Yesterday we saw the State Park on the south end of Amelia Island. This is just one of 7 state parks in this area that are overseen by this man, Aaron Rodriguez. On Right.)
Aaron, along with a staff of 18 takes care of 10,000 acres of land that is visited by over 500,000 people per year.
Aaron has been with Florida State Parks for 17 years now. Here he is pictured with rangers Robby Kammer and Shunne Ellerby. Today we are visiting two more parks in this chain of 7, Big Talbot Island and Little Talbot Island.
From the late 1700's to the early 1900's these two islands were used to grow indigo, oranges, sugar cane, cotton and other staples as well as to raise livestock.
Up until 1921 when Florida Route A1A was built through the area, the only access here was by boat. Between 1952 and 1980 the State of Florida acquired them and they became the state parks they are today.
At the northern end of Big Talbot Island, a parking area and trail lead out to the beach. This island is undergoing the erosion that is so common on these sea islands.
Hundreds of trees killed by the salt water and felled by the incursion of the surf litter the beach. It was high tide when I was here, and the jumble of limbs and trunks was so thick as to be almost impenetrable. There was no vantage point to get a good overall perspective of the beach.
This is one of the rare instances that you can observe the root system of various species of tree.
I guess that sooner or later these huge trees are washed out to sea. This must be quite a hazard for shipping - these are large heavy objects as it is - let alone being water-logged.
Relentless, the sea continues its assault, removing tons of sand from the edges of the island.
This time of year the jelly-balls (cannonball jellyfish) litter the beaches. Back in Darien Georgia we saw the Jellyball plant that harvests 25 million pounds of these a year to be used as salad topping in China.
I always love the textures that emerge from wood being weathered by salt water and blown sand.
Pavilions are nestled beneath the canopy of oak limbs beside the shore.
Miles of ample biking and hiking trails encircle the island.
These trails lead to something unseen in the Carolina s, Georgia or Florida. "Black Rock Beach" is a stone outcropping that looks like lava. It is actually a unique sedimentary layer that has been uncovered - I wish I had found more information about this outcropping from a geologic perspective.
With the three days of rain we have seen here, it has been difficult to get out with the camera. The only real break in the rain that I was comfortable carrying the camera out the trails to the ocean was at high tide, so the photos are not as good as they could be.
However, here is a shot I borrowed from the Florida Hikes website to show the area at low tide on a sunny day.
Florida Hikes website photograph
Down the road a few miles we encounter Little Talbot Islands. These islands bear the names given them by James Oglethorpe, founder of Georgia, shortly after he built Fort Frederica on St. Simon's Island.
The naming of the islands proves to be outdated. Remember all that erosion on Big Talbot? Well, all that sand has to go somewhere. It is deposited down-shore on Little Talbot, and the erosion has been significant enough that "Little Talbot" is now larger than "Big Talbot."
Here is a shot of the beach - a start contrast to the eroded bluffs with falling trees we saw just a couple of miles north.
Here are numerous ample pavilions, and the beach has been so newly deposited that the coastal forest has not yet had time to cloak the area.
This is what high tide looks like here. The rains let up for a bit, but there was a fog bank that clung to the land. The beach goes on for a long ways - in this photo it disappears into the fog.
On the river side of the island there is a campground. Many of the spots are out on the river - which you can't see because of the low angle of the photo.
There are also many more campsites nestled in the forest.
Wildlife abounds - this is one of those places you could spend a week with a camera, getting numerous great photos every day.
And the fishing holes - around every bend there is another little pier or dock or bluff that affords great access to the wide variety of sea life that frequents the area. Manatee are commonly spotted here in the summer months, and pods of dolphin are regular visitors.
And that brings us to the south end of Little Talbot Island.
The south end has its own share of erosion taking place, and a long seawall has been put in to slow the erosion.
I want to back up just a bit to Amelia Island - for those of you who wonder what a Ritz Carlton is like, I shot a few photos before sunrise in this one.
It is almost a given that the nicest places have the smallest signs - and the places that want to appear to be more than they are have massive signs. If you are not watching for it, you would miss the sign to the entrance.
There are big lobbies and seating areas - it seems there is a piano or harp in every common room.
These are sitting areas - there are several restaurants, but they weren't open this early.
Outdoors overlooking the ocean are ample patios
. . nd you can see the steam rising off of the heated outdoor pools.
And there is an indoor pool with hot tub, as well as a 10,000 square foot conference room area. There are numerous shops that carry high end clothing, jewelery, watches and such, but they also were closed.
I am going to incorporate a new thing in the articles. I am just going to call it "faces in the crowd" and after debating it a while, have decided that now and then when I get shots of interesting folks I will share them without comment.
So, here is the first "Faces in the Crowd" photo.
And today's parting shot, taken in a pub back in St. Mary's Georgia:
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