In Florida, near the Gulf of Mexico. Nestled between Fort Myers and Naples. Is Koreshan State park and historic site. Which if you’re like me… a fan of history and hiking, both. You just might find worthy of swinging by for a visit, should you find yourself in the area. It’s home to 11 restored and nationally registered historic buildings. Plus a pretty easy mile and a half long trail. Not including the walking you’ll do while moving about the old settlement itself.
The park has a bit of a kooky history. A fellow named Dr. Cyrus Teed, claimed to have had a vision. That reviled himself to be mankind’s savior. So… upon moving to Chicago he began “preaching” celibacy as the key to immortality. Proclaiming folks were slaves to their marriages. Who, rather then having intimate relations, should spend their sexual energy on thoughts about him. So that when he died. They would dissolve and be reborn. He also believed we live inside a hallow earth.
Surprisingly, his ideas appealed to a number of folks. Some of whom even left their spouses. Making said spouses rather grumpy I’m sure. And making Dr. Teed, who changed his name to “Koresh,” rather unpopular. So to get away from the animosity, Koresh started a religious commune in Florida. Apparently it wasn’t a cultish place. People were free to come and go as they pleased. Visitors were welcome. And residents played an active roll in the surrounding community.
But the beginning of the end started when Mr. Koresh passed away in 1908… aaaand nobody dissolved and Koresh never resurrected. Perhaps to many people were thinking dirty thoughts? Regardless members started drifting away from the movement. Until only Hedwig Michel, who donated the land to Florida in 1961, remained. Apparently it’s difficult to keep a population growing with celibacy as the default lifestyle. Though their lack of fun, did give us a spiffy park to enjoy.
The pup and I cruised through Koreshan State park on our way to visit my cousin and her family in southern Florida. And it’s really easy to find. Only two and a half miles off interstate I-75 if you take exit 123 and then head west. It is literally a straight shot there. Simply go through a couple stop lights and it’s on your right. Easypeasy. So if you hit the Gulf of Mexico, you known you’ve gone to far… and probably ticked off some gators in the process. As you’ve trail blazed through their front yards.
And yes there are also alligators in the park. It’s Florida and right next to a river leading into a swampy delta area. They don’t bug me as I’m hiking. But this Hoosier boy has got to ask… why would anyone swim in a “swimming area,” where there is a good chance alligators are present? As a transplant patient my swimming is limited to pools and wading shin deep in the ocean. (Suppressed immune system) And not swimming with things that can hurt me, seems logical to me.
But thankfully there is more to do at Koreshan park than just swimming. There are camp sites with a nearby playground, hiking, historic buildings, kayaking, and if you’re like me… photography. Plus several things that may or may not be available during a virus scare. Such as historic reenactors, farmers markets, fishing, boat rentals, guided tours, and going inside the art hall to view paintings by Koresh’s son, Douglas. I guess he wasn’t always all in for pushing celibacy.
There are no paved paths around the historic area of the park. But there is crushed gravel, so there should be no real challenge getting around with a rollator, wheelchair, or oxgen cart. Just be aware that you may hit the occasional rough patch. Also while there isn’t a huge number of steps. Not all the buildings, should they be open to explore, have ramps. So be prepared for that fun pulmonary struggle. Plus while there are places to sit and catch your breath. There are not a lot.
The park’s trail itself is quite level and not overly long. With only one noticable incline/decline, but it is very minor. Almost like a small wheelchair ramp. The biggest issue will be the path itself. The vast majority is sand. It’s not like walking on a beach, but it does have about an inch or so of loss atop the packed. And when you reach the area surrounded by bamboo. There are bits and pieces of bamboo all over the path. So it will be more of a challenge then meandering around the historic area.
But if you’ve got the extra oxygen to allocate for it… The trail is worth taking the time to explore. I when pulmonary fibrosis making us more slower than the average person. But it is a relatively short and pretty hike. There are flowers and pine trees at one end. With thick bamboo and river views at the other. Almost as if you’re walking two different paths. But if you only have the energy for one. Nobodys going to hold it against you, for choosing to spend your O2 seeing the more historic sites.
As a big fan of historical type things myself, I totally understand. For me the trail was a nice bonus, but it was the history of the location that tempted me off the interstate. And I’m glad that it did.
Seeing pictures in books or watching history programs can be fascinating. But standing in the place where you know something took place… rather then seeing pixels on screen or in print. Is much more surreal to me. Its a physical connection to the events of the past. Allowing one to imagine what it would have been like to be a part of that time and place.
Though I reeeeeeally don’t think I’d have joined the Koreshan community back in that time. For starters I have two kids that I enjoyed making. The way things drop below the horizon, tells me that we’re on the outside of the earth’s sphere. Yes it’s a sphere, sorry not sorry flat earthers. And as far as messiahs go… Well I think there are better options then a doctor who suffered a head injury and saw a bright light. But it’s still fun to imagine their lives.
And don’t lose your imagination simply because you’re suffering from a progressive illness such as pulmonary fibrosis. I know it’s hard, but keep daydreaming about the whole wide world. And what you want to do in it. I spent a lot of my time before transplant, especially in that ICU bed, dreaming about what I hoped to do one day. There are no guarantees and I knew that. But I still had hope. Even when the Vegas odds were about a million to one against me. There was always hope. Don’t let your illness conquer your ability to dream. You keep on living and dreaming to the best of your physical and mental ability. And tell pulmonary fibrosis to wait it’s turn. You’ve got things to do.
Thank you so very much for taking the time to read my blog. I hope if you’re a fellow patient, a care giver, or just into travel. That you got something positive out of my blog. If you’d like some pulmonary fibrosis merchandise, check out the BorrowedBreaths Store. Or if you’d like to simply encourage me to keep writing, a tip in my virtual tip jar would be greatly appreciated.