Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.

Henry David Thoreau

Bamboo Walk - Estero River Paddle

Friday February 6, 2015
Koreshan State Historic Site Campground
Estero, Florida



This morning David and I walk over to the Settlement from the campground.  It’s such a nice trail and wonderful to walk.  I didn’t mention in my original post about this Historic Site (link here) that both Henry Ford and Thomas Edison, who had summer homes nearby, were frequent visitors to the community and attended its music and theater events.  

Edison brought many exotic species of plants to his home and gave some Chinese bamboo to the Koreshans.  You know what bamboo does, it spreads.  And it did and it remains all around the area.   Some of it is huge and its feathery foliage towers over the old trees.   It gives the trail a feel of a different kind of jungleness from other jungle like trails we’ve been on in Florida.   David picked up one downed bamboo and curling it said it weighed about 15 pounds for its 8 foot length.  Of course bamboo is hollow.   The stand on the left in the first picture is young and dense.





My favorite trail from the campground brings us out near the bridges and the gopher tortoise mound.  I understand she’s at least 50 years old and queen of the realm.   She rather looks her age I think.   What a very dirty face you have my dear.




We go into the original settlement building, also in my first post on Koreshan,  to see the film about the society and their leader Dr. Cyrus Reed Teed.  That’s him on the screen.  It’s an excellent film and I’m not sure whether to recommend that you take the daily tour at 10:00 or 2:00 first or see the film first.  Probably the film.  

As we finish the film, this morning’s tour group comes in and join up for a while.  We’ll come back on another day and take the full tour.







We head over to the Art Building where we have a great conversation with the volunteer there.  The building usually has paintings on the wall done by Dr. Teed’s son but today they have a traveling exhibit of photographs not of the Koreshans but of this area in the early 1900’s. 







The photos were taken between 1906 and 1914 by Julian Dimock and his father. They were both New York Financiers who took 10 trips to southwest Florida often for many months at a time.  They traveled mostly by boat, camping as they went. 

New York financiers camping, now that’s interesting and so are the photographs.  What a different way of life.  So much slower and less hectic.


Among the most interesting to me is a photo of net casting which is still used today.  I took a photograph of a net being cast on our last day at Myakka River State Park less than a week ago.  It makes me happy that some things aren’t “improved on”.


I’m amazed at how close they were able to get to these birds.   Had the birds not learned to be afraid of something so big?  How about that camera?  And we complain about our SLRs now.



During our last trip down to the Everglades we visited some of the locations we read bout in Peter Matthiesen’s  Shadow Country, the book about the famous/infamous Edgar Watson.    Storter’s Store, pictured here, is in that area of Chokoloskee. This picture was taken just a few years before Watson’s death when the store was still operating.




Other exhibits also on display in the cases below the photography were artifacts belonging to Dr. Teed.   My favorites were these leather snake garters.  I guess in the jungle that this area was at that time, they would have been wonderful to protect your ankles and shins.



Outside just facing the arts building is an Orchid Tree, a native of India which obviously does very well in this area.  Beautiful flowers





We head back to the campground down the other side of the loop trail.  This arm is at the back of the main avenue through the Settlement.  David notices this brightly colored fungi along the trail and I point out his favorite thing – CITRUS TREES.






We find grapefruit, apparently not ripe yet since there are none on the ground and no tell tail signs.



But the tangerines are ripe and on the ground.  We find two trees.  One is very sweet and delicious, the other just a little more tart.  David fills his pockets.






Also along the path these bright seeds have broken open their pods.  They are too large to be the Brazilian Pepper that is so invasive to Florida State Parks.  I later find out they are commonly known as jequirity (Abrus precatorius) and are native to India.  My guess is that Edison or the Koreshans brought them here although I read that they are invasive all over South Florida and much of the Caribbean.  The plant is best known for its seeds which are used in jewelry and percussion instruments.  Beware, though it is very attractive, the beans are toxic.




Zebra butterflies flit all along the path.  I think they are the Zebra Longwing, Florida’s state butterfly, but when I later look at the picture, they don’t seem long enough.  The longwing is a long narrow butterfly.  Anyone know if this shorter more thick zebra is a longwing?  This former Virginia girl loves seeing  butterflies in February. 









Back at Winnona we have some lunch and then take the kayaks over to the boat launch and paddle on the Estero River.  We had thought we might go down into Estero Bay and over to the Mound Key Archeological Site but the winds this afternoon are too strong to be in big water so instead we head up toward the source of the Estero.





Going in this direction we find less development than we would have going down toward the bay but there is a small marina on the river across from the park at one point and beyond the park some houses line the shores.





But still, mostly the mangroves have control.   In some cases they send their roots down a long way to reach the water.




I continue to be amazed at the height of the bamboo.  It is taller than most of the trees.



The limbs of the live oaks reach out into the river and are covered with happy resurrection ferns.


We pass what I think is the dock at the work campers RV park on the other side of the river.  Looks like a nice place for the volunteers who are so vital to the park’s success.





It’s interesting seeing the bamboo landing from the river.  This was the main entry to the Koreshan Unity Settlement in its early years.  At that time we were told the river was much wider and multiple large boats could land here at one time.





If you read my first post on the Koreshan Settlement, you might recognize this entry way from my pictures of the land side.




We pass under the Route 41, Tamiami Trail,  bridge and after the boat rental concessionaire we move into smaller waters.




I know immediately upon seeing it that this will be my favorite tree.  Look at it reaching for the sun.  Amazing will to live.





I would call this house the king of the river.  It’s the largest one we see today.  I couldn’t get as good a picture as my view.  Big windows everywhere.





The long thing David is looking at appears to be a strangler fig root.  I guess they are native to Florida but they destroy their host trees so they aren’t appealing to me.



As I come around the bend I spook a Great Blue Heron who flies on down the river and lands in a tree in front of me.  As I drift near the tree he flies on further.




The king of the river is not the only house on this quiet secluded section of the Estero.  These folks have created a sweet sitting spot on the bank under the shade of the big leaves.  No need for an umbrella here.



As I paddle further on, I see the heron in a tree above me.  He stays put as I drift underneath him and lean back to take pictures of him eventually from the underside.   I see in his poses some of the figures used in Native American designs.







The resurrection ferns are almost like fur on the trees .









We continue on until the river becomes too low and too narrow to paddle.  With more time I might well have gotten out and walked on just to see whether it opened up later or if there was a spring as its source but it is getting late so we turn around.




It’s a lovely wonder world on all sides of us.







On the way back we notice how many royal palms are along the river. These tropical palms only grow naturally in the very southern parts of Florida. We first saw them in the Everglades with the green bark high on their trunks and their huge frons. David remarks that you sure wouldn’t want to be under the tree when one of those came down.





The live oaks are the most beautiful trees reaching out over the water.  I love gliding under their branches.






It’s pretty odd to find a mailbox along the river.  It is for the Happehatchee Center.  They have managed to save their little spot on the river from the pressure of development so far.  It was once part of the Koreshan Property as was all the land clear to the gulf until it was sold off bit by bit before the last 300 acres were given to the state.  I suppose they did it to survive but given their values it really surprised me.

The center offers yoga and other classes in its mission as an eco-spiritual center.  If we were here longer I would try one of their yoga classes and perhaps a book discussion.  They certainly have a beautiful spot.  And I love the mailbox on the river.



It was a great afternoon on a lovely river.  Hopefully the winds will scale back on one of the days we are still here at Koreshan and we can go the other way out into the bay.   Now we head home to dish up some Tortilla Soup I made earlier with no oil tortilla chip strips – thanks again Nina – and David for making them.




  1. We were at Koreshan some time right after the turn of the century! It was pretty deserted then; I don't think there were any classes such as you mention, but I think there was the film you saw. I looked back through my pictures from there, and sure enough, there were two turtles having a face off!

    Virtual hugs,


  2. w onderful post I learn so much from your blog I often see the ferns but did not know what they were now I do ....great blog...do you have a recipes for the no oil tortilla strips....maybe I missed it on your blog and I read it all the time thanks for taking me on your kayaking trip

  3. You sure had a very full day!! Love the paddle just so peaceful once you get past the homes. The Palm Trees and Bamboo are really pretty, but I still love the Live Oaks...they are just so special:o))

  4. The heron shots in particular are amazing. We have various turtles up here, but I've never heard of gopher tortoises. This one looks like she's seen a lot in her years.

  5. Beautiful paddle and a delish looking soup! I have mushroom barley soup in the pot right now.....yum to both.

  6. Love the heron in the tree! Also the gopher tortoise, dirty face and all. I wonder what problems introducing the non-native plants have caused. Mmmmmmm- soup looks good! xxxooo

  7. What a beautiful paddle! Almost a fairy land with the amazing foliage. You sure know how to find nature's finest. :c)

  8. Too bad Edison didn't know the effects of his introducing exotic species. Guess even really smart people can't know everything.

  9. Nice to see the photos from the past. Agree with Judy about the introduced species. Once bamboo sets in it's impossible to get rid of. In fact those seed pods from India I also saw in South Africa. The best tree is that curved survivor palm. You certainly get a different view of nature in the kayaks. Imagine looking up at a heron like that. Superb.

  10. I've never gotten so close to a heron, they are a bit glittery. Loved your pictures of his underside. Yum to the soup! It is always a good day when you can come home to steaming soup.

  11. Cool tortoise, and I love those zebra butterflies.

  12. Wow! That's all I can say about your day. It doesn't get any better than this. Love all the fantastic plants. Those orchids are beautiful. I've only seen the tree once. I love the red and black seeds!! That gopher turtle is adorable. I like that they aren't rel scared so you can photograph them. Thanks for sharing all the fun:)

  13. I heard a story years ago that changed the way I think about bamboo. It was told to me by a resident of a small town outside Baltimore. A car dealership purchased land and built a huge showroom, the landscaping around which was planted with bamboo. Of course it was small and tidy and beautiful when they planted it, but it began to come up through the sidewalks and parking areas, and the dealer tried to eradicate it. They kept cutting it down and digging it out, but eventually it came up through the floor of the showroom. I never heard what finally happened to the buildings, business, etc., but I now think of bamboo as an avaricious invasive and it's lost most of its appeal to me, although I do love bamboo wood when used in flooring etc.

  14. my goodness. . .you guys are like the Energizer Bunny. . .you just never stop! :)

  15. Such a beautiful kayak trip on the river. Loved all those photos. You two sure get around.

  16. These paddles of yours are what makes me want to visit FL some day...the lushness of the landscape just blows my mind! I've always loved the way a royal palm sheds its entire frond all the way to the trunk, it leaves such a nice clean, slender silhouette.

  17. Amazing that our ancestors didn't think about the consequences of bringing non-native plants to the area. Having bamboo in one of my backyards, I know what a pain it is to get rid of! What a nice paddle you had. That heron was just waiting for you :)

  18. I guess if you live in a hole in the ground a dirty face might be your regular makeup. You are braver than me & lucky that heron did not dump on you - you were in a risky spot as you passed under but you sure got some unique pictures from a perspective few will ever see.

  19. I enjoyed riding with you as it really bring back good memories of our winter in FL and paddling was just one of them. And you guys really know how to enjoy your day in the water.
    Thank you for the id of that tree with beautiful flowers, I've seen them while we were in Riviera, the Indian Tree.

  20. What a lovely day, from beginning to end. That paddle is so lush and gorgeous and your photos are wonderful -- we're definitely putting that one on our list for next winter. Loved seeing the photo of the guy with the cast net -- my dad still fishes with a cast net at age 86. :-)

  21. This is such a beautiful and peaceful place. Maybe it's calm spirit of its past or maybe it's just seeing it through your eyes....but I just love it here. The pic of David under the oak branches is my favorite. The stoic heron is a pretty sweet runner-up :-) Growing up in the desert we are big fans of tortoises, although turtles are cool as well. I'm getting caught up so am off to Carrie's birthday now!


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