A Journey into Wonderous Stories

This past Monday, I had placed my two week notice at the office. With that simple interaction, a new journey had started to surface on the horizon. Gone were the countless hours of shifting through different conversations and desires that makes one resolute in a final decision leaping forward; however, the trepidation accompanying such a decision was dwarfed by the acceptance of changing, if not ending, some of the personal work relationships from over the years. For those moments, I had encountered emotional conflict.

Some of these interactions had grown into friendship, perhaps even extending even beyond this reality. Yet, still my mind had wandered into the potential of tomorrow. “What now?”, I had thought reflecting on all the shared stories and jokes over the years. What defines my person was the very freedom of wandering, aimlessly sometimes, from one locale to the next. Though, what merit had held the journey without the company you keep?

Tonight, I had started thinking about the choices ahead giving rise to new adventures. Whether mental or physical, these steps were highlighted by starting with one moment, one muse at a time.

Experience More:
Muse (Wikipedia)
Yes – Wonderous Stories (Yes Official)

 

 

 

The Grēn of Poe Springs @ Highland Springs, Florida

During my father’s eulogy, I had rehearsed words in my mind, “While one door closes, another opens.” This sentiment had embodied our personal journeys moving forward until final conclusion. Whether through pictures, text, or sounds, the composition of shared story telling experiences had turned my hands right maneuvering into Poe Springs Park.

Poe Springs IMG_0636 @ Highland Springs, Florida

If just a casual passer by, the open greenery of the park had appeared exceedingly mundane; however, walking down the wooden board walk, the spring boil was brimming with water bugs and a multitude of green hues. Walking down the concrete stairs bordering the spring, my friend had warned me of the disconcerting slipperiness of green algae on its steps.  Catching a small quick slip moving downward, I had quickly conceded to gravity into the shallow waters.

Poe Springs, IMG_0668 @ Highlands, Florida

With the overhang of trees and break of the sunlight, it was hard to see the opposing water’s edge. Was there a gator in the darkness? Who had known but, I wasn’t going to travel any further than required for swimming into the boil. Submerging myself further into the spring waters, it had pushed back with distinct force from the cropping of jagged openings.

Poe Springs, IMG_0669 @ Highlands, Florida

Away from the calming charm of the spring head, its waters emptied out into the expanse of the Sante Fe River. This river was product of the many springs along its twisting curves. Like leaves on the water’s surface, I had drifted onto the corner of accompanying fishing pier overlooking the Sante Fe River.

A week later, sick in bed, feeling like death, I hadn’t pondered the meaning of turning off the road into Poe Springs Park. Reflecting now, I had believed times like these fill our work, our lives with hope. In the end, without hope, how does a person start the day?

Read More:
Poe Springs Park (Florida Springs)
Map of Florida Springs (Florida Springs)
Hue (Wikipedia)

 

 

 

 

SunRail Eastbound Joy @ Maitland, Florida

In downtown London, I had experienced my first childhood memories of trains and candy. All these years later, in a small, quiet adventure on Central Florida’s SunRail, I had indulged myself again but, with a moment of reflection. Gazing outside the box car’s windows on Interstate 4, the ride had recalled some of my other journeys’ across the ends of the United States.

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Listening to the rhythmic clanking of the wheels over the tracks, I had remembered trips to Washington D.C., San Francisco, California, Boston, Massachusetts and Miami, Florida. Each commute had the unique appeal of the respective metropolitan area. Yet, all had encompassed a degree of random unexpected chance. With the certitude of departing and arrival times, my job was day dreaming of exploits for every endeavor with sights, sounds, tastes, and other sensations.

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During a stop in Debary, Florida, a few elderly folks had exited out of the SunRail cabins into charter buses. I had pondered, “Where these people reminiscing too? Perhaps, they were thinking of the freedom of being on the railroad or, maybe just days gone by?”

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Enroute back to Maitland, a grouping of friends across the cabin were joking about the news of the day. It was charming compliment to another family with their small children pointing outside to the passing trees and houses. All of these travelers had invoked a similar sentiment, the joy of moving somewhere between one’s future and past.



Read More:
SunRail (SunRail)
SunRail extends late-night service (WFTV)

An October Day in Rainbow Springs State Park @ Dunnellon, Florida

From an ecological point of view, I had wondered how John Muir might reflect on such an area on this October day.

Perhaps, it was the crisp blue springs waters next to the nearby train tracks.

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Or maybe, the expansive open picnic area that had rolled like soft green waves under the park’s entrance.

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Rainbow Springs State Park was elevated terrain, lifting one’s visceral response beyond the stereotypical flat topography of Florida. With hues of yellow, green, red and blue on display, flowing through the fall air was a sentiment on the edge of spirituality. Representing the thousands of indigenous state springs, this location had embodied all the reasons for protecting the environment. You hadn’t needed a whole of lot money ($2 per person) for experiencing one of Florida’s most versatile and picturesque parks. An open mind was the only thing required for embracing the charm of its small walks and swimming in the sun on this October day.

 

Read More:
Rainbow Springs State Park (Florida State Parks)
John Muir (Wikipedia)
Florida Water and Land Conservation Initiative, Amendment 1 (BallotPedia)

Blue Skies above Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park @ Homosassa, Florida

“Blue skies smilin’ at me / Nothin’ but blue skies do I see..”Irving Berlin

Under a mix of rain and rolling grey clouds, I had hit the Florida highway toward Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park. With elements in flux, I had questioned the wisdom of following through on a Wednesday’s morning impromptu road trip; however, after finishing the commute into their parking lot, the weather cleared into postcard Florida sunshine and blue skies.

Waters of Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park @ garzafx.com

While absent opportunities for swimming or canoeing, this excursion had provided in person viewing of Florida’s indigenous wildlife like the panther, bobcat, fox, and more. Of the many on-premise animals, very few, I had seen in the outdoors except gators, otters and manatees. Another hallmark of the park was “The Underwater Observatory”, a.k.a. “Fish Bowl.” This submerged area had permitted visitors an alternate perspective in watching fish and the playful manatees.

Blue Skies above Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park 2 Fish @ Garzafx.com

After clearing the “Fish Bowl,” I had wandered down the Wildlife Walk boardwalk. Here, the bulk of the park’s creatures were concentrated concurrently from flamingos to the Florida Panther to the reptile pavilion. The highlight for myself was hearing electrifying calls of bald eagle.

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Toward the end of loop on the boardwalk, past the reptile exhibit, I had caught glimpse of resting alligators. Across from the gators was the only non-indiginous creature on display, a 50 plus year old hippo. Turning the corner around its holding area, I had noticed a sign with an image of the backside of  a hippo with tail swinging side to side. According to park ranger earlier in the day, the sign had served as warning of the hippo’s playful spraying behavior.  A behavior, which had offered as motivation for clearing the area after seeing this hippo heading to the dry embankment.

Blue Skies above Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park 3 Gator @ Garzafx.com

Initially, I had held a certain apprehension about visiting a park without options for water bound activities; however, the charm of seeing so many indigenous Floridian animals had won me over.  The big takeaway was seeing kids and other adults being equally enamored by showcased wildlife. Of the many state parks, this one was worth the travel even under threatening skies.

Manatee Programs: 11:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m.

Alligator/Hippopotamus Program at 12:30 p.m.



Address: 
4150 South Suncoast Boulevard, Homosassa, FL 34448

Hours: 9 AM – 5:30 PM, 365 days a year.

Admission: Adults, $13.00, Children 6-12 $5.00, Florida State Park Pass Holders, Free.

Note, The last tickets are sold at 4:45 p.m.

Read More:
Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park (Florida State Parks)
Blue Skies (1926 song) (Wikipedia)

The Life of Lake Lily Park @ Maitland, Florida

For years now, I had pulled into the parking lot at Lake Lily for a range of different experiences. Sometimes, it was checking out the Sunday morning farmer’s market. Other times, it was hanging out with a good friend or date for conversation. Yet others, it was repeatedly lapping the half mile loop for exercise.

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Despite being off I-4 and state road 1792, I was still able to find quiet moments in thought. Stringing all these moments together was nature. Somehow, the park’s charm was the ability in subverting urban civilization.

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Perhaps, it was the gratifying connection of feeding the ducks, squirrels or turtles. This action had always brought adults and children degrees of satisfaction.

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In passing, a fellow co-worker had mentioned this being one of his favorite spots in Orlando. With sun shimmering on the lake and the animals congregating about, I had continued to understand why.

 

Lake Lily Park is located at 701 Lake Lily Drive, Maitland, Florida 32751.

Hours: 8:00 AM – 10:00 PM (daily)

Admission: Open to the public

Read More:

Maitland’s Farmer’s Market (itsmymaitland.com)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rock Springs in Kelly Park on a Sunday Afternoon @ Apopka, Florida

My first fall living in the Greater Orlando area, a friend had drove me out to Kelly Park in Apopka, Florida. Unsure of the distance, the commute had seemed to take an eternity in the passenger seat from downtown. This weekend, I had decided to “Pay it forward” by inviting out another friend for a drift down the clear waters of Rock Springs.

Before hitting the road on this Sunday afternoon, I had called the front gate verifying park capacity. Luckily, even with a late start around noontime, foot traffic was light because of morning temperatures starting in the 60s. During the last two miles of the drive, we had pulled into a road side vendor renting inter-tubes. After picking up two for $3 cash a piece, we had headed for the park entrance.

After parking, my friend and I had walked about the perimeter of the springs and accompanying run. Entering at the spring head, I had started swimming against the current, raising my body temperature preparing for our trek. After a few minutes of swimming in place, I had hoisted myself above a split in the limestone overhang.

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On re-entry, I had sat atop the inter-tube quickly passing under the first wooden boardwalk. Turning right into the first bend, the current was moving at a brisk pace. During this moment, the shade had gave way to the warming sunshine. An inch long, metallic looking, blue dragon fly had landed on my knee. Then, it had hovered, landed and flown away.

Passing the bulk of human activity on the second bend, we had reached the final stretch of water. At the third and final bend, the sounds of  lapping water and crickets had communicated a calm serenity. Another dispersion of dragon flies had passed above the water.  Now, that long drive years ago was small penance on this picturesque Florida day.

 

Kelly Park is located at:
400 E Kelly Park Road, Apopka, Florida 32712

Hours:
Summer: 8 a.m.- 8 p.m.;
Winter: 8 a.m.- 6 p.m.;
Monday – Sunday

Phone:
(407) 254-1902
Admission:
$3 per vehicle for 1-2 people; $5 per vehicle for 3-8 people

Read More:

Kelly Park/Rock Springs (Orange County)