On the Road is a weekday feature spotlighting reader photo submissions.
From the exotic to the familiar, whether you’re traveling or in your own backyard, we would love to see the world through your eyes.
Do you remember the recent Coronavirus and the Road post from frosty? We have 8 additional individual posts from that road trip, and in the interest of continuity, we’ll be seeing all of those in On the Road After Dark. The first 4 will be this week, and the final for will be the following week. Let’s get started. Enjoy! ~WaterGirl
Along with dodging the coronavirus for three months in our trailer, we got to see some places I hadn’t seen before, and revisit a few as well. Florida was primarily a revisit. This was our 6th Snowbird Road Trip and we tried to stay at campsites in Florida State Parks. We really like them, they’re a three-time award winner for the best state parks in the country, the campgrounds are nicely laid out, and the parks themselves showcase Florida landscapes and wildlife.
On this trip we stayed in Ft Clinch and Tomoka with a side trip to Silver Springs. I’ve added pictures of other parks from a couple of our earlier trips as well.
The entrance to Ft Clinch is called Canopy Road. I love the live oaks and Spanish Moss. Growing up, when we visited my grandparents in Daytona Beach I always knew we’d hit the south because of the Spanish moss. And grits on the menu for breakfast, of course.
The site was first fortified by the Spaniards, then this fort was built by the US in the 1840s, seized by the Confederates, and subsequently abandoned because they needed the manpower elsewhere. It was garrisoned for the Spanish-American War then abandoned, so basically never used in a battle. It was finally restored by the Civilian Conservation Corps during the Depression, bought by the state, and it became one of Florida’s first 6 state parks.
Our next stop was Tomoka State Park, near Daytona Beach. This is a great park for canoeing and kayaking (which we didn’t do). The campsites are laid out to keep a lot of the natural vegetation between you and the next guy.
We followed that with a visit to Silver Springs State Park. This was an old glass-bottom boat tourist attraction that I remember seeing in the 1960s. It failed financially and the state took over the land as a state park. The glass-bottom boats are still running, but for me the Silver River is the main attraction. We took a canoe float down the river one afternoon. These are cypress trees along the riverbank.
The next pictures are from earlier trips. We stayed at Myakka River State Park a couple of years ago. The highlight for me was the Canopy Walkway, which was a nature trail through the treetops.
In 2019, having already visited the Atlantic Coast, the Gulf Coast, and the Keys, we went to the Panhandle. Our Florida friends wouldn’t join us because they thought it was bitterly cold in February. They were right, it got down into the 50s and I had to get my fleece pullover out.
There are several beach parks along the Emerald Coast. We had reservations at St Joseph Peninsula State Park, which was wiped out by Hurricane Michael. We stopped by Grayton Beach State Park on a day trip. A lot of what looks like scrub vegetation on the dunes is actually the top of the same magnolia and slash pine trees you see elsewhere, but here they’re buried in the constantly shifting dunes.
This picture is from a nature trail at the beach, looking out from a copse of trees half buried by the dunes.
Several of the parks have concessionaires that offer boat tours, including Blue Springs, Wakulla Springs, and Myakka River. Manatees are a big attraction because they winter over in the springs which are warmer. I’ve seen a few but never gotten a good picture of one.
We took the tour at Wakulla Springs and I got this photo of an Anhinga preparing to swallow the fish it had speared.
There is quite a variety among the Florida’s parks, too — they aren’t all nature preserves or beaches. During our panhandle tour we took a day trip to Maclay Gardens near Tallahassee, which is famed for its camellia gardens. Maclay started transplanting them in 1923 and some of them are 150 years old. The brick path is the original driveway to Maclay’s winter home.
We did the Myakka Canopy Walk one year back when we’d go visit family in Hardee County. It was so cool! Thanks for these really great pics.
I also finally saw the comet tonight!
@Benw: Photos! If only there were a way for you to send photos. :-)
@WaterGirl: I heard there’s these new-fangled facsimile machines…
Srsly there was juuuuust enough overcast that it was really blurry, so it didn’t make a very inspiring pic. But we got a pretty good look through our small telescope!
Can I interest them in a polar vortex? Negative 17? :)
Sounds like a great layout at Tomoka SP. Great pictures all around. Thanks for sharing, frosty.
@mrmoshpotato: most excellent, my dudes
@WaterGirl: One of my goals for Saturday night was to reshoot a star trail that I’d shot a couple of years ago(the old star trail was ok, but the foreground sucked). I started shooting the star trail at 9:45, after astronomical twilight. When I got home and looked at the subs(I shoot star trails in parts) I noticed that I’d captured NEOWISE in the frame. So the Star trail has one “star” that has a blur extending from it(aka the comet’s tail).
@Benw: I’m headed to Joshua Tree to see the comet again on Thursday.
@mrmoshpotato: Frosty gives new meaning to one of Adam’s taglines: “Stay frosty…”.
@?BillinGlendaleCA: awesome! I bet you’ll get a really crisp look. I hear Watergirl is looking for pics
@Benw: WaterGirl has some pictures of the comet.
Great photos, looking forward to more!
@Benw: The thing about Joshua Tree isn’t really darkness. It’s dark, but there are lots of places(even closer to me) that are darker than J Tree. What makes it a good site is that it’s dark enough and has some great foreground elements. Now quite a few places have foreground elements and are in dark locations, but lots of those foregrounds are on private property, that’s obviously not the case with J Tree(mostly, there is some private property within the park).
@frosty: I just didn’t know that it’d be in the frame, though I was shooting with a 12mm(18mm FF Equiv). Nice pics.
@?BillinGlendaleCA: I just remember the Milky Way being super bright when I’d visit Joshua Tree or Anza Borrego when I was a kid. Like every star was a jewel, and there were millions of them!
@Benw: I went to Fossil Falls which is on US-395 between Ridgecrest and Lone Pine last week. The band of the Milky Way looked like a bright cloud that was closer than the other stars. Most of the time, it looks just like a regular cloud, but this looked different, something hard to describe. I’ve been to lots of dark places, but this was really special.
@Benw: We camped at Navajo National Monument on another road trip years ago when my kids were 9 and 13. I’ve never seen a darker sky. I stopped on the way in, told them to cover their eyes, then tilt their heads back and look. The reaction was great!
@?BillinGlendaleCA: I’m currently working on routes and reservations for the things we missed this year, including J Tree, Anza Borrego, Death Valley and 395 as far as Mono Lake. Crossing my fingers that it will be safe by next March and April.
I went up 395 for a couple of ski trips when I lived in SoCal many years ago. Always loved the drive.
@mrmoshpotato: That made me chuckle too, but we don’t get as cold as you do. I think the lowest temp we’ve had here in the past 10 years was 17. There was no snow just a dreary landscape and bitter cold. .
@?BillinGlendaleCA: The first time we visited June Lake* in 1974, there was a power failure in the town and all over the valley. We went outside because there was more light out there, and I looked up and was disturbed by what I thought was smog. My husband laughed at me and explained that what I was seeing was the Milky Way, and then I saw that he was right. The reason it was so much lighter outside was because of the moon and stars.
There were so many stars. Just amazing.
*June Lake is one of 4 Edison Lakes on a loop off of 395, North of Mammoth, South of Mono Lake. We used to stay at the same place every time we went, which was nearly every summer.
@frosty: Great photos. the only Florida State Park I have visited was Homosassa. At least I think it’s a state park.
Then we went and saw the mermaids at Weekiwatchi.
(August in Florida is brutal, but we saw a lot of other stuff, like Cape Canaveral)
Grayton was Grayt!
J R in WV
My personal low was -27 here at the house. Now I’m thinking about it something says -35 one night for a different freeze… but maybe that was just a dream? But cold. Killing cold.
J R in WV
Great photos, thanks!! We like Florida, just not the people so much. Living in Key West in the early 1970s kind of spoiled it now in the 2020s. Jimmy Buffet was playing in bars and at parties back then.
Would recommend some places to see in AZ off of I-10, Cochise’s Hideout in the Dragoon Mountains, Chiricauhua National Monument on the other side of the Valley, all south of Wilcox. There’s a nice private RV at the intersection of US 191 and the St Rt that runs east to the Chiricauhua Mountains, and I’ve seen RVs parked at the end of the road into Cochise’s Hideout at the visitor center, and up in the Chiracahua mountains.
Bisbee is just east of the southern end of US 191 (at the Mexican border) — an old copper/gold/silver mining town with a huge Lavender Pit and lots of old mining stuff, a great museum, was taken over by hippies after the mines closed and the town was sold cheap in pieces for back taxes, so artists and stuff. There are jeep tours and you can go a little ways into the Copper Queen mine on a tour.
There are sandhill cranes in the Sulfur Springs Valley in winter. Worth a few days if you’re going to drive by anyways. Great geology, recent volcanism in the SE corner of Cochise county – if 10,000 years seems recent to you.
Myakka State Park is a hefty Frisbee toss or two from where I live
@?BillinGlendaleCA: That’s cool!
Late to dead thread. Ohioan now but spent elementary school in Ormond Beach. Tomoka was our park. It is where the Halifax River (an estuary into the Atlantic) turned freshwater. We camped there as Girl Scouts but worried about the snakes. Grownups camped with screened in hammocks, which you could do, because lots of trees at campsites. We also worried about gators, but never actually saw any.
Also it had a sculpture memorial to Chief Tomoka. I’m curious if that is still there.
Drinking fountains were very sulphurish. Tasted sweet but smelled like old eggs. Normal in FL then. Is it still
I am not an art historian, but I thought the Tomoka Statue was sort of Art Deco-ish, or whatever they were up to in Miami in the twenties
ETA : I could say I wish you had better pictures, but it was all water. Tomoka Basin. Everything was underwater, and the water was too murky to photograph. Lots of critters swimmimg there. Interesting place.