My husband, Jason, grew up in Chassahowitzka. Chaz as the locals call it. He spent much of his childhood playing around on the river and learning all of it’s local treasures. After we got married, we ended up buying his childhood home… just minutes away from the river. We often spend our weekends there, fishing and relaxing with our daughter. So naturally, I’ve been toying with the idea of a boat led engagement session through Chaz for a while now haha.
Which brings us to Dustin + Denise. They’re high school sweethearts who have been together for over a decade ! Dustin proposed on the 4th of July, this past year, amid fireworks and sparklers! And they will be tying the knot the end of this year. I was so excited, when I mentioned the river, and they jumped on the idea! They made the drive all the way from Tampa, to explore all of our favorite places with us, on our little boat. A testament to their fun, adventurous natures.
First, we brought them to a small grassy island where we sometimes take Annabelle on the boat for a picnic lunch. As we were pulling in, we were greeted by a spunky little raccoon, foraging for food under the rocks along the shoreline. After some good laughs and a couple of dreamy pulled back shots… we abandoned dry land and basically spent the remainder of the evening in the water.
Dustin + Denice had no fear or reservations… they stood in shallow channels, walked along tall beds of sawgrass and endured the chilly water of the springs. In the colder months, manatees travel from the open ocean into the springs, where they take refuge in the warmer water of the river. So we passed dozens of them as we drove from spot to spot, along the way. We saved seven sisters spring for a last. A small opening in the river open up to a large spring, with sparkling blue water and a series of underwater caves. The tide was so low that Dustin + Denice were actually able to walk on top of the rocks that formed all of the holes. On camera, it looks as if they were standing on glass. So beautiful!
Just as the sun set and we were pulling in to the boat dock… nature blessed us with one more beauty! We heard a great splash of water to our right… and turned to see a dolphin fin quickly rushing through the water! He (or she) was racing against the shoreline, schooling up the fish and gathering them to eat. A truly magical end to the perfect evening!