On Location: Florida’s Garden of Eden Trail

In the 1950s retired lawyer and Republican candidate for governor Elvy Edison Callaway opened his Garden of Eden Park along the highway in the Florida Panhandle town of Bristol. Callaway believed that God had created man in the delta of the Apalachicola river, which split into four rivers, just as the Bible describes four rivers leading out of Eden. – Atlas Obscura

Signs like these pointed out Biblical-related highlights throughout the old park.

Florida’s Garden of Eden park near Bristol in the panhandle west of Tallahassee is long gone, though in its memory, there’s still a Garden of Eden Trail in the Nature Conservancy’s Apalachicola Bluffs and Ravines Preserve:

According to the Conservancy, the Apalachicola Bluffs and Ravines Preserve protects one of the rarest of habitats: steephead ravines and streams. The Apalachicola River and Bay region is one of five biological hotspots in North America; it is unique to Florida and home to a disproportionate number of imperiled species. The preserve’s longleaf pine sandhill uplands have undergone a complete transformation over the past 30-years: the groundcover restoration techniques developed at ABRP are currently being used across the southeastern U.S.”

Nearby Torreya State Park , (north of the Bluffs and Ravines Preserve) and also at Bristol, makes for a great side trip.

The 3.75 mile trail leads to Alum Bluff overlooking the Apalachicola River. If you’re new to Florida, or live in the peninsula region, the sheep head ravines, longleaf pines, and sand hills are a sight to see.

Trail today – Artie White photo, Flickr creative commons.

Fortunately, a lot of restoration work has been going on there, including the introduction of wiregrass plugs and pine seedlings. Ensuring the preservation of the endangered Florida torreya and Florida yew trees is still in doubt. I hope we don’t lose them.

I took a dim view of the park and the Eden theory when I was growing up in nearby Tallahassee. However, as a writer of a trilogy of magical realism novels set near the trail, the site and and its potential symbolism have been a great way to add myths and local color to the novels. And, as an environmentalist, I’m happy with the Nature Conservancy’s protection and proactive restoration work on behalf of this unique environment.

In addition to the conservancy, groups like the Torreya Guardians are also working to save the Torreya tree. Among other things, experiments that appear to have promise include planing seedlings in a variety of environments (not necessarily in Florida) to see if healthy trees can be created and subsequently returned to their natural environment.

If you live in the Florida Panhandle or are going there for a visit and want to see visit the trail, Florida Hikes as a brief overview here.

Malcolm

Miscellany: New, upcoming, and around the Net

Here are a few updates about one thing and another, this and that, and things from that drawer most families have the kitchen that contains stuff that didn’t end up some place else.

New

  • EmilyaudioI’m happy to announce that my three-story Kindle set, Emily’s Stories, is now available as an audio book. The stories feature a fourteen-year-old girl who talks to birds and ghosts and, just possibly, tinkers a little bit with reality. That’s what I would expect from a curious, sharp and savvy young lady. Personally, it was strange (in a good way) to hear my words being read back to me by narrator Kelley Hazen. Kelley also narrates my Vanilla Heart Publishing colleague Marie Hampton’s Hunting Heartbreak. Stay tuned for more audio books from VHP later this year. It’s an exciting new way to tell you our stories.

Upcoming

  • I’m looking forward to posting reviews of two new books about Glacier National Park in late May, Best of Glacier and Glacier Park Lodge. This year marks the 100th anniversary of the famous lodge built by the former Great Northern Railway on the edge of the park. You can still get there by train via AMTRAK’s Empire Builder.cagedgravescover
  • Author Dianne Marenco Salerni (“We Hear the Dead” and her upcoming “The Caged Graves”) will be hear in two weeks with a spooky guest post. With today’s zombie fad, we usually hear about protecting the living from the dead.  However, there have been times when the dead needed to be protected from the living. It’s a great post with some wonderful photographs. Dianne and I used to contribute book reviews to the same review site, so it’s doubly fun to see her latest novels coming out and showing up with glowing reader responses on similar sites.

Around the Net

You’ll find some of my favorite places in the blogroll. In my search for author and publishing news for my “Book Bits” posts on my Sun Singer’s Travels blog, I look at a great many blogs and sites each week. But here are some posts I wanted to share (including one of mine own) outside the realm of reviews and author news:

Smoky Zeidel photo
Smoky Zeidel photo
  • My friend and colleague at Vanilla Heart Publishing, Smoky Zeidel (“The Storyteller’s Bracelet”), has been blogging about the the beauty of the California coast. I haven’t been back to the state where I was born for many years, so I’m contenting myself to read about it in In Search of the Pacific Crest Trail. This is the second in a two-part posting. Smoky is known as the Earth Mage for good reason.
  • Since I have blogged here in the past about the hero’s journey, I see a lot of visitors stopping by after having searched for more information. I would like to suggest The ongoing series of posts on C. LaVielle’s Book Jacket Blog about the hero’s journey and the Major Arcana from the Tarot deck. The deck’s Major Arcana, when followed in numerical order, are a representation of not only the hero’s journey, but the seeker’s journey. Yesterday’s post is The Sun, Part I.
  • Montucky photo
    Montucky photo

    My Montana friend “Montucky” has been running his Montana Outdoors blog for some years now and has gathered over time a surprising variety of high country photographs. He spends a lot of time on trails and forest service roads and always has his camera. You’ll see scenics, river pictures, and hundreds of wildflowers. Most recently, he showed us the beauty of Lichens and moss. Montucky makes frequent posts, and I have found a lot of serenity in stopping by his blog of late to see the last snowfalls and the first spring flowers. His blog is almost as good as flying out to Montana, though considerably less expensive! (However, as soon as Hollywood calls and makes me an offer for this book or that, I’m buying a plane ticket or a suite on the Empire Builder.)

  • Florida Memory photo
    Florida Memory photo

    In my recent post on my Sun Singer’s Travels weblog, I couldn’t resist placing my characters in Florida’s Garden of Eden, I continue a series of novel-location-essays focused on my new contemporary fantasy novel The Seeker. In the 1960s when the novel is set, the Florida Panhandle preserve now called the Apalachicola Bluffs and Ravines was touted as being the location of the Biblical Garden of Eden. There were signs all over the place, including one that said “Here Adam and Eve Built Their First Home.” The Garden of Eden trail is still there, but a lot of the former rhetoric and publicity about Arks and gopher wood has faded into the past. The habitat is exceptionally rare no matter what you believe about its past. I habitually use many real settings in my novels and short stories as a way of contrasting fantasy and reality, adding depth to my locations, and (in a small way) keeping a bit of local history alive.

Malcolm

Tuesday Morning Roundup

Now playing on my other blogs…

MYTHRIDER: Did you know Adam and Eve were created in north Florida? Preacher E. E. Callaway thought so and, for years, promoted Florida’s Garden of Eden on the Apalachicola River fifty miles west of Tallahassee. Now the preserve with its rare trees and ravines is managed by the Nature Conservancy, but it still has a Garden of Eden trail for old time’s sake.

I used the Garden of Eden as one of the settings in my novel Garden of Heaven.

MORNING SATIRICAL NEWS: Jock talks about the new study which claims it’s better for your health to drink than to abstain: “Before sobering up this morning I read a paper in the Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research Journal about a new study that claims sobering up is bad for a man’s health.”

You can always count on Jock Stewart to tell you the true facts about the important news of the day.

WRITER’S NOTEBOOK: My friend Rhett DeVane has co-written (with Larry Rock) a fabulous spoof of the latest vampire fad in fiction called “Evenings on Dark Island.” I couldn’t resist posting a snippet or two in today’s Teaser Tuesday blog.

This book is so good, it almost makes a guy feel like biting somebody’s neck.

Malcolm