Silver Springs State Park

Thanks to Groupon, we got a good deal on tickets to the Glass Bottom Boat ride at Silver Springs State Park. This is billed as Florida's oldest tourist attraction, which is probably true since they started in 1878. The water here is crystal clear - you can see all the way to the bottom, even when it's down 30 feet or more. This beautiful water made a great movie set - they filmed a lot of water scenes here for films like "Tarzan the Ape Man" and "Creature from the Black Lagoon". Our tour guide showed us the cave that the Creature was filmed coming out of. 
This is a shallow cave, but another one goes down really deep. Divers made it down 80 feet, although they had to remove their tanks to squeeze through. The vent continued down, but they couldn't go further.
Since this spring is so old, there are a few artifacts at the bottom. And since the water is so clear, the artifacts are visible. The large rock formation looked enough like a possible dinosaur backbone that divers investigated it (it's just a rock), and found an ancient boat section next to it. 
River otters were having a great time playing in the water, but they are much to quick to photograph. But Randy spotted a little alligator near the shore that decided to swim right up to the boat, then swam next to us for awhile. 
We enjoyed the boat ride enough that we may come back sometime for the longer ride offered on the weekends. 

After the ride we had lunch (included in the Groupon), then decided to walk around the area. There are miles of walkways in the park but today we stayed on the boardwalk near the springs. When the guide gave us directions to get to it, she said we might see the monkeys today, but it's a good idea to leave them alone. Monkeys? Yes, there is a feral troop here. The story is that in the 1930s a few monkeys were brought in as an attraction on one of the islands. The owners didn't know monkeys can swim; the monkeys did, so they left the boring island and took to the treetops along the springs. And although they are not seen very often, we saw them today. In fact, one walked along the boardwalk handrail right towards us. I wanted to get closer, but Randy's wiser head prevailed.
Soon it joined the small troop that was jumping around in the treetops and they all disappeared. And we walked on. It is so beautiful here, so unspoiled. The forest looks wonderfully primeval, and the sounds of birds and monkeys makes it even better. 

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