Thursday, December 11, 2008

Through the Looking Glass

If you are like me you have to ask yourself what sort of parent would name their offspring "Dagny." Quite likely it was a rich sort of person for them to end up memorialized in a state park, be it ever so small. The park entrance hints at grandiosity, standing as it does off Card Sound Road close to Highway One: Of course one also is forced to wonder how come I showed up at the park completely unprepared for what I was to find there, having done no research at all. I have ridden past this imposing gateway a million times and always thought about stopping until Jeffrey made a comment about it a while back. Then I had to ride up to the mainland on unrelated business and so there I stopped early Monday morning, and met a wheezing jogger who breezed past my motorcycle: On the third hand a quick search found nothing about why this park got this name. It offers six miles of trails (quite a few requiring a permit apparently) and 2400 acres of land which includes tons of wild and endangered animals and insects. A piffling dollar fifty charge gains you admission to this botanical garden, but I skipped the honor box as I had no change and I hold a park pass (with the Monroe County endorsement which costs extra of course!). The state parks website points out that this was to have been a condo development, as though there was actually a square inch of Florida that has ever avoided that dread designation? The condo thing may account for the remarkable paved roadway, two separate lanes no less that lead into the park.With a freeway like this through the woods I might have done better to have brought my bicycle, but that would have shrunk the expedition to ten minutes from the 45 I actually spent wandering and getting lost. The state parks website also mentions a self guided tour which I think involves those little plaques visible above and below:Or this substantial name tag:Having knowingly encountered my first and possibly last Jamaican dogwood I feel no great uplift or satisfaction of knowledge. I am not, by inclination a collector. I like butterflies well enough but there weren't any in evidence even at the butterfly garden, an excellent place for a picnic were one so inclined:And those extravagant condo developers did like to show off their roadways and traffic circles with decorative masonry:There were intriguing trails branching off, unpaved paths that were closed even to permit holders apparently:I could not resist a quick peek round the corner where I saw nothing startling:The state parks website mentions this is the best time of year to visit owing to fewer mosquitoes and cooler temperatures. They were right on that even though a couple of mossies did land on me, luckily I was wearing my mesh motorcycle jacket as the temperature was a brisk 68 (18C) and the sun was still low in the winter sky. Some people delight in telling you Florida is flat and boring. Flat may it be, but boring never, not if you know where to look. In the Florida Keys even, despite the lack of land mass there is still plenty of mysterious beauty, if you bother to find it. Lots of people will tell you there is nothing to do in the Florida Keys and nowhere to go but they just haven't even tried in my opinion. Granted this isn't majestically awesome like Yosemite or Denali National Parks, but these are still places that will delight you with their own brand of magic:I am happy there are many people who like snow and ice because if they were all down here this little park would have been packed with noisy nosey people. As it was I was alone with my thoughts and my camera and some rather intrusive signs:Naturally I was too law abiding and polite to trespass, but it so happened that around the corner the post and rails were on the ground and there were no signs at all, so I stepped through and found my way to the intriguing cement structure visible, barely, in the distance:A bonafide tunnel built for cars, looking more like an overpass though from where to where is anybody's guess. The inside was creepy and dark with pools of light shining down from overhead:There was a fence at the other end but it was wide open so... I went on through, only to find myself I knew not where. Had there been a white rabbit checking his timepiece and tut-tutting I'd have followed along blindly, I'm sure. As it was I had to make my own way and instead of coming across a Mad Hatter's tea party I found a cement house, possibly never occupied or long abandoned:And beyond it the abomination of desolation with all greenery swept impressively aside:Of the ocean a little to the south there was no sign, just the gentle sea breeze and...off to the left the sounds of construction, a beeping of reverse gear, rumbling engines and clanking. I went to explore and passed what seemed like an idyllic canal to the left:Though it may just have been a rock quarry for all I know. I wanted to wander along its banks but time was speeding by and I had an appointment in Fort Lauderdale so I walked rapidly on towards the sounds of clanking construction machinery:I never did see the machinery itself but I saw this: Which was sufficient to indicate to me that I had probably strayed well beyond the park boundaries and perhaps it was time to get out while the going was good. I plunged into the shrubbery on a side trail as I heard the sound of a vehicle approaching. Imagine my surprise when i walked past this construction sitting out in the woods all by itself:Should it ever get frosty in South Florida this is where I will come to stock up on seasoned firewood. Heaven only knows what the story is behind this place, a crumbling ruin of wooden beams and tar paper roof yielding slowly to the ravages of time. I made my way back towards the park itself, back through the tunnel and out into the paved highway where...Good heavens above! People! He and she were from Orlando down on a bird watching expedition though they were dressed like Park Rangers who had lost their guns, though it's possible that interpretation of their appearance was just a product of my guilty conscience:He was garrulous and keen apparently seeking out a blue shouldered cuckoo (I think; it sounded very odd whatever it was,) while his sidekick stood patiently like a Sherpa waiting for us to finish our pointless conversation. I have no understanding about the mad desire to look at birds. They clumped off asking hopefully if they were close to the sea. I shook my head.I did see a bird though, and I suspect it was actually checking out the nearby landfill on Card Sound Road. I think its a buzzard or a vulture or something like that:When I prodded the Triumph into gear on Card Sound Road I did come across the entrance to a construction site so I suppose buildings will soon infest those quiet areas I walked around. I also got quite a selection of mud specks on my pants as I rode through their mess in the road. I had my revenge though because little did they know the mud under my boots came from inside their super secret building zone. Ha, I get everywhere and I'm neither a bird nor a plane. Nor a white rabbit come to that. I'm just an explorer in the Keys.