Sunday, February 28, 2021

Koreshan State Historic Site

January 23-February 5, 2021                                      Most Recent Posts:
Koreshan State Historic Site                                         A Week at Myakka – Part 1
Estero, Florida                                                                  A Week at Myakka – Part 2

At least I got the blog into February before it was gone.  Still trying to catch up to real time after my 2 weeks of weak internet.


Well Murphy has struck again.  When I left Myakka River, my brake controller would not come on despite having charged it for 2 days.  Something is wrong.  I drive the 95 miles with no controller – very carefully.

I get to Koreshan safely.  I get the car off, drive it to the site and find the neighbor’s guest has their car parked in my site.  There are no “extra” parking places near the campground so I don’t know where they go but when I get back with Winnona, they are gone but the site is just simply too narrow for me.  This is the major problem with Koreshan.  Many sites are plenty long but they are SO narrow.  The good side of that is they are cozy and lots of wildness between me and my neighbor.

Back I go to the ranger station to plead for something easier for me alone to get in to and they are able to provide a site just a few up from my original one.  An available site in late January in south Florida – amazing – luck is really with me here.  Murphy must have taken pity. 

I try charging the Patriot over night again but no luck.  It doesn’t even come on so the next day I talk to the Patriot folks about the brake controller and they email  me a UPS paid label.  For $110 they will “service it” and return it to me.  Great, I guess.  This thing is not small.  I have no box.  So I take it to a UPS store and pay $18 to have them pack, box and ship it.  And I start waiting.  Hope it’s back in 2 weeks so I can use it on a longer move to Kissimmee Prairie.

David and I have been to Koreshan several times.  It is a unique park in that the land was once owned by The Koreshan Unity.  Its leader was Cyrus Teed.  I don’t want to go in to all their beliefs and  life style here but if you are interested, here is a link to the post I did the first time we came in 2012.  Google Cyrus Teed or Koreshan Unity as well.  It’s all VERY interesting and amazing  what people will believe.  But then we all  know that from the last few months don’t we.

Usually there are tours of the unity buildings but covid has put an end to that.  Usually there is a wonderful farmer’s market on Saturdays inside the park but covid has put an end to that.  Usually there are music programs and well just lots of things that aren’t happening here any more.

IMG_3148What’s left are many buildings, a couple of trails between the campground and the settlement as well as the original landing which was the only way to get to the community before US 41 was built.  Now there is also a boat launch onto the Estero River.   The trails are visible on the map above .  This photo is of the start of the trail in the campground.

IMG_2959I walk the trail to and from the settlement every day.  It’s a really lovely walk along the river.  I’m standing in front of some of the extremely tall bamboo that the members included in their original gardens.  You know what happens to bamboo.  It’s all over Estero now.

How tall is this bamboo?  Take a look here.


There are openings to the river all along the way.


This I thought was hilarious though unkind.  A bad example but there is no end of bamboo here.


Did you know bamboo is hollow?


The followers created the Unity beginning in 1894  by back breaking work clearing the south Florida jungle and turning it into a landscaped gardens.  With Teed’s death in 1098, things began to change and with a policy of celibacy, the community ultimately withered and died. 

By the time the state took it over in the 60’s with the death of its last member, most of the plants were gone and many of the buildings seriously deteriorated.  The state took some buildings down, there  is great controversy over that now, but has done a nice job of maintaining the buildings that remain.  I believe volunteers maintain the plantings that are left  but the gardens have not been restored to their original state.   The yellow building above is known as the Planetary Court and housed the nine women that over saw the workings of the community with Teed as their head.  Interesting huh?

The oldest house on the property is the original dwelling of the man who sold the land to Teed and for a while joined the community.


IMG_3230There are other buildings on the property, I have not pictured them all. 
These two are the bakery in the foreground and what is known as the Vesta Newcomb cottage in the background.  Vesta’s  mother joined the community 1892 in Chicago when Vesta was 14 and in 1894 they moved with them to Estero.  She  lived her entire life here and died in 1974.

You can see these two buildings in the  far distance from the grave of the last remaining Koreshan Hedwig Michel who, at her death in 1982, left the property to the state which  lucky for us turned it into a very interesting state park.  The graveyard for the other members is not open to the public.


When you enter the community from the campground you are actually at what is now the back near the river.  This area was originally the front and entry was from a fairly grand dock and by boat until US 41 was built years later.


The steps above lead to the dock below.  Coming to the community you would enter from this dock and  walk up what they hoped was a grand entrance way.


Here’s how you would see it from the river.



My first day at the campground this time is a Sunday and when I walk over, I find photo shoots taking place.  The first one is a little girl’s first birthday.  That’s a real cake and she’s really putting her hands in and eating the icing.

Not too far away on one of the beautiful bridges designed and built by the original settlers is this photo shoot.  Not sure what it is but that’s a seriously gold dress she’s wearing.

You never know what you’ll see.

gold dress

I’ve  never been to Koreshan during the summer so I have no idea how many of the plants are blooming but then I have read that the state is unable to care for more than a handful of what was here.

During my stay, these are what I see.  No idea what they are just that they were in bloom. If you  know, tell me.   One claim to horticulture fame is that they have a night blooming cereus that is tended very carefully I understand.  It is original to the settlement I am told, blooms only once a year and has an amazing fragrance.


I was surprised to see on this visit that there were so many gopher tortoise holes roped off on the property.  Previously there had only been two or three.  There are lots  of tortoise here and they are easy to see.


This pair was particularly interesting.




I noticed a volunteer standing back from but watching one of the burrows.  I trained my camera on it, took the above  pictures of this pair and then turned on the video.  Here is gopher tortoise courtship.

Coming into the historic area I always come  over the natural bridge.  And leaving it I always go over the even more ornate white bridge.


All paths lead to the bridge.

I’m not sure what the two mounds were/are for.  On previous visits they had tortoise burrows but I didn’t see any there this time.  But burrows were everywhere else.

The stunning Live Oak tree that towers over the bridge makes a gorgeous setting for it.




Really love this bridge.



As I said, I did this hike every day, over and back.

One day winding my way back to Winnona I find this huge seed pod on the ground.  I have no idea what plant it belongs to. Do you recognize it?  Don’t think it’s bamboo but it sure  is big.  I wear a size 7 1/2 shoe and it was as long as my shoe.


Next post will be the water side of Koreshan.  I do love the Florida state parks with docks on a river so I can take my boat down, lock it up and go  out every day the weather permits.  Also next time, what am I reading and what about all the hydraulic problems.  Hope to see you then.

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

A Week at Myakka River–Part 2

January 16–24, 2021                                          Most Recent Posts:
Myakka River State Park                        A Week at Myakka River – Part 1
Sarasota, Florida                                Beginning 2021 With Murphy Hanging Around

For those of you who haven’t seen Part 1 of this post, there is a link above.  This one will make more sense if you have read that one first.  For some reason, blogger didn’t want to allow me to post all these pictures together.  HA!  So I fooled them and posted half in Part 1 and half in Part 2.  I’ll try not to include so many pictures next time.  Don’t want to make blogger uncooperative.

Returning to my hydraulic woes mentioned in Part 1.


The fix suggested by HWH didn’t solve the problem so they suggested I order something else, which I did but I’ll have to take it with me when I move and have yet another tech put it on.  I’m up to 3 techs and the next one will be number  4.  Still no slides or jacks.

Every evening I hike a trail along the river,  It starts near the former small wooden visitor center.  It’s through the Maritime Forest along the river bank and is probably my favorite here at Myakka.


There’s just something about these Live Oak trees draped in Spanish Moss that is wonderful.



White Ibis and their reflections in the water.  They are so numerous that folks call them the Florida chicken.  But isn’t that a great bill?  I like the colors at dusk.


There are views of the river all along the trail.


There are gators across the river on the bank opposite the trail and the Live Oaks.


Either this guy had one recent spectacular meal or he’s not getting nearly enough exercise.  Look at the size of him.  Love the reflection in the water.


As the sun dips, the grasses turn golden on the opposite shore.



Ibis and Snow egret appearing to cross swords.


I’ve reached the end of the trail and am headed back when I stop to take this selfie and it’s probably what kept me from missing what happens next.


I’m moseying along as I do on this trail when I sense movement and up ahead I see him.  Do you see him?  I stop dead on the trail. 


He’s apparently come across the river and is walking up and into the woods crossing the trail right in front of me.  I sneak up this close and wait to see what he’s going to do.


Mostly I see gators in the water or laying on the bank.  I don’t often see them up on their feet with their legs extended.


I was so entranced by his walking that I didn’t think of taking a video of it until almost too late.  He walked quite a bit while I watched but I only got the last step before he plopped down with his tail over the trail – of course.

You can see that video here.     Let me know if it works.


I decided it wasn’t prudent to walk behind him near the water so I swung a wide arc out in front of him through the brush which is thick in the forest.  I tried to keep my eye on him – but this was the  last I could see before it got too thick.


When I thought I’d gone beyond him, I cut back in but as you can see, I wasn’t far enough away I didn’t think.  So back into the bush.


Finally I got back on the trail and was sorry that I couldn’t have stayed to watch and see what he did but it was getting dark and it didn’t seem wise.


After that adventure, this view made me laugh out loud.  Looks like alligator jaws to me.



On the other side of the river I saw something big and black.  My camera lens showed it to be one of the wild boar that tear up the park and for which the park has cages and I believe licensed hunters.

I wonder if a piglet could have been the dinner that so greatly expanded the alligator I’d seen earlier.


Another spot I like to visit in Myakka is the bird walk where I went the following day.  It’s a long pier that runs out into Lake Myakka and usually has great bird viewing.


But this week the lake was very low and there were not many birds and those that were here were very far away.  A spotting scope would have been good.


With my camera I managed to pick up a few black necked stilts and several herons and egrets.



A group of Royal Terns flew in at one point.



There wasn’t much activity so I walked along the lake around to the Myakka River Outpost where they have a restaurant, small ice cream stand, gift shop, kayak and canoe rentals and a boat tour.  It’s a little over 2 miles between the pier and the outpost.


At some points, my walk was further from the water than at others.


I passed a wild boar trap/cage but it was closed.



For a good part of my walk I had company also walking down the shore.  There were 9 or 10 wild turkeys but I never saw the Tom.  They paraded along the edge of the trees on one side and I on the other.



I am so happy that the previous airboat tours of Lake Myakka have been replaced by pontoon boats.  Well done Florida State Parks.  Although I wonder what sort of Covid restrictions the boat has.  Florida is not very strict.


I arrive at the inlet where kayaks and canoes are rented.  In the distance is the Outpost which is literally up on posts.  The Pontoon dock is right next to it.


I don’t stop at the Outpost but walk on by through the trees headed for the old Weir where there are usually gators and birds, one in particular that I want to see.


There were a number of different birds hanging out here in numbers – stilts, herons, egrets and too many black vultures.  But I’d seen them all previously.  I’d come to find the Roseate Spoonbills.



Their pinks weren’t quite as rosy as I’ve seen before but aren’t those bills GREAT!



I know, too many pictures, but just a couple  more.  I doubt I will see them again this year.



Roseate spoonbills what a treat!  And if that wasn’t enough, I had one scoop of what Edy’s is calling Camo Hero.  Normally I avoid anything that sounds, looks or spells camo but I couldn’t resist what they described as “toasted marshmallow and graham cracker ice cream with trenches of peanut butter icing and chunks of chocolate cookies” 


I did wonder what made it green if there were no pistachios in it.  But it was delicious and fortified me for my long walk back.


On my way I came upon the same or another group  of wild turkeys and now I know “why the turkey crossed the road”.


Aren’t their bronze and shining colors gorgeous?


On my final morning in Myakka, as I was packing up, I was being observed by this tiny toad.


I have small hands.  This toad was TINY!


Do all toads look grumpy or was he just tired of my attention?


Well, I did it, I got the entire blog posted even if in two parts but now I’m WAY behind.

I’m headed about 90 miles south to Koreshan State Historic Site for two weeks.  If you’ve never heard of it, look it up.  What a history.

From there I went to Kissimmee Prairie for two weeks where the internet signal caused much of the posting problem.  I’m now at Silver Springs, my last Florida State Park for this winter.

I’m working on the Koreshan Post now and will try to get it up in a few days.  Don’t want to inundate you too much so that you tire of commenting.  <grin>