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Category Archives: Tallahassee

Florida is home to some of the oldest roads in America.  Planet Harmony's Spencer Henderson takes us on a trip back in time, down an old canopy road.  Below you can listen to his essay.  Check back soon for the accompanying video of Spencer Henderson touring Tallahasse's famous canopy roads.

Spencer Henderson: Canopy roads are an iconic feature of rural Florida. These shady paths lined by tall, overlapping trees cut a path through our landscape and our history. An example of a canopy road can be found in Southeast Tallahassee, on Old St. Augustine Road.

Huge moss-draped live oaks, hickory trees and stately pines arch over the two lane road. An enclosed fence extends on each side of the road. Behind it lies active farmland.

This road is essential to the everyday life of farm animals such as cows and horses and wildlife such as raccoons and deer. These animals flock to cool places where they can feed on the vegetation that grows densely here.

And it has been that way for hundreds of years. Old St. Augustine Road dates all the way back to the 1600s. Back then Spanish settlers used this path as a way to go westward from St. Augustine, Fla., through Gainesville, to Tallahassee, ending in Pensacola. St. Augustine Road could be considered the first highway built in Florida. It even predates America!  Even before the Europeans traveled here- Indian tribes passed under these ancient trees for centuries.

Since the road was completed in 1820s it has remained relatively unchanged. But with the charm of this historic canopy comes a modern burden. When rain dampens the old branches, the extra weight causes them to break off and block parts of the road. These trees becomes especially hazardous during hurricane season. But the risk of fallen limbs is a small price to pay for the joy of traveling this storied canopy road. It brings a sense of peace to rural life, and gives us a glimpse into the past.

HENDERSON CANOPY ROADS.mp3 1.6 MB

The Gulf oil spill has kept people away from a once-popular fishing spots, 40 minutes from Tallahassee. Planet Harmony's Ashton Wilkins misses what used to be one of her favorite hidden getaways.

Ashton Wilkins: I remember the first time, five years ago when I stumbled upon St. Teresa, a tiny beach village on Florida’s forgotten coast. While fishing and spending time along those emerald waters, I have spent some of my most memorable college days.

The seafoam colored waters contrast sharply with hanging oaks and pine trees that line the tread.

I’ve been fishing in Florida waters since I was seven. My grandma taught me the old spit and bait method, and I’ve been hooked ever since. I have often rigged my pole deep into the sand at St. Teresa, cast my line into the ocean, and cracked a cold one… until my line started to run sideways. I’d pull silver trout, black sea bass and mackerel until I had caught too many to carry.

Fishing at St. Teresa became a home for me. I knew the good spots and was friends with some of the locals. But in May 2010 small black balls started showing up on the beach and in the water. As I waded through the shallow water, I noticed the ocean floor was scattered with tarballs of all sizes.

These were the infamous tarballs on the news-that rode around 500 miles to reach my beach from the Deepwater Horizon.

Dr. Jack Rudloe is the owner and head marine biologist at the Gulf Specimen Marine Laboratory, and a local activist and fisherman. He says that one of the main concerns he has for the Gulf is toxicity of the fish and what long term effects they will have on people.

He says that the water near his aquarium in neighboring Carabelle is saturated with oil and dispersants, which add to the toxicity levels in fish. He added that there is not a comparable study because there has yet to be a spill of this size.

Jack and his staff installed new tanks in their aquarium, as they can no longer rely on fresh water from the Gulf. Jack’s son Cypress, who helps out at the lab says, “There is a giant science project going on out in the Gulf right now.”

In 2011, research and updates about how the Gulf is doing are sparse. However, the locals know how fishing is going.

Roland Crum, owner of Crum Mini Mall and Bait Shop relayed to me the facts about how the North Florida coast’s fishing industry has been doing this year. “I feel that the BP effect is still causing tourists to stay home.” he says. “As far as sales go, January 2011’s numbers are down compared to last year at the same time.”

The last time that I fished St. Teresa, I found that the fish were scarce and when I grilled them the taste was different. This was the last time that I fished at my favorite spot, but I will always have hopes that a new tide will bring life back to the Gulf.

You can take a look at Ashton's fishing spot through the St. Teresa Beach Cam

Ashton Wilkins Fishing for Answers 2.mp3 1.9 MB