I found a truck stop to rest for the night, then headed back to the lighthouse, wanting to get shots of it in the morning light. I also really wanted to take the tour. Apparently, there’s a choice of tours – you can do your own walkabout, where they give you a little speakerbox that narrates each point on the tour – or you could go in a group. I’m not one for crowded tours, and a TON of older folks were wandering around, having just piled out of two tour buses across the road. It was like being in a surreal version of Cocoon. The climb up the stairs to the top is pretty grueling, but well worth it. The view is spectacular and the breeze is simply fantastic. Below, there’s a tropical hammock that you can walk through, full of beautiful plants and a wide variety of birds. Well worth a visit, IMHO.
I then pressed on to Ponce De Leon’s Fountain of Youth a ways down the road, which was both impressive and anticlimactic. The grounds are completely gorgeous, and the re-enactors are really friendly. The fountain, however, is just a little trickle cordoned off by a rickety looking fence inside a small, dark room. There are two dioramas inside the room – one of the explorer with the locals, and another of a generic local setting with the natives. To the right of the ‘fountain’ are a selection of cups full of water. A friendly park employee urged me to drink. “It’s healthy! Full of minerals!”
After that, I headed straight for Florida Caverns State Park in Marianna, FL. The park itself is gorgeous, but I never did get to see the cave. Apparently, there’s a rule/law/bullshit excuse stating that, in florida, if there’s only one person interested in a tour of the caves, the guide can’t take them. If there had been ONE OTHER PERSON iterested in going on the last tour of the day with me, I would’ve gotten to do the tour. I’m still irritated as hell about that. I didn’t venture out and about in the park too much since it was muggy, overcast and the mosquitos were COMPLETELY overbearing and ridiculous. Even thorugh Deep Woods off and garlic pills. I love nature, but at some point it gets to be enough. And seriously – mosquitos… what purpose do they serve? Other than spreading disease? Oh, how I hate them.
I then drove out to the Myrtles Plantation, and must say I found the grounds more appealing than the buildings themselves. I didn’t get any overwhelming feelings of a presence until I stood in front of the painting of this young girl. According to the tour guide, the artist had started painting while she was still alive, but she died before he had a chance to finish it – so they propped her up so he could do the rest of the work. There was something very compelling about the image. It’s stayed with me since my visit. The grounds are completely gorgeous. I walked around entranced, taking as many pictures as I could. Ah, spanish moss. Is there anything you can’t do?