Niki at Blue Springs State Park

Ellen Peterson, Sandra Friend,
Brenda Anderson and Niki
Every year we try to find time to get together
and do a girls kayak trip somewhere in
Florida. Brenda is an experienced kayaker
and has chosen some wonderful locations.
Blue Springs State Park was another gem that
we all got to experience together.
The Park is located east of Orlando along the
St. John River. Amazing that it is so close to
such a congested area, and yet it feels like
you’ve been dropped into some exotic country.
Truly a beautiful place!

Blue Springs Run – with Manatees

The ‘run’ is the small, short river
between the water source of
Blue Springs and where it enters
the St. John River.
The water here is a magnificent
color…as are all of the springs in
I was looking forward
to kayaking this section, but the
Park closes the ‘run’ from Nov.
through March to protect the
Manatees who come here when
a cold snap forces them into
warmer water…and into the

Ellen, Brenda, Sandra
along the board walk

The day we arrived the park counted
95 manatees in the ‘run’

Blue Springs Run

Along the boardwalk

The “boil”…the place where Blue Springs
boils up from some place deep in the earth

The weather was looking kind of
sketchy when we first arrived at
the launch, but it slowly cleared
and we felt confident to head out
into the St. John River

Sandra loaded up and ready to go

We started out with a beautiful, quiet
meditation before we took off
down the river

I had a great time kayaking!
I have always considered Brenda
courageous…or crazy…for going kayaking
with me. Brenda is THE KAYAKING GIRL!
She can go great distances without getting
exhausted…she does it all the time and loves
the adventure of it all. I have only been
kayaking with Brenda…and this makes the
third time. Brenda is very very patient with me…
However, this time…so as not to embarrass
myself any further…I took kayak lessons
before the trip. It really helped. I actually had fun
and wasn’t trying to canoe in a kayak!
My strokes improved enough so that I was able
to go straight and not zig-zag all over…I AM proud
of myself! But, I still have a long way to go
before I can get along like Brenda!


Brenda and Ellen making their way
along the St. John

Fall colors along the St. John River

Exploring Florida by water is the best
thing about Florida! Every time is
an adventure.
We decided to leave the St. John River
behind and take a cut-off down a
stream. It eventually got kind of
clogged…but we pushed through
and made it to clear water and continued
the adventure…

Continuing down the stream

Stopping for lunch
Niki, Sandra, Ellen

Heading down the stream to see what’s
around the corner…

We came across a cluster of yellow
flowers…couldn’t help but take a
color coordinated photo with my
feet and yellow kayak!

Heading toward the St John River

Brenda and Ellen along the St John River

Making our way along the St John River

After a wonderful day on the river
we head back to the cabin.

We surprised Ellen with a
little birthday party for her.

Make a wish…


Sandra, Ellen, Brenda
Florida has many unique places…both in the
environment and in the communities.
Cassadaga is a community I have always
wanted to visit and since it was right
around the corner, we decided to check it out.
This community was founded as a spiritual
retreat and a place for anyone to get a “reading”.
At every turn there are mediums and fortune tellers.
A very unique place indeed!
I’m not fond of fortune telling, but
I do believe that there is more to life than
we can conceive or are aware of AND, I
am a very curious person, so it was fun to walk
around and check it all out. They do have a few
very good books stores filled with all kinds of
gifts and books.
Ellen and Sandra were looking for a reading, but we
got there too late and everyone was closing down…
maybe another time…

Quaint downtown Cassadaga

mediums & fortune tellers found everywhere…

…and more mediums…

…and more mediums…


Hotel porch

Street sign

The words inscribed:
We Are One
There is one life. That life is my life now.
There is one mind that mind is my mind.
There is one spirit governing and directing all things.
There is one presence and
one power controlling everything.
I am one with god – the infinite.
I am one with God’s peace, there is no confusion in me.
At the center of my being there is peace.
There is nothing to be afraid of.
At the center of my being the eternal peace
forever dwells in security. I have no fear.
A mighty God power goes before me
making easy, instant and perfect my way.
Rev Gladys Reid

We ended the evening listening to the
wonderful stories of Ellen’s life. It was
great that Sandra had recording equipment
with her and was able to record those
great moments in her life.


The preserve is to save the habitat of the
scrub jay. It also preserves one of Florida’s
most endanagered ecosystems…the scrub.
There are plants and animals found here that
are not found in any other ecosystem in the state.

We were lining up to take our
group photo and before I could
take it a scrub jay landed on
Sandra’s head! They are attracted
to the buttons on top of ball caps
because they look like an acorn.

These are the acorns that are the
preferred food of the scrub jay. They
do look a lot like the button on the
top of ball caps…no wonder we
attracted so many birds!

Niki, Sandra, GK,
Brenda & Ellen

Brenda taking a photo of scrub jay.

Brenda and Niki heading down the trail

Molly Doctrow gave me the name of
this flower: Garberia. She says she
has some planted in her garden and they
are doing quite well.

Climbing to the “summit”… well,
there really is no such thing as a summit
in Florida, but it was a steep hill…

Ellen and me photographing each other…

…when out of nowhere, Ellen’s hat was
attacked by a scrub jay!

The photo I took of everyone
taking a photo of me…

Walking down the trail

Beautiful fall colors

While Sandra was filming a scrub jay
one landed on her hat!

Suddenly, a scrub jay was pounding
away at the button on the top of my
ball cap! I just glad it wasn’t a

The photo of the scrub jay on my
hat that I managed to take without
seeing what I was doing

GK and Brenda taking pictures
of the little red carnivorous plant…

…and Niki photographing that
little carnivorous plant…

This is the carnivorous plant I
was photographing in the previous
photograph…can’t remember
the name.
Don McCumbe gave me the name:

I have no idea what this plant is,
but I love the the little ‘swirlies’

It was a great couple of days
spent with wonderful friends.
We saw a lot of new glorious
scenery that I can share with
Clyde (can’t wait for him to
photograph Blue Springs!).
Once again our girls kayak trip was
filled with pleasant adventures and
good companionship…the true
joys of life…
photos by:
Brenda Anderson
Niki Butcher
Sandra Friend

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