The SWFD Department Relations Committee (DRC) will be hosting its 3rd Annual All You Can Eat pancake breakfast on Saturday, Oct. 10, 2015 at the SWFD Station 2 located at 2109 S. County Highway 395 (Watercolor) from 8 – 11:30 am.
Executive Chef Brian Murray, formerly of Watercolor Inn & Resort, Emeril’s Restaurants and current owner of DIG Eatery will be this year’s Celebrity Chef. He has teamed up with US FOODS and will be preparing the best pancakes in the area.
This event coincides with our Fire Prevention week activities. This will be a great event to learn more about your Fire District, grab some safety information as well as tours of our Watercolor Fire Station.
For more information please contact Dave Swift, DRC Chairman or Sammy Sanchez, Fire Marshal at 850-267-1298.
A Gulf fritillary perched on a blazing star at Topsail Hill Preserve State Park. You will spot these Sept. – Nov. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors
Autumn is an extraordinary time to explore the outdoors in South Walton. The forest trails are awash in a colorful abundance of seasonal wildflowers and migrating butterflies. We are fortunate to have several State Parks along with the Point Washington State Forest in our own backyard. The pine flatwoods, coastal dunes, and salt marsh, our area of the Florida Panhandle is a magnet for migrating butterflies heading south for the winter.
A few of the native wildflowers in bloom this time of year are wild buckwheat, hairy jointweed, aster, goldenrod, figwort, liatris, agalinis, milkweed, and saltbush.
Monarchs resting on salt marsh bush at Grayton Beach State Park. Migrating monarchs typically arrive in Oct. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors
It’s only natural butterflies arrive, and savor the nectar of area wildflowers. Some of the flutterbys you may encounter are eastern tiger swallowtail, Palamedes swallowtail, Gulf fritillary, and monarchs.
There are several choices available where you can hike, bike, or even drive to appreciate the benefits of the season:
If you don’t wish to lace up your hiking boots or tool around on a bike, the Point Washington State Forest has several drive-through areas. One located on CR 83 that goes west to CR 283, or CR 283 to CR 395. There are also a few access points located off of U.S. Hwy. 98.
A large variety of asters are found in Point Washington State Forest. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors
Hike/bike: Point Washington State Forest offers several options for the hiker or biker. A variety of trail lengths from easy 2 miles, to moderate/difficult 7 miles are offered. The trails span across South Walton with accesses off of U.S. Hwy. 98, Satinwood Drive, CR 83, CR 283, CR 395. Hikers note: A large portion of the Point Washington State Forest is a Wildlife Management Area and open to hunting during certain times of the year. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission regulates the hunting seasons in the forest. During fall and winter months it is advisable to wear hunter orange vests or bright colored clothing to be cautious. Visit MyFWC.com/hunting for information on when hunting season is open. ::Download MAP::
Topsail Hill Preserve State Park offers several miles of biking/hiking paved and dirt trails. Morris Lake Nature Trail meanders 2.5 miles through ancient dunes and scrub communities. Hikers can also enjoy miles of sandy trails within the park. Along Campbell Lake Nature Trail, enthusiasts may discover a diverse array of plants covering an area of more than 5 miles.
Topsail Hill Preserve State Park is located at the western end of Scenic Hwy. 30A. ::MAP:
Grayton Beach State Park has a one-mile nature trail accessed at the east end of the beach parking area. This trail takes park visitors through the dune ecosystem, along the salt marsh, and circles back through the pine flatwoods. For the more adventurous, the park has a 4.5-mile (9 mile round trip) hiking/biking trail that traverses through the forest and around the backwaters of Western Lake.
Grayton Beach State Park is located on Scenic Hwy. 30A just east of CR 283. ::MAP::
Deer Lake State Park offers an easy boardwalk with panoramic views of ancient sand dunes within the southern portion of the park. On the northern side, a choice of two easy trails; one-mile and half-mile brings you through a moss lined easy trail to the headwaters of Deer Lake.
Deer Lake State Park is located approximately 5 ½ miles east of Seaside. ::MAP::
Greenway Trail meanders around the government center complex just north of U.S. Hwy. 98 off the western side of U.S. Hwy. 331. Close to four miles of walking/biking trails take you trough wetland and hardwood canopy areas. A portion of the trail offers interpretive signs providing wildflower identification. ::Download MAP::
A hint of color change in the cypress trees indicates fall has arrived along the Choctawhatchee River and Holmes Creek. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors
A snippet of cooler temperatures have arrived in northwest Florida. The perfect time of the year to head out and explore all things outdoors!
The September equinox arrives on September 23, 2015 at 3:21 a.m. CDT. Although the equinox happens at the same moment worldwide, your clock times will depend on your time zone. For U.S. time zones, this equinox comes at 4:21 a.m. EDT, 3:21 a.m. CDT, 2:21 a.m. MDT or 1:21 a.m. PDT. In the Northern Hemisphere, the sun is rising later now, and nightfall comes sooner. This is our autumn equinox, when the days are getting shorter in the Northern Hemisphere. At this equinox, day and night are approximately equal in length. For us in the Northern Hemisphere, people are enjoying the cooler days of autumn even as preparations for winter are underway. South of the equator, spring begins.
The earliest humans spent more time outside than we do. They used the sky as both a clock and a calendar. They could easily see that the sun’s path across the sky, the length of daylight, and the location of the sunrise and sunset all shift in a regular way throughout the year.
Our ancestors built the first observatories to track the sun’s progress. One example is at Machu Picchu in Peru, where the Intihuatana stone, shown above, has been shown to be a precise indicator of the date of the two equinoxes and other significant celestial periods. The word Intihuatana, by the way, literally means for tying the sun.
Today, we know each equinox and solstice is an astronomical event, caused by Earth’s tilt on its axis and ceaseless orbit around the sun.
Because Earth doesn’t orbit upright, but is instead tilted on its axis by 23-and-a-half degrees, Earth’s Northern and Southern Hemispheres trade places throughout the year in receiving the sun’s light and warmth most directly.
We have an equinox twice a year – spring and fall – when the tilt of the Earth’s axis and Earth’s orbit around the sun combine in such a way that the axis is inclined neither away from nor toward the sun. Earth’s two hemispheres are receiving the sun’s rays about equally around equinox-time. Night and day are approximately equal in length.
The name equinox comes from the Latin aequus (equal) and nox (night).
Of course, Earth never stops moving around the sun. So these days of approximately equal sunlight and night will change quickly.
More than 5 acres of corn maze at Cypress Cattle and Produce Farm.
Cypress Cattle and Produce Farm swings open their farm gate for some fall fun with a corn maze, pumpkin patch and an assortment of family activities from Sept. 26 – Oct. 31. The enjoyment includes more than 7-acres of pumpkins to choose from, a 5-acre corn maze, 2-miles of trails, hayrides, farm animals, slides, corn pond, corn hole, and horseshoes. Enjoy a day of fall fun as you experience a working farm in Ponce De Leon on the Walton County line.
Hamburgers, hot dogs, and drinks will be available. Take your meal on the tour and stop along the pond to experience a panoramic view under the live oaks.
Dates and hours are every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from Sept. 26 – Oct. 31 from 10 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Tickets are $10 adults 18+ ($16 season pass), $6 youth ages 6-17 ($10 season pass), free for children under 5.
Find the perfect pumpkin at Cypress Cattle and Produce Farm.
Take a tour
Tours of Cypress Cattle’s 1,100-acre working farm will take you through soybean fields, vegetable crops, cypress lakes and pastures. Stop under the live oak trees by the pond and enjoy your lunch. The tour will run every 45 minutes.
Tickets $6 adults 18+, $3 youth ages 6-17.
Pick a pumpkin
While you are at the farm, head out to the patch and pick your own pumpkin. Choose from giant pumpkins, Jack-o-Lanterns, green and whites, baby Jacks and gourds. Prices vary.
Halloween Bash at the barn Oct. 24 Things get a little frightfully fun on Oct. 24 at the farm. Head over to the Halloween Bash, haunted corn maze, and enjoy Luke Langford and the 331 South Band fire up some great country music from 5 – 9 p.m.
The events will be held at Cypress Cattle and Produce Farm at 2980 R. M. Ward Road, Ponce De Leon.
Join the Walton County Master Gardeners for their upcoming lecture series, “The Great American Garden.” October’s series will be “Seed Collecting and Plant Propagation,” held on Wednesday, October 7th from 10 – 11:30 a.m. at Walton County Coastal Branch Extension Office in Grayton Beach. Space is limited, call 850-892-8172 to reserve your seat.
This discussion will focus on expanding your garden using the plant material you already grow. Master Gardeners will demonstrate seed collection (annuals, vegetables) and propagation through plant cuttings, root division and air layering. Fall is the best time of the year to use these techniques while preparing your garden for the winter ahead.
Walton Coastal Branch Extension Office is located at 70 Logan Lane in Grayton Beach – just north of the 4 way stop at CR 283 and Scenic Hwy. 30A.
OCTOBER 1: MONTHLY MEETING: Noted birder and videographer Malcolm Swan will present “Endangered Birds of America” with his amazing bird footage at our regular monthly meeting. Enjoy Malcom’s up-close views of interesting species and their entertaining behaviors that will educate, amuse, and delight.
The meeting will be held in Room 130 of the new Student Services Building at Northwest Fla. State College main campus in Niceville. Socializing begins at 6:30 PM, and the program begins at 7:00. Admission is free and open to the interested public. Call Walt Spence at 850-582-7064 for more information.
OCTOBER 3: FIELD TRIP TO FT. PICKENS and GULF ISLANDS NATIONAL SEASHORE: Join local ornithologist, Alan Knothe, for an adventure-packed day of birding in some of West Florida’s finest viewing locations. See shorebirds, fall migrants, and wading birds. Bring water, long pants, hat, good walking shoes, and binoculars. Meet at either Uptown Station at 7:00 AM or at Langdon Battery at 8:15. Call Alan at 850-208-1780 for more information. There is no charge, except for park entry fees.
OCTOBER 10: Come visit our booth at the EXPLORE THE OUTDOORS FESTIVAL at Live Oak Landing, 229 Pitts Ave., Freeport, beginning at 10 AM. This family festival centered on outdoor pursuits has a laid-back atmosphere and many different exhibitors in a gorgeous location. We’ll be using games to help children learn to identify birds, and will also offer hands-on instruction in the use of binoculars and spotting scopes. Audubon members who would like to volunteer to help should bring water, insect repellent, and a lawn chair. Call Lori Ceier for info about the Festival at 850-267-2064, and call Margaret Benner at 850-678-6665 to volunteer to help. No admission fee is required.
OCTOBER 17: BIRD WALK on NICEVILLE SHORELINES. Veteran birder, Lenny Fenimore, will lead a bird walk on the shores of various bayous in the Twin Cities area. We’ll be looking for ducks, raptors, and shorebirds. Wear closed-toe shoes and a hat, and bring binoculars or cameras if desired. Meet at Bayou Plaza Shopping Center, 500-700 W. John Sims Parkway, in front of the new Mattress Depot store at 7:30 AM. Call Lenny at 850-863-3039 for more info. No fee required.
Please note that the interested public is invited to all of the above events. Children are permitted if they are supervised by their parents.
The Washington County Historical Society and the Chipley Garden Club would like to invite everyone to participate in their 4th Annual Scarecrow contest and Haunted History Tour. The event will be held at the Farmer’s Market pavilion in historic downtown Chipley on Oct. 3, 2015. Food, live entertainment will be on hand.
2:30 p.m. – Scarecrow building winners announced
3:30 p.m. – Spooky tour for kids
4:30 p.m. – Downtown history tour for grownups.
Scarecrow categories are club/business adult and youth, People’s Choice. Cash prizes, trophies and certificates will be awarded on Oct. 3. Entry fee is $5.
JB2 on launch track. Photo courtesy Coffeen Nature Preserve.
Time: 9:30 – 11:30 a.m.
The Choctawhatchee Basin Alliance (CBA), in partnership with Northwest Florida State College, are offering the fall season of their popular eco-tourism initiative, Eco Adventures of Walton County.
Explore the Coffeen Nature Preserve and its history of World War II missile testing. The 220-acre Nature Preserve is owned by the Coffeen Land Trust, a local environmental non-profit organization dedicated to preserving it “as a place of peace and quiet and a haven for all God’s creatures.” Its history however is far from quiet. It was used as a secret missile test site by the Army Air Force during World War II. Hundreds of JB-2 “Buzz Bombs,” (the first pilotless, jet propelled missiles) were launched from the dunes into the Gulf of Mexico.
Join Susan Paladini, the Resident Manager, and explore the site where America’s strategic missile program began. You will view the original military photographs inside the “mess hall” and learn about the generous gift of the founder, the late Dorothy Coffeen. This will be followed by a hike of approximately 1½ miles around the property, which will include walking along two original missile launch ramps, stepping down into concrete launch bunkers and viewing other military buildings. Enjoy the natural beauty of the Preserve and Fuller Lake. This is the most western of Walton County’s globally rare and imperiled coastal dune lakes.
Participants are encouraged to wear a hat, sunscreen and insect repellant and to bring bottled water. Closed-toed or other suitable walking shoes are a must.
Space is limited to 16 participants. Minimum of 2 required.
Location: Coffeen Nature Preserve, Santa Rosa Beach
Discover Roads Less Traveled offers visitors and local residents extraordinary opportunities to explore, discover, and learn about the pristine natural resources that make Walton County unique. Descriptions of the tours being offered are available online at www.basinalliance.org by clicking the Eco Tours information box. Registration is available by phone at 850-200-4160.