Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Parks. And Parks. And More Parks.

Florida has 123 state parks. Plus three state forests. Plus 17 state historic sites. Plus three state reserves. Plus 18 state preserves. This does not count their 3 National Parks, 3 National Forests, two National Memorials, one National Landmark, one National Historic Site, 23 National Wildlife Refuges, and one National Seashore. And it has 17 nationally designated wilderness areas. Yes, by eastern standards, Florida is a large-ish state, but damn! Keep in mind that there are hundreds of significant county parks and preserves in Florida, also. They have county parks that would put to shame major state parks in other states. Plus, I haven't even bothered to list or do a search for protected creeks and rivers.

By which I mean to say that while most tourists head to Florida where they waste their time walking around in sick, fake, artificial amusement parks and roasting amidst vast crowds on tourist beaches, there's no need for that foolishness. There is almost no end to the amazement you can find within their systems of parks and wild lands.

By contrast, my current state of North Carolina has 35 state parks, several of them rather pathetic excuses for parks. My home state of Georgia (the largest state east of the Mississippi) has 62 state parks, some of them also pretty lame when it comes to recreation and acreage. Florida knows how to preserve land and maintain access to wild and rural places.

This is the main reason Carole and I keep going back to Florida. If we avoided even most of the rivers and main parks and just concentrated on the big freshwater springs that attract us there, we would have plenty of locations to visit for years and years.

If only other eastern states would work to create as much natural preservation as Florida has done. Hell...they even surpass many gigantic western states in this respect. While other states balk at creating parks, or have legislatures who actively work against creating parks, Florida has honed a state park system that rivals any we have experienced.

All of which is my way of saying that if you are going to visit Florida, do yourself a favor and take a break from the stupid amusement parks. Shy away from the crowded beaches. Find some solitude and quiet and see what's real, for Pete's sake.

Osprey, Gulf Shores National Seashore.

Pelican, Fort Pickens.

Cypress Springs.

Dead live oak, Gulf Shores National Seashore.

Fort Pickens.

Lesser heron, freshwater marsh, Gulf Shores National Seashore.

Fence lizard, Deer Lake State Park.

Spider Lilly, Holmes Creek.

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