Sunday, November 28, 2010

Trip 26: Wekiwa Springs State Park

State Parks visited: 24

One of my coworkers, Kirsten, was telling me about a fall festival being held at Wekiwa Springs State Park back in mid-October.  She was very excited about it and planned to take her son, and that excitement was contagious.  We'd never been to Wekiwa, so that Saturday found us at the park for the festival.

I didn't quite know what to expect to see once we walked down into the swimming area.  I've heard stories about how packed the place gets during the summer, and the weather looked like it was going to be gorgeous.  We walked down the steps to find only a few people swimming.  Before making our rounds at the vendor tables, we decided to walk the small trail that began on the far side of the pool.  A few photos:

Once we made it back to the main park area we started going from vendor table to vendor table.  There were many organizations represented, from environmental groups to law enforcement, apiaries to scientific researchers.  We tried to visit and speak with as many as we could.  Such as:

Frederickson Apiaries, where I sampled several types of honey and ended up with a very special choice:

The Cambrian Foundation, where Olivia got to hold a tiny little turtle and also got a lesson in precipitation and evaporation:

There were many other places whose names I can't remember, but we still had a lot of fun talking with them and participating in their demonstrations.

The park itself has its own hands-on kind of animal education center.  Some of the animals were carried through the park by a ranger and available to pet:

....while others were available inside the education center:

The neatest exhibit, in my opinion:

After visiting the animals, we grabbed some lunch.  Then we headed down to the other side of the swimming area, the canoe/kayak launch.  It was a very popular place!  Lots of people were coming and going, and we were sorry we weren't among them.

The floating yellow barriers seen in the above picture are to keep the hydrilla out of the way.  It's an invasive water plant that can completely overtake the river, and Wekiwa in particular has had a hard time dealing with it. 

We walked around a little while longer and took a few more pictures:

We even spotted a local out foraging for his lunch.

With that, it was time to go.  Rob had an evening event at work and had to get ready for it.  So, we packed up and headed home.  Wekiwa Springs was a mystery to me before this day.  And while we didn't experience it in the traditional sense, we saw it in a very special way.  Maybe next summer we'll battle the crowds and go for a swim.  Hopefully we'll launch our kayak and spend a day on the water.  Whatever we do, we'll have a great time in a beautiful location. :)

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Trips 24 and 25: Carl Duval Moore State Forest and Wings Over Waves Airshow

State Parks visited: 23

Where in the world have we been?!?  I just checked and realized I haven't updated this blog since September.  Wow.  I am so sorry to the friends and not-yet-friends who check in here to read about our latest adventures.

The truth is, there haven't been many of them.  The beginning of the school year has kept us closer to home and less willing to add extra days to our weekends for out-of-town trips.  Rob's work has been busy, which is really something of a good thing.  It keeps him out on the weekends, however, and that doesn't really help us take a family trip. 

Oh well.  Still, we managed to fit in a couple of adventure in the past 6 weeks.  We went hiking in a state forest one Saturday, and then to an airshow one Sunday.  Small trips, but out of the house nonetheless.  Here is a brief summary of both.  Enjoy!

Carl Duval Moore State Forest is outside the city of Palatka, which is just over an hour from here.  We had been eyeing it as another hike for our Trailwalker patch, and decided finally to make the trip.  One of Olivia's friends needed a sitter for the day, so we invited Drake along for the hike, too.  It was interesting, having another little one with us!

The hike was relatively short...a 1.5 mile loop...and we made a pitstop at the Up & Down Lake:

The little boardwalk here is apparently a popular place to hang out and drink beers, and the whole area was trashed.  We spent a while cleaning up and came out with a couple of bags of trash.  Gotta look out for Mom Nature!

Here are a few other photo highlights:

Our day hiking, and having Drake along, was a lot of fun!  We managed to all get along and not get stressed out or anything.  Drake even had a great time and has asked to come along with us every weekend.

On Sunday, 10/10/10, we had the pleasure of attending the Wings Over Waves Airshow in Daytona Beach.  This airshow is directly on the water, and it's breathtaking!  It's also kinda rare...I think it's been about 7 years since they've had it, and now it won't be coming back around until 2012.  We really wanted to check it out, and I'm so glad we did!  Still, parking was less than stellar and we ended up walking a couple of miles down the beach before we got to see the main show.  Sadly, most of our pictures...blame me!!... are of the stark blue sky.  Hmmpphh.  The best pictures I was able to capture are from the finale, the Canadian Snowbirds.  Enjoy!

And that is *almost* everything we've done for the past 6 weeks, give or take.  I do have to post about our trip to Wekiva Springs State Park, which will get its own entry.  Plus Olivia and I took a day trip to the Pioneer Settlement for the Arts Fall Jamboree, and that will get its own entry as well.  For now, though, this is as caught up as I can get!