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canoeing and kayaking near Tampa, Florida
Content of Articles Detroit Free Press
November 1, 1992
by Rick Sylvain

Canoe Trip Glides Through the Real Florida

the Real Florida...Thonotosassa, FL - Upriver maybe 50 yards from our canoe, moss-draped oaks are white with ibis, the orange-billed wading bird.

"Magnificent," says Joe Faulk. "The most I've ever seen."

The Hillsborough River is like glass. Suddenly, 300-400 birds flutter from branches in a spectacular lift-off.

"They'll just keep hopscotching ahead of us," Faulk explains. "They're beautiful, but pretty stupid."

Faulk runs Canoe Escape, a chance to see the Florida of the past, before developers paved it in theme parks, retirement communities, concrete freeways and golden arches.

Canoeing the Hillsborough is one wilderness treat after another: Turtles sun on fallen logs that litter the river. Alligators siesta in the rushes. We spot egrets, herons, water snakes, one red-shouldered hawk and a rare, endangered limpkin in the reeds.

Hard to believe this is the same Hillsborough River that cuts through busy downtown Tampa 12 miles away. Under its canopy of large oaks, maple and cypress, this stretch of the Hillsborough twists and turns through thousands of acres of preserved wilderness. Soft sunlight filters down to the hammock; the forest floor is almost surreal.

An upturned tree trunk, river plants, a log lurking in the brackish water--half the fun of this two-hour paddle is negotiating the Hillsborough.

"See over there where it's all rooted up?," asks Faulk. "Wild hogs. And over there, the trampled areas? Gators."

With their diet of fish, turtles and birds, the gators never are starved for a meal. "They're practically comatose," Faulk says.

"One lady counted 37 gators in two hours. People want to see gators in their natural setting rather than behind bars or on TV."

This is natural, all right. Better than anything Disney can dream up. Deep in the whisper-quiet Florida wilderness is the stuff of dreams.

"This is the reason people used to come to Florida, before the theme parks," Faulk says. "It pretty much sells itself."

The downside of all those ibis? Ibis droppings. Like rain they fall on the river--and on canoeists like June Hammond of Clearwater.

She laughs it off.

"Glad I wore this hat."



MORE ARTICLES
Canoe Trip Glides Through the Real Florida
Florida, My Florida
Tampa Canoe for an Hour or Two
Canoe Ride Catches Wildlife Up Close
Wild Times on a Tame River
Paddle Away from all Your Troubles
Florida Canoe Trips: The Hillsborough
Taking a Glide on the Wild Side of Florida
Hillsborough River Becomes a Canoe Trail
A Peaceable Kingdom Awaits Those Who Step Into a Canoe
Quietly Taking In Nature
Paddle Into Paradise

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Canoe Escape, Inc.
9335 E. Fowler Avenue
Thonotosassa, FL 33592
ph: 813-986-2067
e-mail: info@canoeescape.com
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