St. John’s River: The Fish are Assholes

For the first time since I was sixteen, I have been able to enjoy unemployment. I don’t like to waste my days away, so I decided to visit all my favorite parks. One, in particular, is Baker Point Park in the fancy-schmancy Ortega area of Jacksonville. Usually, the park fills with squads of moms jogging with strollers to lose their baby fat. The park has become rather popular. If you don’t get there at the right time, the only twelve parking spaces they have been filled. Unfortunately, there is no room to park on the street or the curb unless you want to risk a ticket.

The worst visitors to the park are fishermen because they hold parking spaces for hours catching fish, or at least trying to.

I sat on the sea wall relaxing with my notebook in hand as two young fishermen pass by me to set up further down the seawall. I noticed fish jumping out of the water randomly. It was a refreshing sight to see fish compete to see who could jump the highest. The two fishermen set up camp and threw their hooks into the water.

It wasn’t until half an hour later when I found the funniest thing happening. The fish continued to jump out of the water near the fishermen’s’ hooks. The two men would reel in their lines and toss them back out where they last spotted a fish jumping. I noticed how the fish start jumping in a different area a few inches away from the hook. This kept happening over and over for another half hour. I couldn’t stop laughing every time a fish would propel out of the water near the hook as if to laugh at the fishermen yelling, “Looking for me?” Eventually, the guys packed up and left.

It truly made my whole day to see how nature outsmarted man once again. Karma must have come around to the fish eventually because a small pod of dolphins enjoyed themselves tossing fish out of the water and catching them in the mouths before diving down to enjoy their meal.

Sweetwater Creek, My Paradise

I finally made it back to Atlanta. O, how I miss this motherland. All I could think about were the mountains and the rushing rivers. I couldn’t wait to be a part of Georgia’s natural beauty. I prematurely researched the parks I planned to visit and studied the photos with anticipation. I just couldn’t wait to get there.

The best part about the hotel that I stay at is the fact that the gorgeous Sweetwater Creek State Park is literally around the corner. I figured for a $5 entrance fee, I’d treat it like I do the parks back home. If I want to just spend an afternoon sunbathing before a great lake, I’d just hop in the car and go around the corner. If I’m up for a little strenuous hike, I’d pay to get into the other part of the park and take a stroll through the hidden hills of Georgia.

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Growing up in Florida, I’m used to flatlands, bridges, and streams. When I visit Georgia and see a hill, I jump around like a dog who knows they are headed to the park. What is it about elevated landscapes that seem to have me on such a high? What is it about the sight of a mountain that makes me feel like I’m flying? What is it about rushing rivers that create a surge of energy in me?

Sweetwater Creek is my getaway; my paradise. As I continue to explore other parks and their wonders, I will always come back to Sweetwater Creek because it is a treasure like no other. Well, at least until I really get to traveling around and see the beauty of my planet.

The Fog of Fort George

I’ve visited Fort George plenty of times throughout the year because I’ve become obsessed with the scenery and how lively it is with jet ski flying through the water, fishermen and their families lining the bridge in hope to catch the next big fish, and children wading in the waters at low tide. Today, however, a dense fog took the scenery hostage and created a very different atmosphere that brought every photographer out to catch the mysterious landscape of the inlet.

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The fog’s blanketing the area caused the scenery to look like something out of an HD music video. On my way to my favorite hotspot, I spotted photographer jumping out of their cars on the side of the road to catch the view of the ghostly waterways.

When I arrived at my favorite spot, I too whipped out my camera to snap what I could. With each passing moment, the fog became denser and started to swallow up the landscape so time was of the essence and I needed to take photos on both sides of the bridge. My travel mascot, Comey, had a blast with the view.

At the other end of the bridge, I feel the scenery is better because there is a wider viewing area to enjoy the entirety of the inlet. Because the fog and the colder weather brought all the usual activity to a halt, it was nice to be able to just take in all Fort George had to offer.

For once, I wasn’t distracted by the sound of people and boats. Instead, I was able to allow my every sense (besides taste) to absorb the atmosphere. The only sound was the echo of cars as the zoomed past on the highway. Without the boats, the low tide was nothing more than a stream with little current. The smell of wet, uncut grass took over as the sixty-three-degree wind swept across the dead field. There wasn’t much visibility for me to gaze out across the water, but I was able to see the Naval base which was lit with hundreds of lights for their ships. The orange lights created a creepy glow in the fog. The only true survivors of the winter we’ve had so far are the few weeds that continue to bloom bright despite the browning grass surrounding them.

After a few more selfies, more landscape photographs, and a slow walk around the field to gaze at every inch of the disappearing landscape, I finally gave in to the wind and heavy fog and returned home. I haven’t been to Fort George in a couple of months and my instinct sang today forcing me to ignore the weather and visit. I am glad that I did because who knows when I’ll get to see such a scene again. Today, Fort George was not the typical play area I’ve been used to all year, it was a day for those looking for something peaceful, mysterious and calming.

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Comey and I chilling on the rocks

Baker Point Park: Pretty Skies and Flying Sails

Baker Point Park is a park I have talked about once before in my blogs. It is a tiny park, but it is beautiful. On this day it was even more beautiful. The weather was finally changing to fit the fall season expectations. It was nearly fifty degrees outside and wind blowing like crazy. I had the nerve to wear a thin jacket thinking I would regret it wearing my thicker one. I was wrong.

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Thank goodness for this backpack keeping my back warm.
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Sometimes you gotta live on the edge.

Baker Point Park has two (maybe three) parts to it. There is the circular stage that overlooks the broader part of the St. John’s River which allows you to see the skyline of downtown Jacksonville. Then there is the Ortega Bridge itself which works as a drawbridge allowing sailors to come and go as they please. On the other side is the actual Park with areas for fishing, a playground for the kids and tons of park benches for people who just want to enjoy the outdoors.

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Ortega Drawbridge
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Downtown Jacksonville Skyline
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Circular platform for viewing. (I wrote the quote)

My favorite view is always the river. With the sailboats out to play, I had my fair share of fun to snap photos and enjoy the sites. It almost makes you want to own a boat of your own. Since I have my own sailboat collection at home, it’s always nice to see the real thing.

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Another favorite is sitting on the seawall and looking out at the downtown skyline. It makes for some amazing images, wouldn’t you say?

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If you’re ever in Jacksonville, Florida, don’t hesitate to drop by Baker Point Park. There’s fun for everyone including the introverted explorers like me. 🙂

 

De-stress on the Banks of the Marina

It’s that time of year when every company in the country is amping up for the holidays to roll around. In fact, the warehouse I work at is already going through peak season. That means mandatory overtime and instead of our usual ten-hour shifts, we now work eleven-hour shifts. Don’t get me wrong, the paychecks are astounding and with the new raise headed by way in about two weeks, I am all down for the mandatory overtime. It also means watch out Santa, it’s going to be a hell of a Christmas this year from yours truly.

Despite racking up these checks and making it rain on my bills, which one would say is a great thing, stress, depression and anxiety also comes with the territory. Last week, I worked six days straight, this week five. So before the eleven-hour shifts begin this week, I decided to take advantage of my two little days off and go somewhere and de-stress.

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I recently revisted a park that I’ve been to several times before, Mandarin Park. It’s next to a marina and has a children’s play area, a huge pond, nature trails and a dock for people to view out at the river and fish. With winter coming around the bend, the walks at the park get better and better. At least now I’m not sweating even in the shade as what often happens under the Floridian sun. The mosquitoes have retired… until the next rain storm.

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I stayed out there for a little over an hour and got to see some turtles, fish and enough dogs to fill up a stadium. I kept to myself as I usually do and allowed nature to work it’s magic. The shore of the rver is covered with large entangled roots and very exotic looking flowering weeds. The trails are now being covered with leaves that have already begun to change color and fall. The scenery was enough to take the edge off of my mind that felt boggled down from work, home, and other dramas.

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It was a good day today and I would suggest to anyone that when the work week has pulled you into a darker place, take advantage of the free time you have and do the thing that makes you feel the most alive. It may not have that same 100% effect on you as it may have done in the past, but any percentage it has on you to help you get back to the stress-free you is a job well done.