Nature Walks – Mo’ Beach
The temperatures were set to hit the low 80’s, with partial clouds and pleasant winds — a perfect day to scout out the local beaches and give an updated survey report for y’all.
Driving south along Old King’s Highway (the old military road from St. Augustine south) I arrived at Walter Boardman Lane to cross Bulow Creek, Smith Creek and the Halifax River… and then pulled in at the Smith Creek Landing, North Peninsula State Park. I was making up the itinerary as I went, and while driving noticed that the tide was high, so opting to postpone the beach walk, I took a short walk at the Coastal Strand Trail. This is a lovely and under-used (probably little known) nature walk that meanders through a tiny, ancient and very resilient strip of oak woods. Nary a tree was hurt, none fallen, an occasional branch on the ground — all the sign of the hurricane’s fury that was apparent. I have the greatest respect and admiration for the tough plants in this salty, sandy environment!
There were some good examples of Red Bay and Yaupon Holly today at the Coastal Strand Trail. The holly is in full color, a beautiful red. The slow-growing tree / shrub makes a good garden tree, too, as does the Red Bay, with its aromatic leaves and black fruit.
After the walk, I took short walks and lots of photos of the next several beaches, going north from the Volusia County line to Washington Oaks Gardens State Park, including: North Peninsula SP Beach access; Flagler Beach (at the boardwalk); Jungle Hut Beach Access; Old Salt Road Access and Mala Compra Access. Washington Oaks Gardens beach access is still off-limits. They have a walk-over, parking lot and sand dunes to reconstruct. All the rest of the beaches were open and in good shape, less than two months post-hurricane. Flagler County is very reliant on its tourist industry and the beaches are one of the main draws… besides the golf courses, water activities and the like. And btw, the beaches are EMPTY! Plenty of room if you want to visit!
Driving north as far as Washington Oaks, I drove in (it pays to have an Annual Pass!) to see what shape the Gardens were in today. They were gorgeous! You can still see some salt damage on leaves (looks like frost damage or browning) but new plantings have been put in and the older plantings look like they are putting out new growth. The formal rose garden was the best that I’ve seen so far. There are some fragrant older tea roses there, so the aroma was delightful. Bugs were also a lot fewer than last time, although I did pause to put on a little bug spray. And the wildlife sighting of the day was a busy foraging armadillo! The fountains were running; the ponds are fed by a sulphuric artesian well.
What a day! And what a way to spend my retirement days… gorgeous blue skies overhead dotted by fluffy white / gray clouds, a brisk breeze on the gleaming Intercoastal, the scent of flowers in the air, the call of an osprey arcing through the blue sky in search for a meal… oh, yeah. Beats scraping ice off the car windows in the morning before heading off to a long day at the prison.
I do have the sense that I’ve finished my old life, completely. What comes next, well, we’ll see. I sense great change on the horizon, as yet undefined, but still felt. And meanwhile, I’m feeling pretty happy and content.
Blessings and love to all,
P.S. It is the 333 day of the year, with 33 days more to go in 2016. Also, today is the New Moon in Sag. Bueno suerte!
Photo Credits: Beaches and preserves in Flagler County, Florida