Friday, July 25, 2014

River Breeze Park

The view looking south along the Indian River
River Breeze is a Volusia County park along US 1, south of New Smyrna.  The popular boat launching ramp is heavily used by fishing boats in the Mosquito Lagoon with access on the Indian River.  The 37 acre park offers restrooms, picnic tables and a playground.  The pier extends into the river along the Intercoastal Waterway along one of the most diverse water areas in America.  Check out the park brochure here..
This location is great for enjoying the outdoors, launching your fishing vessel or kayak, a picnic lunch or just spending a day with a fishing line in the water.  Canaveral National Seashore is across the lagoon and there is camping on some of the spoils islands you can see from the pier. Seminole Rest, a portion of the Canaveral National Seashore is just a couple miles down the road.
A few years ago, the Boy Scout Troop I was with camped in the woods on the north side of the property,  We visited NASA, fished and enjoyed being on the water and spent 2 nights beneath the clearest skies and stars I have ever seen in Florida.  A hiking trail runs through the old grove site there today.
If you are into birding, Merrit Island is just a short way down the road.  You can also reach the lower end of the Canveral National Seashore beaches there.
The park is not close to a large city and it is rural in nature.  I mention it because of the kayak launching, nearby National Parks and on-the-water-camping close by.  To get there, go south from New Smyrna or north from Titusville on US 1.
Shallow water by the dock and ramp

Friday, July 18, 2014

Seminole Rest

View of Seminole Rest from the Indian River portion of Mosquito Lagoon
Seminole Rest is the mainland portion of the Canaveral National Seashore.  This small spot of heaven is located in rural Oak Hill, Florida, about 10 miles south of New Smyrna Beach on US Highway 1.  Once you get to Oak Hill, turn left onto Canal Road and follow it around a right hand curve to River Road.  Seminole Rest is on your left just ahead.
This is a small National Park section which was saved from destruction by the previous owners decades ago.  In the Florida past, highway and railroad departments would back up to huge piles of shells, load them into dump trucks and cart them off to use as road beds.  Some of us Florida kids remember walking along the crushed-glass texture of shell roads in the past.  With all the sugar sand down here, it made good sense for the Florida roads, plus it was free.  The problem was those innocuous piles of shells were middens, the only remains of the Timucuan native Americans who lived here more than 500 years ago.
The walkway gives views of the mounds
A very inviting canoe launch
Lots of cedar trees are here
A half-mile hiking trail leads you from the parking lot around the waterfront side of the property, by a canoe launch, and through some trees with lots of light colored butterflies flitting about.  The water is the Indian River portion of the Mosquito Lagoon and Intercoastal Waterway.  Weekend motorboat and sailboat traffic was moving by and people were casting fishing lines where they could.
The stories they could tell us...
Here the sign tells us about the middens that were removed from this area by 2000 railroad cars

Note the almost white butterfly in the top right third of the bush.  These butterflies were everywhere.
My favorite photo of the restored house on the midden
A nice peaceful stroll
You have to imagine how many generations pitched their shells here to create this midden
And the story of the preservation of these mounds
Enjoy your short tour of this site with a great amount of lost history!

Friday, July 11, 2014

SUL Backpacking

Can I "do" Super Ultralight Backpacking, with a base weight of under 5 pounds (not counting food, fuel or water)?  Not that I need to go lower than the 9 pound base weight where I am now, but it could be interesting.  With what I can find online today, let me look...
REI Flash 22 Day Pack
I could take the 16 ounce REI Flash 22 daypack, which I am looking to buy for hiking and travel.  It has side and top pockets which will help greatly with organization and with carrying water, but would still be reasonably light in weight.  It is also on a special sale this week.
I can stuff my Thermarest Alpine down quilt into it, add my Sawyer water filtration (3 ounces) personal hygene, spares & first aid kits and a rescue blanket for the ground.  I won't cook on this trip so I won't carry my stove or pot.
Food would just be a snack (I would eat dinner on the way to the trailhead) and carry 2 breakfast bars for breakfast.
I would pack my raincoat inside the pack but outside of the waterproofing bag.  The Z-pad would be placed outside under the home-made stretchy webbing I would add to the front backpack ladder.  My Gatorade water bottles would ride in the side pockets.
SOL Escape Bivy (breathable)
What I would need for minimalist shelter is a SOL Escape Bivy sack.  At 8.1 ounces, the SOL will work just fine.  It breathes, so I won't soak my down quilt.  I'll add a low price head net to keep the bugs off my face.  Both will fit into the pack, inside the water-proofing trash compactor bag.
Maybe an ultralight tarp & stakes would be good protection in rainy weather, but I am not adding them here because they would weigh too much. I will carry a black plastic trash bag though, which I could rig up with my hiking pole and some sticks to protect my head if it did rain.
I don't carry a change of clothes, but would carry long underwear, a hat and sleeping socks for comfortable sleeping.
It all fits(!) and would weigh just an ounce or two under 5 pounds.  By adding the tarp & stakes it would be closer to 6 pounds.
Now, ready for a SUL-S24 (sub-24 hour) hike?

Friday, July 4, 2014

Enjoying Macon

When we went to Macon, GA, we had planned on seeing what the area had to offer and hike some trails.  Nearby hiking includes High Falls State Park, which is the site of an old town.  When the railroad didn't come to the town, it folded.  The short trails follow along the river below the falls to the old river-run power plant, to the foundations of the grist mill and through the trees and rocks to stones where other buildings once stood. The trails run along both sides of the river.  Another trail ambles through the woods in a loop.  The park has campsites, bathrooms and picnic areas and is close to I-75.

Fried Green Tomatoes is on the right in this photo of Juliette
We did drive to Juliette, the site of the movies "Fried Green Tomatoes" and "Hanging Angels".  Filmed in 1991, Fried Green Tomatoes started the old town's return to prosperity as a relaxing destination.  The restaurant where the movie took place is open from 11 am to 4 pm daily.  The town is situated next to the Ocmulgee River, and had the largest river-run grist mill in the southern states.  The mill closed in 1957.  East Juliette is across the bridge on the other side of the river and railroad, which is in a different county. The historic town is a photographers paradise with lots of cool, old rusty stuff and peeling paint on old buildings and interesting shops to capture with your iPhone (or your DSLR).
We saw signs to 2 plantations on the way to Juliette.  The Jarrell Plantation is open Thursdays through Saturdays.  This cotton plantation survived Sherman's March to the Sea and was in the same family over 140 years.  As a Georgia State Historic site, admission is $6.50.
Macon has the 11 mile Riverwalk, extending south from downtown along the Ocmulgee River, making for a nice stroll.  You can access the trail at either Rotary Park or Gateway Park, both on Riverside Drive.  There is also a walking tour of the historic downtown area with a guide you can print from the Internet.
The Hay House
The Hay House is another house to see, and is well worth the tour.  We took advantage of a free tour (available on some holidays) and freely roamed the unique mansion. Across the street is the old Mercer College building.
The Cannonball House was also a worthy tour, with period furnishings and Civil War memorabilia and interesting stories about the house owners.
The Allman Brothers Band Museum at the Big House
For you lovers of 1970's music, the Allman Brothers Band Museum at the Big House is a treasure trove of the bands gold records, press photos, stage passes and instruments, and it is right on highway 41.  Open Thursday through Sunday, this is the home where the band lived from 1970 to 1973 and where they created many of the hits we still enjoy today.  They also have a Macon area tour map which will lead you to the sites of Duane Allmond's motorcycle crash and burial site, if you are so inclined.  Get your photo taken in the backyard by the amps and shipping crates just like on the Live at Fillmore album.
The list goes on with sites to see like Fort Benjamin Hawkins, the Douglass Theater, Grand Opera House, Sidney Lanier College, Tubman African American Museum, Rose Hill Cemetery, and what I wrote about in last week's blog, the Oculgee National Monument.  There is much more to see, take the time and enjoy yourself!