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Friday, April 12, 2013

We Want to Buy a Zoo!

The famous glass-bottom boats of Silver Springs Park circa 1972(ish)

Sadness should NOT be a part of a family's spring break, but that's what Tall Guy and I felt when we visited Silver Springs Park last week.  See, in a crazy fluke of life, Tall Guy and I both visited this place when we were little.  His mom and dad saw it first on their honeymoon, and his aunt worked there in the 70's, so Tall Guy remembers at least one visit there in his youth.  My mom's folks lived in Bellview, just a little bit away from Ocala and Silver Springs, so we also went there..... I.....uhm....even have pictures to prove it...


Remember it was the 70's....

It was before braces.....

Oh boy, I really must trust you guys to share pictures from the "awkward  years."

This is my mom, and this tree plays an important part in our family history time line.

Yes I have a brother.  He is eleven months younger.  His children are 29, 26, 23! (I think!)  This getting old stuff is hard on number memory.  'Course numbers NEVER were good in my memory,

Our very good family friends, the Antcliff family.  I'm trying to decide if I should comment on Larry's socks..........Nah, I'll leave it.  What happened in the '70's should stay in the 70's ;-)

These monkeys are kind of cool.  We took a TON of monkey pictures; it became the family warning when someone was on the edge of taking too many pictures of one particular thing: "Monkey Pictures!"  They were left on the place after six Tarzan movies finished shooting.  Left to themselves, they had made friends and were thriving at Silver Springs.

Several movies and television shows have been shot in this park.  Creature of the Black Lagoon, epsiodes from "I Spy"and "Sea Hunt." starring Loyd Bridges is just a taste of Hollywood that was attracted to this beautiful park. It's located just east of Ocala, Florida.

I tried to find a few pics of when Steve and I went, pre-wedding, but they are in a mysterious box in a mysterious closet somewhere around here.

Here are some shots from 2009 when we took the girls for the first time.

As you walked over the bridge into the park, you were greeted by several these brightly colored feathery friends.

Riding the glass bottom boats to see all the springs is an absolute must!  You never know what will swim by!

These springs feed the river, and the water is 72 degrees all year long!

A view from the sky ride that was new when we visited this time!  Very cool!

The zoo had greatly expanded to include a wide variety of mammals, reptiles, and whatever else I'm leaving out!

As you can see, the tree has lowered just a bit since 1972!

The big hit this visit were the giraffes.  The girls were able to feed them, and they were totally captivated with their extremely long tongues!   

When we arrived this year, we were greeted with a person who immediately told us the cougar and reptile islands and river cruise were no longer running.  We could still go on the glass bottom boats and see a few of the animals..... So sad.  From what we gathered, the owners had turned the park over to the State of Florida at the end of last year, and the state is turning it into a state park.  The glass bottom boats will still run, but the rest of the rides and animals will go away.  One day they are there, the next day they are gone.   Sigh.......  I'm not sure I would want to bike or hike in a place where I have seen alligators roam freely.  At least not without one of the Gator Boys!

Another sad story was told to us by the man who ran the merry-go-round.  The giraffes were a male and female.  They lost the female last fall, and the male died soon after.  The gentleman tending the ride was still moved by the loss.  The workers there trade jobs, so many were able to work near the animals.  They are all greatly missed.

Here is the giraffe enclosure, located next to the merry-go-round.

Mr. Kodiak is still hanging in there.

Some of the more unique merry-go-round animals:

And the tree still grows!

Took a page out of my own lesson book and used the flash on these next two pics.  Did you catch my flash post on Real Farmwives of America?

 Finally, the famous glass-bottom boats that let you pretend you can scuba dive to the bottom of the springs.

We truly will miss our old Silver Springs.  In a few years, I think we will return there at least one more time to see its final new face, but the ghosts of the monkeys, giraffes, and other animals will be with us always.  Sometimes, I wish we could be like Matt Damon's character in I Bought a Zoo.  It makes me sad to see such places as Silver Springs, Weekee Watchee, and Sea Gardens fade off into the very dim sunset.  Love ya Silver Springs!

Do you have any spots your family has gone to over and over through the years?  How has it changed?  What do you still love about going back?  What will you miss most?

Next up is either a story about seeing something I have never seen before, or general what to do and not to do when going on vacation.  Stay tuned to see which way the wind blows me.  With the crazy wind going on tonight (Wednesday), Heaven only knows where we will land.

Happy Trails!


  1. Thank you...great story...my husband wants to buy a zoo.

  2. Thank you...great story...my husband wants to buy a zoo.



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