Today I had a meeting at the Oakland Nature Preserve, just west of the little town and hugging the south shore of lake Apopka; you pass it while enjoying the West Orange Trail. The entrance is just down Machete Trail past the Mosaic Community Church, a non-denominational faith community that was established here a few years ago.
There are exhibits, a library, nature trails and a boardwalk path that takes you right to the edge of the lake where you can relax after the walk.
The Friends of Lake Apopka, an advocacy group dedicated to the restoration of the lake, has a presence here at the Preserve, with exhibits and stored records. I met with a young woman named Julia,who taught me a computer program which will help me, as a volunteer, to scan and digitize paper articles and ephemera so that they can then be located and studied on the internet. The program is so cool– it scans an article and then automatically includes all the pertinent words in searches: you don’t have to type in keywords unless you want to include relevant words that aren’t originally found in the article. It’s similar to what I’ll also be helping with at the Heritage Museum in Winter Garden.
The Preserve is a beautiful, peaceful place,. The surrounding area is already peaceful enough, even though the Turnpike, the 408 and Highway %0 are within hailing distance. You’d never know it though– all this lush greenery soaks up any noise, and so you get to enjoy a silent and leisurely half-mile stroll down the boardwalk to the lake.
There were some of these blooming today, and a lot budding. And the foliage does resemble marijuana plants!
A bud being investigated by a red-and-white striped insect– what is that?
Here’s a view from the pier end of the boardwalk, facing toward Gourd Neck Springs:
On the Preserve property is this fish camp cabin that they brought here from near Mount Dora. There used to be a lot of fish camps around the lake, but phosphate pollution due to agricultural runoff led to fish die-offs and the end Lake Apopka’s premier fishing. It’s slowly coming back, though– the big muck farms have been shuttered and the water is slowly purifying itself.
Have you ever noticed the exotic animals at the Briley Farm just past the church? (The Brileys are an old Oakland family.) The farm’s owners have created a place where these animals are collected and bred.
Next time you’re out on the West Orange Trail, take some time to visit the Preserve, yet another facet of fascinating West Orange County.