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Random words, pictures and thoughts of one who always wishes to be on the mind's road to discovery!

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Connecticut River Valley, New England, United States

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Roaming Leisurely Close to Home Base

Hi folks! Sorry I'm late with yesterday's post but we howled at the moon a bit last night and so I didn't get up until 1145 this morning. Not hungover but tired. It is overcast and there is a drizzle now and then today but it is nice to just veg for a change. The five jets went over headed up to rainy Daytona Speedway and then half hour later flew over on their way back down South. Somehow it was six on the return--wonder where that guy was on the way up? They fly directly over the house just as the shuttle and other spacecraft did. Must have been quite an experience to see those things so close up. But back to yesterday--it was my kind of day--64degrees, great wind and sun. Kept lots of people indoors so the Canaveral National Seashore was almost ours alone. We went through Bethune Beach, which historically was the black beach. As we drove by the expensive homes and one or two condominiums I could not help but think that integration brought some losses as well as many victories. I don't think too many of these homes and condos are owned by black people so a gorgeous beach that probably was the source of generations of memories has been taken away. Of course, there is a public park with access to the beach which is open to all but it isn't the same. Anyway, soon we were passing the funny ranger at the entrance booth and off we went to the first stop--Turtle Mound. To get there you walk along a bit of the riverfront and then into the jungle on a very sturdy boardwalk and a stroll to the mound itself. In this area during the time of European discovery lived an Indian group called the Timucuan people. They occupied the vicinity for over 2000 years and did little to alter the land. There are burial mounds and shell middens that in their layers hold the history of their civilization. In 1513 when Ponce de Leon arrived there were about 40,000 but by 1763, when Spain withdrew from Florida, there were just a handful surviving Timucuans. Decimated primarily by diseases introduced by the Europeans the only thing left of their culture are these structures. Turtle Mound has been left pretty much as is but others have been used to build roads or have been otherwise disturbed--like books with pages violently torn out. It was with great pleasure that I looked into that surrounding lush vegetation and saw a remnant of the more recent inhabitants of the area---turn of the 20th century transplanted farmers--an orange tree, out of reach but laden with the most delicious looking oranges. We continued along the road, sometimes with a canopy of trees above us, other times with open skies but palmetto scrub surrounding us. Our next stop was the sight of an old community, Eldora. The parking lot was the location of a Coast Guard --then called the US Lifesaving Service--House of Refuge. Nothing remains of it but I could imagine its appearance since there are several preserved at Mystic Seaport and I cannot imagine this would have been much different--the government being what it is--cookie cutter mentality. All border stations looked the same and I think these refuge houses would have, too. We walked in along a wide road surrounded by huge live oaks--they are such majestic trees. Their thick branches dressed with furry Resurrection Ferns--nice and green as a result of the rains of the past few nights. Also mixed in with the oaks, a deciduous tree with bark reminiscent of sycamores and several species of palm trees. The textures are so appealing and varied. We entered by circling around back--not following the rest of the tourists thereby seeing the fresh water system of the community, including a cistern which has not been refurbished. The brochure and the video and the really nice lady ranger filled us in on the history of Eldora, which really only thrived as a community for about sixty years though it hung on by a thread for another few years. In 1877 or so the home of Native Americans and a few woodsmen began to be developed by immigrants from Mississippi, Alabama,Georgia, Missouri and, of course, New York and New Jersey with a few English and German Europeans thrown in. Initially, these people established an agricultural community and grew citrus of all types as well as pineapples and various vegetables. An industry rose supplying pharmaceutical houses with dried saw palmetto berries to make an elixir used in various ways. Steamboats plied the river bringing supplies and taking away produce to markets. The Coast Guard set up its rescue station. By 1898 several changes had taken place--two severe frosts in 1895 and 1896 destroyed the citrus trees, the railroad was built by Mr Flagler on the mainland and so steamboats were put out of business, the intracoastal Waterway was rerouted. As a result the business of the community became tourist centered--in that hunting and fishing lodges were built.Also wealthy families built seasonal homes and whatever farming done was purely gentleman's farming. By 1938, even these pursuits declined and the Coast Guard moved up to Ponce Inlet further north up the coast. Only 10 people were let in Eldora. Over the next 30 years the population dwindled to fewer permanent homes, which were literally left to decay and be reclaimed by the elements and vegetation. In 1975, there were a couple of year round residents and a few seasonal and weekend people. That same year the National Seashore was established. In 1989 The Friends of Canaveral looked at Eldora House and the State House. It was discovered that Eldora House was too far deteriorated to be restored so it was torn down. Through fund raising and grant writing Eldora State House was able to be refurbished and so it was and opened to the public in 1999. It is now maintained by the National Parks Service.

We continued on to the end of land and stopped where the river and ocean meet. With feet planted firmly and my clothes plastered to my body I turned my face into the furious wind. I love the ocean in all its fazes. Someday I'd like to rent a place on the Maine coast during the winter and just revel in its unbridled freedom. No matter what we do to its coasts the ocean just keeps on keeping on.

And then we returned to PJ's where I ordered escargots in garlic butter with lots of freshly baked bread and glasses and glasses of good German beer to wash it all down. Great conversation with some of the locals. I like PJ's alot--after you show your face there a couple of times it's like Cheers--everybody knows your name. Just fun. NSB is truly a friendly place and it will be sad to move on. Came home to a beautiful indigo sky with a brilliant quarter moon and evening star. Went to bed by 830. Couldn't do much else to be honest. But it was a terrific day. 
Trish and Bob are really great. They came down with Petty the dog all ready to watch part of the race--who can bother watching it all?--but it is raining in Daytona and the race is in an iffy place. The jets have come and gone, the talking heads are filling in time. So Trish went up to take a nap. I decided to blog and upload pix. Bill and Bob talked themselves out so Bob is off doing something, Bill is going to the store. I'm going to set up bill payments and watch one, if not two, movies. Unless, something really exciting happens there won't be pix or a blog for today. It is a catch up rainy Sunday kind of day--what is left to say? Take care until the next installment.

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