It was another gorgeous, late winter/early spring day and we headed out this afternoon to make the most of it. The rains we've had lately caused us to wonder about the condition of the dirt roads that we like to explore. With the assistance of the DeLorme map for Florida, we made our way down the Limestone Road and Brooks Road to Connell Tram Road to SR 59 in Jefferson County. Only in one spot on Brooks Road did B get out and measure the depth of the puddle (and the hardness of the bottom) before commiting the truck and S to the voyage across. From 59 we went to US 98 to the Aucilla Wildlife Management Area.
No maps were available, so we relied on the DeLorme once again. We drove about 9 miles in here, all on dirt roads and met only 3 trucks in a couple of hours. The road is on a narrow dike through the swamp. Vehicles pass slowly and carefully. The road was good and it was good to see water in the right places again. The tannic swamp water was clear in most places and certainly flowing through the culverts under the road and in the narrow places and around rocks. Speaking of rocks, this area has LOTS of limestone rocks. Some are boulders that are washing machine size. This boulder is not that large, but for Florida, it is something notable.
We noticed that we had left the pines at US HWY 98 and this was a hammock area, with the palms and palmetto in with the cypress, maple, sweet gums, buckeye and a few oaks on the higher spots.
Many trees were still leafless and harder to identify. It was difficult to imagine how it looked before the giant cypress trees had been logged long ago, as evidenced by the cut stumps.
The buckeye trees were blooming and we found one growing from one such cypress stump.
The maples were brilliant.
And the Senecio lit up the dark water with its fragrant golden flowers. The light was difficult and the pictures do not do it justice.
Purple wild violets lined the road with a dozen or more blooms in a square foot.
There were some camera-shy wading birds and a few migratory songbirds. We heard several pileated woodpeckers. This hawk was regally perched, no doubt keeping an eye out for his next meal.
And B caught this yellow bellied slider sunning. We had startled several others from their logs.
We imagine this is a rough place in bug season and we hear the ticks get bad. Today, it was awesome!