The Great American Pin-up Series: Tink
Location: Split Oak Preserve, Orlando, FL
Approximate Distance: 3 miles (round-trip)
Many visitors to the Orlando area know quite well that the fairy named Tinkerbell can be seen each evening, in Disney’s Magic Kingdom. But where is she the rest of the time? Have you ever wondered where Tink spends her daylight hours? Then read on, friend, and find out!
To the south, on the ragged edge of Orange County, sits a tiny piece of Neverland that can only be visited by those with a sense of whimsy, and a longing for adventure. It is one of those magical places that exist just outside of the world that we’ve made for ourselves, as a reminder of what once was. And in this little slice of the world, there are heroes hard at work. There are dangers lurking in the tall grass. And there are fairies and lost boys.
To go there, you simply need to believe...
(Well, actually – you also need a car. And a map of the area. But go with me on this one.)
Find Moss Park, part of the Orange County Parks & Recreation system. Moss Park is the entry point to Split Oak Preserve, where you’ll find what you seek. Though relatively small in size, Moss Park is ecologically important, and is home to white-tailed deer, fox squirrels, bobcats, sand hill cranes, and a variety of other birds. So get yourself there, and once you’ve paid for your admission, follow the road signs to the campground area, and the Split Oak hiking trails.
Park by the playground near the campsites, and cross the road. You’ll see several piles of sand to the left of the trail as you head east toward what once must have been a gate. All that remains are two stone pillars on either side of the trails. This trail, Swamp Trail, is the path that will guide you to your prize. Walk eastward on the path, paying attention to the sounds and the sights of the swampland that sits between Moss Park and Split Oak Preserve.
When you reach Split Oak Preserve, take a look at the informational signs. This is a preserve area, where dedicated researchers and volunteers are working to save the burrowing sites of the Gopher Tortoise. As I said, heroes are hard at work here.
As you depart from the informational sign, the trail splits. To the left is the North Loop trail, and to right-hand path will lead you to the Lake Loop. Take a first, then a second step to the right – and straight on until you reach the Split Oak itself. You’ll know it because it is a huge fallen tree, set apart with a low fence.
What few people know is that this is, in fact, the home of the Lost Boys (and perhaps a few Lost Girls) – the same lost children that followed Peter Pan to Neverland all those years ago. Surely, Tink can’t be far away...
Continue on, following the Lake Loop trail signs. Go past 12, 11, and 10. When you reach sign #9, stop! Tink’s nearby, but she’s had a few close calls in her adventuring career, and she needs to know that you mean her no harm. And that means that you have to believe in fairies. So summon that sense of whimsy and imagination, and clap – just once or twice. Just enough to let her know that you’re not a pirate...
Did you do it?
Good. Because you’re REALLY close now. From signpost #9, take a compass bearing of 320 degrees, and walk 63 steps. You’ll need to approximate a straight line, since there are a few trees in your way, but you’ll soon come to a fallen log with a small blue “6” on it.
From the blue six, take a new compass bearing of 156 degrees. You’ll be facing a dead tree with a hole at its base. That modest tree is Tinkerbell’s home. Underneath a blanket of pine needles and bark, Tink waits for you.
So stamp in, and re-hide well! Thanks for taking the time to find Tink!
- The stamp is rather large – 4” x 6” – so please bring a logbook or paper large enough to capture the image.
- Please use green ink when you stamp. (I would actually recommend light green or grass green.)
- The Great American Pin-Up Series is all about different pin-up styles from the past seven decades, and it is a celebration of the sense of fun and femininity that these images embody. I’ve done a few pin-up versions of Disney characters, and I usually provide a warning for families with small children. That said, Tinkerbell had a “very pin-up” look in Disney’s film. This stamp should be just fine for families who want to go on a hike and find a fun stamp.
- As always, feel free to drop us a note on Atlasquest, or at firstname.lastname@example.org