Saturday, May 28, 2016

What I Did on My Summer Vacation (part 4): Cumberland Island

I copied this from the Cumberland Island website because they said it better than I ever could.

"Welcome to Georgia's largest barrier island and one of the most spectacular natural habitats in the Northern Hemisphere. The greatest and most lasting value of the Island is its ability to change us. It is a place of transformation. It is this intangible feature that seems to be the most important benefit which Cumberland Island has for its guests. This spiritual quality is what, year after year, its visitors, residents, and Park Service employees seem to believe is its most important contribution to our people."

 To get to Cumberland National Seashore, you have to catch the ferry boat, the Cumberland Princess, in St. Marys, Georgia. Cars are not allowed on the island, and although some people did bring bikes with them, they're not allowed on the trails.

 St. Marys waterfront park.

The ferry lets you off near the Dungeness Ruins.

Getaway's Anna Hider has summed up the history of the place without going into too much detail:

" of the most interesting and important estates in American history is this ruined mansion out on Georgia's Cumberland Island, part of the Cumberland National Seashore. More than one famous figure occupied the island (as far back as the 1730's!) and yet the remains have been left to crumble.

James Oglethorpe, the man who founded the state of Georgia, was the first to occupy the island. He built a hunting lodge he called "Dungeness" there in 1736. After that, the next major owner was Revolutionary War hero Nathaniel Greene, who.... built another iteration of Dungeness on the estate in 1803. The island played a big role in the War of 1812, when the British occupied it and used it as a headquarters, and Robert E. Lee's father stayed in the mansion for a few years before his death. The island was abandoned during the Civil War, and Dungeness II burned down."

Finally Thomas Carnegie (brother of the famously wealthy Andrew Carnegie) and his wife built yet another Dungeness, a 59-room Queen Anne style mansion.  The Carnegie family left the island in 1925, and the house burned down and fell into ruin. Now cared for by the National Park Service, the island is designated as a National Seashore.

There were originally about 40 outbuildings; the ones that are left are eerily beautiful.

Many were quarters for the family's approximately 200 servants.

I'm pretty sure this was a barn...

From Dungeness, I think it's about a mile walk to the beach.

On the way, we saw several wild horses.

Mama and baby were running around playing amidst the trees...

At one point I was walking along the path when I heard and then saw a horse galloping full-speed right at me. I barely had time to jump out of the way, and since there was thick vegetation alongside the path, it missed me by only a few feet. (Not this horse; I didn't get a shot of it for obvious reasons.)

The path to the beach passes through a very large area of huge sand dunes, which are beautiful, but not that easy to walk through...

Cumberland Island beach. See all the hotels and condos lining the beach? No, me neither.

There was hardly anyone there... mostly just us and the birds...

On the way back, the sky looked threatening...

...but we lucked out and it never rained.

We got back on the ferry at Sea Camp, the island's small, beautiful camp ground.

Goodbye, Cumberland Island!

I hope you all enjoyed my little tour. If you like wild, unspoiled nature, I strongly recommend taking the trip!

Monday, May 23, 2016

What I Did on My Summer Vacation (part 3): Mount Dora

We stopped in Mount Dora to visit with some dear friends, and fell in love with the town. Mount Dora is a quaint and historic town which sits atop the highest point in Florida (184 feet above sea level). There are actually some hills here - small ones, but hills, nonetheless. 

We stayed at the Lakeside Inn, which was built in 1883 and is on the US National Register of Historic Places. The building is gorgeous, and made me feel as if I were going back in time.

There's also a steam engine which still runs...

...with an old-fashioned red caboose.

Mount Dora sits on a huge lake - Lake Dora, as luck would have it. Lake Dora is part of the Ocklawaha River basin, which eventually empties into the St Johns River.

In the late 1800's, a canal was dug from Lake Dora to Lake Eustis, which became a haven for wildlife.

We took a guided cruise down the Dora Canal, and were excited to see alligators, three types of herons, and other wildlife.

An anhinga drying its wings after swimming with only its head and neck out of the water. Weird, huh?

The boat was moving and so were they, so I was not able to get clear photos of most of them, but we really enjoyed the ride.

... my favorite bird...

White ibises strolling through someone's front yard.

We went for a walk on Palm Island, a beautiful park...

... with what I believe is a real lighthouse.

Palm Island is a beautiful place to walk and enjoy the scenery and wildlife.

Weekly Quick Collage: Landscape II

Landscape II
collage, 5 x 7 inches

A nation that destroys its soils destroys itself. Forests are the lungs of our land, purifying the air and giving fresh strength to our people. Franklin D. Roosevelt
Read more at:
A nation that destroys its soils destroys itself. Forests are the lungs of our land, purifying the air and giving fresh strength to our people. Franklin D. Roosevelt
Read more at:
Whether we or our politicians know it or not, Nature is party to all our deals and decisions, and she has more votes, a longer memory, and a sterner sense of justice than we do.
Read more at:
“So, friends, every day do something that won't compute ... Give your approval to all you cannot understand ... Ask the questions that have no answers. Put your faith in two inches of humus that will build under the trees every thousand years ... Laugh. Be joyful though you have considered all the facts ... Practice resurrection.”
The Country of Marriage, Wendell Berry          (probably my favorite Wendell Berry quote ever)

"Whether we and our politicians know it or not, Nature is party to all our deals and decisions, and she has more votes, a longer memory, and a sterner sense of justice than we do.”
Wendell Berry

“It may be that when we no longer know which way to go that we have come to our real journey. The mind that is not baffled is not employed. The impeded stream is the one that sings.”
Wendell Berry

Thursday, May 19, 2016

What I Did on My Summer Vacation (part 2) - Juniper Springs

Juniper Springs Recreation Area is located in Florida's Ocala National Forest. The swimming area, trails, and campground were constructed by Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930's. I think they describe it well on their website:
"The setting is unlike any other found in the United States, with hundreds of tiny bubbling springs and massive springs gushing out of crevices in the earth beneath a dense canopy of palms and oaks, an oasis within the heart of the desert-like Big Scrub."

 The swimming area is a curious cross between a natural pond and a swimming pool; the bottom is natural, but the CCC put walls around it, and terraced it so that people could sit.

 The old mill house, which works by water coming UP instead of down.

Walking along one of the hiking trails beside the creek.

This is the beginning of the kayak run, which a local kayaker told us was "hard as hell", with many hairpin turns and lots of obstructions to watch out for and get around.We opted out on this one.

There were 3 or 4 different types of turtles of pretty good size...

... and a very obliging and photogenic alligator...

These bright blue spots in the water are the places where water is bubbling up.

Here, I tried to photograph one; the water bubbling up reminds me of the "paint pots" and "sulfer pots" at Yellowstone.

Juniper Spring was a very unique and fascinating experience - a good place to relax, swim, hike, and kayak (if you're very experienced).