While out on errands in January 2021, I stopped at Edward Medard Conservation Park in Plant City to look around. Not having a map, I kept driving until seeing a large parking lot next to a playground. Once I got out and looked around, I saw that beyond the playground was a land of roots. I had never seen so many. The ground around was hard, smooth, and hilly. It was like something out of a movie. There were probably hundreds of angles I could have chosen to make good photographs, but the two above capture the feeling of this alien landscape.
Beyond this region was a low area of green-covered ponds and frisbee golf structures. I couldn’t imagine throwing a frisbee so close to so many ponds. Who knows what’s underneath?
Christmas lichen was plentiful. Other lichens I did not know the name of, so I had to guess based on the color. I’m probably right.
I was tempted to carve a heart into a tree and claim it was Valentine’s-Day lichen, but I didn’t want to hurt a tree just to make a joke. Trees are nice.
This area was where I also saw a cardinal and several woodpeckers, who made a constant racket. Also hearing roosters in the distance, I pressed on through the woods in that general direction and came to a road. The roadbank was made of bags! This really was an alien planet! What was it doing on Earth?
After climbing up to the road, I decided the direction of the chickens didn’t look that interesting and I went the other way, eventually reaching the road I had driven on and walking toward the park entrance. This is where I saw several interesting things:
The orange leaf was one of three on the ground that resembled nothing above. Where did they come from? Were they alien scouts disguised as leaves to throw me off the trail? I’m going to say yes. It’s the only logical explanation.
I also saw a red-backed wasp, but unlike the bug seen above, it did not hold still long enough to pose for a picture. I searched for information online, but could not identify it. Perhaps it was an alien too.
Near the park entrance is the heavily-branching, looped path leading onto the small peninsula in the lake. This peninsula has high banks from which one can observe the many inlets. These are the bird lands.
It was humid that day, but it was cool and cloudy and a slight breeze blew over the lake. This made for an enjoyable time while I watched the ducks, storks, red-winged blackbirds, anhingas, alligators, and other birds. Birds were everywhere. I had never seen so many anhingas in all my life put together. One of them surfaced right in front of me. Others were perched in trees, drying their wings.
The water was very dark and blocked all vision beyond two centimeters deep. This was one place I would not want to dip my feet into.
The parts furthest from the coast are populated almost exclusively by vultures. This is apparently where vultures come from all over the planet just to poop – a lot. It smells like a gas station bathroom.
Every tree had a vulture or two in it that would rustle their wings as I walked by, causing me to duck and raise my fists. I think they were doing it on purpose.
After spending much time roaming around every loop in the trail and just absorbing the feel of the place, I went back the way I came until passing the playground and pushing deeper into the park.
I found a set of several clearings, divided by tree-lined brooks and connected by wooden bridges. Each of them had one or two humans just sitting there. One of them had a laptop. Another had a fishing pole.
Beyond this was the boat ramp. Beyond that was the fishing pier. That was when I found more evidence of an alien invasion:
The texture of the sand here reminds me of worm poop, but I’ve never seen so much in one place like this or such big pellets. Don’t tell me it’s not aliens!
My name is Dan. I am an author, artist, explorer, and contemplator of subjects large and small.