March 03, 2006
And we're cold!!
Last stop: Gainesville!!
We had a great visit with Lindsay, Rick, Alex and Jaimie!
Looking up at airplane
Out to play...
And back in!
February 17, 2006
The prarie basin and its surrounding uplands have been a center of human activity for over 12,000 years. In the late 1600s the largest cattle ranch in Spanish Florida, La Chua, operated here. In 1774 Philadelphia botanist William Bartram (called "Puc Puggy" of "Flower Hunter" by the Seminole) described the basin as "the Great Alachua Savannah." It is thought to have been named for King Payne, the Seminole chief who fought here during the First Seminole War.
Heavy raind began to flood the basin in 1871 and by 1873 the marsh was large enough to be called Alachua Lake, where steam powered boats transported lumber, goods and passengers. In 1891 Alachua Sink, the main drain for the basin, became unclogged and by 1892 the character of the marsh had returned. By 1903 cattleman William Camp began cattle operations on the lush, green prarie grasses.
Bison and Wild Horses can be seen roaming the prarie. Bison disappeared from Florida in the early 1800s, but were reintroduced in 1975. The wild horses are descendents of those brought over by the Spanish in the early 1500s and left to roam free after the British raids in the early 1600s.
How many birds can you find? Hint: There is more than one!
Guess who drove the bus today??
February 16, 2006
Devil's Millhopper Geological State Park
Hi Everyone!! Another great day at an awesome State Park!
Devil’s Millhopper gets its unique name from its funnel-like shape. During the 1800’s farmers used to grind grain in gristmills. On the top of the mill was a funnel-shaped container caller a “hopper??? that held the grain as it was fed into the grinder. Because fossilized bones and teeth from early life forms have been found at the bottom of the sink, legend has it that the millhopper was what fed bodies to the devil. Hence, Devil’s Millhopper.
View from the top... Can't see it? We'll get closer...
Limestone is the foundation on which the surface of Florida sits. Although this stone is very hard, it is easily dissolved by a weak acid. Rainwater becomes a weak carbonic acid from contact with carbon dioxide in the air. As it soaks into the ground, passing through dead plant material on the surface, it becomes even stronger. When this water reaches the limestone layer, small cavities are formed as the rock slowly dissolves away. This process continues over a very long time until a large cavern is formed. Eventually the ceiling of the cavern becomes so thin that it cannot support the weight of the earth above it. When the ceiling collapses, a sink is formed.
Slopes of this sink provide a cut-away view of central Florida’s geologic past. Each layer of sediment contains a record of events and animals that lived before. Marine animal shells in the lower layers indicate that this area of Florida was once covered by the sea. Bones and teeth of land animals found in more “recent??? layers indicate that the sea has receded.
The sinkhole is 120 feet deep and 500 feet across. The depth of the ravine, the presence of certain plants and animals unique to this area, and archaeological clues suggest the sinkhole is quite old. The upper half or so may have been formed about ten to fifteen thousand years ago. The lower, more vertical portion does not appear to be more than one thousand years old, thus indicating the Devil’s Millhopper was formed in at least two stages.
The sight and sound of water flowing down the slopes of the sink provide one of the most enjoyable features of the park. Beginning as rain, the water seeps down through the ferns and dense vegetation and drains through the soil into a layer of limestone. Clay beneath the stone prevents further downward movement of the water but then forces it to flow along the limestone layer. This phenomenon is called a perched water table. It then spills out to form the springs that surround the sink. There are about 12 springs her. Some cascade down to the bottom where they flow along and into a natural “drain??? so that the water eventually finds its way to the Gulf of Mexico.
Millions of years ago this area was home to a variety of animals that have since become extinct. Only a few still exist as they did then. Replaced by minerals in the earth, their bones and teeth become fozzilized. Sinkholes and ravines cause their skeletons to break apart. Moving water erodes upper layers of sediment and exposes these remains. As each fragment is unearthed it is carried along by the water. As water slows, it deposits a conglomerate of diaassembled bones and teeth.
The fossils in this display were found in creeks and ravines at the Devil’s Millhopper and San Felasco Hammock. The animals they came from lived five and ten million years ago.
1. Tooth- sperm whale (Physeteridae)
2. Rib- dugong (Metaxytheriam floridanum)
3. Tooth- great white shark (Carcharodon megalondon)
4. Tooth- juvenile dolphin (Dolphinus delphis)
5. Cannon bone (Metacarpal)- camel (camelidae)
6. Teeth- Crocodile or Gavial
7. Tooth- tiger shark (Galeocerdo aduncas)
8. Teeth- horse (Pseudhipparion skinneri)
9. Tooth- horse (Cormohipparion ingenum)
10. Shell fragment- Tortoise (Geochelone)
11. Dorsal arch bone- Fish
12. Inner ear bone- whale
13. Tooth- Mako Shark (Isurus)
14. Foot bone (Metapodial)- camel (Camelidae)
15. Shell fragment- tortoise (Geochelone)
16. Mouth plate- Stingray
17. Snout Fragment- Dugong (Metaxyheriam
Bulow Plantation Ruins
Lots of Big Trees here...
Back Door! You'll see more Big Trees at the end!
History of Bulow Plantation
The early 1800s marked a turbulent era in Florida’s history as settlers began establishing plantations on lands that the Seminole Indians believed to be theirs.
In 1812, on the 8th of June, John Russell and his family came to this place form St. Augustine to claim a land grant from the Spaniards in exchange for a 53 ton schooner. John Russell, shipwright, a British subject born in So. Carolina, built the ship while living in the Bahamas where he went when the American Revolution began. He died before doing much except marking the land by blazing the trees with his initials.
The land was then sold to Charles Wilhelm Bulow, a wealthy cotton grower from Charleston, on August 1, 1812. He acquired 4,675 acres of wilderness bordering a tidal creek that would bear his name. Using slave labor, he cleared 2,200 acres and planted sugar cane, cotton, rice and indigo. Soon after the plantation was established and in production, Major Bulow died at age 44, leaving all his holdings to his only son, John. Under John’s skilled management, production increased and the plantation prospered until the outbreak of the Second Seminole War.
At the end of 1831, John James Audubon visited Bulowville while on a collecting and painting trip through Florida. He spoke of Bulow as a rich planter at whose plantation he received most hospitable treatment.
Young John Bulow, like some other settlers in the area, did not agree with the US government’s intentions to sent the Seminoles to reservations west of the Mississippi River. He demonstrated his disapproval by ordering a four-pound cannon to be fired at Mojor Putnam’s command of State Militia, the “Mosquito Raiders,??? as they entered his property. Troops swarmed onto the plantation, taking Bulow prisoner. After a brief unsuccessful campaign against the Indians, and with most of the troops ill with dysentery and yellow fever, Major Putnam’s command relocated to St. Augustine. Realizing that the Indians were becoming more hostile, young Bulow, along with other settlers and their slaves, abandoned his plantation and followed the troops northward.
Around January 31, 1836, the Seminoles burned “Bulowville??? along with other plantations in the area. John Bulow, discouraged by the destruction, went to Paris where he died three months later at the age of 26.
All that is left today of the once thriving plantation are the coquina ruins of the sugar mill, several wells, a spring house and the crumbling foundation of the mansion. The cleared fields have been reclaimed by the forest, and the area looks much as it did when it belonged to the Seminoles.
Plantation Road, original road to the plantation
When the Bulow Plantation was active, these boat slips harbored both work and pleasure crafts. The slips have, fortunately, survived time because John Bulow reinforced the embankments with ale and wine bottles which were discarded from house parties.
Bulow’s flats, or barges, hauled the plantation’s produce. Particularly sugar, molasses, and cotton down the creek to the Halifax River, and then south to Mosquito Inlet (now Ponce Inlet), where it was carried by schooners to east coast and Carribean ports.
Canoes and skiffs were also outfitted here for hunting and fishing trips. John Audubon, famous naturalist and guest at the plantation in 1831, embarked here, with his host, on an expedition in search of new Florida birds.
White posts mark the corners of John Bulow’s plantation house. In 1830, these posts would have been stone columns, the corner supports for a second-story balcony. Today, there is no trace of the balcony or outer columns. All that remains is part of the limerock foundation that supported the inner walls.
The view from the house in 1830 would have been very different from the scenery that now surrounds the ruins. Rice was cultivated on the salt marsh, and sugar-cane grew on the higher ground between the creek and King’s Road. This expanse of open fields was punctuated by various plantation buildings: slave cabins, barns, stables, and a large sugar mill.
Well at Plantation House ruins
Artifacts from Plantation House
Glass from the “Great House??? and lead from the sugar mill were both melted by the fire that destroyed over sixty buildings.
John Bulow owned 159 slaves who were quartered in 46 houses. The small wood cabins, 12 feet wide and 16 feet long, were built on foundations of native limerock. These “Coquina??? foundation blocks are the only surviving parts of the original structures.
A large work force was essential to the operation of a frontier plantation. The slaves cleared the forest, planted and harvested crops, and worked the sugar mill.
A neighboring planter commented that the Bulow slaves “fared fairly well???. He remembered the slaves having their own garden plots and some leisure time to hunt and fish. Other accounts of slave like at Bulow Plantation have been less favorable.
Fields of sugarcane once surrounded the mill at Bulow Plantation. This tropical plant was first used for making sugar in ancient India. It arrived in the New Worls with Columbus and spread throughout the Caribbean and southern United States. By 1830, ten plantations were producing sugar along the east coast of Florida. Bulow Plantation with over 1000 acres of sugarcane, was the largest. Molasses was a by-product of the sugar mill. It was shipped to the Caribbean Islands for making rum. Truly “Liquid Gold,??? Rum was used as payment for African slaves- the backbone of the sugarcane plantation.
Bulow Sugar Mill
This was the largest sugar mill in Florida. It was operated by Charles Wilhelm Bulow and John Joachim Bulow from 1820 until it was burned by the Seminoles in 1836.
Sugar cane was planted in January and February and was ready for harvesting by mid-October. Field workers cut the cane and loaded it on wagins that brought it to the mill for processing.
This well supplied water for the boiler that produced steam to operate the mill’s cane-crushing machinery.
Boiler and Machinery
A large, long boiler and furnace filled the right half of this room. Steam from the boiler was piped to an engine on the second floor of the building to the right. This engine operated a large gear that turned the rollers to crush the cane.
A sawmill 18 feet beyond this sign was run by the same steam engine as the sugar mill when sugar was not being made.
Cane was placed on a conveyer starting in front of "Cooling Vats" location (below images). The conveyer, about three feet wide, lifted it to the roller crushers on the second floor. The juice ran into the settling vats. The crushed cane called the “bagasse??? came out the opposite side of this building and was hauled away in carts.
Kettles and Operation
The juice flowed from the settling vats on the second floor into the “grande,??? the largest of the five kettles built into the furnace below. The “grande??? was also the coolest, being farthest from the “batterie??? kettle under which the furnace was fired. The chimney draft pulled heat from this fire through the furnace to heat the other kettles. The heated juice was hand dipped from the larger to the smaller kettle and ended as syrup in the “batterie,??? the smallest and hottest. Here it reached the “strike??? (sugar) stage. It was then ladled into a trough and flowed into large wooden cooling vats to harden. After hardening it was spaded into slices, carried in small tubs to the “purgery??? (curing room) and packed in hogsheads (wooden barrels).
Curing Room “Purgery??? (Room that is seen through arc where George is standing in one of the previous pictures.)
The hogsheads were kept in this warm curing room for 20 to 30 days until all the molasses had dripped from the sugar into a cistern located in the recess beneath. The molasses was sold for making rum. The partly emptied hogsheads were then refilled with sugar and stored.
Storing and Loading
The hogsheads were stored on the floor above this room and lowered through an opening onto wagons below. The wagons left through these archways and hauled the sugar to a landing for shipment by boat to Jacksonville, St. Augustine, and Savannah.
Second "Purgery" room, to the right of Storing and Loading Room
As seen from other side (with Boiler and Machinery Room directly behind)
Artifacts from Plantation
Canoe found 3 miles down the creek; was made by slaves and used during down time
Ruins of Spring House
Greater Yellowlegs by John James Audubon
The Greater Yellowlegs is a familiar bird along Florida’s coastal rivers. Some scholars believe that Audubon painted the yellowlegs here, at Bulow Creek. The small buildings in the background of the print are probably slave cabins. Audubon’s painting may be the only view of Bulow Plantation when it was in operation.
February 14, 2006
Tomoka State Park
In the early 1600s, Spanish explorers found Indians living here in a village called Nocoroco. Although nothing remains of the village, shell middens- mounds of oyster and snail shells from decades of Native American meals- reach 40 feet high at the river bank.
After Spain traded Florida to the British in 1763, the area became part of the vast land-grant holdings of Richard Oswald. This wealthy Scots merchant and statesman helped negotiate the treaty ending the American Revolution. Oswald had tracts of forestland cleared to grow indigo, the source of a valuable blue dye used during the Colonial years. Rice was grown in the wetter areas.
In the early 1800s, highly productive sugar plantations doted the region. Most were destroyed in 1835-36 during the Second Seminole War. The ruins of stone sugar mill buildings from the American Territorial Period (1821-45) can be seen in nearby parks, which will be the subject of a future post.
The site was abandoned for decades and in the 1920s became home to Sunset Park and Hotel. In 1946 it opened as Tomoka State Park.
The name Tomoka comes from Timucua, a group of Native Americans who lived in northeast Florida centuries ago.
The Tomoka River and Halifax River (the Intracoastal Waterway) meet at the north end of the park forming a natural peninsula.
Sparkleberry- this small crooked tree is often used in ornamental plantings because of the profusion of fragrant bell-shaped flowers, which bloom in spring. It is related to the blueberry and its small blackberries are eaten by many birds. The wood has been used for tobacco pipes and its reddish bark is suitable for tanning leather.
Yaupon- A true holly, yaupon is used for Christmas decorations. Because of its shiny evergreen leaves and bright red berries, it is also used as a native ornamental planting in hedges and as shrubs. The Indians boiled yaupon leaves to make a ceremonial drink known as casina. In years past, the leaves have been used in preparing a purgative. Only the female trees will produce the berries.
Vats and drying racks were used for the production of indigo. The vats were large holding up to two thousand gallons of liquid. The stems and leaves were cut and laid in the larger vat. The stems were covered with a urine and water mix and left to soak. The liquid darkened to a gold or olive color. After eight to twelve hours the liquid was added and the liquid was vigorously beaten. This added air to the fluid turning it blue. The indigo settled to the bottom of the vat as sludge. After a few days the clear water was drawn and the residue of indigo was scooped into linen bags and hung to dry. After it reached a pasty consistency it was spread out on boards to dry and harden. Finally it was cut into small blocks for shipping.
John Addison was one of the early settlers on the Tomoka River. In 1816, he obtained a Spanish land grant of 1,414 acres on the west bank, about 1 mile upstream from the boat dock at Tomoka state park.
Under Addison’s direction, a work force of 67 slaves, using only axe and hoe- no “beast or machinery???- cleared the forest and planted the rich lowland soil to cotton. The plantation, named “Carrickfergus??? after Addison’s birthplace in Ireland, prospered under industrious cultivation and was to outlive its owner. Addison died in 1825 and was buried on the plantation, which, there after, continued under new owners, the Macraes, and a new crop, sugarcane, until destroyed by Indians at the onset of the second Seminole war.
Time and vandalism have added to the purposeful destruction by the Seminoles: Addison’s memorial when recovered by the state had been broken and removed from the gravesite. Letter Memorial Studio, of Ormond Beach, restored the stone and it has been relocated here for its protection.
February 12, 2006
Oh, yes, and the weather...
We've heard about your blizzardy conditions up there, and have looked at the pictures on line (chuckle chuckle). We feel very sorry (chuckle) for all of you who are out shoveling the walks in your boots and big coats, wrapped up in scarves and mittens and hats. 26.3 inches! Wowwwwie! That's a lot of snow. We want you to know that we're thinking of all of you up there, freezing your buns off. And please enjoy this picture and know that snow does melt, and the sun will rise again to warm your chilly willies away.
And by the way, we're experiencing a big cold front down here, too. It was only 50 degrees today!! And it's going down to 32 tonight! But I'm sure that knowledge doesn't relieve your cold nose and numb fingers. So here is a nice picture for you!!
John F. Kennedy Space Center
Imax Movies and 3D Glasses
Rockets and Engines
The most powerful liquid-fueled rocket engine ever produced, the F-1 engine was a critical component in sending astronauts to the moon during the Apollo program. Developed under the direction of Werner Von Braun, the Saturn V rocket was the largest operational launch vehicle ever produced. Standing 36 stories high and weighing over 6 million pounds, a cluster of five F-1 engines, generating more than 7.5 million poinds of thrust propelled the rocket to a speed of 6,000 mph and an altitude of 38 miles in just under 3 minutes. It was said at the time that, except for a nuclear explosion, the launching of the Saturn V rocket was the loudest man made noise ever produced. Just one F-1 engine provided as much thrust as all three Space Shuttle Main Engines combined!
Fuel: Liquid Oxygen (LOX) and RP-1 (Kerosene)
Before the J-2 Engine, rocket propulsion systems had to burn until their fuel supply was exhausted. With the J-2, they finally had an engine that could be shut down and re-started multiple times during a mission—an incredible capability that completely changed the approach to mission planning. Five J-2 engines powered the second stage of the Saturn V. A sixth J-2 powered the third stage.
The J-2 was also the first engine to use Luquid Hydrogen instead of Kerosene as a propellant. In later years, this engine design became the main engine prototype for the Space Shuttle.
Propellants: Liquid Hydrogen fuel and Liquid Oxygen (LOX) oxidizer
Thrust: 230,000lb each. Five second stage engines= 1,150,000lb
A million mysteries had to be solved if astronauts were to get to the moon and back safely. H-1 engines like this one provided the power to get the job done. Eight of them were clustered in the first stage of the Saturn 1 and the Saturn 1B. These were the launch vehicles for the early Apollo/ Saturn program where the essential systems and maneuvers required for success were tested. They also launched crews for all of the Skylab missions and Apollo/ Soyuz, the history making rendezvous of America and the USSR in space.
Propellants: Kerosene fuel and Liquid Oxygen (LOX) Oxidizer
Thrust: 205,000lb each. Eight first stage engines= 1,640,000lb
Space Shuttle Main Engine
Designed to be the world’s first truly reusable spacecraft. Every part of the Shuttle, except the large external tank, is serviced and reused after each flight. Perhanps the easiest way to think of the Shuttle is like a giant space truck, used to haul astronauts and payload (the scientific instruments and experiments carried in the orbiter cargo bay) into space. The Space Shuttle is also used to transport human crews and materials into space for construction of the International Space Station.
The Space Shuttle consists of an orbiter, external tank, and two solid rocket boosters. An orbiter alone is not a Space Shuttle.
Sitting on the launch pad, an assembled Space Shuttle stands 184 feet high, 76 feet deep (from the external tank to the orbiter’s vertical tail), and 78 feel wide, measuring across the orbiter’s wing tips. Lift-off weight is about 4,500,000 lbs and thrust at lift-off is about 7.3 million pounds.
The Space Shuttle system, both the flight elements and the ground support facilities at Launch Complex 39, will continue to support human space flight activities through 2012 and perhaps well beyond.
KSC and other NASA Centers have embarked on a phased program of expanding and updating the Space Shuttle’s capabilities, increasing its safety margins, and lowering the operational costs of space transportation.
This program of upgrades includes a new, funded Checkout and Launch Control System at Complex 39, a system which will be capable of supporting a new generation of launch vehicles as well.
Landing: Without the aid of propulsion systems used by conventional aircraft during landing, there is no second chance to get it right. The orbiter comes down like a behemoth glider, falling to earth at 25 times the speed of sound- hence the nickname “flying brick???. The Shuttle Commander guides the orbiter to a touchdown at over 200 miles an hour onto one of the world’s largest runways: three miles long and as wide as a football field.
The Explorer Space Shuttle
View from bottom
View from top
Picture of Shuttle on Crawler
The Crawler (cut-off... sorry)
Moves at speeds up to one mile per hour, the journey from the VAB to the launch pad can take all day.
Crawlerway, the driveway to the launch pads.
The First Stop of the bus tour took us to:
where we had a great view of the launch pads.
Model of Launch Pad- front view
Real Size of Boosters
Orbiter Processing Facility
Within hours after landing, the orbiter is towed to the OPF, where the vehicle is fully inspected, tested, and refurbished for its next mission.
Fixed Service Structure: The FSS provides access to the entire Space Shuttle System including, the orbiter cockpit, external tank, solid rocket boosters, and emergency exit system.
Rotating Service Structure: The RSS provides protected access to the orbiter payload bay for installation and servicing of payloads at the launch pad.
Liquid Oxygen Tank: Liquid Oxygen, used as an oxidizer by the orbiter main engines, is stored in thie 900,000-gallon tank then transferred to the External Tank several hours before launch.
Liquid Hydrogen Tank: Liquid Hydrogn, used as a propellant, is stored in this large 850,000-gallon tank then transferred to the External Tank several hours before launch.
Crawlerway: This roadway was constructed specifically to supprt the approximately 18 million pound combined weight of the Crawler Transporter, Mobile Launch Platform, and the Space Shuttle.
Water Tank: Water used as sound suppression is released from this 300,000-gallon tank prior to main engine ignition.
Launch Complex Diagram
Launch Control Building
Garages for shuttles, one holds the Discover, one the Endeavor and one the Atlantis.
Vehicle Assembly Building
Originally constructed to assemble the large moon rocket, Apollo Saturn V, the VAB is now used for Space Shuttle Assembly. Covering more ground area than six football fields and taller than a fifty-story skyscraper, it is one of the world’s largest buildings in cubic volume. It has as much interior space as 3.75 Empire State Buildings. The flag is the largest hand painted flag in the world. The stars are 6' across and the stripes are 12' across. This building also has some of the largest doors in the world!
The next stop took us to...
These are pictures of the actual Control Launch Room or "Firing Room" for the Apollo Missions!
This is Apollo 18. The Apolo Program ended after the 17th mission so this never had a chance to go into space. It is separated into 3 stages.
Although the Service Module (SM) was never inhabited by the Apollo astronauts, it was one of the most important components of their spacecraft. The SM carried the spcecraft’s main engine and provided the Command Module (CM) with oxygen, water and electricity.
The SM consisted of a core section surrounded by six pie-shaped bays. The main engine was located in the core.
Stage 3 (top)
And the side and base of Stage 1.
Model of Saturn V Rocket
Apollo/ Saturn V
Saturn V Rocket: The Saturn V served as the launch vehicle fot the Apollo spacecraft and was composed of three main sections known individually as the S-IC, S-II and S-IVB stages. The rocket’s Instument Unit (IU) was stacked atop the third stage.
Apollo Spacecraft was made up of three main components, the Lunar Module (LM), Service Module (SM) and Command Module (CM). The vehicle’s Launch Escape System (LES) was attached to the tip of the Command Module.
Apolo One ended when a fire broke out in the cockpit during a full dress rehersal test, killing all three astronauts.
Apollo 8 December 21-27, 1968
Commander: Frank Borman, Command Module Pilot: James Lovell, Lunar Module Pilot: William Anders
“The vast loneliness here is awe-inspiring.???
The Apollo 8 astonauts were the first humans to be launched by the Saturn V rocket, the first to excape from the Earth’s gravitational field and the first to orbit the moon. The six-day mission confirmed that the Apollo spacecraft’s navigation, communications, guidance, and propulsion systems were up to the task of carrying humans to and from the moon.
Apollo 11 July 16-24, 1969
Commander: Neil Armstrong, Command Module Pilot: Michael Collins, Lunar Module Pilot: Edwin “Buzz??? Aldrin
Command Module: Columbia
Lunar Module: Eagle
Apollo 11 achieved President Kennedy’s goal of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to Eart. After landing on the Moon with only 30 seconds of fuel remaining, astronauts Armstrong and Aldrin planted the American flag and collected the first samples of lunar soil.
We all know the Apollo 13 story.
Descent Stage- The lunar module was composed of two stages. The descent stage housed the descent engine and propellants and the vehicle’s landing gear. During the last three Apollo missions to the Moon, the descent stage also carried the Lunar Rover.
Ascent Stage- The ascent stage served as a cockpit and living quarters for the two astronauts. The lunar module pilot and commander flew the LM while standing, since the craft was designed without seats to reduce its weight.
The last stop was to the International Space Station building where they are working on additions for the ISS. We missed the bus to that one, so we went back to watch another IMAX!
Distances within our Solar System are measured in Astonomical Units (AU), equal to the distance from the Earth to the Sun. 13 Million Miles= 1 AU
Model of the Hubble Telescope
End of the day
Have you ever seen...
grassy parking lots? This is at a WalMart!
George caught a big fish!
A Yellow Jack
Coming to check out the catch of the day...
February 08, 2006
8.5 mile Hike! Myakka Post #8
George and I went on an awesome hike. It took us 5 hours and was about 8.5 miles. Lunch has never tasted better than it did when we got back to the campsite!
Epiphytes- plants that grow off of trees.
Myakka Post #7
George's buddy Scott from Canmore, Alberta came for a visit. Fun Fun Fun.
At first we thought this alligator might be dead because it was so still. George went to investigate. We all got really close.
Then it opened its mouth and winked! Better not get any closer, George!
Great Sunset, Myakka Post # 5
February 07, 2006
Canopy Walk, Myakka Post # 4
This post is dedicated to Mom, who is very afraid of heights.
76.1 feet at the top
George doesn't really like them either!!
Just a little further!
He made it!!
View from bridge
View of tower from the ground
Myakka Post #2, Our Buddy
We had a little buddy that came to visit us quite often! I called him Squirrel Nutkin; yes, I know, not very original.
Myakka Post #1
It's going to take me awhile to post all the pictures from our camping trip so I'll start you off with a few good ones!
Went to Sanibel Island after our visit with Greg. He lives 2 miles from the bridge. Very nice, but not too much to do except go to the beach. Which we got enough of the day before...
On the way out we parked next to the bridge to do some fishing. Strong wind coming straight in from the water reminded me of sailing when we were little; sitting up at the bow and closing my eyes and inhaling the fresh scent of the breeze and salt water and feeling hot sun on my face. It was lovely!!
Hi Everybody! Sorry to be away for so long! We were in the middle of the woods camping. But we're back!! The Myakka Pictures will be up soon, but here are our pictures from Lover's Key.
We went for a hike...
And went to the beach!
This one is for Julie! It's Quick Sand!!
January 31, 2006
Koreshan State Park
In 1869, a doctor named Cyrus Teed claimed he had a “divine illumination.??? In his vision, Teed believed that all spiritual life was unfolded to him by a divine deity. Preaching his new religion, Teed and a group of followers eventually settled in Chicago. In 1894, Teed, who had taken the name “Koresh??? (Hebrew for Cyrus, meaning shepherd) moved his group to Florida with the hopes of building a settlement for the Koreshans. This settlement was to be the New Jerusalem.
Dr. Teed grew up in New York State where religion and social change were often discussed. He was a charismatic youth who was urged to become a minister, but decided on medicine instead. After seeing the inhumanity of the medical practice during the Civil War, he moved to the Utica area and turned to Alchemy in order to find a better method of healing. While working in his laboratory one night in 1869, he experienced a buzzing sensation in his brain and claimed to have been visited by a goddess who showed him the secrets of life, death, and the universe. He referred to this as his divine illumination, and began to seek followers. This caused him to lose many of his patients and he soon became known as The Crazy Doctor.
After some success in finding followers he moved to Chicago where he ran a printing press and advertised the beliefs of the Koreshan Unity and his church, which he called The Church Triumphant. Expecting his idea to catch on he began to look for an area that could accommodate 10,000,000 people, which brought him to Estero, Florida.
The Koreshan Unity was founded upon ideas of equality, communal living and property, the belief in Dr. Teed’s religious and scientific theories, and the communistic goal of everyone working for the good of all. It was to be Utopia, the “New Jerusalem???. It was a life without crime, tobacco or drugs.
There were two types of membership. Those who joined the Cooperative Order either brought shares in or worked in the Koreshan Unity industries. They could live outside the Settlement and maintain their family unit. Those who joined the Religious Order were celibate, required to live in the Unity Settlement, give their property to the Unity and work for the building of the New Jerusalem. Families that joined the Religious Order were split up and lived in separate residences.
To those who joined, the Koreshan Unity promised security, order and a sense of achievement. Economically, all needs were met and financial security was assured. Religiously, it was a return to Christianity as it was “meant to be.??? Socially, it provided cultural activities and entertainment. Educationally, it was designed to provide classic education with vocational training. Scientifically, it offered a Universe that was finite and understandable. Equity among the sexes was ordained and everyone had a job and place in life.
Those who came to Estero from Chicago in 1894, found it a test of their courage and ability. To leave the safe and comfortable life of a big city and begin a new order in a hot, humid, bug-infested wilderness is a chronicle of their faith in Dr. Teed and his teachings. The Koreshans brought their furnishings, books, even a grand piano. This was to be a permanent home.
The early Koreshans established the Home Grounds as the center of what would become the New Jerusalem. Below is Moses Weaver’s rendering of Cyrus Teed’s vision for the development of the Koreshan Unity. Along with Estero, this would have included current day Fort Myers Beach extending to Bonita Beach. Teed prophesized that the population of the city of the New Jerusalem would be ten million. Teed stated, “It is the purpose of the Koreshan Unity to inaugurate the construction of a great city. It is the preparation for the establishment of an industrial system, destined by revolution- not riotous, but peaceable, to extend throughout the world, and to have its center of operation in Estero.???
Although Dr. Teed believed he was immortal, he died in 1908 of a circulatory ailment at the age of 69. After his death, the membership of his religious group began to decline. In 1961, the four remaining members deeded 305 acres of their land to the State of Florida in Teed’s memory.
The Landscape and Gardens
“The city would embrace a system of formal gardens laid out in patterns of applied geometry, based on three elements: the arc, the chord and the radius; and the principle of centrality which corresponded to the Koreshan vision of the layered and centralized properties of the universe.???
The land was a wilderness in 1894. The gardens were laboriously carved out of thick mangroves, pine trees, scrub oaks and saw palmettos. Dr. Teed corresponded with other horticulturists, exchanging seeds and plants, and he was instrumental in the development of the gardens. The gardens are described in the 1902 settlement plans as planted with many fruit and nut trees and other kinds of plants which allude to biblical descriptions of Eden (Genesis 1:11-31).
The Hollow Globe
A major tenet of Koreshan belief was the theory of “cellular cosmogony???- living inside the earth. Teed reasoned that God would not create an infinite universe, for the infinite is beyond the reach of human understanding, and man could not comprehend it.
In 1870, Teed claimed to have discovered that the earth was a hollow sphere with all life contained in it. He said that the sun, moon, planets, and stars were just an illusion, as they are actually reflected up from the surface. Day and night were thought to be caused by a rotating ball of gases, at the center, sending a positive charge down the light side and reflecting a negative charge back to the dark side. This acted like an electric motor and kept the day and night cycle spinning.
The earth was said to have a diameter of 8,000 miles and a circumference of 25,000 miles with the concave surface bending upward at the rate of 128 inches every 4 1/3 miles. It was not possible to see from one side to the other across the sphere because the “3 atmospheres??? were too dense. The earth’s shell was supposedly one hundred miles thick and made up of 17 layers- 5 inner layers of geological strata, 5 mineral layers in the middle and 7 outer metallic layers.
The Rectilineator- can't see very well
The Koreshans had a “scientific??? instrument, fashioned in the form of a long T-square, made in order to attempt to prove that the Earth was a concave sphere. The name “rectilineator??? comes from rectus, meaning right and linea, for line. It consisted of three sections that the Koreshans set up on Naples Beach. Over a period of months, they “leapfrogged??? the sections down the beach leveling, measuring, and calculating. Their experiment supposedly proved that the land rose up to meet the horizon.
Their Scientific Theory States:
A straight line extended at right angles from a perpendicular post will meet the surface of the earth at a distance proportionate to the height of the perpendicular.
This cottage was the only structure on the property at the time Dr. Teed arrived. The cottage was built by Gustav Damkohler, a German settler who homesteaded here in 1882. Shortly after he met and was converted by Dr. Teed, he donated the land on the Estero River to the Unity for its colony, convinced that Koreshanity was to become the “great religion???. When Dr. Teed finally arrived in January in 1894, with three other members, this house was used for living and dining.
View down to Bamboo Landing
View of river from Bamboo Landing
Steps leading up from Bamboo Landing
Bamboo Landing back in the day- one of those festival celebrations.
The Bamboo Landing was important aesthetically and functionally. Before the construction of the Tamiami Trail (US 41) the Estero River was the main means of transportation, and a landing was necessary for both passengers and freight. It provided a formal framed entrance to the grounds from the river. The landing was used for concerts until the erection of the Art Hall and as a stage for the water pageant performed at the annual Solar Festival. The bamboo is said to have been brought as cuttings from the Ft. Myers estate of Thomas Alva Edison.
This two-story building is also referred to as the Teed House and Children’s School for the various functions it served. Dr. Teed resided on the top floor, and the bottom floor was separated into three rooms. One was for the dentist, another was used as the schoolroom, and the third was the female co-leader Victoria Gratia’s residence. The building is the oldest surviving structure on the Settlement built by the Koreshans. This is the first of the Koreshan-built structures that used milled pine siding instead of logs, while pine shakes replaced the palmetto thatch roof.
Of all the Settlement structures, this building has had the most renovations and additions. The modification of 1909 involved the installation of the masonry veneer to the existing building and a plan to double its size. The Koreshans were proudly producing pre-cast concrete pieces for building and garden sculpture. This accomplishment was important in providing the presence of permanence and stability for the New Jerusalem.
Hedwig Michel Memorial
Mrs. Hedwig Michel was the last Koreshan to live at the Koreshan Settlement. Under her leadership the Koreshans donated 305 acres of their holdings to the Ste of Florida in 1961 as a “Gift to the People.??? Also donated were all remaining artifacts from the working Settlement, including tools, furniture, cooking instruments, paintings, and scientific devices.
The dinner bell marks the location of the original three-story dining hall. The upper floors were dormitories for the women and children. Once the tallest structure in Lee Country, is was condemned by the Fire Marshall and demolished in 1949.
This building was constructed just to the west of the Dining Hall and could produce 500-600 loaves of bread per day for the members and to be sold in the Koreshan store. The second floor had four dormitory rooms, and, originally, bake ovens were connected to the south side of the building.
Vesta Newcomb Cottage
The Vesta Newcomb Cottage was originally located on Immokale Road and was owned by another Koreshan member, Lou Staton. In 1937, the house was moved to the north of the Koreshan Unity Library on the NE corner of US 41 and Corkscrew Road where Staton used it as his residence and a barbershop. In the 1940’s it was again moved into the Koreshan Unity Settlement, and Vesta moved in.
Vesta served the Koreshan Unity in many capacities. She was the personal maid to Victoria Gratia, teacher to the Koreshan school children, and operator of the linotype machine at the Guiding Star Publishing House. She also helped run the dining room kitchen, worked in the sawmill, and assisted in the laundry.
Lillian “Vesta??? Newcomb was born on Nov. 19, 1878 in Stockton, Ca. Lillian’s mother Harriet attended Koreshan Unity meetings at its San Francisco branch. After her husband’s death, in 1892, Hattie went to the Koreshan Unity in Chicago, bringing Lillian and her brother James. Two years later, Lillian left her mother and brother behind to be among the first Koreshans to moce to Estero. It was here that 16-year-old Lillian was dubbed “Vesta??? by Dr. Cyrus Teed.
When asked whether or not she really believed that she lived inside the earth, Vesta replied, “I did until the boys landed on the moon. When that happened, I knew it couldn’t possibly be true.???
Large Machine Shop
This structure was built primarily to contain the steam power machinery that served the adjacent laundry. Some pieces of the equipment are evident, the crankshaft mounted in the ceiling provided power to the laundry. Several special tools and machines were designed and created here including “a marine gas engine which we contemplate manufacturing for our own use.???
From July 1916 until the end of August 1946 the Koreshans generated their own electricity. The first power source was a steam engine, which remained in service until June 12, 1925. At that time an 80 horsepower Fairbanks Morse Diesel Engine was purchased and installed. On August 29, 1946 the Florida Power and Light Company began service to Estero and the Fairbanks Morse Engine was sold to an ice plant in Venice, Florida.
The Koreshans did not supply electricity 24 hours a day. Just before they would turn it on or off, they would ring the dining hall bell to warn everyone.
Small Machine Shop
The bowed roof has a unique, curved shape and is particularly evident from the inside of the building. The workshop manufactured small and special tools and kitchen items and provided timepiece and shoe repair.
Electric Generator Building
Constructed in the early 1900’s this building eventually housed the electrical generating equipment for the Settlement. The equipment was purchased and shipped to the Koreshan Untiy from the north and was generating electricity to the buildings in the 1920’s. Eventually a more powerful Fairbanks-Morse diesel engine replaced the original steam engine. The Unity purchased the 80 HP Diesel Engine in June 1925 for $1932.00. It was in service until August 1946 when Florida Power & Light began servicing the area.
The seven women who comprised the Planetary Chamber, the governing council of the Koreshan Unity, lived in this well designed, three-story house. Each person had a separate room which could be entered from the central stairway of tom the outside porches.
The exterior of this building, as seen in early photographs, appears to have been covered in heavy kraft paper, probably to eliminate drafts in the winter and protect against insects. Most of the furnishings in the Planetary Court were brought to the Settlement from Chicago. Day-to-day business of the Settlement was conducted by the sisters of the planetary court.
The women who lived in the Planetary Court were known as the Planets. Dr. Teed thought of himself as the Sun and held a solar festival on his birthday in October. Following the male/female aspect of his beliefs, he named Victoria Gratia as a co-leader; she represented the moon and a lunar festival was held on her birthday in April.
Function at the Art Hall
The Art Hall served as the center for cultural, social, educational and religious activities of the Koreshan Settlement. Built by the professors and students of the Koreshan Pioneer University, it is a testimony to their craft and skills. The decorative knee brackets add structural support while also being aesthetically pleasing. Theatrical productions, lectures and performances drew large audiences. The theatre presented plays of the time and of Koreshans’ own writing. Well-known productions, such as those by Shakespeare, were common. The Koreshan Orchestra performed popular and original works, with the majority of the music of a classical nature. The Marching Band played at the Settlement as well as throughout the area.
The Old Store: These steps were up to the original door of the old store, which faced the river, as that was the only route of travel. Eventually they added a door facing what is now Route 41.
View down the steps to the river
The Old Store Foundation- the steps face the road
The use of shell paths throughout the settlement was both functional and aesthetic. The crushed shells reflected the light in the evening and made a firm walkway. Approaching footsteps could easily be heard. Aesthetically, the patterns of the silvery paths glowing in the moonlight made a nighttime composition dynamic with beauty.
Typical of houses occupied by members.
He even has a head rest!
Relaxing in the park
Julie, thought you'd like this mossy palm tree.
January 28, 2006
And we're off!!
We are heading out today, loaded up with a new Microsoft program: Microsoft Streets and Trips 2005. It's awesome! It's a giant mapquest with lots of extras. It displays restaurants, hotels, banks, parks, museums, rest stops, it calculates distance, time, and all that. And has GPS capabilites, but we don't have that hooked up. Here is a general idea of our trip:
Leave Juno Beach, head W on 75 to Naples, stop at Bonita Shores and Koreshan State Park, up to Lover's Key and the park, stop at Thomas A. Edison's Winter Home, up to Fort Myers (possible drive by to Greg if Mom emails the info) and over to Myakka by Wednesday. Of course there will be unplanned stops and we'll play it by ear. What a great way to travel!! Have a great weekend everybody!!
January 27, 2006
Found the Lizards
The Winner is Ben Wolcott from St. Angelo, Texas!! Congratulations, and thanks for playing!!
Happy Hour at Thirsy Turtle!!
Here is another one for you to figure out. How many lizards can you find in this photo?
Since you all loved the last pics, here are some more!!
Trapper Nelson's homestead
Vince “Trapper??? Nelson came to southeast Florida in the 1930’s when the area was still teeming with wildlife. He was able to maintain a trap line in what is now Jupiter Inlet Beach Colony. But as the area developed and game began to thin out, Trapper Nelson moved up the Loxahatchee River, eventually settling in this location. He was a loner for the most part, who found security in this area and a way of life that was suited to his skills and temperament. For years he lived off of the land, supplementing his diet of raccoon, gopher, tortoise and opossum with fruit from his property’s citrus grove. He also planted wild almonds, guavas, Surinam cherries, java plums, bananas and pineapples. He became a local legend know as the “wild man??? of the Loxahatchee. Yet, with his limited education, he managed to make a living, build a much visited wildlife zoo and acquire large land interests.
To sell his furs, obtain supplies and receive mail, Trapper Nelson would row nine miles to the DuBois Fish Camp at Jupiter Inlet. He would eat at the camp’s restaurant, often ordering a whole pie for dessert.
As his appetite indicated Trapper Nelson was a large man, standing six feet, four inches, and weighing 240 pounds. Although a big man, running his zoo and chopping wood kept him in terrific shape. Today his woodpile remains, stacked behind the guest cabin, a testament to his high level of fitness. His usual attire was a pair of shorts with a bandana or pith helmet on his head.
He liked to swing out over the Loxahatchee on a rope and drop into the river for a swim, in the fashion of Tarzan.
Despite his isolated existence, Trapper Nelson, born Vincent Natulkiewicz, was a shrewd man. He read the Wall Street Journal and could calculate figures like an adding machine. During the depression he often appeared at delinquent tax sales to buy land, eventually acquiring almost 900 acres.
In addition to trapping he made a profit from the tour boats and wealthy yachtsmen who frequently stopped by his camp. After several years Vince realized an untapped potential to make an even greater reward from his many visitors. He developed a zoo of caged native wildlife and would often entertain his guests by wrestling alligators and handling poisonous snakes.
But then in 1966, 30 years of “Trapper’s Zoo and Jungle Gardens???: came to an end. Visitors using Trapper’s rope swing got hurt and decided to sue him over their injuries. Trapper, fearing a lawsuit would take his while world, closed the zoo. For the next two years, the public was excluded. Trapper dropped cypress trees into the river downstream, making a blockade. People who managed to make it past the blockade at high tide and arrive at the dock where Trapper once collected $1.00 per boat, were now met by Trapper’s shotgun and sent back downriver.
A young fellow by the name of Tot James had helped Trapper run his zoo for many years. In 1968 after a 30-year absence he wanted to say hello to his old friend. He had written a letter to Trapper and received an appointment to meet at the DuBois house but uncharacteristically, Trapper didn’t show up. Tot, along with another close friend, John DuBois, became very worried.
Mr. DuBois drove to the site to check on Trapper and initially thought everything appeared as it should. However, Mr. DuBois soon found Trapped lying dead under the chickee shelter.
After an autopsy and coroner’s inquest, his death was ruled as self-inflicted. Trapper’s body was cremated and his sister’s family held his funeral on a boat. His ashes were then spread over his beloved Loxahatchee River.
The state of Florida continued to negotiate with Trapper’s next of kin to fulfill an oral agreement between Trapper and the state, which would permit the sale of his remaining 658 acres to the state of Florida. Unfortunately the state was unable to purchase the land for the asking price at that time. Because of this the land was sold to Jupiter Hills Golf and Country Club and Trapper Nelson’s sisters and a nephew received $1,040,000 from the sale. After the sale was finalized the state in turn swapped land south of the park entrance on U.S. 1 for Trapper’s riverfront property. The Florida Park Service maintains Trapper’s property as it was at the time of his death in 1968.
Bamboo upon arrival
View up to cabins
Coins found near fireplace during reconstruction
Guest Cabin (Notice the Hurrican Log, keeping track of how many storms per year.)
View down to Zoo
Trapper's Pamphlets: Home Canning, The Guinea Fowl, Termites and Insect Pests, Recipes for Marmalade, and New Birth Control Facts? Eh?
No Trespassing Signs
Canoe Trip up the Loxahatchee
The upper northwest fork of the Loxahatchee River is one of the few wild and natural rivers remaining in southeast Florida. It has remained virtually unchanged in a world that is rapidly being altered by man. The river winds from a completely freshwater environment, through a blend of temperate and tropical vegetation, to the saltwater mangrove community. This river is one of the few in the United States that can boast such a diversity of plant an animal life.
450 year old Cypress Tree
Hope the alligators are ok!
Recall my post of Jonathan Dickinson State Park... There were some alligators, and great views from the observation tower, and a nice hike... Very lovely. We went back yesterday for a hike to find this:
Where we went hiking last time. Look back to other pictures for comparison.
Last Friday they started a prescribed burn which "went according to plan". However, on Saturday morning 50 mph winds picked up some embers and started a raging, out of control fire. All the campers and rv's had to evacuate, but we're not sure what happened to the alligators.
January 25, 2006
Hey everyone in CT. Recognize these? They're flowers!!! When was the last time you saw any of them?? It was cold today, in the mid 60's. Still T-shirt weather, though. Hope you're all surviving the rain and blah-ness of winter.
Long Key State Park
A nice break from the drive. We took a short walk on one of the trails and did some hunting for shells and sponges.
There are two lizards in this picture. Who ever finds them first wins a black coral necklace!!
Lots of Sponges
Last Sunset of Key West
January 23, 2006
Sorry this is from such a distance. If I were any closer I would have had to pay him $5.
Big Lizard for JP, because I know he has lizards, too!
George and The Crew
Last night hanging out with the Keys Crew. These guys have been coming down to Key West for at least the past 20 years, and some for even longer.
From Left to Right: George, Michelangelo, Rick, and NRA Bob
Leaving Key West
We are leaving Key West Tuesday morning and will be driving back up to Juno Beach, then across to the west side of Florida. We will be at a few camp sites until Feb. 1. From the 1st to the 6th we will be at Myakka River State Park (www.myakkariver.org/). I will try to post as much as possible, but I'm assuming the internet access will be harder to come across than it's been in Key West. Stay tuned!!
Making jewelry!! Here are a few if the pieces we've completed; ON SALE NOW!! Ha ha, just kidding.
Pieces in progress.
On a short walk yesterday we found this really weird looking spider! George says it's called a Crab Spider, or something like that.
January 22, 2006
Wisdom from the public journal in the Internet café Sippin’, located just off Duval on Eaton St. in Key West, Florida.
I like things that are old. Old Memories, Old Friends, Old Times, Old Manners, Old Books, Old Wine. –Oliver Goldsmith
People always say that time changes things, but actually you have to change them yourself. –R.D.
It is very synny and hoot. Stay at the beach. -Mo
We need to stop interpreting things and start interpreting interpretations. –Montague
Sometimes you’re the windshield. Sometimes you’re the bug. –Jessica
We are Renegade Members of the Family of Light, here for altering and expanding systems of consciousness within this free-will universe, and WE ARE ALL ON CALL! Our Kind knows Our Kind. This means we’re never no place for no reason at all- cosmic crossings.
James Spader is very popular in outer space.
The Kapok Tree
January 21, 2006
I really like this house.
I've noticed that some of my pictures of the art installations are cut off at the right hand side, which irritates me, but I don't want to go back and resize them all. So to see the whole picture you must click on the More ART!! link off to the right under Recent Entries. The photos will look better there.
George found some pieces of black coral on the beach today. We polished them up a little bit and will make a neckalce out of one of them. We've been told that black coral is only found at depths of 200 feet or more, and that scuba divers will wear a piece around their neck to show others that they've been down that far. But we've also been told that that is not true, so we'll have to do some more research on that one.
Friday Night Happy Hour... and then some
Finnegan's Wake- Irish Pub
My Beer is the one on the left and George's is the itty bitty one on the right.
Mike and Becky
Pool at Fat Tuesday
They only serve frozen slushy drinks at Fat Tuesday. Pick a color!! We like the Rum Runners...mmmm.
Golden Tee!! (Dirk will appreciate this one!) I got the longest putt!! 42 feet!!!
January 20, 2006
Race Week 2
This has been a very windy week for sailing, and the sailors have been experiencing many problems. Like that mast snapping as you saw in a previous entry! Here are some more Racing Week shots.
Here are some of the nicer pieces in our growing collection of shells, sea glass, and stuff we find on the beach.
January 19, 2006
In Memory of Kido
Birds of Paradise (1)
Nature of Men (view 1)
This piece allowed you to move the colors to arrange your own pattern.
Johnny Tsunami (Julie this reminds me of your painting- you know which I'm talking about. I think it's in your entry hall.)
Look through these to look at...
Perspective is Everything (look closely- you can see they included the other installations in the moat)
Feet fell down
And taken away for repair.
This is an awesome piece that you can only fully appreciate if you are there in front of it. The sound of the tinkling bells is magical, and the breeze blowing the fabric toward the water really gives the impression that the messages contained in the pockets of the fabric really are being sent into the sea. I contributed my own message, but I wrote it for all of us that knew Mr. Aurin. I also took a short video to capture the sound of the bells, and will try to post it as soon as Julie or Dave tell me if that's possible. Is it?
As I was leaving, the wind had died down. As I passed this bell it rang out louder and clearer than all the others. It's sound was different too, less tinkling and more solid is the only way I can describe it. So I said Hello back to Mr. Aurin from all of us.
Sick of Sunsets yet? I hope not!!
Storm coming in
Haunted Houses of Key West
The Artist's House
This is the house that Robert the Doll grew up in. His room was on in the turret on the third floor.
Eaton Lodge. Once the home and office of Doctor William Warren, he still paces back and forth in the hallways at night waking the visitors and keeping them up with his heavy footsteps. The shadow of his feet has been witnessed moving back and forth in front of doorways, blocking the light coming in from the crack between the door and threshold. The disrupted sleepers who confront the noisy nightwalker find the hallway empty moments after they heard the footsteps pausing just outside their closed door. Maybe the doctor is still worrying about his patients, or maybe one of the unfortunate patients still hangs around waiting for a second opinion!
The Oldest House in Key West, now the Wrecker’s Museum.
The house was built in 1829, and since then has weathered hurricanes, fires and the corrosive marine environment. Its resiliency is largely due to Capt. Richard Cussans, the ship’s carpenter who built the house. Working with cedar and pine, Cussans employed his maritime techniques to landlubber construction. His mortise-and-tenon joinery, horizontal wallboards, and ventilation hatches or ???scuttles???, have enabled the house to withstand the tests of time. Architecturally, the house reflects aspects of both the Gulf Coast cottages typical of 18th century Pensacola and the Classic Revival vernacular found throughout Key West. It stands one and a half stories, and its pitched roof supports three dormers. A central hall divides the first floor into four equally sized rooms. The black door lies directly in line with the front, providing excellent ventilation- an important feature in the steamy tropics.
It belonged to Capt. Francis Watlington, originally from New York, who arrived in Key West in 1828 and worked as a harbor and coastal pilot, as well as a wrecker. He also served time as the Customs Inspector, Captain of the Sand Key Lightship, Captain of the government schooner Activa, member of the Florida House of Representatives, and ‘Lieutenant of War’ under Key West hero and Secretary of the Navy for the Confederacy, Stephen Mallory. Capt. Watlington lived here with his wife, Emeline and their nine daughters, but two of them died at a very young age.
Today, as the Wrecker’s Museum, it is furnished in the fashion of Watlington’s era, complete with his family’s portraits, and holds impressive displays that reflect the lifestyle and collections of a wrecker. Many caretakers have shared their similar experiences of hearing noises during the night. The most commonly heard is the rocking chair on the second floor. With the windows sealed tightly and no chance of a draft moving the chair in either direction, the rocking chair moves back and forth slowly and consistently, making a ‘creak- THUNK’ noise due to it being slightly off balanced.
Another experience reported is the sound of marbles being rolled across the floor and down the stairs. As soon as one marble came to a stop at the bottom, another would start its descent from the top. The caretaker decided to take a peek and, looking to the top of the stairs, he saw “a little girl surrounded in a white glow playing marbles on the floor hallway. As soon as she saw [him] she ran into the bedroom???. When he went to check the bedroom it was, of course, empty. As he turned to leave the room, the rocking chair began to rock.
A visitor to the museum, upon entering, was overcome by a strange feeling. After her self-guided tour she spoke to the caretaker, asking him if he knew there was a presence in the house. She walked over to a portrait of the family, pointed to Emeline Wattlington and said, “This is her. She likes to stay in the upstairs bedroom where her daughters are. There is also a little girl. She became quite ill and there was nothing that could be done. Her mother rocked her back and forth for hours until she eventually passed on. Both spirits remain here today. You are very lucky to have such a caring spirit around you???.
Now, when the caretaker hears the rocking chair at night he calls upstairs “Good Night Emeline???!
The Marrero Guest Mansion
Francisco and Enriquetta Marrero, who lived in this house with their eight children, owned a large share of the Key West cigar market and lived a very luxurious lifestyle. Their house was furnished with valuable furniture and pieces of art, and they were assured by their wealth that their kids would be taken care of if anything were to happen to them. After Francisco’s unexpected and unexplained death on a business trip to Cuba, Enriquetta was left to raise the kids alone. Six months later, a woman showed up at her doorstep and claimed to be Francisco’s first wife from Cube, whom he had never divorced, and she had the documents to prove it. After a bitter court battle, Maria Ignacia Garcia de Marrero was named administratrix of Francisco’s estate. Enriquetta not only lost her home and the cigar business, but she lost all of the house’s possessions as well. She was to be left penniless on the streets of Key West with her eight children. As she was evicted, a small crowd gather in front of the house. Enriquetta, surrounded by her children, said to the crowd “You are witnessing a great injustice today. And though you are removing me from my home, you should know that this house is rightfully mine; and with God as my witness I will always remain here in spirit???. In the years that followed all of the Marreros’ lives were claimed, many by consumption or diphtheria. Francisco’s first wife sold the company, the house and everything inside and returned to Cuba.
Ever since Enriquetta’s death there have been many reports of sightings and unexplained noises. Radios change stations by themselves, air conditioners, lights and other electronic devices turn themselves on and off, even when the main power line to the house has been disconnected. Loud banging occurs, and the sound of typewriter typing can be heard even though there isn’t a typewriter in the house. It is said that she doesn’t like negative energy, and when cranky visitors or people she doesn’t like come to the hotel she will make the chandelier swing and cause problems until those people check out; it usually doesn’t take too long. Once she pushed a pool boy into the pool after he blamed her for the towels running out. Her lavender perfume has been smelled on occasion, and her figure has been seen walking the halls and brushing her hair while standing in front of the mirror in her old bedroom. Some guests have even woken up to see her sitting on their arm or on the side of their bed.
The Hard Rock Café
This building is haunted by William Curry, one of Key West’s first millionaire’s, who commited suicude in the second floor bathroom. Tables and furniture overturning, pacing and footsteps have all been reported. One man who was renting out the third floor apartment (before it was the Hard Rock) was putting up pictures around the room, and after hanging a picture of Columbus in a lifeboat paddling away from the edge of a flat earth on the wall facing Duval street, he turned around and found that it was on the floor leaning up against the wall. He placed it back on the hook and turned around again. When he looked back, the painting was again leaning up against the wall on the floor. He replaced the picture once more and sat down to watch it. It immediately crashed to the floor, shattering the frame and the glass. He had it repaired, and hung it on a different wall. When he returned to the room a few minutes later, he found the picture again smashed on the floor.
January 18, 2006
I guess it was a bit windy yesterday! This picture was on the front of the paper this morning.
Sunset and art
Here's another sunset. You may think that all these pictures are too similar to post them all, but no! The sun is a little lower in each one, so you can experience the sun setting along with us! Enjoy!
We came across some amateur car racing in the parking lot of a local university. It was fun to watch for a little while, but most of the cars didn't really go too fast so it got boring. But they made some cool noises with their tires and you could smell burning rubber, so I'm sure they all felt like tough, die hard racers! I'm sure the helmets they wore helped their image, too.
January 16, 2006
There is also a very large art show being held in Fort Zach, where we spend a lot of time. It will be going on until March 15 and includes over 80 artists. It's been fun watching them during the installation process, and here are some photos of the finished product. More to follow!
Ha Ha! Lightning Strike!!
It's Race Week!
It's race week in Key West, and there are hundreds of racing boats from all over the world! It's pretty amazing seeing them all together! Today was Day 1 and although the races are too far out to get photos of, I got some great shots of them going out and coming back in.
Surprise, I Fixed Your Photo
Hope you're not mad. You can always download the photo by right clicking on it, and then just edit the other entry. I would have done it, but I didn't want to mess up your other entry. If you don't like it just delete it, and I'm sorry!!
But you look really pretty in that photo, and I thought I'd adjust the contrast without screwing up the sunset.
I miss you!!!
PS - Andre stepped on Madeline last night and we had to take her to the emergency vet clinic in Rocky Hill, but she is ok. It was so scary!! Call me when you have a chance!
January 15, 2006
A Night on Duval Street
Half way through the night I forgot to keep taking pictures... Here are some of the good ones.
Heather and Sam. Sam is a long lost friend of Mike and George's from CT, and flew in from Austin to party!
George looking back at Sam.
Rum Runner Good. (Julie check out my awesome ring!!)
Don't know who this guy is, but he carried a huge walking stick and everyone called him Prof. Dumbledore, so I figured maybe he's important. We saw him again today walking the streets with his 6' walking stick, and decided that in fact he is just a bum.
Irish Singer. He was really funny! Ha ha ha, I wish I could remember some of his jokes...
Had some oysters at the raw bar...
It was a good night...
Shrimp Boats hiding from the wind. There were about 20 of them all clustered together on one side of the island, but we could only get a few in the frame.
Windy Day Seagull
George on a boat.
Heather eating lunch.
Yes Dave, you were right!
January 12, 2006
Robert the Doll
Robert the doll was a gift given to Robert Eugene “Gene??? Otto by a Bahamian girl in 1904 when he was 4 years old. Boy and doll spent all of their time together, and as in adulthood, whenever Gene was blamed for doing something wrong he refused to accept responsibility. “I didn’t do it….Robert did it!??? By the time Gene was married and a successful artist, Robert had taken the blame for a lifetime of error, sin and folly.
Gene and his wife lived in the house he grew up in on Eaton Sreet. Gene began spending a great deal of time in the attic, and when his wife asked him what he was up to he told her he was building a room for Robert. It was fully furnished with scale-sized furniture and a full wardrobe of clothing similar to the clothes he wore as a child.
Shortly after Gene’s death in 1974, his wife moved to be with her family in Boston. Not wanting to have anything with the doll she had come to hate, she left him in the room in the attic. It is believed that a clause was included in the house’s lease agreement specifying that Robert must remain the sole occupant of the attic room. Strange stories began circulating shortly after she left the house.
Many people that went to the attic, including plumbers and other work men, claimed that Robert had changed his position in the room all by himself. From crossing and uncrossing his legs to moving clear across the room, the individual would return to the room moments after leaving (one man had only turned around for a moment) to find the doll in a different position. There were also reports of giggling behind them when they turned their backs on the doll.
Two men who rented the house blamed each other for the constantly changing position of the doll, and claimed it was the other playing a trick on them. However, they soon realized that neither one of them had been the culprit and quickly moved out of the house after hearing childish giggling and running around coming from the attic.
Robert was moved to the East Martello Museum about a decade ago and is still being blamed for all sorts of mischievous occurrences. The display is littered with letters from previous visitors explaining their experiences after viewing him, apologizing for taking photos without permission, as well as demanding apologies for unfortunate events they blame on Robert. He is known to tamper with people’s cameras, draining freshly charged batteries and jamming film in cameras so the whole roll is lost.
Robert still changes positions now and then in his glass case, and the museum workers regularly report hearing giggling near his display. Even the cats keep their distance while staring at him. And of course, everything that goes wrong, from electrical problems to missing files, is blamed on Robert the Doll.
I have found an image of the shark that I caught on Tuesday. It is a bonnethead.
January 11, 2006
What should we do today?
We didn't do much today but I thought I would post some pictures anyway. This is what I did.
And here is where we were. These next pics are dedicated to Mom, who is a big fan of panoramic views.
George and His New Buddies
George has found some new friends!!
Watch out George; pirates don't like people messing with their treasure!
Home cooked meal
January 09, 2006
Fishing on Mike and Becky's boat
I caught something...
SHARK!!! It's a bonnethead!
And George caught some fish, too. But not as cool as my SHARK!!
Shipwrecked boats from the hurricane. There were so many! On shore and also some that had sunk right in the middle of the water ways.
The best sandwich in the world!
This is the best sandwich that I've ever had. It is a cuban mix, and had ham (real thick ham, not lame deli thin ham), turkey, salami, shredded pork with some sort of cuban sauce, lettuce tomato onion and melted cheese on cuban bread. We got it at a laundrymat window. Yes, I was skeptical too, but boy! It was delicious!
Fishing, Day 1!
Any Bites? No?
A cigar will help!!
Yea!! Wait a minute, are you sure that isn't your bait??
And for the record, I also caught a fish, but George was napping a missed it. Also for the record it was bigger than the one George caught by at least 2 inches.
Fort Zachary Taylor
Tidal Flush Latrines: There were 2 10 seat latrines that were designed so that the outgoing tide would "flush" them. However, the tidal flow was insufficient and left the latrines better in theory than in practice. Unfortunately, they did serve as a breeding ground for the mosquito that carried Yellow Fever. In 1863, the commander of the fort wrote to Washington that the fort was a "place of pestilence, disease, and death." He was losing approximately 15 men a day to yellow fever.
Note the partially excavated cannons, which were used to reinforce the concrete during the building of the batteries. There were also thousands of pounds of artillery shells and gun powder inside these batteries, which the engineers thought the old cannon would help protect from a direct hit.
The fort was built a quarter mile out to sea on a hard rock shoal in water 10 feet deep. Why it is no longer "out to sea" has to do with the dredging of the boat channel by the Navy, resulting in deposits of fill that created the park and landlocked the fort. The Florida Park Service then decided to dig the moat that surrounds the fort to give viewers a sense of how the fort once looked.
"Standing Guard" from the back...
and the front.
Find the VW!!
A Really Cool Tree
January 08, 2006
Here is my fishing licence!
A few of the many fish that Mike and Becky caught:
Look closely- they hooked a hook, in the shark!
The pelican is catching a tid bit that Mike threw.
Tennis with Becky
This morning we played tennis surrounded by the Gulf of Mexico!
Dinner At Mike and Becky's house
Here is Mike and Becky's house.
This is the fish that we ate. It's a cobia.
January 07, 2006
Updating the blog!
Fort Zachary, Key West!
These are the Sunset Cruise boats.
The Million Dollar Bar!
This is the million dollar bar- because they bought the piece of property for a million dollars and put a bar on it. It's a pretty small place; the pictures show the whole thing. These are our friends Mike and Becky playing ping pong; fun to play outside if it isn't windy!
January 03, 2006
Jonathan Dickinson State Park
The park is named for Jonathan Dickinson, a Quaker merchant whose vessel shipwrecked nearby in 1696. He recorded in his book, “God’s Protecting Providence,??? the story of his party’s capture by the Jobé (Hoe-Bay) Indians and their later release and arduous journey up the coast to St. Augustine. These native people died off shortly thereafter, victims of war and disease. Dickinson’s book records one of the few insights into their lives and culture.
During World War II the park was home to Camp Murphy, a top-secret radar training school with over 6,600 men and nearly 1,000 buildings. The base was heavily camouflaged with both native and exotic plants. The land was transferred to the state after the war and opened to the public in 1950.
January 01, 2006
New Year's Eve Sunset
Busch Wildlife Sanctuary
Here are some pictures of animals at a local Nature Preserve. It was feeding time, so some of the birds are eating baby chicks- I hope no one is grossed out. It was pretty cool to watch!
December 31, 2005
Loggerhead Marine Life Center, Juno Beach
Today we went to the Turtle Hospital. All these turtles were rescued from the area and brought to the hospital to be treated. Most of them are anemic or had boyancy problems, and some had been hit by propellers or bitten by sharks. The size of the turtles were approximately 3.5' long and 1.5' wide. They will be released once they recover.