I went several places in March of 2021. None of my tales quite classify as adventures, but if I didn’t write it down, I might think I had done nothing. Such is life.
One day, I returned to Simmons Park to sit and read. It was nice, but too windy to write. I saw a cat in a tree. I also saw a couple humans riding on a “ball board.” It was like a skateboard, but it had a single spherical wheel underneath and appeared to be motorized. A drone followed them from high above. Another human drove by in a fancy, three-wheeled car.
The Green Zone:
Looking for new places to visit, I noticed a large green area on the map. Zooming in revealed no name, so I had no way of looking it up. Switching to satellite view, I saw that it was all trees. I noticed several structures in the marshy areas that could have been boardwalks or fishing piers. The only building looked neither like a residence nor a large industrial facility. It could have been a ranger office. I couldn’t think of what the place could be other than a nature preserve. I packed a lunch and sunscreen and drove over there to see what I could see.
As it turns out, it was a chemical processing facility. The only driveway had a locked gate and a no trespassing sign. Since I knew from the satellite that just south of the driveway was a large brook separating most of the green area from where I was, I thought that it might be a different property and therefore still a nature preserve. Also, since the nearby power plant maintained a park on their property, I thought this company might too. Otherwise, what is all that space for?
Driving south along the edge of the woods, I noticed that this was a very run-down part of town. The houses and trailers were falling apart and people had dumped their trash along the side of the road. The forest was so choked with thick vines as to be impenetrable. It reminded me of Sleeping Beauty’s castle. Could there be a princess inside for me to rescue?
Finally, I came to a trail, but it was clearly not maintained. There was no sign to tell me the name of the place, nor was there a sign to tell me to keep out. There was no sign at all. There was also no good place to park. I kept driving.
The next trail was in better shape, but there was still no sign or place to park. I kept driving.
Then, attached to the wall of green and brown that was the forest, was a single no-trespassing sign. It was the same company that had the gate. There was no trailhead within sight in either direction. There was no way into the woods without a chainsaw. Why place the sign here? I kept driving.
Finally, I came to the last trail. It was also in good shape. Again, there was no sign or good place to park. I considered just going in, since the closest no-trespassing sign was nowhere in sight. There were no fences and it was not clear where the property lines were. I could have justified going in, but I wasn’t sure whether law enforcement would see it the same way. It is always a mystery with them how they will interpret the law. I also wondered what kind of chemicals might be in there. I left.
Fiddler on The Marsh:
On the way home, I stopped at the Apollo Beach Nature Preserve, a small patch of beach in a rich neighborhood. I had been there many years before, but then it had been closed due to erosion.
They had since reopened and I found that they had built an observation tower. That was nice. They had also fenced off the part of the beach with the big rocks. That was not nice. I used to sit on them and watch the waves.
After lunch, I first entered the mangrove area where all the fiddler crabs live. They would scurry to their holes as I approached, sometimes sharing holes. One got stuck outdoors with nowhere to go until I chased it into the underbrush.
They had added some new trails since I had last been here, providing access to the other side of the peninsula where boats often passed back and forth.
Returning on the beach side, I walked along the high bank. One tree had its roots exposed. In the water, were clusters of sharp oysters and other shells. A small human ran up to me to show me the whole shell she had found. I was only finding bits and pieces.
I did find two objects that I thought would look great on someone’s coffee table if blown up to a thousand times their volume. Art is everywhere if you know where to look.
I returned to the car to finish lunch and realized that it was too hot here. It wasn’t just the parking lot; it had been hot on the sand and hot among the trees. It was draining all my energy. I didn’t even want to sit and read. I was being baked alive. I had no choice but to go home.
The Golf Lands:
On a cloudy day, I took a walk with my mother on a defunct, old golf course. There were many cattle egrets, white ibises, and glossy ibises, which excited my mother, and a medium-large alligator, which excited me. I also saw some fungi and a caterpillar. Along the edge of the golf course was a swamp and a jungle. I felt like I was back in the cretaceous.
A week later, I returned to Ford Alderman Park to explore the trails I didn’t get to last time. First, I took the bridge over the alligator pond. It was covered in plants, but I did see one alligator face poking out. I also saw some flowers.
One trail led a long way to a bend in a small river. I saw two noisy hawks. Other than that, it was pretty boring.
Another trail took me on a loop through an area filled with mosquitoes. There were also those blue damselflies with the black wings. On a tree were vines and a green beetle.
Heading over to the big, scenic bridge where I had seen the half-hidden “secret trail,” last time, I ran into the forest to see if anything was down there.
There wasn’t much. It was overgrown and I had to keep checking the palmetto for snakes. It ran along the high banks of the river for a ways before it began to get too hard to follow. In one location, I kept smelling very strong garlic. Seeing some white flowers behind me, I braved the bees to pick one and crush it near my nose, but it had no smell at all. I never could find where the garlic was coming from, but as I wondered about it, the smell began to change to root beer. It was then that I was reminded of when I was at the gator pond. I had smelled root beer there as well, but assumed it was the perfume of the human who passed near me. Now I was confused.
Returning to the maintained areas of the park, I took another trail. I was getting hot and tired and everything here seemed so dry and boring. I did see a tortoise, a skink, and countless anoles, but that was it. It was nearly dinnertime. I had to go home. I did not have time to take the six other trails branching from the ones I had already taken.
Return To The Golf Lands:
I took another walk with my mother on the golf course. We saw an alligator again. We also saw seven types of dragonflies. I don’t remember seeing so many kinds in one place before. There were red ones, blue ones, and yellow ones, all with transparent wings. There were green ones with black and white stripes on their abdomens and transparent wings. There were small, dark brown ones with orange wings. There were large, dark brown ones with blotchy, orange-and-brown wings. Finally, there were black ones with wings transparent except for tiny dashes of white and black.
Don’t forget to enjoy the small places.
My name is Dan. I am an author, artist, explorer, and contemplator of subjects large and small.