Finding Florida paradise in a year of red tide and green slime

Florida’s natural wonders have been in the news this year for all the wrong reasons: toxic tides, green slimes and rotting marine life.

Losing paradise has long been a fear in Florida, so I recently traveled to three areas to see what’s left in a state endowed like no other with woods, wildlife and water.

I began in the Keys, with 80 miles of cycling and a night in a tent at an unexpected jewel of a state park. Campers urged me not to reveal it. I will, though, because it exemplifies a lot of Florida refuges: man-made facsimiles of nature.

After that was a hike along 12 miles of wilderness beach of Canaveral National Seashore at Central Florida’s Atlantic coast. It’s rarely traversed on foot. I got cell service but the sense of isolation hinted at haunting. Visually, it was astonishingly beauty-and-beast and not for the nudists I interviewed. I’ll explain.

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