Nature Walks – Ravine Gardens State Park, Patlaka, Florida
Having finished most of the post-hurricane clean-up (finally!) I decided to go on another exploratory drive. This time I headed for my old favorite, Princess Place Preserve only to discover it still closed due to storm clean-up. All the gates were locked and there were some big trucks on the sandy road making it a little hard to drive. So I turned around, recalculated and headed for Ravine Gardens Park in Palatka, across the St. John’s River.
The park is an old one, established in the early 20th century as a show gardens. Subtropical and tropical plantings are present, with the majority of understory plants being azaleas, which bloom winter into early spring (Jan – April). There are lots of others flowering shrubs and trees, but not much was blooming today except a few stray azalea blooms. The ravine is fairly deep for Florida. There are trails that wind around the many side ravines and along the main one. The ravine is a bit overgrown in places and quite jungle-like so at times you might think you’re in Costa Rica instead of Florida. At the bottom of the ravine there is a road / trail and a series of cascades and pools as well as a shallow creek. It’s easy to get a little turned around, but just keep walking and eventually you’ll reach a side-trail or stairs that takes you out of the ravine and back to the formal garden area.
I had a “sighting” today of a rare and entirely unexpected creature, a Florida panther… that is, it was a very large feline with a thick black-tipped tail, long tawny body and a long lope. It was running away from me so I didn’t get a good look at the head, but I’m sure it was a Florida panther, a cousin to the Mountain Cougar of other states. The panther is much smaller; I would estimate around 100 pounds or so. It was very exciting to see… and no, I felt no fear whatsoever. Never do when I see wild animals. There were also dozens of squirrels partaking of the abundant harvest of fallen wild hickories (or pignuts) and acorns.
I drove around a little through the older neighborhoods of the town, but found most of the old houses looked a little battered… perhaps from the latest storm. So, next I turned my attention to driving a loop towards Welaka… a small community located near the St. John River, but further south. I was checking out further outings, primarily some trailheads located in the Welaka State Forest. I found them, but decided not to stop today as I had plenty of walking at Ravine Park. Next, I continued on Highway 309 until I could return to Hwy 17 and then CR 305 and a return to Bunnell and Palm Coast. The drive was a nice one, but I find the inland communities to be rather isolated. I think they have more churches than other buildings besides housing. The rest of the drive was through farm and forest, with little traffic until I again reached SR 100 outside of Bunnell to finish my loop drive.
All the roads were in good order, with any storm debris cut and dragged to the side of the roadbed. Ravine Park had some storm debris still to pick up, but most of the main trails were cleared. Parts of the Azalea Trail were out of commission due to erosion and water damage.
I’m still getting a bit overheated when walking here, especially in Ravine Gardens where there were more significant ups and downs than I’ve seen in months. Guess I’m still in need of conditioning, but getting stronger and more flexible every day… not bad for an old girl of 66 years.
Keeping centered, neutral and as high vibrations as I can hold at present, while I am sending out unconditional love and Violet Flame to alleviate any possible repercussions that might attend the outcome of this election season (TG it’s almost ended!!!!).
Love to all,
All Rights Reserved, Eliza Ayres, www.bluedragonjournal.com