This is the second of many posts detailing my trip to Florida in early December of last year. I apologize for the delay, but I think I was saving these posts for when I could use a little bit of sunshine. Today – with the cold weather surrounding me – is the perfect day to relive those memories.
De Leon Springs State Park, named for Juan Ponce de León of the search for the mythical Fountain of, was the first stop on our agenda Thursday.
Quick History from the Florida State Parks Information Center:
“Native people known as the Mayaca lived in the park for at least 6,000 years. Pedro Menendez, the founder of St. Augustine, first described the Mayaca after an encounter with them north of the park in 1566, a year after he founded St. Augustine. In the late 1500s, Spanish missions were established in the area. In the early 1800s, settlers built sugar and cotton plantations that were sacked by Seminole Indians during the Second Seminole War. By the 1880s the springs had become a winter resort, and tourists were promised “a fountain of youth impregnated with a deliciously healthy combination of soda and sulphur.”’
We started the morning off with breakfast at the Old Spanish Sugar Mill inside of the park after I stopped oohing and ahhing at the magnificent oak trees towering over us in the parking lot. Walking into the restaurant and seeing the griddle in the middle of the table intimidated me, until a quick glance at the next table showed kids pulling the cooking off with ease. Our server explained the process to us, preparing us for the feast to come.
My friend and I both ordered pancakes. It was all-you-can-eat and they brought out tons of batter (2 kinds: an early American style made with unbleached white flour and mix of 5 fresh stoneground flours). We also ordered a side of bacon, chocolate chips, and blueberries for the pancakes. My friend and I took turns minding the griddle, which was a lot of fun. The pancakes were served with syrup, a raw local honey, and an unsuphured molasses that I did not enjoy. If you go – and I highly recommend that you do, I suggest you order the bacon. It’s not like the regular bacon you get from the grocery store. This is thick with an addictive taste that is neither overly sweet nor salty.
I brought my bathing suit so that my friend and I could take a dip in the springs, but somehow we had forgotten his bathing suit and our towels. Instead we went for a walk on the trails. The path to “Old Methuselah,” a bald cypress estimated to be nearly 500 years old, was closed so we started down to view Monkey Island. We didn’t get very far before we found ourselves nearing inch deep water, so we turned back.
Come back tomorrow to read part 3, or check out part 1 – my review of Cress Restaurant.
The Old Spanish Sugar Mill
601 Ponce Deleon Blvd
De Leon Springs, Florida