Milton, FL Feb. 5, 2015
We were back to seeing the sun in the Sunshine State (although it seems Florida only ranks 6th in U.S. states in amount of sunshine days according to the U.S. Weather Service). Variations within the state are great, but we were just happy to have Wednesday’s rain finished.
The day started by postponing our 10 AM canoe trip until Friday. Instead we headed out to Blackwater River State Park. These days are being spent exploring away from the well-known ocean beaches. Florida has 7700 lakes and 11,000 miles or rivers, streams and waterways. In this portion of Florida, waterways were the earliest transportation mode. While Florida is now the 4th most populous state, its growth really came after WWII. The early residents relied heavily on water transportation.
The Blackwater River is in a part of the state with a rich lumbering history. The timber in the area was important for ship-building, and the short but fast flowing rivers ended in navigable bays where ships could lay in port safely. The Blackwater has white sandy beaches, a sandy bottom and numerous sandbars. The river is too fast for novice canoeists like us but we hiked some trails.
Despite yesterday’s rain, the ground absorbs rain quickly and we only had one spot on a park trail that required careful footing to avoid getting wet. We did not hear, or see, many birds. However, the sky was rarely without a plane or helicopter flying overhead, most likely from one of the air bases in the area. We did meet a married couple that have retired and are now doing volunteer vacations in various parks. They are here until the end of February and then head out west to the Sierra Nevada Mountain area, close to Yosemite. They live out of their RV.
After the morning hike and lunch, we headed back to Milton and biked the Blackwater Heritage Trail from downtown Milton almost to the gate of the Whiting Field Naval Air Station. It was a 16 mile round trip. Our exercise was enhanced by a strong wind which seemed to somehow be blowing into our faces no matter which way we were going. The bikes were rented from Truly Spokin just off the trail. They have been in town for years and were highly recommended. Chris loved the heavy “cruiser” style bikes with just 7 gears.
I can’t say that either locale was fantastically beautiful. The area is pleasant, with a variety of ecosystems. While we saw many longleaf pine, we never learned much about wiregrass. We will also did not see any Florida panthers or alligators; maybe later adventures will provide sightings.
We returned to Adventures Unlimited to walk more of the property before dinner. They have about 100 acres and over hundreds of canoes and kayaks for rent, along with tubing and zip-lining. Chris and I walked along a portion of the property close to Coldwater Creek, to scope out the creek we will be canoeing Friday. The current was still fast but we could observe that the water level had subsided after peaking from Wednesday’s rain. We are still the only overnight guests. But our room is large, clean and warm. A pleasant place to spend the evening.
Ed and Chris 8 pm