I’ve been so slack on posting this week, but I swear it’s because I’ve been ridiculously busy. Good things in the works, folks! Big things! Fun things!
But there was also lots of fun this weekend. This will be a picture heavy post. I feel like the pictures will speak for themselves for the most part.
This past weekend was my family’s annual camping trip at Sweetwater. Actually, my post on our Sweetwater camping trip was one of my very first posts last year! Anyway, we camp at “Sweetwater,” which is my parents’ property near Torreya State Park. It is unbelievably beautiful there, and I highly recommend you go camp or hike at the Park. There is no other Florida camping trip you could take where you can get these views and/or elevation changes. You really don’t feel like your in the Sunshine State!
The day started with me making some macaroni salad to bring along for the ride. I’ll post that recipe separately, for the Recipe Box Page’s sake!
Once we arrived at Sweetwater, we set off on a booze
Looking back up the side of the ravine:
This area of the State is special for a lot of reasons, but one reason is the incredible diversity of flora and fauna here. It’s why The Nature Conservancy has worked so hard to preserve the area and restore the longleaf pine ecosystem. Of the many, many, many endangered, threatened, unique, and rare plant and animal species found in the Apalachicola River Basin and the area surrounding Torreya State Park, here are a couple our loud and noisy tour group ran across:
Note on the Torreya: The Torreya tree has quite a few common names, including “Stinking Cedar,” due to the distinctive smell of the wood and sap, as well as “Gopherwood.” This, along with a couple of other indicia, led Bristol resident E. E. Callaway to believe that he had found the Garden of Eden in Bristol, Florida. Rather than rehash it, I will copy and paste verbatim an exempt from ExploreSouthernHistory.com (who shared it from Two Egg, Florida: A Collection of Ghost Stories, Legends and Unusual Facts by Dale Cox).
The Garden of Eden is one of the best known parts of the Book of Genesis. After He created the heavens and the earth, the plants and the animals, God created man. The first man was named Adam and, as a place for him to live, God created a magnificent garden:
Now the Lord God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed. And the Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground – trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
Genesis, Chapter 2, verses 8-9.
The Garden of Eden was watered by a river that flowed from four headwaters. One of these came from a land where there was gold, the second wound through the land of “Cush,” the third was the Tigris and the fourth was the Euphrates. Because God did not think it was good for Adam to be lonely, He created a woman named Eve to live in the garden as well. Adam was warned, however, that he was not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If he did, he would die.
What happened next is well known. The serpent tempted Eve to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and she shared the fruit with Adam. God then drove them both from the Garden of Eden and placed cherubim (Angelic beings) before the entrance to the garden and a flaming sword that flashed back and forth to guard the tree of life. These protected the garden until the flood of Noah, when the Garden of Eden was washed away.It has long been assumed that the Garden of Eden was somewhere in modern day Iraq. The Tigris and Euphrates Rivers still flow there and the region has long been called the “Cradle of Civilization.” A more controversial theory, however, holds that the garden was nowhere near the Middle East. This theory, first advanced by Bristol resident E.E. Callaway, places the Garden of Eden on Florida’s Apalachicola River.
For Callaway, this theory was not just a flight of fancy. The Apalachicola is fed by four primary tributaries or “heads,” exactly like the river described in the Book of Genesis. In addition, some of the rarest plants in the world grow along the bluffs and steephead ravines on the east side of the river between Bristol and Chattahoochee. Among these are both the Florida torreya and the Florida yew. The torreya was officially discovered by botanist Hardy Bryan Croom during the 1820s and named for Dr. John Torrey, a famed naturalist of the time.
In sum, basically you should go visit Torreya State Park and The Nature Conservancy’s Apalachicola Bluffs and Ravines Preserve and check it out for yourself!
Red Buckeye (blooming):
The hiking is far more intense than your average Florida hike. Case in point: at times, it’s almost completely vertical.
I would venture to bet that you wouldn’t think the picture below was taken in Florida.
It’s pretty much stunning, and made for a great photo opp. stop.
When we got back, the good Doctor had the smoker going full steam ahead.
We snacked on some venison summer sausage and cheese.
And we swung. We upgraded our swinging capabilities by bringing Marc into the fold. He had a fancy rock-climbing harness that we rigged up. Fun was had by all who swung.
It finally got dark, and we finally ate and hung out around the fire all night.
Sides, including macaroni salad in the center closest to the camera. Recipe forthcoming.
It may be hard to tell in these blurry night-time fire-lit photos, but everything was thebomb.com.