This past weekend, I went on a photo hike for the first time in… I don’t remember. It once was my routine to take one weekend day to myself and go somewhere, anywhere nearby for a hike or visit to the beach.
Since I live in Florida, and minutes from the Gulf of Mexico, most of my friends and family think I spend all my free time at the beach. In truth, I probably spend more time hiking in the woods than I do lounging in the sand.
Northwest Florida has an abundance of state parks and nature preserves, and many of them are an easy drive from me. All of these parks, preserves, forts, piers and trails are all within a 50-mile radius from where I live:
Turkey Creek Nature Trail
Eden Gardens State Park, Point Washington
Grayton Beach State Park
Rocky Bayou State Park
Ponce de Leon State Park
Gulf Islands National Seashore
Henderson Beach State Park
Deer Lake State Park
Camp Helen State Park
St. Andrews State Park
*Fort Pickens State Park
Big Lagoon State Park
Tarklin Bayou Preserve State Park
Falling Waters State Park
Pine Log State Park
Timber Lake Bike Trails
Blackwater River State Park
Longleaf Pines Greenway Trail
Russell Fishing Pier – Panama City
Navarre Beach Fishing Pier
Okaloosa Island Fishing Pier
Clement Taylor Park – Destin
Maxwell Gunter Recreation Area
Fort Barrancas, NAS Pensacola
Florida Trail, Crestview; part of the National Scenic Trail system
Bay Bluff Park
Beasley Park, Okaloosa Island
T.L. Brooks City Park, Niceville
I wanted to visit Fort Pickens again, but couldn’t decide if I wanted to hike the trails, or visit the fort. When I pulled up to the Visitors’ Center, the decision was made for me. I don’t like crowds. Typically, when I amble around the fort, I am the only person there, or one of a few handful. This time, the place was crawling with tourists. I knew they were tourists by the plethora of out-of-state license plates represented in the parking lot.
For someone who cherishes her quietude, going to a popular state park is an iffy proposition… one I don’t always win. There is very little serenity in a crowd. When I go on my outings, whether to the beach or the woods, it is serenity I seek.
Turns out, foregoing the fort for a hike was the right choice. By avoiding the masses, I had the trail pretty much to myself. I saw several lizards, a snapping turtle, and a nesting hawk. The prickly pear cacti were in bloom and the wild blackberries were just beginning to turn. It was a very peaceful morning.
“It is the nature of a great mind to be calm and undisturbed.” ~ Seneca
This week’s word is:
Using “chaos” for inspiration, write 100 Words – no more, no less. You can either use the word – or any form of the word – as one of your 100, or it can be implied. Include a link in your post back here , and add your story to the Mister Linky list. If you don’t have a blog, you can leave your submission in the comment section, or as a Facebook status post. Remember to keep spreading the love with supportive comments for your fellow wordsters.