… we would find a way to get in the water today. We had planned to enjoy the weekend celebrating Caleb’s birthday. Today was going to involve a trip to Blue Spring State Park. Caleb had Google’d the places to snorkel in Northeast Florida. He was deciding between Dry Tortugas, the farthest south and a nine-hour drive with a two-hour catamaran ride; Ichetucknee Springs, about two hours west; and Blue Spring, exactly two hours south. We have camped at Dry Tortugas and look forward to going back, but this was to be a day trip and Blue Spring was the final decision.
We grabbed our roommates, Jon and Amanda, after buying her some snorkel gear at Dick’s Sporting Goods, and headed south. We were full of excitement as Caleb filled us with online reviews of clear water while swimming with manatees and alligators. Upon arrival, we were met with full disappointment. There was a park ranger at the left turn and a line of vehicles ahead. She warned us that it would be at least an hour wait and that even if we attempted to walk on, the park was a first-come, first-serve type place.
Immediately Caleb said to head east until we hit water. This would bring us to the Atlantic Ocean on New Smyrna Beach. The roommates were ready with swimsuits on and skin coated in sunscreen. Me, I was not so ready. I was going to await until our arrival to the park and attempt to pull my wetsuit over dry skin in the backseat of a Toyota Echo and had not even bothered bringing one of my many mismatched swimsuits. Caleb, in trying to cheer me up, left his dry clothes on and walked into the water in search of seaweed and slime to reenact a scene from Brutal Relax. He wasn’t going for the scantily dressed tourist, but was re-making a scene where the sea creatures come out of the water. Instead of tearing my body into pieces, he was going to cover me in sea sludge, but was letdown by the cleaning current of the tide.
The approaching weather was not a good sign of times to come for the beach that day. We took our wet hungry selves to Gilly’s Pub 44 down the street. Me and Caleb had stopped in here once on our way home from some past adventure. Too hot to sit outside and perhaps too many cigarettes, we chose a table inside. The guys ordered a pitcher of Bud Light, Amanda a coke, and I had a Corona and a lemonade. Roommates ordered nachos, Caleb a Philly cheese steak sandwich with mozzarella sticks, and I had fried pickles. After Amanda and Jon played in the water and filled their bellies, the rhythm of the shaky car (due to damaged tire in the back and then bent rim in the front…stupid maintenance guys) and the fall of the rain, put them to sleep for the ride home.
It was not without a laugh that I woke them up. Caleb gave me the idea to scream as I hit the brakes. I did so at the turn onto our street off the highway. They awoke with shock in their eyes as they exclaimed they thought we were about to hit another car; we didn’t. We arrived home safe after driving through a storm with horrible visibility; I had the yellow line on the road to guide me. One way or another…we got wet more than once today.