Saturday, April 15, 2017

Hiking at Bulow Plantation Ruins Historic State Park ~ Saturday 4/15/17

Poorly taken photo, disguised as an antique :)

I was so angry at the kittens last night, I went to bed and closed my door, after declaring to Greg that I wasn't going to sleep with anymore cats and that I didn't care if they cried.  Only he was still playing videogames downstairs with his noise-excluding headphones so when Explorer started crying behind my door just an hour later, waking me up, he didn't hear a thing.  And Explorer kept on crying and crying so I got up to yell at him but when I opened the door, Explorer did that "Rrrrr?!" with his throat and rubbed himself on my legs and then I caved in because he wasn't the one who ticked me off last night after all, it was the other two.

So he came to bed with me and cuddled hard, making biscuits against my face and neck and then buying down with his head atop my cheek while lying across my shoulder...awww. We fell asleep like that. An hour later I had to use the bathroom and he was gone. Later on, I woke up with him back in  bed next to me and Princess between my legs.  At 6 a.m., they started playing around!  Usually they go have a little breakfast and then go back to bed, but I hadn't refilled their food bowls in the bedroom last night so they were trying to get me to get up!  Arrgh.

So I figured I might as well get up and catch up on the news before it was time to take a shower and get ready for our hike.  We leaving at 8:00 a.m. to drive to Ormond Beach, to Bulow Plantation Ruins State Park. It's a couple of hours away from here.  I need to return the Blu-Ray disc to Redbox first and so I suggested we get sub from Publix,  but Greg wants to get food closer to the park. There is actually a Publix very close to the entrance. Yes, I should pack a picnic.  We'll probably order out tonight too because I'm not going to be cooking.  I'm kind of cranky and part of me doesn't want to go hiking today (a big part of me!) but I know that once I'm there, I'll be fine.

I made myself a cup of decaf instant coffee so I don't have to pee so much this morning, but I'm missing my caffeine as I keep on yawning. I'm wondering if Greg will want to have breakfast at Johnny's Flapjacks before we leave, LOL.

I took a shower and discovered a huge bruise on the underside of my right forearm and elbow, from my fall in the breezeway last night.  It doesn't hurt if I don't touch it so it's definitely just a hematoma but it's quite unsightly and turning black already.  Darn cats!  I'm glad I didn't break anything!

I earned the daily Microsoft Rewards credits and a couple of Swagbucks.

Greg got up and I immediately suggested we go out to breakfast.  He protested it would take too long and would put us "behind schedule" so I immediately said "OK fine, we'll do as you want", as he said "OK fine, we'll do as you want!", which is what usually happens and then we're each arguing for the other's POV.  So I started packing a picnic lunch and he came into the kitchen 5 minutes later and insisted on us going to to breakfast (LOL, I knew the lure of the big waffles would be too much for him!).  We left a note for the kids (they already knew we'd be gone most of the day but I wanted them to know where we were) and left.

As usual, we had a great experience at Johnny's Flapjacks.  I had the same as last week, the Philly Cheesesteak Omelet, and this time I took a picture!  This is a lot of food and protein and it fills me up that I don't really think about food until several hours later.  I had decaf coffee. Greg had his usual combo, with real coffee to wake himself up because he was droopy.

The omelet didn't all fit on my plate!
After lunch we went to Publix to return the "Rogue One" blu-ray disc at Redbox.  I also bought (or made Greg buy since I didn't have my credit card) a pack of feminine pads because I had forgotten to pack extras and I didn't want to go home just for that. ($4.29 + $0.31 tax, charged to Amex for 3% back in Rewards).

The trip to Bulow Plantation Ruins Historic State Park took about 2 hours from there and we got there at about 11 a.m.  We took back roads so as to avoid the interstates and I'm glad because a report I read tonight said that traffic on I-4 around Deltona/Port Orange had been very slow due to a wildfire on the side of the road and the smoke that ensued.   We didn't really hit any traffic, the truckers must have taken the day off because of the Easter weekend so the drive was enjoyable.

Not much traffic

We passed this very kitschy place that sells a bunch of huge statues to decorate your property with... one of these days we're gonna stop and buy us a big cow statue. 

Or the statue of liberty?! LOL.  We're mesmerized by this place. It's right outside of Astor.
We saw a live turkey on the side of the road but my picture didn't turn out again!  We also spotted a dead deer on the side of the road and a couple of smashed possums.  We wanted to see a live bear but again didn't get to see one, even though we crossed part of the Ocala National Forest and the "bear crossing" signs were everywhere.

Vultures eating a dead possum.  Greg had to honk to get them to move out of the way because they were quite intent on enjoying their brunch!
As a side note to Pixel, we passed the pasture where I had photographed the egret on the cow, just outside of Astor, but there were no cows and no egrets today. We saw cows with egrets next to them later on and on our way back we saw emus and llamas but alas no emus ON any llamas, lol.

The weather was supposed to be cloudy all day in part of the state, but getting there, it was pretty sunny until we got to Volusia County and then some dark clouds appeared and it even drizzled for a while.  I was worried that we'd get there and it would rain, as I only had a tank top and nothing to protect my camera. But it ended up alternating between sunny and cloudy the whole time we were there, with a strong cool breeze, which really helped!

Bulow Plantation Ruins State Park is located in Flagler County, just off Flagler Beach. It's adjacent to Bulow State Park, which is a little confusing at first. I had read in the brochure for Bulow State Park that the hiking trail was about 6.7 miles one way, and that they advised to start at the north entrance (Bulow Plantation Ruins Historic State Park) so we did that.

The entrance was unusual and quite beautiful but I was really wondering what would happen if a car was coming the other way. We didn't find out until we left and it was fine as there were several spots that were slightly wider so you could pull aside and let the other vehicle go by.

The entrance road was quite long and narrow, but very well maintained. It takes a while to actually get to the entrance of the state park itself, so local people seem to park on the side of the road right at the entrance to the road itself, and use the road as a free trail to hike, I suppose so they don't pay the fee to access the park itself and hike there.

Finally, the entrance to the park itself. It;s not manned by a ranger although there is a ranger habitation past the entrance, so bring exact change to leave in the envelope!
The parking lot is small.  Some historical preservation society was having a club meeting with crafts for kids and a small Easter event while we were there, and the parking lot was full about 30 minutes after we got there!  There is a small screened-in pavilion with a bathroom but I didn't take a picture of it.  The parking and pavilion are set up alongside the Bulow Creek, on the site of where the plantation home used to be, and there is a boat launch for the Bulow Creek Canoe Trail.  You apparently can rent canoes from the ranger.

We went on the small fishing pier to look at the creek. It's pretty impressive.

It was quite windy so I was glad we didn't plan on kayaking today!

I had hoped that we might see interesting wildlife, seeing as John James Audubon had visited the property himself and painted some birds there, but let's end the suspense now, we didn't see anything that we don't see in our own backyard.

From the parking lot, we first took the short (1/4 mile) trail to the plantation sugar mill ruins and the slave quarters. There were quite a few people doing the same thing.  Luckily for us, they weren't hikers and we only encountered 2 other parties on our actual hike (and a 3rd one as we were leaving the trail).  The plantation sugar mill ruins have been placed on the National Registry of History Places.  Bulow Plantation was, at one time, the largest and most profitable sugar plantation in the Southeast.

Those coquina foundation blocks were all that remained of the slave quarters.  It is presumed that the Seminole Indians burned down the plantation during the 2nd Seminole War, after the army that had requisitioned it departed.

The ruins themselves were... haunting?  I can't imagine having to be a slave in such a hot place, working in a sugar mill over boiling syrup, skimming it to make sugar.

The site had several explanatory panels that were... disconcerting.  They explained generally the significance of the sugar mill and how it worked, but each panel had some blurb about exploring the "raised map" of this and that or some other feature that actually didn't exist.  We felt like fools running our hands all over the panel that didn't even feature the promised map, to see if it was raised at all!   Under the panels there was a speaker.  I did hear some narration coming out of one of the speakers at a station where other people were but when we tried pushing the buttons at the ones we visited, nothing happened at all.  Again, quite a head-scratcher.  Also, I wish they had explained how the sugar was created in more details. There was information but it was pretty generic. So that was disappointing to me.

Ah yes, "field workers".  Thankfully the newer signs called them what they really were, slaves.

The sugar mill was made of coquina. It was quite pink in this picture.

Yes, he is still wearing the same darn shirt. He's doing it on purpose now that I have complained
about it. Grrr.
 To the side of the ruins stands a small interpretive center.

It features more explanations and some artefacts.

Our visit of the ruins done, we walked back towards the entrance to the hiking trail we had planned on using.  We weren't hungry due to our huge breakfast, but I suggested we bring our lunch along with us so we took our sandwiches and of course our bottles of water. I had slathered myself in SPF50 and I smelled good like the beach, lol.

It is 6.7 miles one way so we decided to walk to about the mid-point and then retrace our steps.
 I'd love to say I took great pictures but I really didn't.  The trail itself was really nice to walk on because it was quite wide at first so we could walk side by side and the terrain was pretty unencumbered.  But it wasn't all that interesting, I'm sorry to say.  It probably was one of my least favorite hikes.  It doesn't help that I started feeling tired almost right away and that there wasn't anything to hold my interest like flowers or fauna to photograph!

One of the small bridges we crossed.

We did hear a lot of birds but didn't actually see many. However, hawks were quite vocal and active over a couple of parts of the forest and I was able to take a picture or two.

Since we have a theme of dead animals today, Greg spotted this green and blue lizard that had been smashed in the middle of the trail. I did enhance the picture a little to show off its true colors as the weather was overcast at that point and my photo didn't end up being as colorful as the reality.

The forest itself was full of very large trees. It would have been prettier had there not been a lot of tree damage, probably due to Hurricane Matthew from last fall.  It's obvious that the rangers have been busy, in parts, cutting down the trees that had fallen, but everything was left in place, probably to decompose, and in many parts of the trail, we felt like we were walking through a lumber yard or a construction zone, more than in a forest.

There were lots of those yellow flowers. Aside from some tiny white flowers (picture didn't come out) and a patch of purple ones (seen later) on the side of a creek, we didn't see any other flowers :(

We had to climb over or pass under a couple of tree trunks that had fallen across the trail.

Another one of those weird craters left by a fallen palm tree.  Trees were growing very close to one another and were rubbing against each other in the strong breeze, making strange noises that were unnerving at times!

A small field of Scorpion Tails

A new tree sprang from this bare root crossing the trail!  I had never seen that.

This is how the trail looked in a lot of spots.

Some interesting tree fungus on a fallen palm tree


At this time, we spotted some dark clouds heading our way and I was worried being in a forest full of trees that were in the process of falling on one another when it was so windy.  Greg spotted this tree and suggested we use it as shelter should it start to rain!

Luckily, the clouds went away and it didn't rain!

That large tree was twisted right off at the base!

Not all that picturesque!

The bird calls were plentiful and most of them were cardinals!  As usual, I was unable to spot the other song birds.

We had to go under this one. It didn't look hard but it was hard enough for me. I'm really not limber to go under lumber :)

Another hawk, keeping an eye on us.
 As we approached this creek, I admitted to Greg that I wouldn't be able to go as far as we had planned, as my energy level had greatly diminished.  We agreed to walk to the next bridge and turn around.

Luckily the next bridge was just a few steps ahead.  It was actually lovely, with a small, swift and clear creek flowing under it.  We decided to sit on the bridge and have our PBJ sandwiches. I wasn't hungry at all but I felt that perhaps I needed the energy boost.

In front of us. The water was very shallow but flowed swiftly and there were little fish in it.  It looked very refreshing and made me quite thirsty. I realized that I should have brought more than one bottle of water. Greg spotted an animal getting in the water up ahead but I didn't get a picture of it. He said it definitely was a mammal that was black and white so perhaps it was a skunk?  I wasn't in a hurry to see it come back. I really wanted it to be an otter, though. It never did come back our way.

Behind us.

I truly was tired so I laid down on my back on the bridge. It was so relaxing!  I enticed Greg to do so and he resisted at first...

But then couldn't help it!  After a few minutes, I heard some voices and a couple of ladies appeared and passed us. We exchanged some pleasantries.
 After a while, we reluctantly started back.  I had a boost of energy due to the sandwich and Greg offered to let me lead the way so I could set the pace. I put my camera away and started marching as far as I could!  I lasted for about a mile before starting to feel pretty tired!

At one point Greg called my attention to something that I had completely walked by without noticing: $13 that had fallen out of someone's pocket right in the middle of the trail!  I pick up pennies in parking lots but I walked by a wad of bills in the forest! In my defense, I had spotted a bolt earlier in our walk and Greg had pocketed it as a freebie. He insisted on my blogging about it, lol.

Profit for the day: $13.00 and a bolt!
I didn't take any pictures at all on the way back to the parking lot. I was exhausted, very thirsty, and needed to use the bathroom. Plus my underwear kept on riding up causing some discomfort. I was so happy when we finally got to the truck!  It wasn't our longest hike by far, but perhaps the one that tired me the most. We "only" walked 5.31 miles total, including our visit to the ruins.  That was enough for me!  Greg was actually tired too.

I asked him to stop by the 7-11 that was just a mile or so from the park so I could get a drink because I was so thirsty and the water from the pavilion at the park tasted gross to me.  They didn't offer caffeine free Diet Coke at the soda fountain so I had to buy a bottle and also got a bottle of water.  They were freebies since we paid with part of the cash that Greg had found :)

The 2-hour drive home was very long. Not much traffic, again, but we were both tired and kept on yawning. I regretted not having gotten a regular Diet Coke as I needed the caffeine really badly (and also I was getting a headache although I think it was from allergies) but since we were taking back roads, there weren't really any options to stop and use the bathroom anywhere.

By the time we got back to our town, I was fantasizing about the nap that I was going to take as soon as we got home. We had texted the kids to ask how they were (they went out to get lunch at Subway and were fine) and to tell them we'd be back at about 4:30 p.m. and we were.  We chatted with them for a couple of minutes. Our son was still under the weather and I had him take more Advil.  Later on tonight, I gave him a dose of Delsym cough syrup but that didn't seem to do anything, much like last time. He's still coughing.

I headed to bed and fell asleep almost immediately.  When my "It's time to cook dinner!" alarm rang at 6:30 p.m., I ignored it. I had warned Greg that I definitely wasn't cooking tonight.  I fell back asleep. I had a vague notion that the kittens were in bed with me and I didn't care.  When my "unplug the battery charger!" alarm rang at 7 p.m. the kittens were playing on the bed and I didn't want to get up, but no dinner noise was going on so I got up to make sure the kids were being fed.  Greg hadn't taken a nap at all and offered to run to McDonald's to get us all dinner. I gratefully accepted.

He didn't have a good experience there, and truth be told, the food was pretty crappy, but I didn't have to cook it and it didn't add any (more) dirty dishes to my kitchen so I was happy.  I had to take a Tylenol for my lingering headache and I'm about to head back to bed, at just past 11 p.m.

No D&D trip for us tomorrow.  My son is still under the weather and I have a mountain of dirty dishes to tackle.  Greg might go fishing in the morning if he's not too sleepy.  I can't think of anything else that we have going on tomorrow.  I'm tired. Goodnight!


  1. Oh, I think you should get the Statue of Liberty for your garden! You could hang a squirrel - I mean, a bird - feeder from her raised hand! LOL!

    That omelette is huge! But I think I prefer the waffle! Maybe I'll make myself a waffle for my brunch, tomorrow!

    Thank you for sharing pictures of your visit to the sugar plantation and mill! I looked up the link, too, and found it very interesting. The trail looks challenging with all the climbing over and crawling under fallen trees! One would think the park maintenance people would clear the trees that have fallen across the trail!

    Sorry to hear you've got a bruise from your fall, but thank goodness that is all. May try icing it? Hope your son feels better, soon.

    Hope the kittens allow you to have a restful night of sleep and you have a good day, tomorrow. Take care.

    1. Thank you for your concern! My bruise is unsightly but doesn't hurt unless I press down on it, not even when my arm rubs against me side (which is very good!!). Plus, we don't have any ice (although I do have a pack of frozen peas that I keep just for injuries). I'll have to remember that next time I hurt myself. I'm good at taking care of other people's injuries but when I hurt myself, my mind goes blank hahaha. I was so mad at the kittens when it happened that I didn't even realize that I had bumped my elbow at all. I was just relieved I didn't fall on my tailbone or break anything.

      I told Greg about your suggestions to use the Statue of Liberty as a bird (squirrel!) feeder and he laughed and said it was a great idea :)

  2. Happy Easter even if you don't celebrate it. The bunny didn't bring me a thing either but I've already had my share of candy! It looks to be a beautiful day here.

    1. Happy Easter to you, Nan! Enjoy your candy! I was hoping that the Easter Bunny would do my dishes but that didn't happen so I did them :) But my daughter just started making the bunny garden cake that I had asked her to make last week so we'll have plenty of sweets to eat tonight!

  3. What a nice. Day! I love the nature pics. Have you ever shared with your readers how you came to move to the states and how you and Greg met? Inquiring minds want to know!

    1. Nosy, nosy! LOL. I replied to someone's comment quite recently by explaining how I came to the states but I can't remember whose comment or when it was... and the "Search" function on the blog doesn't search the comments. So, in a nutshell (which will still probably be too long!):

      I was a college student in my 2nd year in France (studying Business English and Business Spanish) when I helped a friend prep for an interview for a 1-year scholarship at Stetson University in DeLand, in Florida (not far away from Daytona Beach). I didn't think to apply because you had to pay for your own airfare and expenses and my family was poor so I knew I couldn't afford it. But on the last day to apply, one of my teachers reminded us of the scholarship and deadline and I thought "well, why not? It'll be a good experience and practice to interview" since it was to be in English. I was the last candidate to apply and I didn't even tell my family about it. A week later or so, I learned that I was one of the two recipients and that until I had applied, they were going to give it to my friend that I had helped prep! I felt terrible but they allowed her to interview for a scholarship at Colgate University (which was reserved for upperclassmen) and she got it. She eventually married an American she met while there but we lost touch with one another. She was quite miffed at me :(

      Anyhoo, then I had to figure out how to pay for the plane ticket. I saved as much as I could and was able to purchase the ticket but I had no spending money for the whole year. On my way over here, American Airlines lost all my luggage and never found it so they had to give me $1,375, which was the maximum at the time, although the contents of my luggage were worth more since clothes were very expensive in France at the time and I pretty much packed everything I owned! But this was serendipitous since it gave me spending money for the year. The scholarship covered my classes, books, food and housing for the whole school year and in exchange I had to man a "French table" at lunch time once or twice a week and tutor students in French. While there, I met my first husband. We dated for a few months and I went back to France to continue my studies. When I came to visit him at Christmas, he proposed to me so we got married and I started working at Disney when my green card came in. We had 3 kids together and divorced after 12 years of marriage. Greg and I met online and it was "the coup de foudre" (which means lightning strike or love at first sight) and we have been married for close to 16 years now. Youngest Son is our son together :)

    2. Thank you! DH and I are both Stephen King fans. He wrote something totally wrong on a fan message board and I corrected him. His profile said he lived in Fl (he had but had moved back to CT where his parents lived). We made online chat dates and then 4 hour phone calls. I still thought he was in FL. He showed up at a benefit I was playing. Scared me a bit, until he reminded me where he had said his parents lived. We have not been apart since. Together over 20 years now, but only married for 9. Our daughter (who is mine from my first husband) was adopted by him when she was 15. She wanted her parents to be married. So here we are!

    3. What a story! I would have gotten freaked out too, hahaha. Greg was the one who suggested we meet in person and I'm still amazed that I agreed to it. I was really smittened after those long phone conversations as well! It's so sweet that he adopted your daughter. I guess her bio dad didn't care? My half sister was in her parents' wedding too as my mom and stepdad didn't get married until she was 10.

      And I really Stephen King too!

  4. Cats can be so hazardous! I'm sorry your fall left you with a big bruise.

    The pictures from Bulow are pretty, although it sounds like the hurricane really did some damage and made the place a bit less picturesque than it could have been. We've got a number of places around here that have similar "construction" site appearances, unfortunately. I've been to a couple of sugar mills; you are right. It's very depressing and horrifying to think about the reality of life for slaves. Terrible and I get so angry!

    But still, pretty awesome to find that cash!

    1. Part of me thinks the cats might be plotting to kill me so they can have easy-going Greg all to themselves :)

      And yes, it was so great to find that money although I feel bad for whoever lost it. And disappointed in myself that I walked right by it without seeing the wad of bills on the ground! I have got to get new glasses :)

  5. Oh, your Philly cheese steak omelet looks delicious! I love omelets...usually order those when we go out to breakfast. LOL at emus on llamas - to get a picture of that would be like winning the lottery!

    I'm still impressed by your long hikes. I definitely would take a nap afterwards and skip cooking dinner!

    1. I'm usually much more of a carb lover when I go for breakfast but you inspired me by ordering an omelet when we went hiking (and I did as well, that day) and I remembered how much energy I had for our hike and how I didn't feel hungry at all for several hours so now I think I'll always do that. I still get my carbs from the buttered toast that comes with it :)


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