Just a few years ago, one of the attractions at Silver Springs was a large area filled with exotic creatures such as alligators, flamingos, Florida panthers, etc. A boardwalk meandered through the area which also contained rest rooms, small cafes, benches and caged reptiles. It was a wonderful place to spend an hour or two.
That's all gone now. In its place is a brand new boardwalk which rises over a small tributary that leads from a kayak/canoe entrance to the Silver River. The boardwalk continues to circle around the lush Florida landscape for about a quarter of a mile.
The sign above describes the work of Mr. Ross Allen who spent his life in this area caring for the animals and introducing several generations of visitors to the fauna of central Florida. Unfortunately, Mr. Allen is gone also, and while the new boardwalk is interesting it would be rare if you saw any species of non-human animals as you walked it.
The above photo shows a few of the folks who have just begun their kayaking/paddleboarding trip. Some will go under the boardwalk out to the Silver River, and others will turn right and and float down the tributary until they come to another entrance to the Silver River at which point they can continue to the larger river or turn around and head back.
Please note the man in the rear, kneeling on his paddleboard. We're going to meet him again.
Oh, here he is, paddle in hand, getting ready to make the turn south. You'd think he was an experienced paddleboarder at this point.
Not too far down the tributary, it widens and persons walking the boardwalk can get some nice photos of the typical central Florida flora. Note the large tree/log which is protruding from under the boardwalk out into the canal.
And it's at this point we meet up with our paddleboarding friend one more time. It appears he has fallen off his board. We, along with some other folks, stopped to look at him curiously as it's rare to see people in the water here what with alligators lurking nearby.
But we soon realized he wasn't having fun, he was having a hard time. The current is very swift and he was unable to get back up on the board. He'd duck his head, push as hard as he could, but when he lifted his head and spit out water, he hadn't gone more than an inch.
Two young men, tall and muscular stopped briefly. When they heard he was in trouble, they walked off. (Later I saw one of them eating an ice cream cone.) Meanwhile, our friend continued to struggle. More people stopped to watch. A couple said they'd go for help.
Finally, another younger man climbed over the boardwalk railing and urged him on. Eventually, our paddleboarder was able to get close enough to the bank where the current eased. The young man caught the front of the board with his foot to steady it and then another fellow stopped to help. The paddleboarder was able to hand this man his paddle and he used it to help push the man back up on the board.
"Whew," said the paddleboarder. "I was in trouble out there!"
And then, after a few minutes, he knelt down on the board and took off downstream, paddling away. I turned my camera off and sauntered down the boardwalk.
Nothing to see here folks, just keep moving along.