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I ended up with so many pictures of Weeki Wachee this past weekend that I decided to break things up into two posts. One about the mermaids and the other about everything else because even though the mermaids are considered the main attraction, they are not all Weeki Wachee Springs has to offer.
As you can see below, there are quite a few things to be seen. While the mermaids have claim on the part on the deepest part of the springs – where the spring mouth is, the other part has been converted into Buccaneer Bay, a water park with crystal clear water and three water slides. Lifeguards patrol the beaches and keep an extra close eye on the area at the base of the slides to avoid collisions. We didn’t get to swim this time, but they were playing some of the music from my high school days and the nostalgia induced was STRONG. The park is also home to interesting wild life. While there is a designated show and viewing area for the more dangerous and scaly inhabitants, the peacocks have free rein of the grounds and can often be found around the edges of the snack shack and entertaining tourists in the open green spaces.
Discovery point is where you want to go to see the Wildlife Show and to walk the Tranquility Trail. We were rained out of the former, but we did manage to do the later. The Tranquility Trail runs against the edge of the area that is accessible only to those renting kayaks and paddle boards (something I really would like to try next time), and I love to see how the waters transition from that bright, almost artificial looking blue at the center to the dusky murky edges where the trees hang down into the water and play host to tadpoles and small darty fish. With a little bit of planing and an early morning, I think it would be completely possible to enjoy everything Weeki Wachee has to offer. And I will absolutely be putting that theory to the test the next time I have the chance.
One of the prettiest places in Tallahassee during the spring is Maclay Gardens. I visited for the first time my freshman year of college and have been taking visiting friends and family ever since. The best visit I ever had was with my mom; it was the very beginning of spring and the trees and flowers were blooming so fiercely that you could scarcely see the leaves. The entire garden looked like it had been covered in pink and white snow. This year I missed the sweet spot, but my mom and I still decided to make a morning of it this weekend.
The main walk of the garden is shaded by massive trees dripping with Spanish moss and flanked by numerous camilla bushes (trees?). It’s such a picturesque setting; in fact we ran into several groups taking advantage of the beautiful weather to do everything from birthday photos to engagement/save the date shoots. There were even a few groups from the college. Frequently on this blog, you hear me lamenting the hot stodgy weather that blankets Tallahassee for the better part of the year, but during this brief period where the flowers are blooming and the weather is fine, I can see why so many people fall in love with the sunshine state. This knurled old tree seems like something from a storybook, and it’s one of my favorite places to go to in the garden. Its lowest branches gracefully rest on the ground and are covered in moss and tiny ferns. The upper branches reach up and out, providing the perfect amount of shade. I love watching the light filter through its leaves and wondering how many people have stood there before me and how many stories must this old guy have born witness too? This tiny gated garden is my mother’s favorite. It’s a bit too orderly for me, but the walls around it remind me very much of reading the Secret Garden and how Mary Lennox must have felt stepping through the gate for the first time.
It was a really nice way to spend a morning, even if we had to share it with a lot more people than we’d initially thought. We’ve hopefully got another week or two of nice weather, so I might try to make it out there once more before the season is over and my vampiric tenancies reemerge.
Before all the mess that happened in December, I hadn’t been back to the town where I grew up since my wedding shower, almost seven years ago. I figured since we were there, it wouldn’t be a horrible idea to schedule in a few “fun” activities to give us a break from all the stress and sadness. One of the places at the top of the “to do” list was Bok Tower Gardens. Bok Tower has been around since 1929, a generous gift to the American people from immigrant Edward W. Bok as a token of appreciation for all of the wonderful opportunities he’d found in our country.
The original tower and surrounding gardens have been painstakingly maintained, but over the years the grounds have expanded to include a visitor center, additional gardens, a children’s area and now a gorgeous outdoor kitchen with nearby edible garden. I grew up running around the trails and feeding the lazy koi that live in the tower’s moat. We’ve been to Easter sunrise service, listened to orchestral concerts under the stars, and spent hours stretched out on a picnic blanket under their towering trees. This most recent trip, it was monarch season and we were lucky enough to see all stages of butterfly development, although the poor milkweed plants were considerably worse for the wear after playing host to hoards of voracious caterpillars.
When I was much younger, I was convinced that these giant lily pads were in fact, fairy stages. That the fairies waited until the gardens closed, and then hosted elaborate affairs atop these massive (easily 2-3 feet across) green boats. Fireflies would weave about over head, and the fairies who were tired of dancing could recline in the flowers and still enjoy the festivities. As the sun began to rise, they’d all return to their homes all over the garden and sleep soundly for the day while we humans explored their garden.
When I graduated high school, I was allowed to climb to the top of the tower and run my fingers across the carillon’s “keyboard”. The tower is not open to the public, and other than being a graduating senior, the only other way to see the inside it to purchase one of their top tier memberships. It’s a lot of stairs, but an amazing opportunity that many a local would turn green with jealousy over.
Even though we’ve been before, it was nice to share this place with Andy again. No matter now much is added and no matter how far the grounds expand, this place feels like home, and every time I visit I feel the desire to curl up on the grass and just listen to the breeze ruffling the leafy canopy overhead.
Someday I will own a fountain just like this one. Frogs, painted tiles, and all 🙂
It was a wonderful distraction, and one that I am hoping to indulge in again the next time we have to head down south for another round of cleanup.
Category: About Me