David heads out in the car to get his chemo shot this morning. He’s also going to stop at the grocery so it will be hours before he returns. While he is gone I do some house cleaning, always fun, and then I walk the lovely trail between the campground and the Koreshan Settlement Grounds. I only have to walk about a half dozen sites down from ours to pick up the path which goes by the Campground Circle.
The path is sandy and covered with fragrant pine needles.
It runs along the river which is tidal and thus could be flowing in either direction depending on when you are walking. Right now it is flowing out to the Gulf.
Walking along the river is always so calming. I don’t see anyone so it is totally quiet.
I come to the fork where the two arms of the trail going to the Grounds split off.
There is a metal map here so you can see where each trail goes.
I go left on the red trail to stay along the river.
The blue trail will also take you to the settlement but you arrive at a different spot.
The Koreshans wanted to recreate a “New Jerusalem” and thus the grounds have many exotic and foreign plants. Among them is a healthy stand of bamboo, a gift from the Thomas Edison who had it on his estate in Fort Myers. In this climate, bamboo can grow to over 60’ tall and it spreads.
Still it’s always strange for me to see them towering over the pines and palms.
They are fodder for those who must carve their initials or names into everything.
I still have not figured out what that’s about. Are there really that many narcissists?
The bamboo are in various stages of growth on the trail. Some are leaning down. They have an eerie creeking sound especially when the wind is blowing like today.
As you can see, they are quite big around.
There is one bench on the trail in the midst of the bamboo.
It is located just before the trail drops down off of the plateau.
It’s a really nice spot facing the river and a favorite of mine for just being with the river and the sounds of the water, the wind and the bamboo.
I set up my camera’s self timer and set the camera on a bamboo stump which is obviously not level. I think I can straighten the picture later.
But when I straighten it, I lose my feet and most of my legs. Oh well.
I stay for some time on the bench, journaling, reading and watching the paddlers come and go.
One bicycle rider comes by in that time. Seems a bit dangerous, the speed he is going on this path where hikers will not be expecting him.
I think about these people who came to this wilderness from Victorian Chicago with dreams of an egalitarian society. They struggled mightily for an ideal. They wanted to leave the world a better place.
I think about the stand off at the National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon and the group there and what they want. Are their efforts in behalf of leaving the world a better place?
I think about the give away of our public lands to corporate America and what that will mean to us all. Will the world be a better place if we mine and graze and log every strip of available land that isn’t developed?
I think about the mighty divide in this country between those who would have Donald Trump as their president and those who would have Bernie Sanders. I wonder if I should be at least trying to do something about any and all of these things rather than just traveling up and down the east coast in my RV, hiking biking and kayaking whenever I can. It’s a wonderful life but will it leave the world a better place for my granddaughter?
The winds pick up. They bring my wandering mind back to the present where it belongs.
I look above me to watch the bamboo leaves blowing.
I take a video of what I hear and see.
But when I try to post it, Blogger says it is too big.
100 mb is all it will allow and that just isn’t as good.
I’m really sorry you can’t see it.
The sounds of the wind and the moaning and creaking of the bamboo were eerie.
Eventually my seat gets uncomfortable and I know it is time to move on along the trail to where it ends at the back side of the Settlement Grounds in what was once the sunken garden. The sign in front of me is another map like the one in the picture above where the red and blue trails split.
The map, which could use a good washing (note to self, bring wet rag next time), shows that I am at the far right end of the red trail which runs along the Estero River. The Settlement paths are sort of visible in the lower portion of the map. The campground is very visible in the upper left and you can see where the red trail starts and at what point it intersects with the blue trail which ends at a different area in the Settlement. It is easy to make this a loop hike just by walking through the settlement from the end of one trail to the end of the other.
I cross over into the settlement across another of the lovely bridges built by the Koreshans.
Across the bridge are some azaleas in bloom and another nice bench beside the river.
Further on is the original riverside entrance to the Settlement. Route 41 was a dirt path when the Koreshans settled here in the 1880’s. They and all their goods came by river.
This is looking toward the river from the settlement.
Usually the urns have flowering plants in them.
Probably too early for the blooms.
The wooden settlement dock here is right on the river which was much wider and wilder in those days.
Here is the view you would have as you step off the boat as a new recruit to the Koreshan Unity .
And at the top of the path, beyond the urns is the first building you would see and the first one erected. It was, of course the home of Cyrus Teed. He lived in the downstairs and the men’s dormitory was upstairs.
The only other thing in bloom on the grounds today is the African Tulip Tree outside the Domkohler Cottage.
Although the state can no longer afford to keep up the gardens that were once here, they do attempt some minor horticulture and I hope to take their Guided Botanical Tour on Tuesday morning to see what native and exotic plants are being maintained.
The Tulip Tree was obviously recently covered in blooms as is evidenced by those on the ground beneath it.
There are some majestic trees on the grounds as you can see on the left of Founders Hall.
The Main Avenue, off of which the dock is on the right and Founders Hall on the left in this picture from the Tulip Tree, was once completely lined with the tall Washingtonian Palms. They grow up to 98 feet tall and are originally from western Sonora and Baja California Sur (northwestern Mexico) but thanks to Koreshans and others, they have naturalized in many other places in the world including Florida.
I don’t believe the state is replanting the ones they have decided to take down so there are very few left as you can see. They must have been very impressive at one time lining this central path.
I decide as my last stop before heading back, I’ll take in the 2003 movie done by PBS on the history of the Koreshan Settlement. It tells a really good story although I’ve heard from some of the tour guides that some parts of it need to be updated based on more recent research. I wish someone would donate the money to do that. When we were here last, I purchased and read the only book available on the Koreshan Settlement. It is called the Koreshan Story, was 72 pages and is still available at the Ranger Station. It was published by the foundation which still holds a portion of the Koreshan archieves. Although as I understand it all of those were to have been given to the state in the arrangement between the last surviving Koreshans at the time the property was deeded over in the 1960’s. The small paperback left me with more questions than answers.
But I learned this year that a young woman associate Journalism Professor at Gulf Coast Univeristy, Lyn Milner, has just written what looks like an excellent book on the most recent scholarship on the Settlement and its people. It’s titled The Allure of Immortality and was just published in October of 2015. It too is now avaialble at the Ranger’s Station. I hope to read it while we are here.
The movie is shown continuously on one side of the main floor of Founders Hall.
Time for me to take the slow road back across the other lovely bridge. I prefer the red trail since it goes along the river. David often likes the blue trail since there are fruit trees in the woods along it and possibly wild orange or grapefruit.
It’s been a wonderful contemplative walk.
I haven’t spoken to a soul or been disturbed in any way.
This is one of the things I love most about our stays at Koreshan State Historic Site.
It’s a very quiet place almost spiritual place.
Back at Winnona, I clean off the mat I’ve spread out and settle in for some more Kindle Reading.
My current read is called Chewing Sand: An Eco-Spiritual Taste of the Mojave Desert by Gail Collins-Randative.
It takes place in Nevada and is part of my vicarious travels west.
I’ve never thought of going anywhere near Las Vegas but this book is changing my mind with descriptions of the wonderful natural places to visit near by.
About 3:00 the rains begin again and it rains for most of the night.
So far it looks like it will be the only rain we get during this week which is almost a miracle.