The plan for the day was to check out Ravine Gardens Azalea Festival in Palatka. At dinner last night with friends, one of them remarked that as John and I like to explore and don’t mind a little physical exertion, we might get a charge out of Ravine Gardens. While the world believes that Florida is flat, Ravine Gardens proves the world incorrect in its assumption. It is a natural steephead ravine, formed by the meandering Whitewater Branch. Steepheads are unique to north Florida. They are steep, surprised? The trails made us think we were back in Georgia. Then there was also the added bonus of the annual Azalea Festival. Sounded like a Georgia rewind, but what the heck, it was a breezy Sunday, just perfect for a hike.
New Deal Park
Ravine Gardens is one of nine New Deal era state parks in Florida. Azaleas were chosen as the theme flower because of their brilliant bloom during tourist season.
They have some cute activities for children. They certainly appealed to the teacher in me.
Take a look, but don’t get lost. The trails and suspension bridges, roads and paths have a remarkable way of looking like they all go in the same direction. I spent more than the average person’s time asking others “the way back”. One of my sisters would probably tell you that I don’t do well when I get turned around (visions of the Oaxaca Centro de Abastos, sister mine).
Not an azalea but a pretty cool fungus, don’t you think?
There are two suspension bridges in the park. Harking back to Tarzan movies, this is another place that I don’t feel my best. They do sway just like the movies. At least the slats don’t fall out, dropping you into the ravine below.
The park rangers challenged us to find the third unfinished suspension bridge. We didn’t find it, but due to my underdeveloped sense of direction, we really hadn’t tried.
Can you see the padlock? At least this bridge has room for a few more lovers. Not like the Pont des Arts bridge in Paris that got so weighted down that they had to remove them.
Pont des Arts
We made it back to the entrance, inspected some of the artists and vendors and headed home, pleased that we had found our way.