Beautiful pristine riverbank at risk of being lost to developers. Two local businessmen come to the rescue to save this historical spot.
THE PERFECT AFTERNOON
It was the perfect day, the middle of January, the sun warming our faces, a brisk chilly breeze fills the air; yes it was the perfect afternoon. For a short time we pretended that we were far away from the busy hectic rush of the rest of the world. We drifted along the peaceful current, occasionally putting our paddle in the water to point us in the right direction. We stopped; I said, “Listen to that.” Patrick said in a hush, “What?” I chucked and said, “Nothing, that’s it, the sound of nothing, just peace and quiet.”
The perfect afternoon started at Kings Landing where we launched our canoe and paddled through the mucky canal that led us to the Wekiva River. Bob Loomis invited us out to test the landing. Actually to see the great work that is going on out there.
We paddled though the thick mixture of sludge, fallen timber and trash like debris of the canal, and as we reached the mouth of the river joining the canal, it looked beautiful. The water so crystal clear you could see to the bottom. It was as if you were looking through a sheet of glass.
We stopped along on a sandbar, rolled up our jeans, took of our shoes and waded in the chilly, crystal clear water. We were excited about the moment as the cold water splashed on our legs. Memories came rushing back as I remember my adolescent years spending time on the river. We laughed and frolicked in the water for a few moments while pausing from time to time to take photos of the four Loomis boys who love the river they live on. Mark, Jimmy, Steven and Trevor gave us a spectacular show as they took turns climbing 50 -60 feet high into the air and take the large swinging rope that was thrown to them.
On the count of three they would jump. “One, two, three…ready?” They said. All at once they would let go of the perch they were standing on and flew out over the river waters beneath them, and let go. We snapped the camera as they splashed into the cold water. That was really cool to stand by wishing we were kids again.
Since as far back as I can remember, Kings Landing, Rock Springs and Wekiva Springs Park & Marina was the favorite spot for youth to go. The average daytrip was renting the canoe at Kings Landing, paddle leisurely up the river, and we would stop along the way and swim, picnic and look at turtles and baby alligators. We would also go to Rock Springs and rent tubes and tube down the current of the river. It was usually a long hot exhausting day, but we were adventurous and resilient. When we weren’t together as a twosome, we would be at Kings Landing with our church youth group for a day outing. Yes, Kings Landing was the place to go.
We raised our children near the river and on weekends took them to Kings Landing to canoe down the same paddle run; we would stop and share our stories of the river with them.
We grew up on the river and knew it would be there forever. Mulching Melbourne
Now 33 years later Kings Landing was at risk of being lost. It has just recently been brought to my attention by Bob and Steven Loomis, of Loomis Funeral Home, that Kings Landing could have been but a mere memory, and those memories we made as kids would be all we had left.
There are a lot of people who have grown up in this area and have fond memories of the Wekiva River. Those who live in Apopka and Northwest Orange County have a lot to be proud of and thankful for. Not everyone is like-minded when it comes to natural resources, ecology and the environment. While we all want to do our part in preservation, doing our part might not always be enough to guard against losing one of our most valuable resources.
HISTORY OF THE LANDING
For decades, Apopka has been known for the Wekiva River. Kings Landing, the Wekiva Marina, Rock Springs Park, Katie’s Landing and Wekiva Springs State Park all make up the river system that flows throughout our area. Mulching Melbourne
The Kings Landing canoe rental post property has been privately owned all these years by Gabby Gardner and her partner, Ted Kirkland. Gabby and Ted operated the Kings Landing canoe rental business catering to outdoor enthusiasts both locally and to those traveling to canoe this popular paddle run.
Unless you are an avid reader of sporting guides and outdoor life magazines, or belong to an outdoor adventure group, you might not know that this paddle run has for years been rated number one in Central Florida. Second would be paddling the waterways and lagoons in the Titusville and Brevard County area. In fact, many paddle tour groups and kayakers from all over the nation come here to enjoy the paddle and canoe trail. Being an avid kayaker, enjoying paddlenews.net, and belonging to the Wilderness Trekkers group, I have become aware of this popularity of this spot.
During the devastation of the 2004 and 2005 hurricanes, this property and the river passages were damaged and left full of debris, making the river virtually impassable by canoes and kayaks. As new owners Bob and Steven Loomis said, “Only an experienced kayaker could have gotten through.” As a result, the property sat for a long time and Kings Landing was becoming less and less popular. The entire landing area has been full of trees and debris