Thursday, March 03, 2011

The First National Wildlife Refuge

Sunshine Travel – Vero Beach, Florida

We spent Wednesday exploring the area, from kayak launches, to wildlife refuges, to beaches.  It started a little cloudy but ended up nice and warm and sunny.  It was a little breezy inland, but really breezy at the beach.

We found a good place to launch our kayaks very close to our campground.  We may get over there in a day or two, but yesterday was just for exploring.

We saved the number on the gps in case we wanted to find it on some future trip.  Hopefully the kayaking will be good.  Yesterday was just to explore.

gps location of canoe and kayak launch

There was a nice boardwalk to the water.

kayak launch trail

A nice dock.  It looks very remote.

kayak launch

Next we went to Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge.   It turns out that this was the first national wildlife refuge and the program was started in 1903 by Teddy Roosevelt.

Trail at Pelican Island NWR

There were some nice trails with some pretty water views and flowers.



What was the most interesting thing in the park was the long boardwalk with a plank carved for each National Wildlife Refuge, all in order by date they were established.  We thought it was very cool.

The boardwalk went on for a long, long way, listing each national wildlife refuge.  There was a gradual incline leading up to a viewing area.

Here are some of the parks.


National Wildlife Refuge Walk

And the island of Guam (where Al and I met).

National Wildlife Refuge Walk

Al on the boardwalk of the National Wildlife Refuges

And the very first park…Pelican Island in 1903.

Pelican Island - the first NWR

A nice scenic overlook.  This area was a bird roost area and would probably be interesting at the end of the day when all the birds come home to roost.  We didn’t see many birds when we were there.

Al looking thru the binoculars at wildlife

After we left Pelican Island,  we did a few more touristy things, and went to a few beach parks.  The temps were mid 70’s and sunny, but the wind coming off the Atlantic was strong and cold from the cool ocean waters.  It was not a pleasant place to be.  As soon as you got over the sand dunes you were fine, but it was darn cold by the water.  We are not sit on the beach type of people.  If we are in our boat docked right offshore, we are very happy, but to just bring chairs and sit at the beach is not for us.  We like to see the pretty water and are definitely in doing some beach snorkeling or kayak diving when the seas calm down.  Wabasso beach and this entire area is known to have reefs close to shore.  We’ve done some very nice snorkeling right off the beach just south of us at Jupiter, Florida.

This next guy appeared to be getting some bait, but this would be a great time to do some metal detecting.  There have been a lot of ships that went down in this area and lots of “booty.”  Al has a metal detector and we even have it with us, so maybe that’s a good idea for another day.

One year when we were on this coast, north of the Palm Beach area there was a treasure ship looking for treasure right off shore.  I mean close…you could have easily swam out to it!  I tell you, we were looking at that sand for treasures!!!  Remember Mel Fisher and  the 1622 shipwreck he found?  It was worth some 450 million!  If you are ever in Key West, check out his museum.  It’s incredible.  We actually met Mel outside of his museum and got a picture of him.  Of course he passed away several years ago.   Maybe one day when we go through our old pictures, I might find that picture again.


Al on boardwalk

Sea Grapes on the sand dunes help the soil erosion.

Sea Grapes

Beautiful Bougainville blooming everywhere in the yards of the beach front houses.

Bouganivillae  We had heard there was a place that we might be able to see some rare Florida Scrub Jays.  They are a pretty rare bird partially because of their unique needs.  they like a sandy area that has short trees.  They don’t want an area where hawks can look down on them and they stay in a certain area.  This place we went was supposed to be a housing area but the bird habitat caused the builder some problems and an area was left undeveloped for the Scrub Jays.

They are beautiful birds don’t you think?

Florida Scrub Jay

Florida Scrub Jay running away

I guess we shouldn’t have fed them, but we kept seeing birds and weren’t sure what they were.  Al dropped a few peanuts and immediately they swooped down to grab the peanuts.

Our kayaks have been shipped (yeah) and should be here Monday :(   Once I order something, I want it yesterday!    I think we’re going to try to sell the old boats at the community garage sale this week-end. We have them on Craigs list too.  I sure hope we like the new ones!


  1. What a cool idea with the board walk at Pelican Island NWR. I'd like to see that.

    I'm waiting for my inflatable to be sent from my daughter's too. :)

  2. Love that board walk...what a neat idea!!
    Hope your kayaks arrive soon!

  3. Great idea on the boardwalk. Thanks for the tour, it was very interesting and the pics were terrific as usual. Looking forward to seeing those new kayaks and how they work out.

  4. Great post! Love the boardwalk and your all your pictures.

    We have a Sea Eagle which we like a lot and two hard sided kayaks.

    I personally wouldn't want to be without the latter anywhere near coral. We've been down the East coast and had multiple places where we would not have felt comfortable in inflatables.

    But for lakes and rivers with just regular rocks they are great.

    If you like your kayaks, don't sell them until you make sure you aren't going to regret it is my advice. I guess they are more trouble to drag around although since we already have the racks on our toad not so much.

    But they are less trouble to launch and put away IMO.


  5. That was a neat boardwalk. Maybe it could be your goal to visit all of those locations after you become fulltimers. That bird was very pretty.

  6. Hope you new float comes soon!


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