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.
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.
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.
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!
This is the guy and his daughter, who were our hero’s yesterday.
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.
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.
It was a beautiful morning and worth the wait.
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!
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.
We headed inland towards the Indian River and just drifted along with the tide.
The water was pretty, the paddling easy and there was a slight breeze.
We saw an Osprey in a nest.
and another one with a fish
Our kayaks have a hard floor and you can actually stand up and paddle. Al decided to give it a shot.
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.
I took a couple of shots for my new header picture. I needed to update the picture to show our current kayaks.
I took all the junk out so they looked pretty.
We found a feather from a Roseatte Spoonbill, but unfortunately didn’t see any birds.
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?
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.
We also saw two sea turtles, but no pictures.
These are the rocks at the inlet.
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!