Sunrise in the Florida Keys

Sunrise in the Florida Keys

Monday, September 12, 2011

A Great Day of Kayaking

Vero Beach, Florida

Some days are just special.   This was one of those days.

Yesterday we did a little exploring and discovered Fort Pierce Inlet State Park.  It’s about 30 miles south from our campground.  It’s a day use park but we did discover they have 3 campsites for volunteers.  Smile

Yesterday when we went to the park we discovered a large Gopher Tortoise by the picnic area.  He was munching on the berries from the sea grapes. 

Gopher Tortoise

They are normally shy, but this one must have been used to being around people and he came right up to me.  It brought back memories of the sea turtle who thought I was a girl sea turtle. Smile

We walked down to the beach and found a smaller Gopher Tortoise who decided to take a swim in the ocean. He was at the point where the inlet goes into the Indian River Lagoon.  We couldn’t believe this land tortoise would go swimming.  We just stood there watching him, thinking he was just going in to cool off and would come right back out.  He didn’t, and unfortunately,  quickly got caught in the currents and was being swept out to sea.  We didn’t know what to do, but soon a good Samaritan in a boat went by him (we were afraid he would run over him), but he didn’t and stopped and brought him back to us on the shore.  Al grabbed him from the guy and we took him back to the area where we found the other one.  We are hoping the big one would teach this little one the facts of life on living at the beach.  You are not  a sea turtle, you are a land  tortoise!

Gopher Tortoise in ocean

This is the guy and his daughter, who were our hero’s yesterday.

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Al with Gopher Tortoise after rescue

When we walked him back over by the picnic area I told Al to rinse him off under the fresh water.  You know how yucky you can feel after a swim in the ocean.    Well…here is where Al washed him off and gave him a drink of fresh water.

Al giving drink of water to gopher tortoise

Yes, that is a drinking fountain.  I’m not sure that would have been appreciated by some people.

We turned him loose and introduced him to the elder tortoise.  Hopefully he learned a valuable lesson.

Fort Pierce Inlet State Park is a beautiful park.  I sure wish they had a campground.  It’s right on the beach at the inlet. The water is pretty and clear.  We decided to go back today.

So this morning,  we set the alarm for 4:30…got up around 5 am and left the house at 6:20. A record for us.  We wanted to get to the park at 7:00 when they opened….or when Al said they opened.

Unfortunately we got there a little before 7 am and found they didn’t open until 8 am!    Darn it…the first time we actually get there early and they aren’t open!

We drove over to the beach and took a few early morning pictures while waiting for the park to open.

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It was a beautiful morning and worth the wait.

At at Fort Pierce beach at sunrise

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sunrise at Fort Pierce Beach

sunrise at Fort Pierce Beach

We headed back to the park at 8am and we were lucky enough to talk to one of the park rangers by the name of Cass Meadows.  She told us that with our annual Florida state Park pass, we could get the code to enter the gate after hours.  Yea…  We got to talking and I asked her if they have any volunteer positions.  She said they are booked this winter and next but they do have some openings in the  spring and summer.  Well, this would definitely not be a bad place to volunteer…any time of the year.  They have 3 sites.  She gave me her business card and told me to send her an email so she could keep us on file.  I told her we were close by and if any of the volunteers had to cancel to let me know! 

We went over to the campsite they  have for the volunteers.  There are 2 spots here and one by the maintenance building.

It was plenty large enough for us to fit into and it had a sewer hook-up! 

volunteer campsite at fort Pierce inlet state park...one to the left and to the right

Al thinks we could get our satellite to work there too, so another bonus. 

Cass told us they have 7 miles of beach and during the last two summers they had over 1000 sea turtle nests.    They require 32 hours a week for their volunteers.  You would spend some of that time in the office collecting fees and the other time they want you picking up trash.  They monitor the turtle nests on their 4 wheelers.  I didn’t  get the sense they wanted the volunteers to help with that, but I’ll bet if they got to know you they would let you do it!  It looks like a wonderful place to volunteer and I’m going to definitely stay in touch with her.

We finally got our kayaks into the water about 9 :00 am,  just about high tide.  We put them at the inlet that leads out to the Atlantic.  This is what it looks like.  Pretty huh?  There was a picnic pavilion that gave us some shade while inflating the kayaks…and a bathroom and shower nearby.

Fort Pierce Inlet

We headed inland towards the Indian River  and just drifted along with the tide.

kayaking from  Fort Pierce Inlet SP

The water was pretty, the paddling easy and there was a slight breeze.

al relaxing

We saw an Osprey in a nest.

osprey

and another one with a fish

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Our kayaks have a hard floor and you can actually stand up and paddle.  Al decided to give it a shot.

Al standing and paddling in Sea Eagle

clear shallow water

We parked at a beach and got out to stretch our legs.  There was a family there from a pontoon boat that was doing a little beach clean up.  We helped too.

clear water kayaks on beach fort pierce inlet sp

I took a couple of shots for my new header picture.  I needed to update the picture to show our current kayaks.

kayaks on the beach fort pierce inlet

I took all the junk out so they looked pretty. Smile

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pretty clouds beach at fort pierce inlet

We found a feather from a Roseatte Spoonbill, but unfortunately didn’t see any birds.

feather from rosette spoonbill

We headed back towards the beach at the inlet and met a nice couple from the area.  They said they usually see a family of manatee swimming back and forth in the inlet.  Soon, we saw them too.  We jumped back in our kayaks for a closer look.  Al was lucky enough to have one come up for air right beside of his kayak.  He stuck his hand in the water and said the manatee was about 2 inches from his hand!  You can see the dark shadow in the water but that is the best shot of the manatee I could get.  Notice the grin on Al’s face?

al kayaking fort pierce inlet manatee right by his hand

There was a family there from Canadian (French) and he saw the dark shadow in the water.  He immediately jumped in the water to see what it was.  He came out and we asked him if he saw a manatee?  He didn’t know what it was, until we described what a manatee looked like.  I don’t think I would have jumped into the water unless I knew what big dark creature was actually swimming by!

We talked to the other couple for quite a while then decided to call it a day. By this time we were starved.  We decided to come back tomorrow.  We’ll try to get there at 7 am again and this time with our gate code, we’ll be able to get in. 

It was a great, great day.

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We also saw two sea turtles, but no pictures.

These are the rocks at the inlet.

Fort Pierce inlet  rocks at inlet

Beach flowers.

beach flowers

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We grabbed some lunch and came back home and had a swim in the pool.  It’s the first time we’ve been in the pool all summer!  We had it to ourselves….such is the life of Florida visitors in the summer!

12 comments:

  1. I was wondering when you might put up a new photo, and although I loved the old one, the new one is beautiful as well, and a great reminder of one of those "golden memory" days. Beautiful, Karen. I loved reading about it.

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  2. Great photos once again ~ wish we were over there too... What great wildlife (so to speak) you are seeing. LOVE it! They new header is very nice ~ what kind of camera do you use?
    Have fun & Travel safe
    Donna

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  3. nice header picture!!..and great photos all through your post!..you had quite the day touring around!!!

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  4. Sounds like an excellent day of kayaking to me! I like the new header pic too.
    Syl

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  5. We have 2 Sea Eagle 330's and love them. Me, wife and the kids have a great time on the water here in Texas/

    Todd

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  6. Keeping my fingers crossed that maybe one of those volunteers will not show up. Looks like a beautiful place to be. Love the new picture.

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  7. Wow, what great photos. You're seeing a lot of neat things. Really cool critters and beautiful birds. Your last few posts have been really fun to follow. (As usual.)

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  8. Sounds like an absolutely wonderful day!! The water was so clear and beautiful. Pretty cool being so close to a manatee!! How neat is that???
    Love the header picture!!

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  9. A lot of great stuff packed into this blog. What an interesting day and so many great photos to look at.

    What was that guy thinking when he jumped in the water? Yikes!

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  10. It looks like "a wonderful time was had by all" - including the turtle. I haven't made it up to that park yet but it looks like a great place to visit!
    Candy

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  11. Beautiful pictures and descriptions of the park. We live in Florida and are always looking for new parks to visit. Where are you parked around there? An RV park or another state park?

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