Rosetta Stone Land
Fifty travelers hopped on the coach with Travel Leaders for the Tallahassee Senior Center benefit tour to the Seacrest Wolf Preserve in Chipley. Not knowing exactly what to expect, the day brought much excitement among the brave souls venturing along to meet the wolves and explore their habitat and habits. It was my fourth visit to the sanctuary and it was an incredible opportunity for me to share it with my TSC friends.
Seacrest owners Cynthia and Wayne Watkins greeted us as we arrived. Cynthia boarded our coach to give a brief history of how the preserve came to be and its vision for the future. Above all, she focused on its mission of conservation and education. It all began in 1999 as a conservation effort and evolved through the years as the largest wolf preserve in the Southeastern U.S. With a very captivating southern accent, Cynthia told us that Seacrest is a part of the Oaks Farm in Washington County. “The farm covers more than 430 acres that is dedicated to the conservation of indigenous wildlife and Florida eco-systems,” she explained. “We offer a haven for wildlife and the farm is dotted with spring-fed ponds and lakes and crisscrossed by nature trails.”
Wayne led the group into the wolves’ enclosure — where he tells us, “in addition to native wildlife, there now resides (within these boundaries) the Gray, British Columbian and Arctic wolves.” Small species within the preserve include gray and silver foxes, Arctic foxes, skunks, raccoons, and a groundhog. Wayne and Cynthia shared with our aptly attentive travelers, their passion for the future of wolves in America, as well as their fears for the wolves’ removal from the Endangered Species Act.
While our day trippers listened intently, their eyes followed the Gray wolves now coming closer. As these beautiful creatures moved among them, it didn’t take but moments to lose all trepidation and reach out to stroke the animals. There seemed to be a magic working…smiles everywhere. We walked with wolves. We howled with wolves.
The group went on to pet foxes and other critters loving attention before climbing on the bus and heading to Falling Waters State Park for a picnic lunch. Trekking the boardwalk into the forest prompted us to appreciate Florida’s lush greenery which offered just a hint of fall yellows and reds with beautiful cascading waters. As usual, tour leader Joanie Sharman sprung a surprise on the road home. A stop in Quincy at the Gadsden Arts Center found Grace Robinson, executive director, inviting us in to enjoy the Regional Exhibition of Fine Art that, coincidentally, included works by a few relatives of our travelers. Of course, the gift shop also drew attention!
If you go
For information on Seacrest Wolf Preserve, visit SeacrestWolfPreserve.org or call 850-773-2897; for information on Gadsden Arts Center, visit GadsdenArts.org or call 850-875-4866. Falling Waters State Park can be found at FloridaStateParks.org/park/Falling-Waters or call 850-638-6130.