With scheduled activities winding down here at Sun N Fun, we are increasingly on our own for the balance of the month to do some things time has now permitted over the winter.
Earlier this past week, we revisited Myakka River State Park.
Prior to 1850, the Myakka River was the Asternal River on English maps. A Seminole Indian reportedly told a surveyor in the 1850s that the name of the river was "Myakka." The translation of the word Myakka is unknown.
Between the 1850s and the 1930s, cattle grazed on dry prairie: a vast land of grasses, forbs, palmetto, and other low shrubs with thousands of scattered wetlands. In 1910, Bertha Palmer, a progressive business woman from Chicago, came to Sarasota and bought a vast amount of land. A few years later, she purchased acreage farther inland than her initial real estate purchases and tried her hand at cattle and swine ranching. Meadow Sweet Pastures was located very near the Myakka River, where she introduced fencing and dip vats to Florida ranching. In 1918, Mrs. Palmer passed away.
Shortly after, the Great Depression struck America. President Roosevelt signed into law the New Deal, a government program intended to boost the economy and spirit of the American population during these dark years. One program funded was the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). Over 17,000 acres of the Palmer estate was purchased by the Florida government to develop Myakka River State Park. Myakka is one of 8 Florida state parks developed by the CCC during the 1930s.
The entrance road into the park winds its way through a tunnel of mostly live oak, many draped with Spanish Moss.
Despite its name, Spanish moss is not a moss but a bromeliad—a perennial herb in the pineapple family. Most bromeliads, including Spanish moss, are epiphytes. Epiphytes grow on other plants, but do not rely on them for nutrients. They take nutrients from the air and debris that collects on the plant. Spanish moss has permeable scales that “catch” moisture and nutrients. Spanish moss was given its name by French explorers. Native Americans told them the plant was called Itla-okla, which meant “tree hair.” The French were reminded of the Spanish conquistadors' long beards, so they called it Barbe Espagnol, or “Spanish Beard.”
We took a poontoon boat ride
However, there were other sightings including hundreds of vultures,
The lake is also a playgournd for fishermen, both traditional
From the lake we could see stands of cabbage palms (note the dark lines at the base of the trees which represent how high the water gets during the summer rainy season. The staining is caused by the heavy concentration of tannin in the water).
We then took a "train" ride
Although much of the park's areas were once cattle pastures, only around 100 acres still reamin open.
In some areas evidence for prior controlled buring was apparent.. It was interesting that many of the trees which show signs of buring at the base were very much alive above where the flames had apparently reached.
It was on this excursion that we got our first real look at an alligator
This afternoon, we joined Debbie's brother Dick and wife Kate at the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens where The Hydramatic,
As during past visits to the gardens, we were able to enjoy the diversity of flowers, trees, cactus and other flora.
While a relatively tame location, we did spot some wildlife.
Gulls soaring over the Bay
Black racer snake