I realized recently that 2011 was our first full calendar year spent working on our family mission. The first day of the year was spent at Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park, and there was no better way to end the year than...yep...in a state park. Chris picked the destination on New Year's Eve: Faver-Dykes State Park in St. Augustine.
I had no idea what to expect. For so many years, Faver-Dykes was nothing more than a name to snicker at on the way down the interstate. I didn't read up on the park before our trip. We just packed a picnic, planned on finding some geocaches, and headed out.
We stopped to buy some citrus and then met up with Chris, Xandra, and their friend Sam(antha). Then we drove in, found a cache near the entrance, and then drove further into the park.
For being a holiday weekend, the park was pretty quiet. We parked near the picnic pavilions and bathrooms, and the dock wasn't too far away. Faver-Dykes is on the Pellicer Creek and is considered one of Florida's state canoe trails. I can't wait to return with the kayaks!
We hit the trails and started searching for some of the geocaches hidden in the park. A geocaching event had been held there recently and lots of caches were hidden for the occasion. But first, Chris had to climb a tree (as commanded by Olivia):
Oh, and then he had to climb another tree:
And then we were finally able to start hiking!
The area had gone through a prescribed burn recently, but it was neat seeing new growth.
We made our way back to the parking area briefly and learned a bit more about the origins of the park, and then we made our way over to the boat ramp.
Impromptu album cover shot!
From here we made our way to the other end of the park, which is where there are other trails and a small campground. I loved that you could walk up and find a campsite if you wanted!
The campground has a screen for movie night!
Finally we made our way back to the picnic pavilions. Sam had to leave so she could get ready for work, so we said our goodbyes. Then the rest of us relaxed with our picnic lunch. It was such a nice way to spend the day...no hurrying around, just hitting some trails and geocaching in a really beautiful spot.
Something kind of cool happened right after lunch. I was watching a bunch of buzzards flying overhead when I realized one of them wasn't a buzzard, but a bald eagle instead!
That was a nice surprise.
Before long, it was time for us to head home as well. We found a few last geocaches, went up the road to Gander Mountain, and then went home to say farewell to another amazing year. The last year has opened my eyes to even more of the beauty and possibilities around us. I am truly excited at what 2012 has to offer!