As far as highway rest stops go, this one on Interstate 10 an hour west of Jacksonville, Florida is spectacular and has earned its place on the Sanguine Root list of Happy Places. Â This westbound rest stop Â at mile 318 is located within the Osceola National Forest, which Interstate 10 cuts right through. It has the usual amenities of a standard rest stop: the truck parking area, bathrooms, a doggie area, an easy merge back on the highway.
This one is special because it features a one mile long nature trail that leads into a forest of Bald Cypress trees, complete with boardwalk and signage.
Here on the trail is the Saw Palmetto (Serenoa repens) underneath a canopy of Longleaf Pine. This fine forest is right behind the pictured rest stop below. Â A sign directs the interested visitor right into this enchanting forest landscape.
Note that some trees were kept as landscape specimens.
On the long ride, a little bit of education can go a long way.
This rest stop has the infrastructure for touring a Bald Cypress habitat! Sean Solomon is trying to decide which plant to photograph first.
Does a Bear drop scat in the woods? This above pictured deposit has been identified as the waste material left by a bear. Â Its always good to be able to read the landscape and get an understanding of what beings are part of certain habitats.
At first sight, the buttressed trunk of the Bald Cypress is the most striking feature. Â This stand features an understory of Magnolia virginiana, the Sweetbay Magnolia.
Northern Florida is 27 inches below average rainfall this year, and this swamp has dried down.
The snag (a dead tree still standing) to the left of the large Bald cypress has a hole in it, most likely dug out by a woodpecker.
What an exceptional Interstate rest-stop!
7 Replies to “FLORIDA’S OSCEOLA NATIONAL FOREST”
Saw Palmetto is regarded as a natural anti-androgen since it is shown to reduce baldness in males. ^
Wouldn’t it be great if all rest stops would provide such an opportunity, not only to rest and stretch your legs, but to actually enjoy the botanical and geographical features of the area, while educating even! Thanks for sharing. Glad you needed to stop!
Sean, its so true- lets take the Vince Lombardi rest stop, for example, set right in the New Jersey meadowlands, yet completely cut off from the natural beauty of the place. Instead of admiring the beauty of Hibiscus Moschuetos, the swamp mallow flower, which can be 6 inches in diameter, instead visitors are faced with a confusing maze of roadways and a chaotic bathroom experience. Now, New Jersey is the unfortunate topic of denigrating jokes and references. However the real losers are those that have not seen the true beauty of New Jersey, and this is sad. This is why the rest stop in Florida is so exciting to see. It can be done, a rest stop can be a place where the visitor can experience where they really are.
Rest Stops with a sense of place. I think that is a great idea – and your experience shows it can happen.
Who do we contact in New Jersey to make that happen?
“The Dude” would be proud of your post Sean.
I’m not positive, but I think it’s the Molly pitcher rest stop on the NJ turnpike that has a swamp next to it with an exhibit and enclosure that highlights the native plants and natural ecosystem. So they are trying. The New Jersey Turnpike has the potential to educate the masses about the natural environment it transects. But thats just like.. my opinion.
Wonderful photos, as always! Do make a trip this summer to a New Jersey White Cedar bog–compare! The White Cedar, like the cypress, have pneumataphores–or ‘knees’ … to survive in high water. http://jacobrussellsbarkingdog.blogspot.com/2008/10/atlantic-white-cedar-bog.html
We would love to visit a New Jersey White Cedar Bog. Word has it that remnants of The Bald Cypress can still be found in New Jersey, even though it no longer grows there, but did in pre-historic times. Imagine that-Botanical Archeology!