discover your created self

From Fort Mantanzas to Mala Compra 

You see me when I travel and when I rest at home . . . (Psalm 139:3 NLT)

“Nothing compares with the simple pleasure of riding a bike.” John F. Kennedy

After we returned from our cruise on Sunday afternoon, I asked Les to help me get my bike out of the truck, so I could use it to explore the local area this week. While I am glad we have the truck with us to get groceries and other errands, I prefer the perspective of my bike for sightseeing. If you’ve ever seen our truck, you know it’s 100 times bigger than me, and it’s a challenge to park to say the least.

On Monday, I decided to check out the lesser known fort in the area, the main one being in St. Augustine. The website informed me that entrance to the park and the ferry over to the fort was free. The park is a couple miles north of the marina, which for the purposes of this adventure, I call our “home.” So I left home to travel via bike to see the fort. I enjoyed the leisurely ride over gently rolling hills, the hills being bridges that cross the inlet at various points. Over the weekend, the residents piled more debris and furniture along the roadside. (See picture of piano below.) When I arrived at the park, riding through the canopy of live oaks strewn with Spanish moss quieted my soul.

At the visitor center a sign was posted, “Ferry Closed Due to Storm Damage,” the docks were banged up and unsafe for passengers to board the ferry. I talked with one of the staff, and he said I could take a path down to the inlet to get some pictures of the fort, which I did.

And of course, I found texture along the beach that I had to document with photos. I went back to the visitor center, and the girl at the desk asked if I’d like to watch the orientation movie about the fort. I did. It was a good introduction to the history of this area.

Mantanzas is the Spanish word for slaughter. I find it interesting that the name remains, I suppose a typical tourist, like myself, thought it sounded romantic and exotic. It’s pronounced: Man-tansas, the “tansas” sounds like Kansas. It wasn’t so romantic for the 250 French soldiers who were massacred by the Spanish commander at the time. It was a typical power struggle over who would control the land and the resources and the wealth, I suppose. Tragic, but historic, meriting the site a historic marker, which I took the time to read before I returned home.

That afternoon, I started a more pleasant venture. I converted the back of the boat, also known as the cockpit, or as I lovingly call it “the back porch” into my art studio. I decided to start painting canvases for a craft fair that I’m participating with my friend in St. Louis. I thought I would start with the smallest ones, and see what happened. I had fun setting everything up, and trying techniques. This is my first attempt at making art to sell. (I’ve sold handmade journals before, but not paintings.) I planned to add a couple colors to all eight at once, and then eventually add a word or something.

On Tuesday, I started add more layers using sand, and found objects to make marks on the canvas. I found the little plastic fish on one of my beachcomber outings. It used to be a barrette for a little girl. The round thingy was from some kind of packaging. I spray painted it blue, both objects started out white. I will post more pictures, as I make progress.

The humidity returned on Tuesday, so after painting, I was tuckered out. I took a nap, and was worried that I was getting sick. But maybe, I just needed rest, because today, I got on my bike again, and headed out for another expedition. This time heading south. I’ve noticed that my energy level is better on the days I get out and move, and the days I just putter around home, I’m more tired. Living outdoors, as I said before, takes some acclimation.

Today, I thought I’d like to visit the Washington Oaks State Park. As I was unlocking my bike, Eric, who runs the marina, told me that this area was great for bikes. He suggested I check out the Mala Compra trail. I tucked that information away, but was determined to see the State Park, which has another access point to the beach. I turned into the park entrance, noticing that across the street, a sign told me that access to the beach was closed due to storm damage.

Oh well, I told myself, I will just visit their botanical garden. At least that’s what I was going to do, when a stench from the recent flooding caused me to make a quick u-turn right out of there. I continued south, because I knew Bing’s Landing, where we put the boat in the water, was just another mile ahead. Plus the place with the cheesecake was nearby, too. Maybe when they opened I’d get a slice for lunch. In the meantime, I parked my bike next to a bench to wait.

While I was waiting, a man started pointing at the water. I got to see a manatee! Another camera shy sea creature that I hope to capture on film one of these days.

I decided to save the cheesecake for a dessert date with Les. As I started to head back home, across the way, I saw the sign for the Mala Compra Greenway Trail. I crossed over, and saw that there was an easy trail and a more difficult trail; there was a shorter trail and a longer trail. I chose the easy and shorter one marked by the red squares.

The trail led to the beach, which was fairly secluded from civilization. To the south was the immense Hammock Dunes resort, and to the north I could see The Villages at Mantanzas Shores resort. (Again I asked myself,  why would anyone name their entity after the word slaughter.) But I guess the founders of this area preferred macabre names, the name of the trail means “bad deal” or “bad bargain.” The man who bought the land for a plantation many years ago had three plantations, and one was name Belle something, but the one he lived on was called Mala Compra. I deduced that maybe it was like the Iceland/Greenland ruse, because the land seemed nice to me.

But maybe it wasn’t that great for a plantation. I still have some more history to uncover, before I figure out this fascination with using negative names. But maybe, I am too quick to judge, possibly they just liked to tell it like it was. A slaughter happened. The deal was bad. I don’t know, but these are the things that run through my mind, when I am out on my expeditions.

I rode my bike back home, thinking how happy I am when I am on my bike. It really does bring pleasure, and renewed energy and a different perspective than other modes of transportation.

walkway over the dunes, no access due to storm damage

Hammock Dunes resort

view to the north, The Villages at Mantanzas Shores

palmettos blown over by the storm

Mala Compra Greenway Trail

7 responses to “From Fort Mantanzas to Mala Compra ”

  1. Kel, I’m loving you adventures…. and that oceanic view. Wow! You’re capturing so much here…. mostly of what it means to have an adventurous spirit. I so admire that.

    1. Lynni- so fun to share with you and the other readers here! I asked Les the other day if he married me because I was romantic…I was worried because I’m not that romantic anymore …he said the most profound thing…well you are adventurous 😃

  2. Well, he’s a smart guy. The adventurous are the most romantic of all! Kel, what’s the deal w/ the piano? Why don’t I see Les playing it with you lying on top of the spinet, elbow bent, head tilted, cheek propped on palm, as you are romantically serenaded by your man? I’m picturing this!

  3. an impromptu studio in the stern of a boat — you expand my notions of the possible, Kel. I’m grateful!

    1. Laurie, what fun to see you here! Kel is my coheart, and we love teaching journaling and art-journaling classes together.

      1. Lynn, those shared classes springing from deep friendship sound wonder-full.

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About Me

Hi! My name is Kel Rohlf. I am an intuitive mixed-media artist, creative writer and performer. Life is a performance. I often attend.


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