This morning’s sunrise was beautiful. The water was a perfect mirroring of the sky. You could hardly make out where the sky ended and the river began. Bob was shooting on the bottom deck up front, while Tom was shooting off of the upper deck. An alligator swam by in the distance, slowly approaching a flock of ducks. Tom and I watched in silence, hoping to see some action. But the gator slowly meandered by the ducks sinking into the mist of the early morning.
I left Tom and went below to have some breakfast. After my meal, I got into Leslie’s boat with Bob and Bill Belleville. Bob wanted to go get some footage of the mist-covered river, and Leslie and Mark needed to get some gas in the pontoon boat and the center console. So with Mark by himself in the pontoon boat, and everyone else in Leslie’s center console, we made our way through the wall of mist down the river in search of gas.
It took us a while to find gas, since most stations we passed by weren’t even open this early in the morning. We had a good half hour or so of cruising around in the mist looking for gas, which gave Bob and I a great opportunity to shoot video and stills. The sun’s rays where piercing through the trees, and the mist made the light perfectly visible. As we hugged the tree line, I probably snapped around 100 pictures, hoping to get a nice shot of the sun shining through the trees. Bob was busy shooting non-stop, since a misty morning on a river is a cameraman’s dream.
While Bob and I were busy shooting, Mark finally located a gas station. After filling us up, the gasoline attendant told us where we could enter the Oklawaha River, and gave us an estimate on how long it would take us to reach the Rodman Dam. This was our last day with the crew shooting on the St. Johns River, and it was to be spent traversing the Oklawaha River, all the way up to the Rodham Dam.
Full with gas, our two boats headed back through the mist to the houseboat and gathered the talent and crew. Terry, Bob, Charlie, Mark and myself loaded onto the pontoon boat, and the regular Leslie, Jenn, Bill and Tom Postel on the center console.
The Oklawaha is one of the St. Johns River’s largest tributaries, and I had no idea how beautiful the river truly was. It is spring fed, and therefore is crystal clear (most of the time). Bill Belleville has traveled this river several times, and I overheard him state that this is the clearest he has ever seen it. I was standing up on the front of the pontoon next to Bob, and I could see the bottom of the river perfectly, even when it became relatively deep, around 20 feet at one point.
The ride up the river was going good, and I was filled with excitement. There were tons of fallen trees from the hurricanes of the last few years sprawled out across the river, so we had to go slow and maneuver our way through the obstacles in the water. Staring down into the water as we traveled, I could see crab traps every so often, filled with crabs, or beer cans from past parties, as well as fallen tree trunks.
Suddenly, taking the whole crew by surprise, a crab fisherman zipped by our port side in a Jon boat. He was going nearly 3 times as fast as our pontoon boat, and right when he passed, a wave of water came over Bob and mainly myself. Luckily Bob was sitting down next to me, so the entire wave didn’t soak him and the $5000 camera in his hands. The unfortunate part was that I had my Canon Rebel strapped on my back, and I had Bob’s Sony VX 2100 video camera in my hand. Not nearly $5000 worth of equipment, but still a good $3000. The water soaked my entire back and legs, luckily not putting too much water on my Canon. The Sony on the other hand got a good amount of water on it.
Everyone on our boat was extremely angry, and I feared that if we came across that crab fisherman again, someone’s blood would spill into the Oklawaha. Luckily the camera equipment was unharmed, and the crab fisherman was never to be seen again.
We carried on up the Oklawaha, filming Leslie’s boat from different angles. It wasn’t long before we ran into more problems. While cruising through some downed trees, Leslie’s prop smacked into a tree branch, making a loud thud noise. After not being able to fix this, we decided to put Leslie and Jenn on the pontoon boat and make our way to the Rodham Dam, which was not far off from where we busted Leslie’s prop. Terry and Charlie decided to stay behind with Leslie’s boat until we could return to help them.
After leaving Leslie’s boat behind, we rounded the next corner to see the Rodham Dam off in the distance. We got Leslie and Jenn on the front of the pontoon boat, and shot a conversation between the two, with the Rodham Dam in the background. They spoke about the history of the dam, the effects it has on the environment, and several other aspects of this great mass of controversial concrete.
We finally arrived to a boat ramp adjacent to the Rodham Dam, and Jenn and Leslie went out to explore the dam. This was nearly the end of our production journey, with this sequence at Rodham Dam being my last with Jenn and Leslie.
The crew was to split up at this point, with Leslie leaving for home from the Rodham Dam with her husband and her boat, and the rest of us loading into the pontoon to go back down the Oklawaha River, and back to the houseboat.
I enjoyed our ride back down the Oklawaha, since this has now become one of my favorite rivers. I fear that when I eventually come back to see the Oklawaha again, it won’t be nearly as beautiful as it was today. I can only hope so. What a great day!!