Finding Avalon in Bondad
Local couple creates a “different world”

A small veranda entices guests to relax and enjoy the view next to the labyrinth on the Kennedys property./Photo by Todd Newcomer

Recycling takes on new meaning at Avalon Acres. Refurbished car gears, horse shoes and antique iron come together as ornate flower arrangements and detailed insects, while old ski towers act as a bird nesting site and a future bird aviary to house quail, pheasants and peacocks.

The 15-acre Avalon Acres private park and wildlife refuge is situated at the bottom of Bondad Hill, alongside the Florida River. Few passersby know that this oasis is hidden below barren desert mesas and sprawling plains.

Avalon is a title denoting peace and serenity, a place of refuge. It was the island paradise in which King Arthur found final peace. Van Morrison's album, “Avalon Sunset” speaks to realizing perfection. Similarly, Avalon Acres attempts to offer a sanctuary rooted in elements of tranquility.

Jeff Kennedy kneels Monday inside the labyrinth he built on his property below his home./Photo by Todd Newcomer.

Local couple, Jeffrey and Sandee Kennedy bought the beginnings of Avalon four years ago when it was a mess of weeds. Over time, they added Avalon II, and the refuge now spans nearly 15 acres. The Avalon Mobile, a revamped golf cart, makes for easy transportation, and walkie-talkies allow the Kennedys to communicate from different areas of the property.

“It's just a different world down here,” said Jeffrey of what he casually calls his “downstairs.” “When I first looked at this place covered with weeds and boulders I just got so excited. The visions I was having and the land seemed to emit a good feeling. It was really something. I don't know how to describe it. The mountainside changes colors season by season, the deer come into the meadow with their fawns, and the shadows, colors and intensity of the sun are overall ever-changing.”

The Kennedys have devoted all their free time to the Avalon project since buying it. Sandee works full time at a local beauty parlor, while Jeffrey has worked full time as a Durango mechanic for 13 years.

“I work to support my yard habit, but it's what I've always loved to do,” said Jeffrey. “I never sat still well, and so landscaping became a way to take on projects. It's like therapy for me. My grandmother, who has always been an inspiration for creativity, still gardens at age 90, so it must be good for you!”

And thus Jeffrey's 20-year-old hobby has created a wonderland.

“It's like a big kid's playground down here,” said Jeffrey. “There's nothing I'd love more than to stay home and play in the yard.”

In addition to wildlife including mountain lions, geese, deer, rabbits, raccoons, chipmunks, fox and numerous birds that 4 devour 150 pounds of birdseed per week, children and those young at heart have the opportunity to try their hand at a variety of activities. The property boasts a hula-hoop golf course; croquet; bocce ball; a dance floor; swing benches resting above the river; a lily pond complete with gold fish; a tepee that contains a working fireplace; and a replica labyrinth.

A teepee that hosted the Kennedys’ Thanksgiving Day celebration last year rests in the shade of their manicured property adjacent to the Florida River./Photo by Todd Newcomer.

Sandee said that a client of hers who is an ordained minister suggested adding the labyrinth, which can be a spiritual walk or a meditation, to the property. She explained that the labyrinth has been used as a spiritual tool by various cultures for more than 4,000 years.

Because the labyrinth allows only one path, it will lead you to the center in which deep meditation and self-query is possible. The Avalon labyrinth is a replica of the stone labyrinth of the Chartres Cathedral in France.

Additionally, the traditional tepee, which sits next to sandstone petroglyphs carved by Jeffrey's mother, provides an area in which song or meditation can take place. The Kennedys spent last Thanksgiving in the tepee and frequently invite friends to sit around its fire.

“Adults around a campfire can get pretty crazy,” said Jeffrey.

On the side, the Kennedys would eventually like to rent out Avalon for reunions and family functions.

As if keeping up with nature, the Kennedys say that Avalon is constantly reinventing itself. “It's a work in progress and ever-changing,” said Jeffrey. “It's not through by any means.”

Such determination and a constant search for ingenuity have not only created an amazing wildlife safe haven and general retreat, but also instilled within the Kennedys and Avalon visitors a respect for the outdoors and a desire to preserve its pristine beauty.

“If you stick a seed in the ground it may grow,” Jeffrey said in conclusion. “If you don't, it won't have a chance of ever growing and nothing will have changed.”







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