The Four C's of Thanksgiving
I had a wonderfully traditional Thanksgiving weekend here in Florida. Like most folks I spent Thanksgiving enjoying the four "C's"; Camping, Cave diving, Canoeing, and Climbing.
The weekend started early on Thursday morning with Katie and I driving down to Ginnie Springs near High Springs, FL. Katie was born in London, England and has only been in the U.S. for about a year and a half. That said she has never been to a Waffle House so I made it a point to start the weekend off right with a visit there for breakfast. For full effect I put a buck in the jukebox and played a half dozen Waffle House songs.
After a great breakfast and musical experience we were off to do so dive training. Ginnie is a privately owned park that features seven springs that flow straight out of the Floridan Aquifer. These springs are an entrance into what is likely one of the most dived cave systems in the world.
Katie is training to become a cave diver and one of the skills that she will have to master is running a guideline into a high flow cave entrance. The entrance to Devil's Ear cave puts out about 30,000,000 gallons of water a day and swimming into it while tying a guideline off to rocks along the way is no easy task. We made five dives and by the end of the day she had pretty well mastered the task.
We wondered into the town of High Springs and were lucky to find The Springs Diner open. To make things even better they were serving a traditional Thanksgiving Day feast. After dinner we went back to our campsite at Ginnie and enjoyed a nice fire while discussing the successes and failures of an intense day of diving.
In the morning after a nice breakfast at the Ginnie Grill we launched my canoe onto the Santa Fe River and enjoyed cruising up and down the crystal clear spring fed waters. We paddled up into at least eight different spring runs along the way. Each one was unique and stunningly beautiful.
Back on land we had spotted a particularly nice cypress tree right next to where we were camping so we decided to get a nice climb in. I never asked if it was ok to climb in the park. I just figured if they allowed activities as dangerous as cave diving how could they have a problem with something as safe as tree climbing.
Katie is a very new climber. She can count the number of times she has climbed on her fingers. She is a very good learner though. I have to say that I am very proud of how good she has gotten in such a short time. It was very rewarding to watch her set her gear up and enter the tree on an SRT system and then switch over to DRT to progress up into the canopy. Sure she asked for reassurance that she was doing things right along the way, but she always was.
We got all the way up into the top of the tree that was surely around 100 feet tall. And that’s when we just sat there until the sun was setting. The light coming through the forest was amazing. Over our heads there were dozens and dozens of turkey vultures soaring in interwoven circular patterns that made for quite a surreal scene. As it became more and more dark we made our way down. After breaking camp we headed back into town for dinner at one of my all time favorite restaurants, The Great Outdoors.
It’s hard to beat any weekend that you can fit the four “C’s” into. And when you can it is definitely something to be thankful for!
Devils Ear as seen by Wes Skiles (RIP)
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Katie and I prepping for a dive
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A map of cave system and river where we 4C'd
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