small veranda entices guests to relax and enjoy
the view next to the labyrinth on the Kennedys
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
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
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.”