Salt Springs Poker Run

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Mickey Jensen | VCKC
Published Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Date: November 27, 2007

Location: Salt Springs Run - Ocala National Forest

Number of Paddlers: 75
Boats: Canoes - 14
Single Kayaks - 17
Tandem Kayaks - 2
Private Boats - 26

Travel Time from the Villages: 50 minutes

Trip Length: 8 miles Round Trip and approximately 3 hours paddle time.

Boat Rentals:

Florida Pack & Paddle provided canoes. Aardvark Florida Kayak Company provided the kayaks. All boats were in good condition. Paddles were of good quality. PFDs were in good shape.

Weather Conditions:

The day was overcast and the temperature was a delightful 68-70 degrees. Since the river has no shade the weather was perfect for this trip.

The Paddle:

We launched at the Salt Springs Marina boat ramp area. There is plenty of parking available and restrooms at the marina. With the large number of boats and paddlers, canoes were staged to the left of the boat ramp, kayaks to the right of the Marina store, and the private boat owners launched from the boat ramp. Boat coordinators were stationed at each launch point helping people into boats and staggering the put in. This did keep the congestion to a minimum and we were able to avoid the 'bumper boat game'.
Salt Springs Run is a four mile straight and fairly wide waterway to St George Lake with little current. The water is very clear and offers plenty of fish sightings. Fish were very active with lots of mullet jumping.

Passing Scenery:

Salt Springs is located in the Ocala National Forest and offers a pristine Florida landscape with sawgrass areas as well as tree lined shore.

Wildlife Sightings:

Birds were active with the usual subjects - ibis, egrets, herons, cormorants, anhinga, osprey, turkey buzzards high aloft, and several bald eagles also high in the trees. A pair of river otter was spotted frolicking and a few alligators were hidden in the tall grass. There was a shortage of turtles on this trip. Didn't see a one!

Group Enjoyment and Difficulty Rating:

It's a very easy paddle and a great trip for beginners. With little to no current, paddling round trip doesn't require a strenuous effort.

Because this trip could be a considered a bit on the boring side, we added the extra element of a Poker Run. Five 'dealers' were stationed along the river and each paddler was encouraged to stop and pick a card collecting 5 along the river. As each boat returned there was a bonus card passed out. Following lunch, we played 5 card poker. To offset any efforts to 'stack' a hand by trading cards, the winning hands were not the standard poker hands. For example a winning hand was all odd numbered cards, or lowest total of all cards, or all face cards. A total of $200 in cash was awarded for 9 winning hands.
Even with this placid river, I had reports of two canoes going over. Am sure it was a matter of trying to get the best poker card and had nothing to do with the water conditions.

Lunch Stop:

To help facilitate the poker game as well as to encourage more club member interaction, The Square Meal Restaurant of Salt Springs was contracted to serve a catered lunch at the marina for us. Each member brought a chair and set up in the grassy area near the parking area. BBQ sandwiches, coleslaw, potato salad, baked beans and brownies were served to the group.
There has been very positive feedback for this trip - something different, loved the lunch, lots of time to talk with other club members, easy trip for beginners.

Thanks to the volunteers for all their help in making this trip possible!!
Mickey Jensen

Last update Thursday, April 10, 2008

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