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

Henry David Thoreau

A Jewel of a Preserve–Lyonia

Monday March 3 and Tuesday March 4, 2014
Blue Springs State Park
Orange City, Florida



You meet the most interesting people on the manatee boardwalk.




This morning on our way up the manatee boardwalk a man turns around and smiles and says “There you are”.  It’s Tom of Tom and Kathy Retired.  He had said in a comment on my blog that he and Kathy were coming over from their cabana on Merritt Island to see the manatee.  I had given him our site number and told him to stop by.  Now here they are. 

We chat for a while and I encourage them to go on down the boardwalk as there are only about 8 or 10 manatee here this morning and I want to make sure they get to see them.  I also encourage them to come back in January of next year since they live close enough for a day trip.  It might be cold, but there will be lots of manatee here then unless something really really strange happens.   I learn later that they have a wonderful day at the park including taking the St. Johns tour boat.



It’s an educational bonanza in one room.




After our visit with Tom and Kathy and a quick breakfast, we packed up to go see Lyonia Preserve as Olivia had suggested.   It’s about 9 miles from the campground in the town of Deltona.  What is it with the D’s around here?  Deltona, DeLand, DeLeon, Debary.








We have one of those two unconnected ends of a street problems in finding the preserve but we do find it and discover that it has a really fine little visitor’s center with an impressive array of educational information.  

We learn all about the scrub habitat and how important it is to Florida’s water supply.   There are many hands on exhibits to show you how much water you use and ways in which we can better design our homes and communities so as not to disrupt important habitat like the scrub. 





 I can’t resist a bulldog especially as part of a water conservation information sign.  Washing a dog takes 25 gallons of water.  Sounds like a lot until I read that watering a lawn takes 720.

One very impressive demonstration shows how much water filters through an asphalt surface, a sand surface and a new green paving surface.  It is very clear we should be using these green paving surfaces for driveways, side walks, parking lots and even roads if we can.  There are so many things we could do if we would just look at the long term rather than the short term costs of their implementation. 


The scrub habitat is a major filter of water for Florida’s aquifer.  Because it is the highest and driest and formerly thought to be useless (sound familiar) areas of the state, only 15% of it has not been developed.   The Florida aquifer has suffered from this careless disregard for the importance of the scrub.




We also learn a great deal about the scrub’s two most famous residents.  The manatee and the scrub jay. 

I learn things about the manatee I didn’t know and in a fun way. I find out the total manatee counts for each day of the month of January at Blue Springs.  I didn’t know that the highest count was on David’s birthday, January 8th, 367 manatee were in the spring run.  For sure Tom and Kathy should come during January.  




We see a giant net of grass hanging from the ceiling attached to a scale reading 100 pounds.  It’s how much the average manatee eats in one day.  What a great graphic presentation.






Here are a few other fun facts I learn.





Clearly our breath holding ability doesn’t compare.
We’d better take good care of those green plants and trees creating oxygen for us.







I learn a lot about Florida Scrub Jays too.  Things like a family requires 22 acres of land. Each family of birds has 8 or fewer members.  Scrub Jays mate for life.  They face extinction due to habitat loss as do many endangered species.  Their habitat loss is due to development and this center gives really great and specific ideas for what we can do to mitigate the destruction to the environment.



Do not miss this great little place if you are in this area.  You can find out about them on their website or on their Friends’ Facebook Page.

By the time we finish with this very educational center, it is 2:00 in the afternoon and when we go outside, it is clear that walking in a hot scrub habitat when it is full sun and the mid 80’s is probably not going to lead to the greatest level of enjoyment.  Knowing a cold front is coming in and bringing cooler temperatures tomorrow, we decide to come back then for the main event.

I’m really looking forward to it.  Thanks again to Paula and Olivia!



We haven’t been home very long, I’m reading in the shade and decide to check out the bath house for a possible shower.    The path to the shower is through the woods just to the left of our site 21 and in front of the site we had last year, #20.   As I pass number 20, there is something about the car parked there.   I turn around and look, then I look more closely.  That has to be the MoHo.  Sure enough Oregon plates.   Now that’s amazing.  Sue, Mo Abby and Jeremy are our neighbors.    They come outside laughing at the incredulous look on my face.   Now how amazing is this?    


  1. I loved learning about the scrub jay from you, Sherry, especially since I won't get the chance to visit the center this time around. So much to learn, so fascinating, and yes...such a delight to find out we were neighbors!

  2. Nice surprise about Sue and Mo.

    Did you know that birds also have nictitating membranes?? ;)

  3. Great to meet Tom and Kathy - I hear that river cruise is a good trip. I too loved the Lyonia Preserve and their great environmental education exhibits. I am glad to know they also are actively engaging with the city and the community and the children of the area through numerous camp offerings throughout the year. Unfortunately it is land developers of both commercial and residential properties who need to visit which is unlikely. Maybe the city can make meaningful changes in building codes. Impressive center on many levels!

  4. I'm afraid there are many important features lost to development, at the expense of the habitat and creatures who live there. It's sad, because often we don't know until it's past saving. Who was the singer who was so prophetic - "you don't know what you got till it's gone, pave paradise and put up a parking lot.)

  5. It's nice that you've met so many couples in your travels. I think that's what retirement was meant to be. It's the time of life when you know yourself and your mate better than ever before, and in my opinion, the most precious of all years because you are so comfortable. To have other couples enjoying the same is wonderful. I'm so happy for you and David.

  6. Interesting info.

  7. Very informative! There is so much most of us have no clue about when it comes to the natural world. Glad thry have ideas about improvements that can be made to protect the environment. I wonder if anyone takes action on those ideas?! Like I said in the last comment, you have so many friends!! So neat you can meet up along the road!

  8. I, too, have wondered about all those "D" names. Haven't visited that preserve. Looks pretty neat. Can't wait to see if the preserve itself is as good as the Visitor Center!

  9. What a great tip from Olivia. I never knew about the Lyonia preserve. Great that you got to see Sue and Mo.

  10. What a great place to explore, and so informative!

  11. 25 gallons to wash a dog. Another good reason to wait on giving Grace a bath :)

  12. We have Scrub Jay's at Wickham Park in Melbourne FL...
    but I have only seen one...feel lucky to have seen that one..

  13. Thanks for sharing all this important information from Lyonia Preserve. We are most sensitive about water conservation. A friend of mine just told me she saves all the water that goes down the drain when you are waiting for hot water to use on her plants. What a great idea (if you have a bucket available in the shower!). It made me start to think about the value of having an Aqua Hot system in the motorhome. When we first decided to purchase a motorhome, I felt very guilty about the fuel use, but if you don't have a sticks and bricks home, your footprint is pretty small. If anyone is curious, you can measure your carbon footprint at the Nature Conservancy website: http://www.nature.org/greenliving/carboncalculator/

    Never have seen a scrub jay. You amaze me at how much wildlife you encounter that I probably would not have been aware enough to see. Good lesson in opening one's eyes to the miracles around you.

  14. Oh cool, another interesting preserve to add to our list! We would like to explore the area where you are next winter -- it looks like there are so many interesting things to do. Thanks for all the great tips!

  15. Humans are not the best stewards of our planet. Those who care are outnumbered by those whose profits rule.


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