Searching for a Preserve

Tuesday November 16th 2021

It was another day of amazing cool Florida fall weather. The temperature started in the forties and got into the low seventies under a bright sunny sky with very little wind.

A small piece of Florida Fall foliage.

I headed off in the direction of Jacksonville Beach today. The last time I was in the Jacksonville Beach area was five years ago, so I thought I knew the way. The compass on my dashboard indicated I was going in the correct easterly direction, but traffic was heavy and nothing looked familiar. My level of uncertainty was climbing when I saw an enticing sign for the Timucuan Preserve and historic Fort Caroline. I’m always up for wandering a preserve with historic significance even when I don’t know anything about it up front. I set out to find the preserve. I followed the signs as they directed me on a twisting path through business districts, shopping districts and high end residential districts. After several miles of trying to remember every turn of my escape route, I found the start of the preserve. At the first location the gate was closed and locked, at the second a small parking lot was full to overflowing and at the third location I was met with another locked gate. Using the three strike rule, I gave up and made my way back toward the main road. With the ever increasing traffic, I gave up my plan to head for the beach and returned home.

Reviewing the map later, I found how unprepared I was. First, I got off the highway several exits early. The route I followed was very wandering and much longer than it needed to be. The Timucuan Preserve turned out to be very large. The area I found with the locked gates was on the periphery and not the biggest part of the park. If I had continued straight when I made my last turn I would have found more of the preserve. Now that I’m better prepared I can return to the preserve and the beach another day. I know a much shorter route that should also keep me out of the worst of the traffic.

Three nights to full.

Back at the RV park, I took my afternoon walk. I was surprised at the number of empty sites I observed. The price structure at this RV park is heavily weighted to encourage longer term stays. The per night rate when you book a month is less than half the rate of a single night. The weekly rate is somewhere in the middle but closer to the single night rate. I think that may be the reason the sites don’t fill up every night, but once they are filled you can’t anticipate how long they will stay.

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