But today’s theme waved me down as soon as we holed up in Tallahassee. That town isn’t a long drive from our previous night in Alabama; we had no business there, knew no one, didn’t check out Florida State or even ride our bikes along the terrific trail we’ve ridden before. All we were doing was
making sure we didn’t die in a tornado waiting out some nasty weather. Doing laundry. And (one of us) making some headway on the novel.
And even with such meager expectations, Tallahassee offered us a good reminder of northern Florida’s lovely topography (NOT flat!) and relatively undeveloped landscape (hardly any billboards, even on I-10). And a wonderful bakery, and a gorgeous sunset (not pictured) and this giant live oak in the motel parking lot.
Next day, the storm having blown through without tornadoes (thank you!) we headed to a brand-new destination: Little Talbot Island State Park, just north of Jacksonville.
There we discovered not only a long, pristine beach–for people who love long, pristine beaches…
…but also a boneyard of silvery drift-stumps…
…and the COOLEST trail through the dunes…
…into a mixed forest of gigantic pines, palms, and live oaks, the latter dripping with ferns and Spanish moss.
Question: WHY are epiphytes so ridiculously compelling? Is it a) the way they humanize the trees, calling to mind beards and long tresses? b) the way they soften the harsher, sharper lines of the forest? Or c) the fact that I was clearly a swamp rat in a previous life?
The campground was one of the nicest ever, in terms of space and light and vegetation. Its only downside: the road was too close, so traffic noise was very present until late at night.
And we didn’t get any armadillos. But hey.
One more glorious bike ride in the refreshingly cool morning, on a LONG bike trail.
Along the way we took a sideline to the beach, to visit with some crumbly-clay tidepools…
…and one more gorgeous silver drift-log installation.
Heading north, we passed this irresistible sign:
And then on to Savannah (sorta). Our friends live on the outskirts, which should really be called the outswamps. Question: Is that why they named the town after a sea-of-grass ecosystem? Anyone know?
Since our purpose was reuniting with old friends, we skipped the downtown Savannah tour. Instead, we were gifted with one over-the-top, unexpected cool thing after another. We got to watch the Carolina-Duke game with true fans, drowning our sorrows in bacon-wrapped scallops and homemade pizza (not pictured). We got to cuddle with the sweetest, silkiest Labrador.
We thought our friends’ backyard view was just fine–hey, nice swamp ya got here!–but then next the morning, THIS happened.
Finally, our friends served us a lil’ ol’ Georgia breakfast: eggs, cheese grits, sausage, bacon, fresh fruit salad, and fresh sweet rolls. Still full from the night before, I made a superwoman effort and ate everything.
So…feeling a little swamped right now. Thinking that when we find beauty and goodness in unexpected places, it means even more. And feeling a bit grateful that Spanish Moss doesn’t grow in mountainous areas. Because if it did? I think my head would explode.
Am I misremembering that Spanish moss eventually kills the trees?
No, that’s ivy. Spanish moss is a benign guest.
Thanks for the images and reflections about a part of the country I’ve never visited. And nice to hear Ken is working on your novel now so you can get a real vacation!😉