Florida Trip Days 13/14 – Way Down Upon the Suwannee River

Our little tent felt cozier with Bryan in it the past two nights.  And warmer!  It got down to 40 degrees during our overnight on the river.  That’s really cold for April in Florida, but it felt pretty great after being so hot these past two weeks.  Our final adventure for our big Florida Trip was kayaking down an upper portion of the Suwanee river. 

We started Saturday with slow packing and dividing the camping stuff – we had to figure out what to bring in the kayaks and what to leave.  It was especially imperative since it would be getting cold.  That was followed by shuttling the old Outback to the spot where we would take-out the following day: Spirit of Suwanee music camp.  It wasn’t 20 minutes down the road, but 20 miles on the river takes a lot longer.  When we finally got the ‘yaks into the water at the Stephen Foster Historical Park it was around 11am. 

The Suwanee River of folk song fame is quite nice.  It has a gentle flow to it and barely any ripples (except one spot called Big Shoals which we avoided).  It’s dark with tannin and a lot wider than we expected.  There are gators in here, so there would be no swimming though we did pass some spots with great beaches that would’ve been nice.  Kayaking this river is relaxing.  Zoe rode with me and Avi with Bryan for a while.  Avi was schroochy. He wanted to put his hands in the water.  He wanted to stand up. He wanted snacks.  It took him a while and some ‘deep daddy voice’ to get him to sit calmly.  Then he fussed and took a nap.  Eventually he woke, and we took a lunch break on a sand bar.  The kids and I were finally warmed up and changed from our long sleeves into shorts and short sleeves.  It then got hot.  The river is surprisingly sunny at midday.  Because it is so wide, the trees really only shade a small part at a time.  Again, not what we expected but it was still nice.  After our break filling bellies and getting toes full of sand (we just don’t wear shoes when kayaking) we got back on the river.  This time Avi rode with me and Zoe with Bryan.  Again Avi was a bit of a handful.  Once I felt like he may even tip the kayak.  Getting him to focus on turtle spotting seemed to work.  Just as all of us were getting a bit bored with the same scenery, we came to our stop for the night!

There are numerous River Camps along the Suwanee that the park service has made for overnight boaters to stay in for free.  You can reserve a screened-in hut or just camp out at the River Camps; you can also simply camp on a sandbar but there are big stretches of this northern section with cliffs and no sandbars.  We were prepped for camping, but ended up pitching the tent in a hut since it was available.  Both Bryan and I expected some kind of small screened porch, but these things were super nice!  Ceiling fans, full screens, electric and water…gourmet kayak camping for us.  In addition, there is a camp host who helps out and lives there in his camper, AND a bathhouse with toilets and showers.  Definitely fancier than we expected.  The best part was that we had the kids contained while we got stuff ready.  River Camp Hut = Giant Playpen.  Zoe and Avi spent the evening chasing each other around the hut, digging in the dirt, and exploring.  We all took a walk around to see the other huts and out a dirt road.  At bedtime we sat around and told scary-ish stories; Bryan and I enhanced some of our pre-children adventures to include a bit of lore.  It was fun and belonged in a feel-good movie. 

Sunday (Happy Easter) we woke early, slowly packed and got back on the river.  It was basically a repeat of the day prior.  Relaxing, lazing, kayaking down the river.  Fun just floating along.  Again Avi got fussy and cranky just before falling asleep on Bryan.  Zoe watched for birds, gators, and laid her head down to watch the trees go by.  Bryan and I even got to have a real conversation!  It was so nice to get a chance to enjoy each others’ company without kid interruptions or a schedule to keep.  We stopped again for lunch on a sandbar.  Bryan helped Zoe engineer a giant water holding tank while Avi threw rocks in the water.  The scenery had now changed into some fairly size able crumbly cliffs with trees and Spanish moss hanging over them.  The water was still black with tannin and not super inviting, but it was pretty nonetheless.  Avi rode with me for the last part of the trip and got super antsy; I became quite focused on finding and pointing out turtles to keep him interested and prevent him from jumping in the water.  He loves swimming…not in the this water, though.  Uck!

It was a wonderful and relaxing way to end our Florida trip, and perfect since Bryan was along.  The drive home was about an hour, and my shower never felt so good!  Zoe spent about an hour in her bath, too.  Avi spotted his toys and realized he missed them.  I’m so glad we were able to do this trip before leaving Georgia.  Now that I feel like we saw all Georgia and Florida have to offer I’m ready to move on.  Happy Easter everyone.

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