Thursday, April 15, 2010

Washington Oaks Gardens walkthrough

Once again taken from Coquina Online, found here.

A short trip down A1A, just 20 miles from downtown St. Augustine, sits a raw cross section of Florida beauty. The drive from St. Augustine is lonely and quiet. A slew of seemingly abandoned condo buildings along the 20-mile stretch of A1A glare at you with solemn eyes. As the road becomes narrower you can hear the ocean whisper to the Intracoastal Waterway. At Matanza’s Inlet, the two reunite in a frothing tussle where fisherman study the fish and surfers, the tide. Not much farther now. A string of houses sit valiantly upon stilts, smirking and open bellied to the ocean, as if to say, “You won’t tear me down.” A brown state park sign squints at you from the shoulder. One mile.

It almost sneaks up on you, raising a discreet hand, like a hitchhiker begging you to stop. So you take the right hand turn. Enter Washington Oaks Garden State Park and Florida accepts you into its womb. Ancient oak trees stand guard along the small road towards the gardens, the wind grooms their blue beards. Now you park your vehicle and the oaks watch you. You will leave behind your machine, but fear not, the forest will veil you with comfort. Into the gardens you descend.

You pass the welcome center. Here, you can decide to learn more about this place through reading history’s scripts. Or, you can simply explore for yourself. You look ahead and spot a small path boring through the foliage. Perhaps modestly, or maybe fearful, you follow it. It is Florida’s winter and an aroma of both decay and rebirth permeates the air. You hear singing, a soft voice. The Intracoastal grins at you through the forest canopy, drawing you in further. As you approach the seawall, you observe the view in front of you. The sun leers over the land; vigilant and warm like a shepherd to his flock. A painter has been here before you and you observe his work. An abstract piece of sorts, purples, oranges, reds, melting with the sun into the horizon. Small islands pepper the waterway and cast shadows resembling massive whales crawling beneath the surface. You continue on along the seawall and head towards a further sector of the gardens.

A set of wooden stairs lead back into the forest. As you ascend, the canopy recaptures you. Light no longer reigns but comfort remains. Continuing on a trail, you stumble upon a pond. Orange trees are plentiful and the scent of citrus tingles in your nose. Peering into the glassy pond, you spot a black carp. Like an old Soviet diesel submarine, it glides camouflaged along the bottom. Just then, two florescent orange carp appear and greet their darker counterpart. They play as if you aren’t there; you are just another organism in the forest.

As you walk along the pond, you spot a bridge leading to a clearing. You nab an orange off a tree, and head towards the bridge. Peeling the fruit, a citrus mist strikes your senses. The fruit is sour when you take it to your mouth. If you are one for sweets, you toss the orange to the ground hoping to cultivate another tree.

The bridge you cross is crafted finely, most likely of redwood descent. In front of you sits a courtyard laced with roses and colorful flowers. Several rock benches stand available for your tired legs. A fellow traveler emerges from the opposite side of the courtyard. You look at each other, but no words are spoken. The person simply observes his surroundings and walks right past you. If you choose, you can be alone in this forest. Walking through the courtyard, an artesian well bubbles and coughs next to you. Forever giving forth water, the wells provide much of the irrigation necessary for the lush vegetation. You see green and white mineral deposits laying around the well. If you look carefully at the deposit patterns, you might see the face of an old man or the tracks of a tiger. You might see anything, perhaps even yourself.

You continue past the courtyard and approach the end of the main trail. Just as you think you will reach the parking lot once more, a circle of oaks greets you with massive, open arms. All of them show great age with their gnarled and expansive limbs. But in the middle of them all sits the forest elder. A colossal monster of a tree. It peers at you from beneath furrowed brows. You approach the elder and are enveloped in its majesty. With keen ears, you might even hear a low hum as the wind howls and ever so slightly shifts the tree’s arms.

ou reach the parking lot and reunite with your vehicle. There is much more to see in the labyrinth at Washington Oaks but you must return to your life. Perhaps you will return at a later date, perhaps not. But as you drive away, you remember what Florida has shown you. Beauty.
By Gian Louis Thompson

This an instructional piece on how to cross the street

Taken from Coquina Online. Click here to check it out.

Hundreds of steel machines zip past you at absurd speeds. The traffic signals flicker in a seemingly random pattern, giving way to flocks of migrating banshees. The noise of city rush hour is deafening. It feels like you’ve been flash-banged. Somehow you have to get yourself to the other side of the street without being decimated by one of the vehicles. You look around you and people start to crowd around, waiting for the little man, you know, that neon guy who lights up on the crosswalk signal.

But you don’t want to wait. You’ve got people to see, things to do. You want to find another way to cross. Here’s how:

  • Step one: Don’t listen to the crosswalk guy. Forget him. He is there for people who don’t know how to cross a street in style. So forget about the blue guy. He should be dead to you.
  • Step two: Know that jaywalking is a myth. It doesn’t exist. When have you heard about someone getting booked for jaywalking?
  • Step three: Know that a street is crossable at any given time. A street is always crossable. It is only a matter of navigating through the steel machines rushing past. The street is big, you are small. You can, you will, fit through a crack.
  • Step four: Be confident. The street is yours. You don’t own the street, but it is yours. You can walk all over it and it won’t talk back. Walk onto the street knowing you will get to the other side. Take pride in your street crossing skills. Some are finesse crossers, some power crossers, and some tactical crossers. Find your capabilities and refine them to the point of muscle memory. The less confident you are, the greater chance of death, injury and mutilation when crossing the street.
  • Step five: Step onto the roadway. Yes, there are screaming metal monsters close to you, but there is likely a place where you can stand.
  • Step six: Study the traffic conditions. It is important to get to know the nature of traffic. It is a psychological-industrial complex between you and the street. You must outsmart the street. If traffic is light and it’s late at night, you know you should be able to walk comfortably and slowly across the street. If traffic is heavy, you’ll have to be more agile and deft. Find the gaps and hit them. Study the traffic. It is your guide. It’s the bible of street crossing.
  • Step seven: Cross the freakin’ street already.
By Gian Louis Thompson

Greetings from the desolate place

Hello, my name is Gian Louis Malvicini Thompson. I'm in the midst of attaining a Communications degree with an emphasis on Journalism from Flagler College. Some things I enjoy are as follows: Dogs, writing, guns, athletics, the outdoors, adventures, risks, and traveling. I often do foolish things but manage to see my way through with bullshitting prowess and gracefulness. No, I am not French. I am Italian god damn it. There is an outlaw picture of me in Italy above. My bounty currently sits at 17,000,000 rupees. Come get me.