Sunday, December 26, 2010


Sometimes Carole and I travel somewhere that we both like, but which we both feel that there will be little or no chance of ever returning. One spot that remains foremost in my mind of such a place is Shired Island, a county park in Florida.

One thing about Florida is that, despite the rampant development and explosion of urban sprawl in much of the state, there are still tracts of rural land where Mankind has been slow to exploit or destroy the natural ebb and flow of Nature. I like visiting these spots in Florida. You can drive along two-lane roads lined with forests, or surrounded by swamps and marsh. These places bear no sign of damage other than that simple road cutting through the bush, or marked by an occasional house or farm, perhaps a single sandy track leading off through the pine scrub and palmetto.

Back in the Spring of 2009 we took our travel trailer down to the central west coast of Florida to hit some of the first magnitude springs we'd never seen. Unfortunately for us, our visit coincided with a tremendous flood along the Suwanee River which inundated many of those springs and caused them to go "black"--that is, the crystal clear spring flows were blotted out by the dark, tannin-rich waters of the Suwanee, rendering them invisible and impossible to swim.

After one of our spring trips was wrecked by the flood, we went on a day-long journey to explore other areas. We had been hearing of a spot called Shired Island from other folk we'd met while snorkeling and canoeing. So we got out our maps and hooked up the Tom Tom and decided to find this place. And we did. It was, as they say, out in the Boonies. It was, for us, a little slice of peace and quiet.

Classic rural Florida, the park is stranded out at the very end of a long two-lane road that fires itself out through the scrubland and down toward a point of palm-dotted shore where the Gulf of Mexico nibbles away at the state of Florida. We found what we'd been hearing about: a county-run park with more to it than we had been expecting. There at the end of the road we found a very small campground that provides each site with a covered and raised picnic pad and even hookups for your RV or travel trailer. There right on the beach you can park your trailer and look out on the Gulf and watch the waves or just sit and listen to the crush of water against the sand.

We both found the isolation of the place to be soothing. Both of us would love to return there with our little Casita in tow, our canoe on the truck, and with the time on our hands to sit and enjoy the place. But it's one of those spots that we quite like and which the realities of Life have likely dictated that we'll never see again.

Maybe so, maybe not.

Addendum: Apparently Forbes Magazine listed Shired Island Beach as the single most polluted beach in the USA.

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