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Activity Leaders -- You can provide activity information to be saved online on this page for future reference. This can assist you and other leaders when planning future trips and activities.  To submit your information by email, please visit the Contacts page.

Click on the activity name to see the trip leader's report.

Rainbow Falls State Park
Moonlight Horseback Riding at Smitty's Horse Farm
St Johns River Cleanup
Canoe/Kayak Clinic
Canoe/Kayak 6 Mile Creek

Leader: Frank, 3/10/01

Nine people made the two-hour 120-mile drive to Rainbow Falls State Park. Five canoed Rainbow Springs and the crystal-clear Rainbow River while the other four relaxed in the beautiful park.

Everyone agreed that we must come here again soon and spend at least one night. We checked out the state park campground on the way home and found it to be too crowded and unattractive due to a serious lack of trees, however there is good Rainbow River waterfront for launching and landing canoes -- the campground is only a mile from the headwaters of the springs. But an alternate and more attractive campground is needed for future visits.

The park itself is undergoing some upgrading and refurbishing, and two thirds of the park and most of the trails were closed at our visit. (I was not told about this beforehand when I made plans and spoke with the rangers.) The work should take another three months to finish and will coincide with warm summer weather. I'm sure it will be well worth the wait, as the park has excellent facilities and is a great place to visit. A future Sidetrackers outing can offer canoeing, snorkeling, camping, swimming, hiking, and even fishing starting 1 mile downstream from the headwaters of the springs.

Prices in the park were very reasonable with only a $1 per person entry fee.

The Rainbow River is a crystal-clear canoer's paradise. In our group three people rented a canoe, spent 2-1/2 hours on the water, and only paid $10. The canoes rent for $5 an hour in the park, and all their rental equipment is in almost new condition. At this price, it may not be practical or convenient to bring a canoe from home if you only plan on limited canoeing. Another outfitter, which operates at the nearby KP Hole on the Rainbow River, offers canoe rentals with a shuttle service to avoid paddling upstream at the end of the day.

On the way home, we stopped for dinner at an all-you-can-eat catfish and seafood restaurant in Ocala, JJ's. We used good discount coupons for dinner that we found in a visitor's magazine at a truckstop earlier that morning. (Thanks to Marta!) We had alot of fun and can't wait to see our photos.

Other resources/contacts for this trip:

Dragon Fly Watersports. Located at KP Hole in Dunellon, across the river
on LH side. Big green building. Rent canoes here if you need/want to arrange
canoe shuttle service. Shop will give local information over the phone.
(352) 489-3046

Rainbow Falls Campground. Off of route 40, at 180 Avenue Road. Note that
the state park is on route 41, and coming from Jacksonville, you'll probably
take route 40 to get to route 41 and drive right past the signs for the
campground. They'll give local information over the phone. (352) 489-5201

Local dive shop will rent snorleking equipment and give information over the
phone TOLL FREE. Call the shop at 800-291-DIVE.
(Return to TOP)

Leader: Frank, 3/9/01 (Full-Moon Night)

Five people attended this event. Seven horses were available on this day, and the potential for rain may have cut down trip participation.

Smitty's primary barn is on Taylor Road, but he moved the horses for our event to his previous location, the barn on Pritchard Road. Because activity attendees were told to meet on Taylor Road, this caused some initial confusion.

Bad weather was near, and the skies were overcast. We never did get to see the full moon, but went riding anyways. Riders got dampened in the light rain, but the rain was light enough not to get us soaking wet. Everyone agreed that the peace and quiet of the night ride was enjoyable, and it was a worthwhile activity. The horses seemed to be somewhat afraid of entering or crossing dark tree-canopied or wooded areas after sunset and therefore were a bit difficult to persuade to ride into outlying areas of the property. As a result we tended to stay in the meadows and large open fields. Note that this has not been a problem in the past during daylight rides.

Everyone had an enjoyable time, even though the rain shortened our 3-hour ride to just 2 hours. Smitty was very helpful as usual, and he did not put any weather-related restrictions on us. Several times, he invited us to hang around the campfire after our ride at no extra cost. The event was fun and enjoyable despite the weather, and should be repeated again in the future.  (Return to TOP)

Leader: Judy M, 3/17/01

Eleven of us met at the Florida Gun and Tackle Club on San Jose Blvd. to participate in the annual St. Johns River Clean Up. We scoured the banks of Goodby's Creek looking for all kinds of trash. The tide was out this year, which made cleaning up trash on shore more of a challenge. Some people were up to their knees in muck--yuck. We collected some different things this year: 3 bicycles, 3 big orange cone markers, a couple of old crab traps, a drain pipe and all the usual bottles and plastic bags. A couple of old boat engines were spotted but were too big for us to pick up.

After all of the muck was washed off of us and the canoes, we proceeded to Metro Park where we received a River Clean Up t-shirt and a free lunch. A good time was had by all and we will be back next year.  (Return to TOP)

Canoe/Kayak Clinic
Earline Veltman/John Gilman co-leaders,  August 10, 2003

We had a great day for this event.  The sun was shining and we had the whole Olustee Beach area to ourselves.  We arrived about 9:30 AM and started right away with the "lessons" on how to enter and exit the kayak, both at a dock and on shore.  Then we went right into the canoe portion with explanations on what each part of the canoe is called, how to handle it and properly raise it above your head (to put back on your car at the end of a trip).  We learned how to be comfortable in a boat and the proper way to paddle.  Then we got in the water and did some capsize and rescue exercises.  We all learned a lot and are ready for more clinics.  We had a picnic lunch under a shelter and all had a great time.  (Return to TOP)

Canoe/Kayak 6 Mile Creek
Leader: Earline Veltman,
August 16, 2003

Another great day on the water and an opportunity to put to use the lessons we learned the Sunday before.  We had a pretty big group, so were unable to stay together.  But that didn't create a problem, we just paddled the river in several small groups.  Some pictures were taken of this trip, so be sure to check out our photo gallery.  We were off the river around 1:00 PM so stayed there at the Outback Crab Shack for a wonderful lunch.  Next time we will do this river either very early in the morning or at dusk so we can see more wild life.
  (Return to TOP)

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