Monday, June 27, 2016

Travel: Gainesville Parks

Today was my first real sleep-in, lazy summer, no work day. Hence the late morning post. But boy did it feel good to wake up at 7:45 instead of 6:00. I think I will take the girls to the library to check out some books. I also have two cute outfits I need to add button holes to for two special baby boys, one that arrived and one that will be arriving in the fall. I may try to work on spray painting Scarlette's bookcase too.

Enough rambling, Saturday I drove up to Gainesville to visit my sister Heather. She is doing graduate work at the University of Florida in Entomology. She has been working really long hours in the lab and with our grandmother passing last week, I knew we needed some bonding time. We spent most of the day outdoors and walking various trails. I knew I wanted to visit the Devil's Millhopper again, as I had not been since I was a student myself at UF. The photo above is the very bottom of the large sinkhole.

The numerous steps leading down into the sinkhole provide a nice workout on the way back up. The Devil's Millhopper is beautiful and peaceful. There is a $2 park entry fee and a few trails to hike. 

Insect galls that my sister thought looked cool. Bug life.

Next we drove about 20 minutes to O'Leno State Park so we could walk a trail next to the Santa Fe River. This suspension bridge moved a bit when walking across and provided a lovely view of the river. O'Leno park had a $5 fee but there are many great camp grounds there and water activities that you can do on the Santa Fe.

The Santa Fe River disappears and flows underground for about 3 miles at this location and then rises back to the surface of the earth. 

I love cypress knees. I love the cypress tree in general though.

I built Nano a cairn. 

After O'Leno, we headed to Loblolly Woods Park where the Hogtown Creek flows. Heather mentioned that people go there to dig for shark teeth and arrowheads. No park fee. The water is really shallow, mostly above ankle level with some spots above the knee. Unfortunately, there were some hazards of broken glass and trash laying about. I recommend water shoes. My sister and I went bare foot.

Can you spot the green anole?

Some parts of the river were deep or blocked so we climbed the banks and hoofed it on land to get further along.

We spied out a cozy spot to squat and sift. We found several small shark teeth and two stingray teeth (the bars), and I found two flint pieces that may have been part of an arrowhead. It felt nice to put away the camera and phone and get our hands and feet wet and dig around for treasures like little kids in the quiet woods. I needed that solitude.

Gainesville has an amazing park system and National forest system surrounding it. Not to mention all the springs. We will be visiting some of those springs and rivers this summer. Have you been to any of these places? Do you enjoy visiting State and National Parks? Finding treasures? My girls were stoked about the shark teeth when I brought them back home.


  1. The river going underground is fascinating to me. I've never heard of that. Finding shark teeth is cool, but, um, does that mean there are sharks there too? lol


    1. I imagine it doesn't happen very many places. Florida has an aquifer with porous limestone that allows for under ground caves and tunnels and such (which is why we have sink holes too). I thought it was cool though. Kinda magical. No more sharks in the rivers, though there were many from when Florida was underwater so long ago. In fact, a Megalodon skeleton and teeth were found in the St. John's River. Weird to think such beasts were swimming where I now lay and type out this response potentially. Shark attacks do worry me slightly at the beach, but stingrays more often. My sister Heather got stung last summer by one. Looked awful.

    2. Ouchie! Yeah, I'll just stay well inland, safe from Megalodons and drowning.

      ~Deb <---(not at all a water fan)