Monday, March 31, 2014

Walking in Historic Springfield

Springfield is the oldest residential area in Jacksonville. Established in 1869 Springfield saw tremendous growth after the Great Fire of 1901 destroyed the downtown area. An eclectic grouping of bungalows, Queen Anne, Colonial Revival, Prairie School, Mediterranean and Stick style homes sit along tree shaded streets. By the 1920's many of Jacksonville's richest and most powerful families lived in Springfield.  

By the time I worked at the Springfield Atlantic Bank at 8th and Main in the late 1970's and early 80's many families had abandoned the area in favor of newer neighborhoods. The area was blighted and many of beautiful homes were left to deteriorate.

In 1987 the Springfield neighborhood was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. There was a renewed interest in the area and in 2010 Southern Living magazine spotlighted Springfield as the #1 comeback neighborhood of the South.. In 2013 This Old House placed Springfield fourth on their list of sixteen of the Best Old House Neighborhoods in the South.

This was the first walk we took with the First Coast Trail Forgers walking club. The walk started at 10am with about 15 people. We enjoyed walking with Mark and Gloria a couple that have been involved with the club for many years.

It was a really nice walk with beautiful houses and big trees. The 5K walk took us about an hour and then we ate lunch at a little cafe at the start point of the walk. The Three Layers Cafe located at 1602 Walnut Street offered a lunch menu of salads, sandwiches, soup and the most wonderful looking desserts. I had a turkey and artichoke grilled sandwich with chips. John had a Cuban with potato salad. I stole a taste of the potato salad and it was very good. Even though we passed on dessert it was the perfect way to end a walk.

At the start of the walk we were all together. That didn't last long as
the power walker blew on down the road. 
A small sampling of the renovated homes.

I would love to see inside that room at the top of the tower.

St Mary Episcopal Church on N Laura Street. 
It was a sweet surprise when we spied this little gem in the middle of a residential block. St Mary Episcopal Church. There she was. Red door and all...I wonder if the power walkers even noticed?

There's still work to be done...

Lots of interesting places to see...

Are you ready to lace up your shoes and go walking?

Walking Among the Dead - A Walk Through Evergreen Cemetery With Friends

Today two of my friends joined me for a three mile walk through Evergreen Cemetery. 

It was a nice day. Started out a little cool but quickly warmed up. Walking in short sleeves felt nice. 

We met at the office and walk down Woodlawn Ave. and crossed over the railroad tracks. Once in the back part of the cemetery we just wandered up and down the roads stopping occasionally to peer inside a mausoleum or to check out a grave marker. 

We were the only walkers but there were plenty of maintenance people around so it didn't feel desolate. 

It took us right at one hour to walk three miles.

A few reasons to walk here:
  1. No traffic to speak of. We were passed by two vehicles both were going about 10mph.
  2. No exhaust fumes. 
  3. Shady
  4. Quiet
  5. It would be difficult to get lost as the cemetery is enclosed by a fence. 
  6. During the week there are lots of people working around doing maintainence and lawn work so you're not out there alone. 
  7. Easy to park at the office or along the roads.
  8. Interesting things to look at along the way

Evergreen Cemetery 
4535 Main Street
Jacksonville, Florida 32206

Grab a friend Lace Up and Walk!

Sunday, March 30, 2014

A Rainy Day Walk in St Marys Ga

On this rainy Saturday we ventured north to St Marys, Georgia. St Marys is a small coastal town just over the Florida-Georgia line.

We weren't sure if anyone would show up for this walk because the weather was bleak. Overcast and
drizzling rain. It was a pleasant surprise that about 18 people came to walk.

Once the walk began it actually stopped raining. It did sprinkle on us a few times but over all it was a nice walk. The sun even appeared briefly.

There is always something interesting to see when we walk. This time we saw three things...

A new dad standing on his porch holding his new born baby (obviously a girl due to the pink ribbons tied on the mailbox), a wedding in the bandstand at the park and a funeral in the cemetery. The circle of life in one 2 hour walk!

The starting point. Everyone was together but eventually we all spread out. Some are super fast walkers and others like to stroll and see the sights. 

What ya see down there?

Christ Episcopal Church and one an example of the many large oak trees we saw on this walk.

Oak Grove Cemetery

A view across the marsh to the marina on the St Marys River. 

This walk is sponsored by the First Coast Trail Forgers Walking club. Today's walk was a group walk with the club but you can take this walk on your own. It's one of the many self guided walks set up by the club. Each self guided walk has a walk box that can easily be accessed for those who want to walk the trail. Once you locate the box you'll need to register on the sign in sheet and pick up the directions and the map. Most walks have a 5k and a 10k walk option. All walks are free unless you want IVV credit. 

 You can find a map and directions for this walk at the St Marys Welcome Center located at 400 Osborne Street, St. Marys, GA 31558. Ask for the walk box at the front desk.

Put your raincoat on and lace up and walk!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Walking With the Club - Fleming Island

A cool Saturday morning walking along quite, shady streets lined with big oak trees, beautiful houses and well tended yards with an occasional glimpse of the river.

Doesn't that sound like a lovely place to walk?

And to top it off an old Gothic Carpenter church with an equally old cemetery.

Yes, that's my idea of a nice place to walk.

We found such a place Saturday when we walked with the First Coast Trail Forgers walking club. The walk was set in Hibernia in Fleming Island just south of Orange Park and Jacksonville.

The walk started at the Publix shopping center in Hibernia Plaza. After crossing a semi-busy road and walking along a side walk for a couple of blocks we turned off on Augusta Drive and that's where the shady goodness began.

No sidewalk but there was no need for one. I think only two cars passed us on the whole walk. And they were actually going slow!

The walk started on a sidewalk through an area of newer homes.

Once we turned on Augusta Drive there weren't any sidewalks and the road was mostly shaded.

The dirt road to St Margaret Episcopal church.

As you can see from the pictures the group started out walking together and as the walk progressed we were spread apart. Some like to power walk to see how fast they can finish and others (like us) like to enjoy the walk and see the sights. 
To each his own...

St Margaret Episcopal Church. was built in 1878 and moved to its present location in 1880. The church is an example of Gothic Carpenter architecture and is one of the five oldest wooden churches still in use in Florida.

A cemetery is among one of my favorite places to walk. The oldest recorded grave in St Margaret cemetery (also known as Hibernia cemetery) belongs to George Fleming who died in 1821. 
In 1973 the church and cemetery were placed on the National Register of Historic Places

This was a 5K walk (a little on 3 miles) and we completed it in about an hour. All in all a nice Saturday morning walk.

A few reminders...

  • There's no stops along the way so be sure to make a pit stop at Publix before you start the walk.
  • Carry a bottle of water
  • A cell phone might come in handy
  • Very nice neighborhood but very few people out and about so safety sake you may want to walk with a friend.
  • A couple of dogs weren't in a fenced yard one barked at us but neither one left the yard. '
  • Don't forget a camera.
  • This walk was set up by our walking club which is part of the AVA. The directions belong to the club so I can't post them here. Hopefully the map and directions for this walk will be placed in a walk box soon. Until then if you'd like more info on this walk you can contact First Coast Trail Forgers walking club.
  • Of course you can always just wander about without a map. It's a beautiful area...

  • "not all those who wander are lost" 
  • J.R.R. Tolkien
  • The Fellowship of the Ring

Lace up your shoes and start walking!