs and it did feel like hard work.

We all piled out and up to the campsite for our picnic but we had only been there 10minutes when we realised we were being eaten alive. The dinosaurs might not have been here but the Jurassic bugs were! The bug that got my ankle actually left a trickle of blood when I swiped it off. We quickly finished what we were eating and piled back into the boats.

This second half of the run was MUCH easier. There were hardly any trees down and there were longer expanses of open water where Hannah and I really got some speed up. There were lots of twisty turns so our team steering really came into play. But far fewer trees down meant far fewer spiders which was good. This was magic. Amazing scenery, total peace and quiet.

Hannah and I reached Wekiwa and pulled the boat up into the Kings landing dock. It was 12:20 so the second half had only taken us an hour and 20mins! We walked round to the waterfront area where all the families were and I went straight in for a swim as I was melting hot by now. We waved Kevin and kieran around to the dock when they arrived then they joined us. They had capsized twice! Kevin said at the first point the water was so deep he couldn't stand in it and it had been quite difficult to get the canoe back over, get the water out and climb back in. He'd had to ditch the remainder of the picnic and the camera was gone. This was our old camera which we had taken knowing we couldn't risk the SLR. The camera itself was no big loss but it was a pity that all the photos he had taken were gone as Kevin said there were some nice ones.

We had another 3 hours here until our pickup and we were perfectly happy. There were lots of families and dogs playing in the water. There was a bar which was very reasonable. I bought a bud lite, a frozen mango margarita and 2 diet cokes for $11. You are not allowed any outside food or drinks brought in.

Kieran was there 2 minutes and was playing with a gang of local kids straight away. He makes pals so easily.

I got chatting to their mums who were so nice. They are cousins and both work as waitresses 7am to 1pm then come to the park with the kids for the rest of the afternoon most days when the kids are out of school. They only live 5 minutes up the road and were so friendly. They were fascinated by my accent and wanted to know all about Scotland and the weather there.

Passed a lovely afternoon here and made our way to the pickup point at 3:45. The mini bus was already there with the trailer attached with all the boats loaded up.

We got on and away we went.

Back to the car and started our drive home. Kieran was fast asleep before we had even left the camp!

Once home we all had showers and rested a bit before going out for dinner. We drove down to Ovation which was straight down the US27

We love Teak so dibbers had said we would like this place too. We were told it would be 15 mins for a table and that's exactly what we waited.

I had Salmon

Kevin had a fully loaded burger

Kieran had a prime time burger with bacon and American cheese

Hannah had a grilled BBQ chicken club sandwich

Then Hannah had caramel cheesecake

Kieran had strawberry cheesecake

Paid the bill and set off back up the road. The food was all great in here but it wasn't a patch on Teak for us. So we will definitely still be taking a trip up there at some point!

We got home and sat out watching the fireflies for a while before bed. Lots of lightning tonight so we didn't get in the pool.

I will add on some extra photos below from our river run today.

A well earned lazy day tomorrow

Night all x

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Old 28 Jun 18, 01:13 AM  
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New Photo Added by scottishnellie - 28 Jun 18 1:13 AM.
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Old 28 Jun 18, 06:11 AM  
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Looks like you a fabulous day and dealt with the spiders far better than I would have!
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Old 28 Jun 18, 06:34 AM  
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What a lovely day, looks amazing

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Old 28 Jun 18, 06:49 AM  
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What a different Florida day. I couldnít cope with the whole boat/water thing and then add the spiders, Iíd be a wreck! But it looks and sounds amazing.
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Old 28 Jun 18, 06:55 AM  
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A lovely day bet you enjoy your lazy day
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We will be back
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Old 28 Jun 18, 06:57 AM  
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Another fabulous day !
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Old 28 Jun 18, 07:16 AM  
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Another full on day, DD would love this, will show her later.
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Old 28 Jun 18, 07:46 AM  
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Wow you had a brilliant day. Itís not for me Iím afraid, but DH and DS would love it. Too much hard work and too many bugs and capsizing - Iíd need medication to get me in the boat! But you all took it in your stride, a lovely family day in Florida x

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Old 28 Jun 18, 07:50 AM  
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Wow looks fab but I couldnít deal with the spiders!
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