Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Trip 2: Washington Oaks Gardens State Park

Parks now visited: 2
The camping trip is over. Kayaks are but a few minutes' perusal on craigslist. School has resumed and life is back to normal. Or is it? Vacations of the past have taken us to places where the memories made are then left at the gate where we paid admission. Not this time. Now we have a tangible piece of vacation that we can carry with us every day, and it has made a difference. Rob and I have both talked nonstop about our new love of the outdoors, an inherent need to leave the house and soak up the sun. We've talked to each other, to Chris, to coworkers, friends....strangers. No, maybe not strangers.
So we planned our second trip for last Sunday. Out the door a little late, but we met up with Chris for more pressing matters first: the gun show (picture me kissing my biceps...now). Along with Rob's desire to get outdoors is his desire to protect himself and his family from all things anti-us. Alas, the Ruger if his dreams eluded him, so then we drove an hour north.
Washington Oaks Gardens State Park is on A1A in Palm Coast. There are formal gardens, hiking trails, and the Matanzas River on one side of the highway, and the beach...also part of the park...on the other side. Our tour took us first to the gardens, which we walked around for quite some time. The park once belonged to distant relatives of our nation's first president and was used as their summer home. The azaleas were mostly in bloom, the huge oaks had Spanish moss hanging down and swaying in the breeze, and the whole area was just stunning. There is a pond on the property, and it is apparently a popular place for (blessedly nonvenomous or aggressive) snakes to swim and...er...mate. Which we saw. Fascinating. There is also a geocache in this area of the park which we found. Along with about 200 ticks.
After collecting our stamp and leaving the gardens we headed over to the beach side of the park. The weather was overcast, but that suited me just fine. It was much easier to enjoy the beach for various reasons other than swimming. Foremost, the landscape of the beach is different from other beaches in this area. There are huge coquina rocks all over the shore. They've been pounded by the water for who knows how many years and are smooth enough to walk on. It was so different from what I'm used to that you'd think we had gone to the west coast.
If there was one emotion I felt while climbing, relaxing, taking pictures...it was gratitude. I appreciated our ability to leave our normal lives behind for even a few hours and show our daughter what our locale has to offer. It was like that beach was our little secret...hardly anyone was there...but it didn't need to be. It's there for everyone to enjoy. And for that, I am immensely grateful.

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