24 August 2010
2 comment(s)Seeing Central Florida
In an effort to keep ourselves honest with our photography, my friend Amanda and I decided to dedicate time to search for something to shoot. We started our quest on a late Sunday afternoon looking for back roads east of Orlando.
I've been going to school in Orlando for nearly three years and I've never explored the surrounding areas as much as I've wanted. I've driven along State Road 50 toward Titusville many times, but never thought to venture off the main road and see the many small towns that are scattered about Central Florida.
About twenty miles east of Orlando on S.R. 50 is the small community of Christmas, Florida. The town is named after Fort Christmas, a small wooden fort that was built by U.S. Army soldiers and Alabama volunteers on Dec. 25, 1837 during the Second Seminole War. When the first post office opened in 1892, the town decided to remove the “Fort” in their name and an instant tourist attraction was born or at least it seemed like that was the idea.
Aside from the abandoned Christmas museum that’s visible from the highway and a random floating angel in the woods, there didn’t appear to be much Christmas spirit in the small town of 1,162 people.
At least the museum appeared to be abandoned, we didn’t dare get close enough to knock on the door because of the engulfing presence of banana spiders at every possible corner and tree limb.
From a safe distance, I was able to peek through the windows and see tables of holiday knickknacks and Christmas trinkets. A small statue of Mary peered through the netted screen and dirty windowpane.
Scattered about the front lawn were ornaments covered by the creeping undergrowth. In the center was a corroding flag pole that flew no flag. Across from that, mold and grime spread freely on a colorful alter. It was as if the Florida jungle was taking back its territory
Next to the altar was the quintessential Christmas nativity manger with Mary and Joseph looking over baby Jesus.
After spending a bit of time outside the museum we decided to follow Fort Christmas Road (off S.R. 50) to see where we might end up. To our surprise we found a place that was exactly what we were looking for: the Orlando Wetlands Park.
One of our goals for that day was to find a good location for some landscape photography since neither of us felt that we had much experience with it. Most natural locations are already scenic, but it's difficult to capture it's beauty with a picture. We wanted a place with range that felt like we were in Florida. The Orlando Wetlands Park was a perfect location to stumble upon.
According to the North Brevard Business Directory, the park has 1,650 acres of hardwood hammocks, marshes and scenic lakes. There are more than 20 miles of roads and woodland trails for hiking, but one of the more popular activities is photography and bird-watching. There are more than 220 different species of bird and over 30 species of wildlife roaming around the park. We personally saw a few blue-winged teals, herons, and wood storks.
Unfortunately, the rain clouds swept away much of the beautiful late afternoon sunlight, but the calmness of the marsh was refreshing.