On the afternoon of my first full day in Florida, my host Sayre Kulp led me on my first ‘hike’ in the Sunshine State. I use single quotations around the word “hike” because I’m not sure it qualifies. The definition of hike I’ve used is “a walk on uneven ground.” And there’s little uneven about Sand Dunes Park.
The main trail, or path, at Sand Dunes is a two mile boardwalk that circles the tip of the island it sits on. The path has several branches allowing beach access to both the Atlantic Ocean and the Intercoastal Waterway. The park is popular with dog walkers, and there are numerous stations to take care of the animal’s leavings. And from the cleanliness of the park its clear users pick up after their animals.
I asked my host about the boardwalk.
“So Sayre, is the boardwalk the trail to make the park compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act?”
“Not really. You have to remember this state is built on sand. The boardwalk is to protect the dunes from overuse.”
I noted to myself that here was a moment where environmentalism and access coincided. The boardwalks allow the differently mobile to get out and enjoy the outdoors while preserving the fragile dunes. Its a win for everyone.
I had a great time at Sand Dunes, and not just because of the sunshine and beach. As I wrote in my previous post, Florida is a new experience for me. But seeing the state with Sayre meant seeing my friend in a new light. For much of the time in our friendship I’ve been the experienced person, the guide. But here I was learning and experiencing anew thanks to my friend’s leadership. He was taking me through his world, not me leading him through mine. The feeling of following was odd, but after a minute I decided I liked it. And I couldn’t wait to see what Sayre, and Florida, had in store for me next.