Florida State Parks – Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Historic State Park

As a female writer, women authors have always been my role models. Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, Pulitzer Prize winning author of “The Yearling” and “Cross Creek,” falls into that literary hero category, and I couldn’t wait to see where she wrote her most famous works. As she said herself: “I do not understand how anyone can…

Florida State Parks – Wakulla Springs State Park

The river boat slipped down the Wakulla, gliding a few feet above swaying eel grass, swimming mullet, impressive gar and cool spring water. The park’s boat tour, led by a local ranger, took my husband and I along the banks for over a mile before turning back to the dock near the swimming area. Read…

Florida State Parks – Gainesville-Hawthorne Trail

Savanna and Brian stood at the edge of the Gainesville-Hawthorne Trail, gazing at the bright green leaves and red petals of a mystery wildflower. They examined the shape of the blossom, the texture of the leaves, the habitat in which we found ourselves, then turned to online guides within their cell phones. After a moment,…

Florida State Parks – Dudley Farm

Grasping the handle, I watched corn kernels fall into the grinder as I turned the crank, the flaky pieces collecting in a metal basin. A volunteer at Dudley Farm – dressed in a 19th century dress and bonnet – looked on as I created a small pile of chicken feed. Pouring a mini-mountain into my…

Florida State Parks – Ochlockonee River State Park

The squirrel was white. I mean, bright white, scarfing down a snack as it sat on an oak tree limb in Ochlockonee River State Park’s campground. With its beady, dark eyes I knew it wasn’t an albino creature, which begged the question: what was it? Read the rest on Firsthand Florida Fun!

Florida State Parks – Bulow Creek State Park

The tree was massive. Wider than multiple human arm-lengths, the 300-500 year old Live Oak in Bulow Creek State Park – known as the Fairchild Oak – stretched its branches high and wide at the edge of a small, grassy clearing. One particular branch, covered in fern epiphytes, had extended so far from the trunk…

Florida State Parks – Tomoka

I love hearing unexpected responses to my questions about Florida State Parks. During my visit, I spoke with Scott, the owner of the Tomoka Outpost inside Tomoka State Park. He sat in an Adirondack chair facing the river, looking out over the Outpost’s kayak and canoe rental launch below us. Read the rest on Firsthand…

Florida State Parks – Anastasia

The beach stretched out for miles in front of me. Pressed flight by a recent tide, the sand – covered in shells – was firm beneath my bare feet. The afternoon was warm after very chilly days, and the number of visitors swelled with the sunshine, laying in the sun, swimming across the waves, and…

Florida State Parks – Cedar Key Museum

It was morning on Cedar Key, and I stood in front of a tall green sign near the Cedar Key Historical Museum. Though I gazed at the sign in 2017, my mind was over one hundred years away, when the famous naturalist John Muir visited Cedar Key on his 1,000 mile walk to the Gulf…

Florida State Parks – Homosassa Springs

The native Florida fish species swirled around me, oblivious to my wide eyes inside Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park’s Underwater Observatory. Built down into the spring itself, the circular, subsurface room flowed blue, light streaming in from the giant windows. Read the rest on Firsthand Florida Fun!

Florida State Parks – Fanning Springs

I saw a manatee! Floating up from the bottom of Fanning Springs, the gentle giant mammal lifted her gray snout above the water, her back just barely breaking the surface before sinking back down once more. It doesn’t matter how many times I see Florida’s manatees, I remain captivated by this unique sighting. Read the…

Nat Geo – Living Shoreline Initiatives Aim to Stem Erosion at GTM NERR

As part of an ongoing project, Erika Zambello is visiting all National Estuarine Research Reserves in the continental United States. Established by NOAA, the sites work together toward long-term research, education and coastal stewardship. A group of scientists attending a Jacksonville-based living shorelines conference, garbed in knee-high wading boots, walked across a mudflat toward a…