I brought the rain and the cold. Or so Sayre Kulp told me. And Wednesday was the rainiest and coldest day yet. With his wife at work and his daughter at school Sayre sought an indoor experience for me, and after some searching we came across the Museum of Arts and Sciences in Daytona Beach. It was large enough to spend the morning in, and as it has a Children’s Museum Sayre wanted to investigate it as a place to bring his daughter.
While the Museum was a fascinating collection of collections, ranging from African masks to pre-Castro Cuban art to an enormous exhibition of Coca Cola memorabilia, what drew my attention and heart was the nature preserve just behind the building.
Tuscawilla Preserve, sometimes listed as Tuscawilla Park, is a 90 acre paradise. The park features more than a half mile of boardwalks, as well as lengthier trails on the ground. The preserve is what I’d have called a swamp, but more precisely its a “hydric hammock”, meaning land where water stands for shorter periods of time. I can’t speak to the length of time the water stands, but there was a lot of it, and a lot of swampy ground. Hence the boardwalks.
Tuscawilla Preserve has a lovely ‘groomed’ entrance, and soon after you enter there’s a boardwalks to an observation structure for whatever demonstrations the preserve managers are currently holding. No one was there during our visit. Sayre joined me later during the hike, and so I got to experience the wonder of natural Florida alone.
My photos, poor as they are, capture some of the lushness of the hammock. But they don’t do justice to the sheer number of birds I encountered during my stay. At one point the noise of the birds was almost Hitchcockian. Unlike the gulls in The Birds, these feathered creatures were more interested in berries. I captured the sound of the birds on a cell phone video, as well as images of the preserve. I know that when I next visit Florida Tuscawilla Preserve will be a full day destination – since there are a few miles of ground level trails to explore.