Saturday, October 10, 2009

Through The Fog

The fog was thick this morning. Everywhere I looked, it was just stunning. I had to put my blinders on and just put my head down to do what I needed to do to get the park open. I never know on a weekend day whether the crowds will be waiting at the gate to come in all at once or if people will slowly drift in throughout the day, but I try to always be ready for the former. I opened the park, took a drive through the entrance road, and headed to the office. I powered up my computer and headed out for my morning walk. I started at the river and was glad to see that the fog was still thick. There were some fisherman who had arrived by boat already at the shore fishing. I snapped a few photos of my favorite morning view down river and headed back up the hill.
I opened up the cabin and headed over to the spring walkway. As soon as I was on the walkway, I noticed this very large spider. She was almost as big as my hand! She had a few passengers too, her babies were piled high, just hanging onto tiny hairs on her back. She can defend them and keep them safe this way until they are large enough to head out on their own. Before now, she carried them in their egg sac which she held underneath her until they were ready to emerge. This is a Huntsman Spider, and just like Wolf Spiders, they do not make webs. They will catch their prey with camouflage and quick movements. These spiders are not venomous and will not harm humans, but like anything with a mouth, they can bite and will if they need to.
When I made it to the dock, I was able to snap a few more photos of the beautiful fog. The three little rocks are poking even further out of the water. I wish more visitors got to see these spectacular early morning moments. I think its the best part of the day.
My day soon got busier, but not by much. I had maybe a dozen divers come in groups of two or three throughout the morning. I had a few more fishermen, and a boyscout group. It was the same scout group that installed the signs on the nature trail a couple weeks ago. This weekend, they were camping and having fun, but they helped me out a little bit too. They moved some picnic tables around, tidied up the nature trail, and scrubbed some algae off of the dock steps. They are a great group to have around. It was a nice day, the kind of day when there is always someone to talk to or help, but never any stress or hurrying. I chatted with a man who was waiting for his friend to arrive. They were about to start a week long paddling trip on the Suwannee. I answered his questions and gave him some good maps of the river. I talked to a man on the phone who is planning to have a family reunion at the park next weekend. I returned some lost & found items to one of our regular dive instructors and talked to another regular instructor about the change in park fees that happened in July. I talked to a very sweet couple who wanted to camp at Troy. They called me from the entrance station and told me that they realized that we did not have camping but wanted to just look at the spring. They didn't want to pay the entrance fee to just take a quick look and they were trying to turn around. I encouraged them to just come in and have a look, I told them they didn't have to pay for that. I met them in the parking lot and showed them the spring. They were so grateful and I'm sure that they will be back. Everyone at the park today was a joy to be around.
At one point in the afternoon, I was standing on the spring dock talking to a few people. There were several of us on the dock and a handful of divers at the steps, some getting in and some getting out. One of the scouts noticed a snake who had poked its head out of the big rock between the spring and the dock. Everyone tensed up and looked to see where the snake was. I quickly tried to assure everyone that they were not in any danger. The snake is non-venomous and not in the water, it will not bother you! Once everyone's fears were at least settled down, they all wanted to see it. It was the normal progression of "SNAKE!", "are you sure its not a moccasin?", "Lemme see it", "I saw a snake once and....." Its always fun for me to see these scared little reptiles, who are trying to avoid people, and the reaction of the scared people trying to avoid the snake. This snake is a Red-bellied Water Snake. Maybe it is the same one that I saw on the walkway the last time the scouts were here... hmmm, interesting coincidence.

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