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Ed Watts, known affectionately as Naked Ed in the High Springs area, has lived on the Santa Fe River for 24 years.  He is the caretaker of the piece of property that surrounds Lily Springs, and he doesn’t wear clothes.  I was warned of him at the Santa Fe Outfitters where I rented my kayak, but I already knew about him from my guidebooks and the restaurant in town.  The restaurant,  The Great Outdoors, sells Naked Ed beer.  He has become quite famous in these parts!

I did get a chance to meet Naked Ed.  I had stopped in the shade on a bank near the springs, and Ed walked toward me on the opposite bank, just a few yards away.  He did, in fact, have a towel wrapped away his waist.  He explained that he always does this when he approaches someone.  He told me I was welcome to go further into this cove to see the springs, but he warned me that he would be naked.

It turned out that Naked Ed is very nice and quite harmless.  We chatted for about half an hour.  He loves visitors, and he loves to talk.  I had to watch the time as I was told that to make my pick up, I would need to leave Naked Ed no later than 2:30.  I felt a bit like Cinderella!  What a twist to the story. 

If you happen to be floating down the Santa Fe River and have the time, be sure to stop by to see Naked Ed.

(Originally posted July 16, 2010)

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“A river seems a magic thing. A magic, moving, living part of the very earth itself.”

Laura Gilpin

I consider myself a novice kayaker.  I’ve been kayaking for nearly two years now, and I haven’t left the Intracoastal in my backyard.  For two years, I have been saying that I need to venture out into Florida’s rivers.  Well, I’m finally doing it.

In July, I am going to spend two weeks launching my “up the river” kayak project. In those two weeks, I plan to kayak as many rivers in Florida that I can. After those two weeks, I will continue throughout the year to paddle as many rivers as possible with the ultimate goal of paddling all of Florida’s rivers. Come along with me, and share your own adventures!

I do have some help with the planning. My sources of information are the following, and I will refer to them throughout my journey:

Alden, Peter, Rick Cech and Gil Nelson.  National Audubon Society Field Guide to Florida.  New York: Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., 1998.

Boning, Charles R. Florida’s Rivers. Sarasota: Pineapple Press, Inc., 2007.

Carter, Elizabeth F., et al. Canoeing & Kayaking Florida. 2nd ed. Birmingham: Menash Ridge Press, 2007.

Huff, Sandy. Paddler’s Guide to the Sunshine State. Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2001.

Ohr, Tim and Pete Carmicheal.  Florida’s Fabulous Canoe and Kayak Trail Guide.  CA: World Publications, 2008.

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