Friday, July 4, 2008


We like creeks. They are secret little magic places just barely out of sight of traffic, usually just yards away. (Sometimes the traffic is right overhead, which is wicked awesome. )

Loblolly is a little greenway along hogtown creek, and it allows you to walk right through one of the busiest areas of Gainesville and feel like you're out in the middle of no where. On 34th Street, between Westside Park and University Avenue (closer to University) you'll see a little green sign on the East side of the road pointing you to "Loblolly". There are about 4 parking spaces in there. The building was closed this evening, but there is a building with bathrooms, and, presumably, some stuffed critters or posters or dioramas.

Go behind the building to the trail. It's a lovely walking trail, but after a bit you'll come to a wooden fence and an off-trail leading down to the creek. A creek that's just right for playing Hobbit or Trolls or Island.

Below is Zany Island (Solomon's name for it), which, you gotta admit, is a boy's childhood memory in the making.

There was lots of Hobbit themed play, mixed with Spiderwick and Spiderman for a long afternoon of pretend. The light filtering in through the trees in the evening is magical. Am I being too poetic about a stream of urban runoff? But look at this bridge, under which a troll so clearly lives that while we didn't hesitate to cross other log bridges, this one was made spooky be the mythology they created for it, so it was avoided.

So far my recommended play sites in Hogtown seem to revolve around getting wet and/or sandy. It usually involves vacuuming the car and air-drying some baby seats. But I love these creeks.

If you keep following the trail, you end up on 8th Avenue, just across from Westside Park and near the "Jupiter" obelisk. These are real fun to look at up close. Lots of little details and references to scientists and mythology.

If you keep following the creek, you end up UNDER 8th Avenue, which, talk about Trolls! There are 3 viaducts you can go through (and adult can stand full height in it) and it's just kind of cool to be standing UNDER the ROAD! We caught lots of specimens with our nets and picked up a few shark teeth, even. A friend found a big hunk of chert (we've been looking for some so we could try making our own arrowheads).

So your car will end up wet and sandy, but it's an extremely cool activity. Four stars from the Hogtown Sparky team.