Prodded by Marianne’s monthly challenge, One Trip EVERY Month, we headed up Burnt Store Road, which runs along the Charlotte Harbor Shoreline between Punta Gorda and Cape Coral, Florida. This is about a 20 mile rural stretch of road that takes us from Pine Island, north to I-75. We hardly ever take the time to explore what’s along Burnt Store Road, so we planned a day trip with friends and did a three in one.
First stop: Charlotte Harbor Preserve State Park. It is comprised of over 43,000 acres in Lee and Charlotte counties which were acquired to provide a natural buffer from urban areas and agricultural lands to help protect the largest and most productive estuary in Florida. More than 80 miles of shoreline is protected.
It was a crisp, cool morning, suitable for hiking the 1.75 mile Old Datsun Trail. It winds through oak and sabal palm hammocks, pine flatwoods and isolated wetlands. We also walked the short, mile long Eagle Point Trail at Alligator Creek Preserve which included an alligator pond, marsh and mangrove habitat. These communities are home to red-shouldered hawks, Eastern diamondback rattlesnakes, bobcats, wading birds, otters, alligators and migratory birds. One hawk was our total wildlife count, but that didn’t matter. It was just great to be outdoors.
This was an old Florida experience, the one of my childhood, before development took much of the native habitat. I look forward to sharing these many trails in this preserve with my grandchildren when they visit, and include a trip to the Environmental Center. After a picnic lunch, we headed for our next stop.
Pottery Express and Bamboo Farm. This is a destination in itself. A thriving business that imports pottery, statuary and garden accessories from Mexico and Asia, it is a riot of colors, textures and shapes set among a vast bamboo garden. Because it covers five acres, visitors can use a golf cart to drive around with a salesman who will answer their questions concerning pottery use and price. I just wanted to walk and take in the lush grounds. I could have picked out dozens of pots and statuary which reminded me of previous trips to far off places: Talavira from Mexico and the glazed pots from Vietnam. I wouldn’t have to go far to find what I want.
Being SW Florida, fancy outdoor lighting is taking hold. Artistic and functional.
Our third stop was Sandman Book Store which I covered in my previous blog. Another delightful stop. Thanks to all of you who visited the blog and who took time to go to the Face book page explaining how the bridge of knowledge was built.
Wanting to know the origin of the naming of Burnt Store Road, I discovered that the widely accepted story took place in the mid 1800’s when a trading post for settlers was in this region. Seminole Indians, who were peaceful and kept to themselves, sometimes used this trading post, too. A surveyor showed up and acted like he owned the place, including the area the Seminoles lived in, causing a stir. Legend has it that Billy Bowlegs led the raid to burn down the trading post. Settlers and Seminoles were killed and the store was never rebuilt. Old Salty, a settler, who had befriended Billy Bowlegs, hid him until he could get him out of the area.
Whether it’s true or not, I’d like to believe that part of that hike was in Seminole territory.