Wanna Get Away? by Rebecca Heflin

Copy of Copy of UntitledWe writers spend a lot of time locked in our writing caves, sipping coffee and eavesdropping in coffee shops, or wherever our preferred writing locale is. But sometimes we just want to get away—for a day, a weekend, a week, or, if we’re lucky enough, a month.

After finishing my tenth book, I needed a break, and spending time in nature replenishes my well. Here in North Central Florida, state parks, nature reserves, rivers, springs, and lakes surround us, all within easy driving distance. And yet, I’m ashamed to say, I’ve only been to a handful.

This past weekend, Hubby and I did mark one off our list—O’Leno State Park. There are two fascinating aspects of this particular park:

  1. It was one of the parks developed in the 1930’s by Roosevelt’s Civilian Conservation Corps; and
  2. The Santa Fe River disappears underground before emerging again three miles away.

The Civilian Conservation Corps was one of President Roosevelt’s New Deal programs, and the most popular. A voluntary public relief program during the Great Depression for young unemployed, unmarried men, the CCC employed some 3 million young men. Under the program, they received shelter, clothing, food, and a wage. O’Leno State Park, one of Florida’s first state parks, features an information center all about the corps.

North Central Florida is known for its karst landscape, which features underground drainage systems with sinkholes and caves. I’m sure you’ve seen news stories about sinkholes swallowing cars and homes. Yep, that’s Florida. The Santa Fe River runs through this karst region for about 75 miles across North Central Florida. Three miles of that is underground. I’ve canoed and kayaked the river many times, and I grew up swimming, boating, and skiing in its headwaters—Lake Santa Fe, but I’d never seen what’s called the “River Sink.”

Along the 4-mile hike to the River Sink we passed smaller “sinks” where the ground over


River Sink

the underground river gave way, revealing the dark waters of the river below. Near the end of our hike, Hubby and I finally came upon the River Sink where the slow-moving tannic Santa Fe drops underground. I didn’t know what to expect, but what I saw was definitely not it. The river just appears to end, a little like a neighborhood street with cul-de-sac. The sign near the sink said 900 million gallons of water flow into the sink every day!

Currently, the water level in the river is low due to lack of rain in the area, however, when the water level is high, the water swirls in a counter clockwise direction. The higher the water levels, the faster the swirl. During times of flooding, like following Hurricane Irma in 2017 when the river hit record flood levels, the underground system cannot hold all of the water, and the river again flows over land along the ancient riverbed. #FascinatingFlorida


Suspension Bridge over the Santa Fe River

Next on the local bucket list is River Rise State Park, where the Santa Fe River once again emerges above ground.

What do you like to do when you need a break from your writing?

About Rebecca Heflin

I've dreamed of writing romantic fiction since I was fifteen and my older sister sneaked a copy of Kathleen Woodiwiss' Shanna to me and told me to read it. Now I write women's fiction and contemporary romance under the name Rebecca Heflin. In case you're wondering, Rebecca Heflin is an abbreviated version of my great-great grandmother's name: Sarah Anne Rebecca Heflin Apple Smith. Whew! And you wondered why I shortened it. When not passionately pursuing my dream, I am busy with my day-job at a large state university or running the non-profit cancer organization my husband and I founded. I'm a member of Romance Writers of America (RWA), Florida Romance Writers, RWA Contemporary Romance, Savvy Authors, and Florida Writers Association. My mountain-climbing husband and I live at sea level in sunny Florida.
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6 Responses to Wanna Get Away? by Rebecca Heflin

  1. pamelagibson says:

    Years ago I would go to a friend’s cabin in the mountains or a relative’s summer home, usually for a week, with no phone, no tv, no interruptions. Can’t do that anymore because my husband is partially disabled. But I remember it fondly. Always got a lot done.

  2. Susan B james says:

    Go to the beach. Any beach. But your part of Florida sounds fascinating.

    • My part of Florida is amazing. It’s not what most people think when they think about Florida. It’s rivers and springs, moss-draped love oaks, and rolling hills. It’s “Old Florida.”

  3. Always fun to explore, we live on such a beautiful and interesting planet. I love to hike and travel, but although I know south Florida well, I don’t you part of the woods at all. Thanks for sharing!

  4. viola62 says:

    I take refuge in my spinning class. I can disappear in the physical intensity and focus.

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