Saturday, March 30, 2013

Scenes from Cumberland Island

After enjoying a day at Cumberland Island, I spent the next day painting with good friends.  I love that I am getting back into color and rougher looking paintings.  Just before I left St. Augustine, where I was staying with friends, I stopped by the Hobby Lobby and picked up more paint.  Can't wait to get to work! 


Drawing at Dungeness

A few pictures of the horses (and the foal!) from around Dungeness at Cumberland Island National Seashore.

Spring Adventures on Cumberland Island

 By the time my friend and I boarded the ferry to return to Historic St. Marys, we were exhausted.  Cumberland Island had proved to be more vast that we had thought, but we enjoyed exploring every inch that we could. 
When we arrived at Cumberland Island at the Seacamp Dock around 10, and even though it was late March, the temperature was in the low forties and extremely windy.  We were determined not to let to temperature put a damper on our day.
When we had planned the trip, we knew that we wanted to rent bikes ($16 all day), so we made sure to ask where we could find them.  Next to the building at the Seacamp Dock are numerous bike racks filled with beach cruisers, mountain bikes, and a few children's bikes.  We claimed our bikes and waited as the man from the ferry to come over.   Both bundled up in two layers of pants, three shirts, two jackets, gloves, and hats, we took to the main dirt road. 
Bikes were the way to go.  Once we had them, we took off North, occasionally exploring the side trails and the beach.  This seemed to be the opposite direction that most of the people on the ferry decided to take.  The majority began their day by walking South to Dungeness.  After making it out to the small cemetery around Stafford (and we saw two horses in the field!), we turned around to explore the southern end of the island. 
The bike ride was long, and we were ready for a break by the time we reached Dungeness.  Mind you, my friend and I do not pedal leisurely.  We booked it for most of the trip so that we could see as much as possible.

The entrance to Dungeness was stunning, as it is so different from the landscape we had already experienced.  We quickly found a nice spot on the lawn behind the ruins, set out a towel, and rested out bikes in the grass.  Lunch was a quiet, picturesque picnic in the sun.  Those viewing the ruins and area around Dungeness were still bundled up in coats and hats, but we had shed our layers to tanks and shorts because of the long bike ride.  We relaxed, stretched out on the towel, and took in the sun.  It was a beautiful day, not a cloud in the sky.  After we rested, we walked around the ruins, down to the marshes, and then East to the other structures. 
We finished our day trip by returning to the towel and sketching the landscape.  Just as we had become absorbed in our drawings, a mare and her foal approached us.  As two of just six or seven people at Dungeness, we sat as quietly as possible enjoying the moment.  The mother led her baby across the field and soon the rest of the herd followed.  They grazed along the tree line and eventually made their way down to the marsh, the foal clearly hesitant to make the jump off of the ledge.
My friend and I both agreed that it is amazing that a place such as this even exists.  The trees, the silence, the history, we could not get over it.  I highly recommend making the trip, and I will again soon.  I want to be able to explore more of this place.  It is a treasure. 


If you plan on making a trip to Cumberland Island, I recommend bringing:

  • Layers of clothes.  The island is cooler than Historic St. Marys, and the wind on the ferry can be harsh.  Even if it is Spring, you could easily need hats and gloves.
  • A bag large enough to hold those layers.  A comfy backpack worked well for me.
  • A small wallet
  • Water bottle(s)
  • Sunscreen
  • Bug repellent
  • Lunch and snacks
  • Plastic bags
  • Towel
  • Book/ paper to sketch.  It is so nice to sit somewhere quiet and to relax
  • Camera and battery
  • Band-Aids
  • Broken in shoes
  • Paper towels

Friday, March 22, 2013

It's Spring Break!

So many options:

O'Leno State Park
River Rise State Park
Mill Creek Nature Preserve
Alligator Lake Park
Osceola National Forest
Olustee Battlefield Historic State Park
Cumberland Island National Seashore (GA)
Anastasia State Park

Can't wait to see where the next week takes me and all of the places I will discover!

Anastasia State Park, March 2012

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Learning New Trails in the National Forest

I am one of those people who rarely gets lost, and I never have in forests.  In cities, that is a different story.  I suppose the woods make more sense to me.  Maybe I am highly observant or understand how the ecosystems come together.  Or I am just good at memorizing aerial maps. 

Photos from the trail, new trails.  The best kind of trail.  But I would say the same about the paths that I have been traveling for years. 

Osceola National Forest, March

Tuesday, March 12, 2013


This week has been good for painting.  I finished the oranges, Enchantment, inspired by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings' Cross Creek:
Enchantment lies in different things for each of us. For me, it is in this: to step out of the bright sunlight into the shade of orange trees; to walk under the arched canopy of their jadelike leaves; to see the long aisles of lichened trunks stretch ahead in a geometric rhythm; to feel the mystery of seclusion that yet has shafts of light striking through it. [...] Here is home. An old thread, long tangled, comes straight again.

I began this painting in late January after a trip home where picked oranges in the yard.  It is one of those memories I will always have of growing up in west central Florida.  Around that time, an article by Jeff Klinkenberg was in the Tampa Bay Times about the citrus industry of the area.  It just seemed natural to paint them.   I completed most of this painting in a week, but let it sit for a month and then I returned to finished it.  I think that I will still play around with a few of the oranges, but it won't have any major changes.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

A Few Firsts

I have made my first loop route in the Osceola National Forest!  Loops, as opposed to out-and-back routes, are true milestones for a runner in a new environment.  It means that I am gaining confidence on the trails (Florida Trail and all of those that intersect) and with the lay of the land.  I am understanding how the trail system works and how to use to get where I want to go. 
I also fell for the first time.  Somehow I managed that while walking.  It was a pretty hard fall, but I realized that I haven't had one in a while.  I usually average one good one a year.  I was due.
Yes, I am still walking, but with much less pain.  Even my quick walking which really is borderline walking, only left me sore for the next few hours.  I feel that I am getting better, just slowly.
This was the first time that I felt like I did when I was running, and running far.  It was the first warm, blue sky day in weeks.  Stunningly beautiful weather, a new route under my belt, and a dirt road on which to stretch and take in the surroundings, I don't know what could be much better than that.


Look What Came Today!

A few weeks back, I wrote a little piece for the Florida Trail Magazine.  It includes a few images of my paintings (two very recent ones and one from a painting class in college).  Today it arrived in my mailbox! 
I wrote how running cross country and finding Florida's parks and preserves has given me a home in Florida, but has also made my new location my home.   It was nice to finally get that written down. 
Thank you to the Florida Trail Association for allowing me to share a little bit of why I love natural Florida.  I hope that others can connect with it in some way, as many of us who call Florida our home were not born in the state.  I believe that we have made ourselves Floridians.