Wesley Chapel, Florida (high 67, low 39)
Winter has arrived in the Tampa Bay area. It got down to 30 degrees last night, but thankfully it’s starting the warm up today.
Al read an article in the newspaper about a group of paddle-boarders that were leaving on a 300 mile trek to Key Largo from Fort Desoto Park. I posted about it on my previous blog.
We decided to venture over to Fort Desoto park, which is about an hour south of us and see if we could watch the paddle boarders leave.
We thought it would be fun to watch them take off on their journey, but we wondered if they would postpone their trip due to the very cold and windy weather.
You can see by the map, that they would have to cross that bay to get back over to the Florida coastline and out of some of the worst winds. It would have been risky standing on a paddleboard in those seas.
Fort Desoto is a county park that has a wonderful campground. It’s huge, with not only the campground, but lots of beach area, a marina, a fort, a pier, and lots of picnic areas. There are wonderful paved bike trails and lots of areas where you can launch a kayak or canoe.
The paddle boarders were supposed to leave by the east beach area, so we headed over there. Nothing…no people, no spectators, and no paddle boarders.
We drove all around the park and saw nothing. We asked a cop that was “working” on a deserted beach area giving tickets/napping/hiding. He didn’t know anything about them, but then again, he may not have been awake.
We went over to the pier and other than a few fisherman, it was pretty deserted. It felt bitter cold with the brisk wind and temps in the upper 40’s. We didn’t stay there long.
We bundled up in layers, but needed gloves for our cold hands.
We drove over to the north beach area, parked, and walked towards the woods where two men with cameras were watching something in a tree.
It was a little more out of the wind, but still pretty chilly there as well!
Of course, we had to ask what they were watching and they told us there was a mother owl and two owlets.
Here is mama.
We never found the second baby, but here is the best I could get of the baby. Look how fluffy he is.
We watched them for a while and then walked over to the north beach. This is our favorite part and we normally see Roseate Spoonbills there. Not this time though.
It’s amazing how much the beach has changed over the years. Partly from the winds, currents and storms, and partly due to people. Did you know that if you dig a hole in the sand, build a sand castle, or drop anchor, that you can change the entire beach? Well, you can. Not so much on a straight beach, but more so on a small island. We’ve seen it happen many times. We used to take our boat out to Anclote Key. We would be shocked at how much the beach would change from week to week. Sometimes it would be from someone dropping an anchor and making a hole in the sand. That hold would give way for the waves and currents to wash away an entire section and make an inlet. We saw it time and time again. And that my friends, is why it’s not a good idea to build a house on the beach!
To get to the north beach, you have to walk over a little bridge. There is a pretty little lagoon where the Spoonbills like to feed.
It was warmer on the north beach, so we headed down the beach and picked up a few shells.
It was Sunday. This next guy was “preaching to the choir”
There were a lot of pen shells in the surf. They have the most beautiful iridescent coloring.
A few Horseshoe Crabs.
The most amazing patterns in the wet sand.
It looked like carpeting and snow.
This is the prettiest part of the beach in our opinion.
Big fluffy white sand dunes. White enough to be snow and cold enough too!
After a while the sun came out and it felt much better.
Despite the wind and cold, it turned out to be a lovely day at the beach. Most of the winter has brought temps in the 70’s or 80’s. So why did we pick the coldest day of the year to go to the beach?
After walking the beach for a while, we headed back to snap a few more owl pictures. The ranger was there sitting in his truck with the heat on and watching the birds. Apparently, they have generated a lot of attention and he was keeping people from disturbing the birds. We liked that.
Al asked the ranger if he knew if the paddle boarders had taken off or not? He did not know, but radioed in and got the answer. Yes they did….. yesterday!
I’m blaming Al for that one. :)
It was okay though because we still had a wonderful beach day.