Wify was brought to Eureka Springs Park, located just off Highway 301 and Sligh, yesterday morning by Linda, who had chanced upon the Park. Linda fell in love with it right away and had been meaning to bring wify to partake of its magnificent flower collections for some time now. Everything fell into place yesterday and they took the 20-minute drive there. Unsure of what to expect and being in a party of two made up of the fairer sex, she was hesitant to bring along the camera. And that task fell into my lap, today.
Armed with my newly purchased Nikon Coolpix L11, procured at a discount from Ritz Camera and costing half of what I paid for my Nikon Coolpix L6 bought last year with essentially the same functionality, we drove for about 8 miles, as measured on my car's tachometer, from our home for Eureka Springs Park.
But we were sidetracked along the way, for a good reason. While crossing the Tampa Bypass Canal, we noticed that the bridge was closed on one lane, and there were people standing about the cordoned half of the bridge deck, most with cameras trained at the river below. Then our view swept over canoes criss-crossing the river. Yes, we had chanced upon a rowing regatta. Our first thought was this must be an inter-high school competition as wify recalled being informed by Mrs. Kim (we were going to invite her family for a dinner today) that she could not make it because her son, Mark, who is from Plant High School, was to take part in a rowing competition.
As we walked along the bridge deck, we saw a familiar gold and black outfit with the letter “P” inscribed on it, occupying one of the four canoes lining up at the starting point. The Macee's announcement confirmed that it was indeed the Plant Panthers (both my two younger children graduated from Plant High two years and a year back, respectively).
And it was opportune that we arrived just when the Panthers were about to row off in a competition. At the end of the countdown, the four teams pedaled feverishly to the finish point beyond, to the enthusiastic shouts of the respective supporters. We were not sure how the Panthers fared, but Go Panthers!
The Golden Panthers.
And off they went, each cutting a swath of water marks.
After that interlude, we continued toward our destination, arriving at an empty car park. I was not totally surprised to see the car park deserted, having being informed by wify of the less than popular situation on her trip yesterday. But I ascribed that to it being a weekday. But apparently I was wrong. Perhaps it is because of its secluded location as we had to drive through a stretch of rural setting, boasting farm houses with cows and horses roaming the open field. Or there is simply too much competition from the plethora of parks dotting the areal landscape, some of which are in prime locations in terms of accessibility, such as the Lettuce Lake Park.
Wify at the entrance, marked by vertical letter carvings on the wooden sign post behind.
But definitely not for the lack of amenities and especially the flower offerings. Established in 1938, the park offers a meeting room with screened walls (a perfect setting for a Dharma session), a green house, a looped boardwalk, and various nature trails, paved with broken shell fragments that emit a light crushing sound when walked on. Several small dug ponds scatter around the compound, which kind of make up for the lack of a natural stream flowing by (for example, at Lettuce Lake Park and Morris Bridge Wildnerness Park).
An innovative collection of wooden signs.
As for the flower plants that are by far the major attraction, I could only describe it in one word: Eureka!. I've found it! indeed, not unlike the feeling of elation when Archimedes discovered the principle of hydrostatics while lazing in a bath tub, which we now accept as the Archimedes' Principle. But I will let the pictures do the talking, presuming that my amateurish photography skill could do justice to the splendor, the exuberance, the rich tapestry of colorful hues that meet our eyes.
While promenading through the park in relatively quiet, save for the happy chirping from cicadas (do cicadas chirp? Also throughout our nearly two-hours sojourn we only managed to cross path with another gentleman), we met Barbara, the park manager who has been at the park since the 1970s. She was all hands on, hands in gloves and a hand-held spade in one gloved hand, shaving off earth from a nursery plant ready to be planted.
We chalked up a conversation and learned that the park has seen better days in terms of maintenance because of depleting funds. By then we had already finished a major part of our walk through, and had noticed some vestiges of run-down condition in the greenhouse, and shriveled leaves here and there. In fact, Linda told wify yesterday that there might be a real threat of at best a scaled down maintenance regimen and at worst a park close-down should the fund situation remain unresolved.
Despite the fund limitation which is approaching dire proportions, I would say the park remains in a spruce condition, thanks to the dedicated efforts of Barbara and her co-workers in tending to the park so that visitors like us could immerse in what nature is able to offer, a respite from the hustle and bustle of daily life, a mental therapeutic trip into communing with nature.
It would indeed be a crying shame should the unthinkable happen by force of circumstance. We , for one, would make repeated visits to the park and appeal to other park loving people out there to do the same, making it such a popular family destination that the Park would not be relegated into oblivion by sheer dint of economic dictates. So, see you all there, and cherish the Eureka feeling!
Let the fun begin and be dazzled by the rich array of colors, shapes, and sizes that is the floral kingdom that rules Eureka Springs Park (do click on the images for enlarged views).