Monday, December 10, 2012

Tallahassee, Day 2: Orman House, John Gorrie Museum, and St. George Island State Parks

State Parks visited: 60

Our second day in Tallahassee was a busy one!  We opted to drive south and visit a few parks in the Apalachicola area.  The first stop was The Orman House.  This home was built in 1838 by a businessman, Thomas Orman.  He led the area in cotton exports, among other ventures, and Apalachicola became the busiest port in the region because of him. 
Once we walked in, Ranger Beth came out to say hello.  She offered to show us around the house and answer questions, so of course we said yes. 

I really enjoyed our tour of the Orman House.  It was especially interesting learning about the family that owned it, how the house had been passed through several generations, and then how it fell into disrepair.  In fact, there used to be a horse that lived in the yard, and the last owners ran it as a bed and breakfast. 
On the property outside the house is a replica of the Three Soldiers Detail, dedicated to veterans of the Vietnam War.  If you visit the Orman House, please, take the time to visit the statue as well.
Once we left the Orman House, we drove a few blocks away to see the John Gorrie Museum.  I managed to take exactly 4 pictures of the outside before I dropped and broke our camera...which makes it the third or fourth time I've done that.  Ahem. 
Now, why should there be a museum dedicated to John Gorrie?  Well, let me ask you this:  Where are you from?  I am a Floridian, and our summers are hot and sticky.  Imagine working outside in the heat of summer, and then coming inside to an air conditioned room and drinking an ice cold beverage.  Totally refreshing, right?  You have John Gorrie to thank for that.  He was the father of modern refrigeration, and I personally think he should have a museum, national holiday, and maybe even a planet named after him.
My iPhone came to the rescue, and I was able to take pictures on our walk through the museum.  It's a really small building, and it's actually only partly dedicated to Dr. Gorrie.  The rest of it shows the history of Apalachicola, from cotton plantations to oystering.  The center of it all is a recreation of the first ice machine.  Dr. Gorrie worked on this machine as a way of cooling down patients afflicted with malaria and yellow fever.
Olivia loved playing with this ship's wheel, because the picture moved along with the wheel's movements.  Some other photos (please pardon the quality):
You might think those two parks were quite enough activity for one day, but we weren't ready to end the fun right then.  Nope, we actually drove over to St. George Island and paid a visit to the Dr. Julian G. Bruce St. George Island State Park.  Got all that?! 
I'm going to go ahead and apologize here because I lost some pictures in the shuffle between camera and iPhone.  So, I don't have the usual photos I usually post of the park entry sign!  Enjoy this picnic pavilion instead.
In fact, we enjoyed the picnic pavilion ourselves when we got there.  It wasn't crowded, and it provided a great place for our lunch.  Afterward we headed down to the water for a little relaxation. 
Our trip to this particular beach was only a few days after Tropical Storm Debby moved through North Florida.  It was quickly evident that the area was still feeling the effects of the storm.  See it?
There was a sign at the ranger station saying there was a lot of seaweed because of the storm,!  This line of seaweed, called a wrack line or beach wrack, had gotten a lot of complaints from some park guests, if you can believe it.  I mean, come on!  It's a natural thing, deal with it.  These park rangers have enough to deal with.
Of course, that being said, I was not a fan of the large dark masses moving through the water.  It creeped me out, and Olivia too, so we decided to spend our beach time doing other things.
Hunting for wildlife:
And building 'mommy and me' sand turtles:
The little bit of sightseeing we did showed us the highest dunes I think I've ever seen, and a walkway to nowhere:
Our visit to St. George Island was brief.  On the way out we drove through the campground, and then stopped by the ranger station to buy a patch.  It was a quiet end to a busy day, just what we needed before packing up and leaving for home the next day...after one more park, of course.


Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Please join us for an awesome event!!

                  Hike & Seek in Highlands Hammock State Park!

Hi Friends!  I wanted to share an upcoming geocaching event with you.  If y'all remember, last year we attended the inaugural Hike & Seek in Highlands Hammock State Park.  It was our first trip to Highlands Hammock, and we've been back a few times since.  This event was amazing!  The organizer, Sarah (geocaching handle: rabid_duck), put out around 100 geocaches of all types and skill levels.  The scenery was gorgeous and we had a super weekend.  You can find my blog entry on the event HERE.
The Hike & Seek event coincides with the annual Civilian Conservation Corps Festival. The CCC workers created our first state parks, including Highlands Hammock, and the museum dedicated to them is a humbling experience to look through. 
Okay, here's the skinny:  You can find the official Geocaching event publication HERE.
You can find the Highlands Hammock State Park webpage HERE.
You can reserve a campsite...the BEST!!... way to experience this event (my opinion, of course, but it's true!)....HERE.
So, that's it.  Highlands Hammock State Park, November 3rd.  9am at the Rec Hall.  If you have any questions about geocaching, have been curious to try it out, or want to meet new friends, COME.  Feel free to leave me a comment and ask any questions, too.  Or, you can contact Sarah, too:
Okay, one last thing.  We met and made many new friends at this event last year.  I can't say enough how much I loved attending!  But to make it even sweeter, we got to know Sarah.  She worked her ass off putting this event together, and I really love her for it.  You can tell she's dedicated to this park, and I'm so glad we've gotten to know her better.  She is a true friend, and I know she...and I...and Rob...would love it if you'd attend with us this year!
Okay, that's the end, for real.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Tallahassee Day 1: Letchworth-Love Mounds, Lake Jackson Mounds, and Lake Talquin State Forest

State Parks visited: 57

Since Olivia and Rob were out of school and work for Labor Day, I decided to take the day off as well.  With 3 whole days off together, of course we took a road trip!  Tallahassee was our destination, since there are so many park possibilities in the surrounding areas.  We packed up as much as we could Friday night and hit the road bright and early Saturday morning.  The drive is only about 4 hours, and we took our time.  First destination?  The Letchworth-Love Mounds Archaeological State Park.  A name that gives us the giggles, sure, but an important place nonetheless.
We drove through a quiet residential area in our search for the park.  Eventually we found the right driveway and parked the car.  The pathway led to a small educational pavilion, and we spent a few minutes looking around at the exhibits.
I'm not sure whether to be proud or hang my head in shame. ;)
Eventually we made our way down the path and up the ramp to an observation area.  Along the way we disturbed a black racer (snake), but it lived up to its name and I couldn't get a picture.
This is a picture of the main ceremonial mound from the side:
If you were just hiking along through the woods and came across the site, you wouldn't think much of it, right?  Except that maybe Florida terrain usually doesn't lend itself to hill-like structures like this.  The significant thing, though, is that this is the largest temple mound in the state, standing 46 feet tall.  And, it's somewhere between 1100-1800 years old.  I am awestruck that it has withstood the test of time.
Thankfully, the people who created this park included this sign.  It's extremely helpful when figuring out what you're looking at!
There is a short interpretive trail near the mound, but we decided to skip it.  Mosquitoes were pretty fierce, and we had other things to see.  So, we headed back to the car.  Along the way, some interesting mushrooms caught our attention.  Rob was very sure he had located the 'mounds' in the park name....
Yep, they even made it onto Instagram:
And I wonder where Olivia gets it.  ;)
We drove a little while longer and came to our second park of the day,
Lake Jackson Mounds Archaeological State Park.  This one is another set of ceremonial mounds, the largest a little shorter than the last one (36 feet tall), and not quite as old (only about 800 years old).  Before looking around at the park, though, we decided to eat lunch:
Once that was taken care of, we made our way over to one of the two ceremonial mounds open for the public.
And, since the interpretive trail is nearby, we went for a short hike (and did some geocaching as well):
We eventually found the geocache we were looking for and made our way back to the main ceremonial mound.  And here began the long climb to the top:

I love how they love to spend time together.
Okay, so, two state parks down, and one stop left!  Thanks for hanging in this long!  We left Lake Jackson and drove a little further still, ending up at the Lake Talquin State Forest:
It was the nearest state forest that had a trail we could hike that qualified for our Trailwalker log.  And, let me tell you, they completely embrace the Trailwalker program in this part of the state!  I'm not sure if it's the proximity to the capitol or if we just have so-so land management where we live, but we found ourselves in the middle of a well-marked trail with excellent facilities nearby.
One thing we thought was kind of cool were the squawk boxes positioned along a portion of the trail:
You'd press the button and hear someone tell the history of the area and other significant facts.  The problem we found was that they were in poor shape, most of them playing at half speed.  It sounded like the speakers were all drunk! 
Here are a few pictures from our hike:

If I could be any berry in the world...


This was such a lovely walk in the woods.  It felt like the perfect end to our first day in Tallahassee, and we all left there feeling complete.  Day One down, two to go!