I want to wrap up my story of my travels early this month. Start from the furthest north I went, to Crystal River. I have been here many times before, but this visit was really significant for me personally. My Mom worked with the Bullens to study and preserve this site in the 1960s and 70s. I thought a lot about her, and it has only been a year since she left, but seems so long already.
The temple mound remains. Some mounds didn't. But the temple mound was damaged because some of it was taken away for fill before they were able to save it all. Sadly, this is still happening to mounds today. These are important cultural sites and should be preserved. Here is the temple mound:
The view on top overlooks the Crystal River.
At one time, before it was removed for road fill, there was a ramp down off the mound that pointed directly to Stele 1. There is a face on the Stele, carved by an ancient resident of this mound city.
When I saw it, I recognized who it was on the Stele. This is from making myself aware of what is going on, and becoming sensitive to a lot of the surroundings. I am not going to explain it any more than that. But when I recognized it, the place became much more familiar, and I felt as if I was looking at an old friend. I am sure it probably sounds strange to you, but it made sense to me.
There are round mounds, square and rectangle mounds, burial or temple mounds. Look for an excellent book by William Romain, "Mysteries of the Hopewell, Astronomers, Geometers, and Magicians of the Eastern Woodlands" that decode the mathematical formula for mounds cities.
The next day I stopped by Dade Battlefield, which I often do if passing by. This area here is where Earl and I have camped during the reenactment for many years. But I probably visit this place more often when nobody is here, than just the reenactment weekend.
I had to stop by the rest of the parks that are in my southwest district, so I can say that I visited or saw all of them. I made it to Honeymoon Island, one of the busiest state parks in Florida. Here is a nice view looking the bay from the top of the interpretive center.
As I observed, a common problem with barrier islands is that they tend to errod away. This view is from one of the restroom buildings, which used to be over land, and is now partly over water.
And I always like to photograph silly park signs. This was by the concession counter. "Avian thefts" refers to birds stealing people's food!
And one of the last places I stopped off was at the Gamble Plantation near Bradenton. In the small town of Ellenton. It is rumored that Confederate Secretary of the Navy Judah Benjamin stayed here before fleeing to Cuba at the end of the Civil War.
Check my earlier blog about Thlocko Tustenuggee, or Tiger Tail. This mansion was built by Robert Gamble. His father John Gamble had the mansion near Tallahassee where Tiger Tail stayed. John's mansion up in north Florida no longer exists, but Robert's mansion remains, although it almost didn't survive, as explained in the museum exhibits. Billy Bowlegs visited here often, and his photo is in the museum.
We have seen the photo in many different books, but it is neat to see the actual print, about the size of a postcard. It was taken during Bowleg's visit to Washington in 1852, and is the earliest photo of a Seminole that we know about.