Thursday, February 14, 2008

Billy's Heaven

Last Sunday, the rocks we came to gather waited just a little longer while we explored "Billy's Heaven". He doesn't call it that, but dang ...

... it is heavenly.
At least to a Floridaphile like me.

I wish I could have backed up enough to get a wider view of this vernal pool on Billy's 30 acres of wild Florida. There were trees in the way.

What you are looking at is a stream that is issuing from beneath those rocks to the left. On the other side of those rocks, the stream dives underground and then emerges into this clear deep pool before flowing out over a shallow stream bed.
The water looks dark, but you can see all the way to the bottom ... 6+ feet (?) below. It appears dark here due to a dark bottom and reflections on the surface.

You get to that magical place in the first picture by traipsing through a gorgeous swamp with amazing plant diversity ... no planted pine monoculture here. You'll have to cross this log bridge that creaks and cracks to arrive at the "spring". Just hold on to the rope so you don't lose your balance.

Below is why in Florida, we say, "If you spill it, you drink it".

The terrain is low and rocky with little openings to the netherworld scattered here and there. There's not a level place to put your feet on the whole property (except at Billy's little clearing he created). Between the limestone solution holes, fallen logs, and cypress knees, every step is an adventure.

It's a fantastic place. For Billy's family, it's a play ground for hunting, camping, and fishing. They live a few miles away on a more conventional, drier piece of land, but spend a lot of time out here.
It's easy to see why.

In the shallow stream bed down from the spring a huge turtle was sleeping in the clear, sunny shallows.
She was enormous. That head is the size of a big orange.


We did not wake her.


Hurricane Teen said...

Ohhh, heavenly. Not quite the same over here.

tsiya said...

Used to camp on a friend's land North of Oldtown, beautiful country over that way. It is almost totaly different from the coastal areas. If I were younger I'd sell this place and relocate. St. John's County is just about ruined now.

DougT said...

What a spot. I'll bet the insect diversity there is outstanding. The solution pockets remind me of the rock pineland down on Big Pine Key.

tai haku said...

Woah! That snapper is a beast.

Mark said...

Nice, and very different from things around here. There is one similarity to where I work (N Alabama) but not to where I live (NW Georgia). In Alabama the rock under the soil is limestone. Where I live, it's sandstone. To tell the truth, I am less fond of limestone. I remember a gaping sinkhole that opened overnight in the highway near where I used to live near Huntsville, Al. It was about six feet down to the water and almost wide enough to swallow my car. All things considered, I prefer the ground under my feet to be more solid.

Deb said...

What an amazing place! There is some limestone karst topography in the southeastern part of Minnesota, the area that wasn't plowed over by glaciers ten thousand years ago. I just love geologically interesting places.

threecollie said...

Just how big is that turtle? I was looking at the head and couldn't pick out the rest when all of a sudden I spotted it! Wow!

Joe said...


Floridacracker said...

It's pretty amazing.

It's painful to return to St.Johns and see the changes.

I bet it's pretty incredible. I have to admit, it's nice this time of year there without the insect biters.

HUGE! Small seaturtle size.

I have a brother in law who works for a company that repairs sinkholes and damaged foundations.
He's always busy.

We are nothing but karst. Me too on the geo interesting places.

Garbage can lid size. Huge!

Pretty wonderful. So much variety.

OldHorsetailSnake said...

Looks kind of for a walkabout. So it goes.....

Sharon said...

30 acres, yep, that's heavenly!! I agree about St Johns...not enough elbow room leave to swing a cat.

Sharon said...


"LEFT" to swing a cat... :)

Floridacracker said...

I have an aversion to neat trails.

Sad but true.