Tag Archives: explore

Florida has old stuff too: Bulow Creek State Park

This diverse state park offers a whole lot of nature and history, beginning with the Fairchild Oak, one of the largest live oaks in the South.

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It has stood in this very spot for over 400 years; just imagine the things it has seen, hurricanes, wars, floods, fires, and droughts, oh my.

The Fairchild Oak marks the beginning of a 6.8 mile hiking trail, leading to Bulow Plantation Ruins Historic State Park. While I love hiking trails, 6.8 miles seems a little daunting, but maybe someday.  Instead, I chose to drive. It’s a scenic drive with plenty of spots to stop and walk around.

 

There are even some sugar mill ruins along the way. Like Dummitt Plantation Mill.

 

This mill, like many others in the area, was burned down and partially destroyed during the Second Seminole War in 1836. You can’t get as close to these ruins as Bulow Plantation Ruins, but it’s still a spectacular sight you can see from the Old Dixie Highway.

Old Beach Road, as it is called now, was the original road leading to and from the Bulow Plantation.

 

This one wagon road was used to transport goods produced at the plantation to  various locations in Florida. I could tell the road hadn’t been widened since; it was a struggle driving our compact car down it. Luckily, no one was trying to leave the plantation as we arrived.

Bulow Plantation prospered until the Second Seminole War.

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In 1836, ‘Bulowville’ was burned down. After that, the plantation was abandoned and all that was left is what stands today.

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The coquina ruins of the sugar mill, some wells, a spring house, the crumbling foundation of the mansion and lots and lots of mosquitos are all that remain.

I’m serious about the mosquitos, and you should take this as a warning if you plan to visit.

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On our way back home, we took the scenic route through Bulow Creek State Park.

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As you can see, the drive was worth it.

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Now I’m off to my next adventure. 

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The Great Florida Manatee Migration of 2018

Last week Florida experienced winter for the first time in 4 years, at least that’s what the news was reporting.

I’m sure you probably saw the memes floating around social media: Floridians can handle category 4 hurricanes, but not winter. But hey, human beings weren’t the only ones struggling. Iguanas were literally falling from trees it was so cold, and manatees were making their way to warmer waters to get some cuddle time in.

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Blue Spring State Park is a designated manatee refuge. When temperatures drop, the manatees make their way into the natural springs to stay warm. Water temperatures in the springs are a consistent 73 degrees year round.  During my visit, there were 495 manatees in Blue Spring.

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That’s a record!!!

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It sure was an amazing sight, seeing them slowly swimming along the banks, seeking out sunlight. Some were even playing in the waters.

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These manatees were putting on a show for us, rolling around, doing flips and even flopping their flippers in and out of the water.

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If you plan on visiting Blue Spring State Park, keep in mind, it can reach capacity quickly so try to go early. Besides manatee viewing, there is also a boat tour and museum.

The guided St. John’s River Cruise is both relaxing and informational, plus you’re sure to get a glimpse of even more wildlife and beautiful landscapes. Again, try to get there early.

Then take a self-guided tour through the Thursday House, built in 1872. The Thursbys left New York and arrived at Blue Spring by steamboat and became the spring’s first permanent settlers.

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They sure had an amazing view, one you should check out for yourself.

https://www.google.com/maps/place/Blue+Spring+State+Park/@28.7292105,-81.6367863,9z/data=!4m5!3m4!1s0x88e70fff6a1481c9:0x6d9b3334ffafdb6a!8m2!3d28.9481475!4d-81.3379668

Camping, scuba diving and nature trails are also available at Blue Spring State Park.

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Poking Around at Florida Cactus

I’ve put my nurturing skills to the test.

A couple of weeks ago I took a trip to Florida Cactus, a nursery devoted to cacti and succulents. I first learned about this place on Instagram, of course. However, Instagram did not prepare me for how expansive it was. Row after row of succulents, cacti and various other plants filled 20 large greenhouses. If you are a lover of succulents, you will love this place.

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We checked in at the office where we were handed a map and sent on our way, basket in hand.

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The first greenhouse was mostly succulents and baby cacti. I eagerly began picking up one by one and placing them in the basket. They were just so cute, but word of advice, pace yourself; there are still 19 greenhouses to go after this.

The only other time I’ve purchased a succulent was from East End Market, and let’s just say, that didn’t end very well. I must be the only person on this planet who has killed a succulent. Why does everyone say they are so easy to maintain?

Well, I’m giving myself another chance, eight more to be exact.

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I am open to any suggestions on keeping cacti and succulents alive.

Hours for Florida Cactus are Monday – Friday 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Closed on Saturday and Sunday

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