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State Parks

Snapshots: Waimea Canyon - The Grand Canyon of the Pacific

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Snapshots: Waimea Canyon - The Grand Canyon of the Pacific

At 10 miles long and 3,600 feet deep, Waimea Canyon is often called the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific”. Formed by the erosion caused by the Waimea River, a river which flows from the “rainiest place on Earth”, the canyon gets its name from the red hue of the exposed iron-oxide of its walls. Situated in the heart of the tiny and remote island of Kauai, there didn’t seem to be nearly as many visitors there when we visited as I would have expected from something of this size and grandeur. All the better to enjoy it, though. While it was a bit hazy for photography that day, I hope you enjoy these photos from beautiful Waimea Canyon.


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Snapshots: Wakulla Springs

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Snapshots: Wakulla Springs

Edward Ball Wakulla Springs State Park may be a mouthful, but it is a wonderful place to visit. It’s also only about a half hour south of Tallahassee, so it makes a wonderful day-trip from the Capitol city. There are several reasons to visit Wakulla Springs beyond the obvious namesake springs, which provide a great place to swim year round. The 1930’s era Wakulla Lodge is a peak at yesteryear, offering 27 guest rooms (book early), a full service restaurant and a neat soda fountain where you can try the park’s signature soft drink, the Ginger Yip. A ranger-led boat trip down the Wakulla River was the real highlight for me though. At just $8, it may be the best bargain in the state. Our captain/guide gave a wonderful running commentary on the flora and fauna of the area and we really saw a lot on our trip. We saw hundreds of birds, dozens of alligators, a few snakes and even a pair of manatee. You can see why this area was chosen to film the Tarzan movies and Creature From The Black Lagoon. While most of these photos were taken on a cloudy morning, it did clear up in the afternoon for a few of them. This was one of my favorite state parks which I visited in the state, and I would definitely recommend it if you are in the area. I hope you enjoy these photos from Edward Ball Wakulla Springs State Park.

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Snapshots: Koreshan State Historic Site

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Snapshots: Koreshan State Historic Site

In the late 19th Century, Dr. Cyrus Teed founded a communal society called The Koreshan Unity in New York. He later moved to Chicago where he expanded his following. The society was based on the ideas of communal living, reincarnation, and eternal life and on a universe which occurred inside of the hollow Earth. In 1894, Teed led his followers to Estero, Florida where they began building their “New Jerusalem” Utopian commune. Those who joined him were promised security, order and a sense of achievement in return for all of their worldly possessions. On this new site they fought hard to clear the land through heat and humidity and mosquitoes for many years. They planted crops and fruit trees to help feed themselves. They built a “Planetary Court”, where the seven women who made up the governing body lived, a bakery, a store, a school, an art hall, two machine shops and several private homes and cabins. It certainly wasn’t an easy life, but they were all in it together, and that sense of community meant something to them. During the first decade of the 20th century, their commune included over 250 members…

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Snapshots: Myakka River State Park

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Snapshots: Myakka River State Park

Myakka River State Park surrounds Florida’s first designated Wild and Scenic River. The river winds through a vast expanse of wetlands, prairies, hammocks and pine forest, and is a welcome break from the Tampa-St. Petersburg corridor just a little over an hour north. The park showcases an amazing diversity of flora and fauna and it felt so unspoiled when I visited. I went with my friend Amber, who is a serious naturalist, and she showed me all kinds of wonderful things while we were there. We started our visit at the suspension bridge and observation tower which took us through and then above the canopy for a bird’s eye view of the park. It was amazing to look out across the park and not see a building in any direction. From there we went and hiked out to Mossy Hammock Campground along the Fox’s High Road and were surrounded by live oak draped in Spanish moss and beautiful birdsong. We emerged into the prairies for a while, where her dog could run at full speed. When we finished our hike, we spent some time by the lake, enjoying the magical reflections we saw there. In all, it was an amazing day out in the wild with good company and beautiful weather. It was a little wet on the trails, but we managed. This was a great park to visit, and I hope you enjoy my photos from Myakka River State Park.

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Gallery: North Georgia - A True Hidden Treasure

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Gallery: North Georgia - A True Hidden Treasure

When I asked my very well-traveled group of friends for recommendations on where to go in Georgia, probably 90% of them came back pointing me to the far north of the state. I admit I really had no idea how spectacular North Georgia is. Nestled in the southernmost region of the Appalachian Mountains, North Georgia is full of beautiful scenery, quaint towns and villages and warm, welcoming people. If North Georgia isn’t yet on your must-see list, it sure should be. I hope you enjoy these wonderful photos from my journey through the mountain towns of North Georgia.

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This Week on the Road - May 31st-June 5th

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This Week on the Road - May 31st-June 5th

I'm going to write this a little early this week as I am headed down to Bonnaroo in the morning. I'll be there for almost the whole week, so I thought I would write this and then put away my computer and go enjoy the festival. I've spent this past week heading up the west side of Tennessee, through a lot of cute small towns and state parks, and finally making my way across the north and into Clarksville. It's been a pretty quiet week, but a good one for sure. It's really starting to heat up down here and while I am really looking forward to Bonnaroo, I'll be making a beeline north when it's over. While it hasn't been the most exciting week I've had, I've still been enjoying myself. Here are some of the things I got into this week on the road.

I left Bartlett when I finished writing last week and headed back north to Mason. I wanted to visit the original Gus's Fried Chicken there…

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West Virginia State Parks are Naturally Wonderful

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West Virginia State Parks are Naturally Wonderful

I am a big fan of State Parks, and West Virginia has a pretty extensive network of State Parks to choose from. I spent a lot of time in West Virginia State Parks and was generally really impressed by how they were run and what they had to offer. While they weren’t perfect, I think a lot of thought is put into West Virginia State Parks, and a lot of what they are doing could be a model for other states which are looking to build their state park systems.

The first thing I would applaud West Virginia State Parks for is, unfortunately, already outdated by the time you will read this. I loved that West Virginia State Parks were free to enter when I was there. That meant that they were there for everyone to enjoy, and I would often see a sign and just pull in to check it out. Starting this year, the state will charge a fee in its most visited parks. While I know this will be a nominal fee, I say leave them free. The parks generate a lot of revenue through lodging and camping fees, restaurants, gift shops, snack bars and vendors. But there are those, especially in a state like West Virginia, who truly can’t afford to pay, but still want to bring their kids to the lake or out hiking. I wish the state would reconsider this...

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