AUG/SEPT 2018 | No Bars On The St. Johns
Check out the No Bars on the St. Johns article from our 2018 August/September issue!
Reed getting methodical on Lake George
Words & Photos: Jeff Mathis
When you’re in the middle of the wake scene in Orlando, things can start to feel a little stale from time to time. Riding on the same lakes with the same crew, day in and day out, can leave you wanting a little more adventure. Luckily in Florida, you don’t have to go a long way to find a secluded spot devoid of cell service to simply go get lost. We found such a place along the St. Johns River, just an hour-and-a-half north of Orlando.
The St. Johns is known nationally as a “scenic” spot for weekend warriors to wreak havoc, and since it measures 310 miles long there’s plenty of space and plenty of crazies. It’s also unique in that it’s one of only three rivers in the U.S. that flows northward rather than south. We were able to find a spot where the St. Johns meets Lake George (Florida’s second largest lake, behind Lake Okeechobee) at probably the most Florida-esque place out there, Porky’s Landing & Marina. This little motel/marina/bar added the country vibes we were hoping for to make the trip more than just a quick getaway.
Sam Brown with style for miles
Rollin’ down the river
The trip began as most do, meeting up at a spot to pile everyone’s stuff into the truck and heading out. Cole Vanthof and myself got up with Reed Hansen, the designated tour guide because he was the only one out of all of us who had been on the St. Johns, and we loaded up his boat with high hopes that Cory Teunissen, Nic Rapa, Shota Tezuka, and Sam Brown would be meeting us later that day. The boys had been driving down the whole night before from the Smoky Mountain Factory Pro that went down in Tennessee the weekend prior, so we weren’t sure when they’d be showing, but they kept assuring us that they were on the way. We set out from Reed’s place in Clermont on what we thought was going to be an easy drive. Little did we know that Siri had it out for us that day because she decided to take us a way that required taking a ferry to cross the St. Johns and before we knew it, we were down an old dirt road being told by passers-by that the ferry wasn’t even running that day. What made it worse was that we barely had any cell service, so trying to find an alternate route proved to be a challenge. We were also trying to warn the guys about it so they didn’t get stuck in the same situation, but of course they did. That little detour added a solid hour to our trip and as we rolled along, Reed regaled us with stories of all the alligators he’s seen on the St. Johns over the years. Add the fact that it was mid-gator-mating season and it was shaping up to be quite the Florida country adventure. We rolled into Porky’s around 1 p.m. to be met by John, the owner, telling us the boat ramp was out-of-service because, in his words, “Somebody decided to f*uck it up the other day.” But he pointed us to another ramp right down the road and we had the boat in the water in no time. We kicked back for a bit and waited on the rest of the crew to join us.
Cory with his head in the clouds
Shota getting crossed up
The boys rolled in about two hours later and once we grabbed a bite to eat over at Porky’s, we got to work. Unfortunately, Nic had hurt himself at the contest the previous day so he was there to be the hype man, but everyone else was healthy and in good spirits to get some solid shredding in. Cruising down the St. Johns without any other boat in sight and glassy water as far as we could see definitely made the trip start to seem worthwhile. We shredded ‘til sunset and after stacking photos and clips, we headed back into Porky’s where we got the rundown on where to eat around there. The only restaurant around, besides Porky’s, which only served breakfast and lunch, was an “Italian” spot down the road called River Pub. It was probably the worst meal anybody had in a long time so we got out of there as quick as we could and headed back to Porky’s. We walked into the bar where there were a couple locals enjoying some cold ones with Journey playing in the background, and John set up the pool table so we could play for free. Unbeknownst to everyone, Reed is apparently a pool shark and ran the table on the whole crew. So if he ever challenges you to a game, just walk away …
Reed’s got one hell of a poke
Shota bringing the steeze
The vibes were still rolling when the sun poked out the next morning and we were out on the water before we knew it. The first thing we saw when we started walking down the dock was a solid six- to seven-foot gator chomping down on something off in the weeds, but that wasn’t enough to dampen anyone’s spirits. We all laughed it off and began loading up the boats. Rather than running up the St. Johns again, we decided to take our chances out on the vastness of Lake George and were met with some fresh butter that was ready to be carved up. Lake George might be the second largest lake in Florida, but it has some seriously shallow spots so we had to keep a close eye on the depth finder the whole time. The boys went out and did their thing in the crisp morning light and, coupling that with no shoreline in sight, it made for an experience that won’t soon be forgotten. Once we wrapped up for the morning, we decided to see what else Lake George had to offer. What we found was the Silver Glen Springs that was packed with people getting ready for July 4th. The crystal-clear, blue water was the perfect break from the heat as we explored the spot. Reed decided it was a good opportunity to work on his lung capacity and had Sam following him with the GoPro as he swam to the bottom, grabbed a huge rock, and walked it around on the bottom of the spring. After everyone gotten frozen out by the spring’s chilly temps (a constant 72°F), we rolled back out to Lake George to head back to Porky’s. The morning’s perfect conditions had turned ocean-like before we knew it, and we were bouncing around as we cruised straight through the middle of the lake.
Lake George providing
Nat Geo on the St. Johns
Cool down sesh at Silver Glen Springs
Once we got back to Porky’s, we pulled the boats out and started to pack up. The St. Johns provided the goods we were looking for and it just goes to show that you don’t need to travel halfway across the world to find a rad spot. Sometimes all you need to do is go get lost in your backyard and with the right crew; you’re pretty much guaranteed to have a good time. So what are you waiting for? Load up and send it into the unknown!
“Is that a gator?!”