October 8th, 2018 - Took a quick little trip up to Blue Springs with my good friend and my camping guru, Cat Mcraig, over the weekend. Dispersed all over northern Florida are these underwater playgrounds -- dozens and dozens of meters in depth, these intricate oases provide layers of dimension and obstacles to swim around in and play all day.

 

We woke up with the sun to beat the crowds and explored like little kids until the goosebumps on our skin or growling noises in our stomachs were too rampant to be ignored. We felt like mermaids in our own little lagoon.

 

My friend (and creator of the non-profit PlanIT), Scarlet Arana - lent me the book Silenced Springs to read while I was there. Some of her data is actually in this book. From it, I learned that in the past 25 years alone, there has been a 60% decrease in fish population in the Florida springs. This has caused there to be a 200% increase in nitrate-nitrogen concentrates (what algae come from), therefore leading to a more murky and greenish tint in these waters.

 

I am glad I started reading this book here for two reasons.

 

The first is that it is so hard to try and imagine what the water looked like 25, 50, 100+ years ago... I am swimming upstream towards the spring head, absorbing everything around me, astounded at the clarity. Yet according to researchers, the water today is nowhere near as pristine and clear as it was back then. It's just so hard to wrap my head around the fact that this water was ACTUALLY cleaner, ACTUALLY purer. What I'd give to be able to experience the spring 100+ years ago!

 

The second reason is that it was interesting to see how reading about a place while being there helped me retain so much more information about it. Reading about the structures of the spring heads and then immediately jumping in and diving down to feel it for myself solidified the information in my head -- something I don't think would have had the same impact if I had read about this stuff at home. This understanding makes me want to travel to the places I'm learning about, it makes me want to go out and practice the skills I've always wanted to accomplish, it just makes me want to go and experience as much as I can and study about the places I'm in while I'm there so I can retain more.

 

I honestly didn't think I'd come to this conclusion after 1 night of camping but hey, I'm glad I did. I needed this reminder. I've been forgetting what it's like to experience things lately and what it is to be truly present. I want to get back to that.