Wednesday, May 31, 2023

The Timucuan Preserve (a guest post by Benjamin)

May 26:

On the way back to  Georgia we stopped at a place called The Timucuan Preserve. 

It is on an island in the middle of the Saint John River. [Mom edit: The drive was surprisingly beautiful. We were on a winding dirt road for a good 10–15 minutes. The canopy of trees above us, draped with Spanish moss was divine.]

When we got there we could not find the visitors center, but then we saw a building around the corner and it was the visitor center! [The parking lot led to the houses and barn and things and the visitor's center was past all those buildings and a garden and around a corner! We were afraid we were breaking all sorts of rules by just...helping ourselves to the buildings (even though there were signs that said to come on in) because no one was around; it was like a ghost town.] 

Here's Zoë reading a poster about the cruelty enslaved Africans faced on the ships that brought them to America:

This is us getting sworn in as Junior Rangers:

We got the junior ranger booklet that had use do five things (which was the whole book). It did not take very long, but we found a gopher tortoise burrow next to the garden that Zoë dropped her junior ranger booklet into and Miriam had to get it by stepping into the garden and really quickly grabbing it.

Zoe dropped it because it was really windy that day. The trees were blowing in the wind at like a forty five degree angle (they were palm trees). 

Phoebe thought the wind was funny:

Inside the visitor center there was a little museum where you could touch and feel the different bones, leaves, and exoskeletons of the different creatures and plants in the preserve. The Timucuan preserve is not only for nature also it has an old plantation that was cool. The actual house was closed but we could go inside the kitchen house, which I think Rachel liked (because she cooks a lot). 

Here we are using the barn as our school house:

We learned about how they made sugar from sugarcane in a big vat:

And how they used to mow the lawn...

Phoebe felt it was her duty to move the crushed-shell floor onto the benches:

She escaped from the barn with a few handfuls of shells (and we saw another baby carting an armful of weird fruits that he picked from someplace, so I guess all babies are alike):

Then after that we took a five minute walk to see the slave cabins, which were tiny but they held like ten people in them at a time so if there were about 20 cabins 10 slaves each that would mean that there were like 200 slaves at this plantation, which is a lot of people to own (still barbaric!).

Here's me and Alexander walking with Mom:

Here's Phoebe walking with Dad:

Seeing how the houses were constructed was pretty cool. They used tabby cement, which we learned about last year when we went to the beach. The main component is crushed up shells, which are abundant on the coast. Most of the houses were just the walls, with no roof, but one house had a roof that I think was reconstructed just to show us what it really looked like. 

It still looks pretty old though.

Here's a row of houses without roofs:

I liked to imagine how I might live in a house like this. I think it would be okay if that was your choice and it was something you wanted to do, but I don't think it would be great to be forced to live in a house like this. 

The people had to work so hard and they couldn't really improve their situation because they weren't considered people. People should be able to choose where to live and what they'll do for work. [Mom edit: this sign says approximately 60 to 80 people living among 25 cabins]

Still, the architecture was quite interesting to see.

Here we are being silly on our walk back to the parking lot:

Phoebe thought it was funny to pretend to feed Meme these leaves.

Then we went back to the visitors center got the badge and headed to the car to finish going back home, which was like another four hours in a car. In the car I finished watching the Loki show.

[Mom edit: Benjamin was lucky because he got to ride in the quiet car with Grandpa, Miriam, and Zoë. Our car was much louder because we had Phoebe with us. She did not appreciate being stuck in her car seat for so long. Nothing was entertaining her, so I drew her portrait...which she also did not appreciate.]

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