A dark brown shape protruded from the left side of the bank ahead. My gaze focused on it, trying to figure out if it was a branch or an alligator. I relaxed as we moved closer, it was a branch. But my defenses would soon be up again, there were all sorts of things in these waters.
The fourth of July weekend brought my parents in town. We didn’t want to go to the overcrowded theme parks or beaches so we decided to go to Wekiva Island and spend the day canoeing. The beginning of the trip was peaceful and beautiful, not a lot of people were on the water yet.
The trip started out great, my mother and I took one canoe and my father and brother took another. My father and brother were paddling fast and were far ahead of us. We saw them go over a sunken tree, so when we hit the tree we thought we could go over as well. Instead, we got stuck and endured the humiliation of pushing ourselves off the tree. As soon as we were loose, two kayakers glided easily over the bark. But we weren’t defeated, we pushed on.
The ride was so relaxing and enjoyable, little did we know we were going downstream. We passed a watering hole were several groups gathered in boats and kayaks. They were jumping off a rope into the water, braver than us since we knew gators were with us.
The Trip Back
There were lily pads and grasses in the waters, and branches of trees hanging over the sides. Large turtles stretched out on fallen trees, soaking up the sun. After an hour, my father and brother stopped and waited for us, then asked if we wanted to turn around. We did, and soon realized the trip back wouldn’t be as easy. We stayed together and had lovely things to say to one another as the fatigue and pain crept in. There were several times we wanted to stop and take a break, but we knew the canoes would only be driven back if we did. We saw a small gator and my brother and dad took advantage of the detour to get a closer look. I was so ready to finish with the canoe trip that I almost neglected nature’s beauty that surround me.
As we made our way back, our muscles sore and our aggravation high, one sight made all the pain fade away: our trip upstream turned us away from the sun and the water had become a mirror, reflecting the sky. We viewed the beauty surrounding us and glided through its mirrored image in the water. The serene feeling we had lost from the beginning of our trip was back and this time it stayed with us.
Information on Wekiva Island
Wekiva Island is down the street from Wekiwa Springs State Park. They are both on the Wekiva River. You can rent kayaks, canoes, and paddleboards. Both parks are accessible from the water. Wekiva Island and Wekiwa Springs are one mile from each other. There are other places to canoe or kayak to, the greatest distance being 10 miles to Katie’s Landing on the Wekiva River.
Go early! The parks hit capacity before lunchtime during the summer months. On the holiday weekend we were turned away from Wekiwa Springs State Park at 10:00, but luckily made it into Wekiva Island. Wekiva Island was almost full at 10:00 and by the time we had finished our canoe trip the park had hit capacity.