Perhaps the greatest lesson I've learned since the publication of my book is the value of making connections. Selling books or garnering publicity is not nearly as important as connecting with people who are passionate for the historical and natural assets of Florida. These moments of connection fill me with energy and validate my mission to create awareness of our state's historical, cultural, and environmental treasures.
The connections I've made on my book talks have helped me to learn a simple and obvious lesson: there some things that just cannot be gleaned from the internet or from books. Nothing can substitute for local knowledge from a resident who knows the area. I must admit that it's much easier to do research using Google, but a real human source is still an invaluable piece of the researching process.
|Archival image of the Magnolia Hotel from the State Archives of Florida|
|The view of the St. Johns River from the State Archives of Florida|
|Magnolia Springs Hotel from the State Archives of Florida|
|Here's what the spring run looks like today.|
|Where the run meets the St. Johns River.|
|My wife and I with the gracious members of the Clay County Historical Society.|
I also sought Enterprise Springs, a small 4th magnituder inside Volusia County's Green Springs Park in Enterprise, Florida. My first attempt to find the spring led me to a small mud puddle that clearly wasn't what I was looking for. But thanks to springs enthusiast Joe Cruz, who lives nearby, I was able to find the small sulphurous spring. The opaque water, like nearby Green Springs, is a wonderful blue-green hue, and the leaves in the spring run are coated with Sulphur eating bacteria. Joe also showed me and a couple fellow spring lovers several nearby seeps, where mineral waters squeeze through small openings along the banks of shallow creeks. A fragile place of fantastic details, the narrow branch form the seep had a mystical quality.
|Travis leans into a shot.|
|My Florida history buddy Phil contemplates the eternal at Enterprise Springs|
|Looking much like Deer Moss, the white stuff present in the spring run|
is actually Sulphur eating bacteria.
|Water flows from the hole to the right of the palm trunk from what I've dubbed "Joe's Seep".|
|Spring hunters, l-r: Travis, Angel, Rick, and Joe |
(Photo courtesy Travis Marques, taken by Phil Eschbach)