Sunday, December 03, 2006

Picture Post, Sunday December 3, 2006

A Big Shock On Key Biscayne, November 1998

If you haven't read yesterday's post, or haven't seen the pictures there, scroll down and read there first. Today is a continuation of that post.

So, over the years I had built up that '84 visit to Key Biscayne to mythical proportions in my own mind.

When Sainted Mother came to visit us in Palm Bay in November of 1998, we took her to visit both Coral Castle (she had never seen it) in Homestead, and we had picnic stuff to go for a sentimental journey to Key Biscayne National Park.

This first picture is still from the batch of slides I took at Key Biscayne in 1984, that I posted yesterday. This slide is from near the southern tip of Key Biscayne, looking northwest as the seawall/shore curves around to the north. Notice how dense the forest of Australian Pines and palm trees is along the edge of the island. It made each picnic area seem secluded; your own little piece of paradise.
Ok, so? What was the big shocker?

When we returned to Key Biscayne in 1998, we found a totally different National Park.

It turns out that, in August 1992, Hurricane Andrew, which we all know flattened much of South Florida and later hit Louisiana, first hit Key Biscayne. Head-on.

Hurricane Andrew basically destroyed the whole southern tip of the island's forest. Totally scraped it clean.

When efforts to rebuild and replenish began, they decided to plant only Florida native plants, as they do in our part of Florida now as well.

No big deal, really, but like I said earlier, I had built that afternoon we spent there in 1984 up so large in my mind, and when we had this chance to return, I was determined to try to find the same spots we had enjoyed all those years ago. I wanted to stand in the same places, etc.

The only problem was, those places no longer exist. The island is still there, but since Andrew killed all the vegitation, all of those beautiful pines, it was like visiting a totally different place. The place in yesterday's photos, and the trees in the photo above, simply no longer exists.

Key Biscayne National Park, and the island itself, is still there. It has been replanted as I said with native Florida plants, and new pavilions and picnic areas and walkways have been constructed.

It's a beautiful place, but it was a bittersweet visit. I was excited to see a new place and take photos, but was disappointed in not being able to "relive" some of the earlier trip.

These first two photos are of the present seawall, taken from close to the same location as the one at the top of this post. You can see that the Australian Pine trees are no longer there.

This is taken from the same spot as the above two slides; I simply turned to the left to take a shot of the vegetation that has been planted in the renewal of the Park. You can see the Cape Florida Lighthouse in the distance.

These photos look west, toward Miami. The Park now has this nice walkway/bike path. You can see downtown Miami's buildings on the horizon.

This shot is of the base of the Cape Florida Light House. No particular reason to include this; I just like it, that's all.

I'm sorry if you're yawning over my big shocker. I still remember how I was almost dizzy with trying to take in how completely different the Park is now. It's beautiful though, just different.

You don't get any do-overs in life, but sometimes it's nice to go and visit places from your past. But sometimes even doing that is impossible.


Wingnut said...

Wow, I can actually truly understand your shock. I have had similar experiences on much smaller scales of course.

20 years ago, My Hood (the one in my snow photos) Was accessable to the public, but still dirt paths that over grew and you could go a short 6-8 miles and be no where near anyone else for the rest of the day. Fish were plenty in the streams and rivers and you always saw wildlife. Sometimes it took a 4x4 to get into the areas.

FF to now, my husband being from South Africa, I wanted to take him back to some of the places from my past, thinking it would be very much the same, revisiting these places made me almost sick.

It is still beautiful, don't get me wrong, just not even close to the same. Non existant are the fish it seems, the trails are graveled if not paved for wheelchair access, litter is common, and the shores are dotted with people, everywhere.

OK, I'm not one to preach conservation, I understand everyone has a right to access. Tourism adds to the States growth, yadda yadda yadda, but it truly breaks my heart that my daughter and others will not get those same experiences close to home as I did. At least the changes you experienced were casued by mother nature initially!

Chaotic Mom said...

I remember when we drove through that area for the FIRST time. I couldn't imagine what it used to look like, before all the damage. It's still gorgeous, but it had to be absolutely amazing in its prime.

Barb said...

It IS hard to go back and not see the same things from your memories.