Ok. Seriously folks. You didn't think you were off the hook with just a few vacation photos did you?
In the olden days when The Genius and The Artist (here we go again...) were young and we were on the way home from our trips to St. Augustine where we mostly shopped and ate our way through old town, we would often drive along route A1A. It was during these times that we discovered places like Washington Oaks Gardens State Park.
Times that bored The Genius and The Artist to tears.
Now it's one of The Artists favorite places. Sweet vacation maternal justification!
Nestled between the Atlantic Ocean and the Matanzas River, this property was once owned by a distant relative of President George Washington. In 1936, the land known today as Washington Oaks Gardens State Park was bought and given to Louise Powis Clark by her husband Mr. Owen D. Young. Clark was a designer from New York and Young was an attorney and industrialist who had been chairman of the board of General Electric Corporation and RCA. He was named 1929 Time Magazine "Man of the Year." The house, built in 1938, became a winter retirement home for Clark and Young.
Must be nice to have that kind of moola.
Mrs. Young donated the property to the state of Florida in 1964 following the death of Mr. Young.
Live oak trees like the one below are estimated to be between 200 and 300 years old and have withstood the test of time, hurricanes...
and small boys.
American Indians once used the water's edge as a rich food source. Now days the waters edge is a paradise for family exploration. We hiked the Mala Campra trail on Thanksgiving Day. The Mala Compra hiking loop is a one half mile (.5 mile) loop that explores the ecozone between the coastal maritime hammock and the estuarine tidal marsh along the Matanzas River.
Treasures of the tidal marsh abounded like this skeleton of the Crucifix Fish:
Raccoon tracks and river water. What more could anyone ask for?
How about "The Secret Garden" discovered by The Teenager. I was tickled when she was jumping for joy by her discovery and actually associated the scene before her with one of her favorite books.
"Can I go in? Can I go in?" She was so excited!
The Boy, who prefers animal scat to literature found his own amusement in the secret garden:
At the end of the day we weren't terribly hard for the park ranger to locate. After all, we were the only car in the lot at dusk when he scurried us along.
I spent a lot of time while watching the Secret Pepper Family explore Washington Oaks pondering how we really do it all wrong most of the time on vacations. Yes, I love Disney as much as the next person but there is so much more to life than paying a monetary fortune to be amused for a few hours.
When you ask The Boy what his favorite part of the vacation was he replies, "The jungle." Jungle...tidal marsh....close enough.
When you ask The Teenager? "The Beach."
Just don't ask The Baby.
She may be the one Pepper family member to prefer Disney over the call of the wild.
If you are ever in St. Augustine do yourself a favor and skip the touristy St. George Street and head out to one of the many beautiful state parks in the area.
You'll be glad you did!