Wednesday 07 Dec 2016

Rock Springs
AJ Robinson

For most people, the words: "economy" and "Orlando" aren't synonymous. After all, it's the town that "Mickey Built". Still, if you know where to look, you can find some delightful spots that won't bust your budget. Well, Rock Springs in Kelly Park is one of those places.

If you take Orange Blossom Trail north through Orlando, and up to the nearby city of Apopka, all you have to do is follow the signs to the state park, to Kelly Park. As it's a state park, the admission price is quite reasonable - a dollar a person. In addition, the park forbids alcohol, and they're good about enforcing it. So, the place is a great family fun spot. They've bar-b-q grills, volleyball courts, and a nice little concession stand. The main attraction, so to speak, is Rock Springs. From deep underground, a natural spring sends out a constant stream of clean, cold water, and it comes out of its cave mighty fast, let me tell you! At the cave's entrance, the water must be well over eight feet deep, but you wouldn't know it to look at it. Being so clean and clear, you can see right to the bottom.

Now, it's not without reason the name of the location is "Rock Springs." The upper portion of the stream has some big, nasty rocks. Your best bet: wear water shoes, and bring an inner tube. As it happens, there are several places, right outside the park, that rent tubes, for only a few dollars a day.

One Fourth of July, my family and I went there with some friends - a teacher and her three kids. Our friend is a single mom. She's a teacher, too. No rocket science needed to understand she doesn't have money to burn. Rock Springs is the perfect place for her, much to do, inexpensive and accessible. Well, we got there early, had a great swim in the cold water; which was most welcome considering how hot it was. You must remember, this was July, in central Florida. Again, no great intellect needed. It wasn't only hot, it was blazing hot, sizzling hot; hot enough to grill burgers on the hood of a car, without the engine running!

After splashing about for a while, we stoked up the grill, cooked up some burgers and hotdogs, and chowed down. As expected, the park staff came around to check the coolers for alcohol. Some people might object to this, call it an invasion of privacy. Me, I never had a problem with it.

After lunch, and still more water play, we headed home. The thing is, we were hungry again. The great thing about that area, it has plenty of restaurants. As we had four hungry teenagers - two of them growing boys, we headed over to CiCi's Pizza. For those of you who don't know the place; it's a specialty pizza place, cafeteria-style. You pay one price, and eat all you want. Our kids, they just about inhaled a couple pizzas each!

That night, we didn't bother with the fireworks; we were all beat. That was about the best Fourth of July of my adult life. Yet, what had we really done? Gone swimming, had a bar-b-q, and spent time with friends. Some would call it an old-fashion Fourth. Me, I called it quality and quantity time, with those whom I care for, most.

Combining the gimlet-eye, of Philip Roth, with the precisive mind of Lionel Trilling, AJ Robinson writes about what goes bump in the mind, of 21st century adults. Raised in Boston, with summers on Martha's Vineyard, AJ now lives in Florida. Most of the time he writes, but sometimes he works at Disney World to renew his fantasies and get a few dollars more. AJ writes, with insight and passion, about his family and his dog. His liberal, note the small "l," sensibilities often lead to bouts of righteous indignation, well focused and true.

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