Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Misphah and Shen. He named it Ebenezar, saying , "Thus far the Lord has helped us." 1 Samuel 7:12

Monday, October 20, 2008

I've Now Moved into My Mid-Thirties

About twice a year we visit a FL State Park. Our visits usually co-inside with my birthday in the Fall and Mother's Day in the Spring.

Yesterday was my birthday, I'm 34 now (and loving it), and we traveled to Palm Coast,FL to Washington Oaks State Park. I will use this post as a review of the park, as well as a review of my birthday!

We went to the early church service while the boys were in Sunday School, packed a picnic lunch and headed out. Since the trip was around an hour the boys brought entertainment... this is what I saw as I looked in the back seat, look close you'll see the ipod.

We arrived!

The admission cost was only $4.00 and it was the second time we visited a state park where the park entrance was on the honor system. Here's Steve paying our fee. So cost wise- can't beat it, and to think I wanted to go to Islands of Adventure at a cost of 60 something dollars each.

We arrived and found a parking spot near the formal gardens and Visitor Center, but in the usual Span Clan style I unpacked the cooler and made lunch for us all! Publix subs, Publix sweet tea, some chips and a little chocolate- perfect birthday lunch!

After eating we walked a short trail .6 miles to the bathrooms. For future reference near the bathrooms was a child's play ground with picnic tables and more parking, a great spot to eat lunch and play!

I had a cool pic of Justin but he was up when I posted the pics and asked that that particular picture not be posted- so instead here's one of him on our bathroom hike.

The joke when we go to state parks is that anytime we run across a seating area- we sit down. Perhaps we want to take in the scenery, or perhaps we just prefer to sit? Whichever it is a fall day in Florida is an ideal day to be sitting outside.

I had to post this of Steve and his shadow.

Sitting again, this time on a bench near the river. Washington Oaks State Park lies between the Atlantic Ocean and the Mantanza River. We visited the river side first and I recommend starting there because of the trails, Visitor Center and it's where you can pick up the map of the park.

If I could sum up Florida outdoors one of the things I'd say is that all trails lead to water. This particular trail was intentionally dead-ended into water for the bird watching. A large number of birds make their home on the coast of Florida.

One of the neat things about this park is it's formal gardens. The park, which use to be a plantation in the 1800's, was owned by a relative of George Washington and the lady of the house had these formal gardens.

here we are in the rose garden, striking our superhero poses.

Of course a canopy of oak trees covered the trails, gardens, and house. This is the one that claims to be the largest on the property.

Vaughan had a ball spinning in a circle and taking his picture.

A fish pond along with several artisan wells add sparkle to the gardens. The wells are all dug down into the FL aquifer and naturally bubble up feeding the ponds with fresh water. Visitor beware: you will smell that great FL sulfur water, it was only strong in the area closest to the wells; we've chosen to view the smell as part of the history of Florida.

Here we found an island with a board bridge, not exactly sure if it was meant for visitors...
The boys always seem to mess with me. Here they were suppose to pose for a picture with mom, instead then use their size against me, darn those growth spurts, and tried to drag me down, or something.

The question here is where's Steve?

The gardens were beautiful, the "hikes" flat and sandy, the memories will carry on forever.

Now we were on to part two of the park. The beach side. This area of the beach is know for it's coquina rock outcroppings. Swimming here is not recommended because of the dangers in the water, but a visit to climb on the rocks is a must!

Here's what we saw from the boardwalk. The boys weren't impressed and stayed in the car.

As we got closer this is what we saw.
It didn't take long for me to drop my bag and start climbing.
The farther we walked on the rocks the more rocks we saw. It was so cool. We were there right after high tide, I'd like to return right before high tide as well as at low tide, here's why.
As the tide is coming in the water will shot up through the holes and spray water high into the air and during low tide more of the rock formation is visible. I couldn't get over how awesome it was and visiting at any time is sure to put a smile on your face.

So for Washington Oaks State Park I say it's a must to visit. Children of all ages will enjoy it. Pack a lunch, where some comfy shoes and be ready for a fun-filled day with your family in God's creation.

Dogs are welcome in the park but are prohibited from the garden area and the beach. poor Fluff, he had to sit this one out.
As we headed back home we passed this sign:

In case you can't read it very well it says: Mala Compra Plantation, Archaeological Site. I had seen it on our way to Washington Oaks and we almost missed it when leaving. We stayed for 25 minutes and I highly recommend stopping, if you're in that neck of the woods.

It actually was the house where the owners of Washington Oaks lived and a nice shaded, elevated pavilion covers the site with the history of the plantation at different stations around the site.

Here's the main house.
And a shot of the pavilion, if you look you'll see the well in the center of this picture.
One of the greatest joys of parenting more than one child is to see them as friends. Since the boys saw this whole site in about 5 minutes, they spent the other 20 walking around talking. What they talk about I don't know, but it's funny, it's creative and it brings more joy to my heart than they will ever know.
So that's it! We survived another state park, my birthday and of course Biketoberfest; each year around my birthday it's Biketoberfest, here's the barricades around the corner from my house to prove it!

So a birthday review and a State park review all wrapped up in one.
I'd rate Washington Oaks State Park as an "A" park because of it's diversity in actives and scenery. It appeals to all ages, provides good picnicking, walking and resting.

See my other state park reviews below:


Superhero Mom said...

Very cool! I forgot that I have been there with my boys at one point in the past. We must go back!

allison said...

We went to a wedding there and it was so beautiful. I love this park!

coldbayprincess said...

oh i so wish i could have been there with you! would you return with me? your boys bring smiles and joy to me as well! and tell them again please stop growing, and picking on their little mom, cause their little cousin can't do much about it!! (i think vaughns shoulders are almost as wide as steves!) happy birthday couz i love you.


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