After driving like a grandma through the intense fog draped over the entirety of 441, I finally emerged from the zero visibility and found myself in David and Dee’s driveway. We loaded SCUBA gear and got cameras ready for our trip to Alexander Spring. Alexander is the first magnitude spring I snorkeled on Easter and lies just southeast of Juniper Spring in the Ocala National Forest. It was just over an hour ride to get out to the spring. When we arrived, the sun was peeking out from behind the clouds and it was turning into a typical hot and humid north Florida day… perfect for diving in the chilly spring. David and I jumped in right away and couldn't resist taking hundreds of photos in the crystal clear (but sadly algae-dominated) water :)
|Pictures of people taking pictures of people... This is yet another awesome shot by David. I'm sitting on the wall just above one of the two spring heads in the basin.|
|David's awesome underwater camera. If you look closely, you can make out my reflection in his lens!|
|This shot always reminds me of skydiving because the clouds are so clear in the background. I guess the bubbles and fins give it away tho :)|
|View of the spring basin (and a little sunfish!). The cloud of shells/sand is from the intense flow of the spring, which is just to the right of the cloud in this picture.|
|Taking pictures like a pro, as usual!! Can't wait for so many more dives like this.|
|A ray of sunshine makes its way into the tiny cavern at the bottom of the basin (25-30 feet).|
|At the surface looking at the wall of the basin and lots of green algae and grass. Getting ready to swim over to the shallow water where Dee was filming a little snake and lots of tiny minnows!|
A mixture of my pictures and some shots by David are HERE.
After an awesome dive, we drove back a different route through the forest and stopped at a farm stand and got some fresh tomatoes and watermelons. We also happened upon Paradise Spring, which is basically a hole in the ground in someone's back yard. We decided to pull off the main road at the falling-down mailboxes with ratty dive flag stickers and check out the spring... which turned out to be more of an adventure than we expected. The dirt road was not only long, winding, and full of massive potholes that sent our huge pickup truck flying around, but it also seemed to dead-end on train tracks with no ding dong gates. Interesting. We made a 90 degree turn across the broken pavement across the railroad tracks and came to this sign:
|Can't really read it? Ya, neither could we, but it says Paradise Spring. It has been there for so long that the tree is actually growing over the sign. Not entirely sure they're too concerned with making it visible...|
After a few more twists and turns and entering a fancy but falling apart gate in the middle of the woods, we drove by two trailer homes and were greeted by a family sitting in their garage. There was a TV from the 1980s (to show the dive safety video), some old dive gear, and a few horses and I most definitely felt like I was no longer in the north. But they were very friendly and offered us a map of the cavern and pointed us over to the viewing platform to take a look into the spring...
From the viewing platform, this is all you can see. It doesn't look like much more than a little tide pool. But think again. There were multiple trucks and evidence of divers but none above water, so there are probably at least 10 people in that bit of water. The dive is considered open water (I have no idea how because this is not entirely what I would classify as "open" water...) down to about 60 feet but continues down to 100' where there is a cave that the owner seemed to know little about because he said he's too big to fit through most of it. Definitely hoping to come back and dive this one soon!!