Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Monday Outdoors

Live oak

It's so nice not to be chained to a desk anymore. My work allows me way more flexibility than most people have, and I try to make the most of it.

This is Washington Oaks State Park, about an hour from here.

Cottage with interpretive displays inside

Like many places in Florida, it has layers of history. There's a Native American midden there, a combination trash pile and living area -- which sounds weird but makes sense, given the landscape.

The Native Americans piled up the shells of the snails and clams they ate, and when the pile got big enough (a few generations later, perhaps), the chief and other important people lived on top of it, catching whatever breeze there was and avoiding wet ground and most of the mosquitos.

Over many lifetimes, these mounds got huge. Some are 50 or more feet high, and some are just a few feet high but several acres in size. Many of them were hauled away to make roadbeds (ah, progress) so we will never know which one was the largest, or what it might have contained. Only a few have been found to contain human remains, but so many were destroyed, we'll really never know for sure.

Very interesting footsteps to follow in, certainly. This midden provides what passes for a nice overlook in ultra-flat Florida.

View of the Matanzas River

That's one layer of history. Atop that there's Spanish and English ownership, early statehood land grants, a sale to developers for a plan that failed because of the Great Depression, and a purchase by a super-rich husband for his also-a-millionaire wife as a wedding gift. What a romantic life story this place has!

Mala Compra Trail

Tidal marsh along the trail

What's especially nice is that this couple loved it enough to keep it largely natural, and to see that it went into conservation when they passed on. The gardens are maintained, and the rest of the property hasn't really been touched since the 1880s. And what a beautiful place it is.

In the rose garden

North American millipede

Golden ear mushroom

There is an ocean side, also, with a large grouping of coquina rocks interrupting a wide expanse of sand. That gives us Floridians something we hardly ever get to see: tide pools!

The coquina shoreline, rare in Florida

Barnacles and tiny shells, clinging to the rocks at low tide

Tide pool fish (very small)

So, a little hiking, a little exploring, a little dabbling in the ocean -- all in one place. And all on a Monday, as well!

(Hey, guess what? I got these pictures processed, too. Yay for me!)    


  1. Thank you for making me aware of this park. I've never heard of it, but I will definitely look forward to going there sometime.


    1. It's really a gem -- well worth the drive!

  2. Such an interesting post - all sorts of things in it I would never have known about otherwise. (And tremendous pictures of the trees.)

    1. Thank you! There's so much to see out there, and the trees are really special. I'm glad you enjoyed it.


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