Saturday, February 23, 2013

2/23 Sebastian Inlet

This is a big inlet north of Vero Beach, Florida, where the inland waterway empties into the Atlantic Ocean.  Lot of people fishing around here, both in boats and from the bank and the bridge that crosses it. 

Caught a really neat almost-sunset photo yesterday.  I was trying to take a photo of the inlet but the sun was too bright, so I waited until it was behind a cloud and got this.

This morning I rode my bike up to the bridge and watched the pelicans trying to keep up with the outgoing tide.  They kept floating out to the ocean and then would have to fly back.  Most of them were really just hanging around because of the fisherman, but I did see several catch their own fish.

The beach was just under the bridge.  There are piers on both the north and the south side.

I decided to try to ride my bike or walk part way over the bridge to get some more photos.  Unfortunately, there was really no bike path or even an pedestrian path.  I walked my bike part way and then walked the rest along the curb.  It was a bit scary because this was not really intended for pedestrians and the railing was very low when you stood on the curb.  I was glad to get down!


The last photo above shows what they call the tide pool.  It is a swimming and beach area that is slightly blocked off from the rest of the inlet by rocks and a shallow artificial sand bar, turning it into a tide pool when the tide goes out.  I will have to explore that in a couple of days.

Last photo is a snowy egret.  These are easy to identify by the black beak and black legs.  You cannot see his orange feet, however.  I first saw a flock of these in January when I was driving along a divided highway out in the country and almost hit a bunch of these that flew in front of my vehicle.  Just missed them, but I could see the black beaks and black legs very clearly. 

2/22 Jonathan Dickinson State Park Tower

I packed up and unhooked my rig so I could head to my next campground, but I also wanted to stop on my way out and visit Hobe Tower.  This is on the highest area in the county and on the site of an old WWII training base. 

For some strange reason, I forgot to take a photo of the actual tower, but here is the path up and the top of the platform.

Nice view from the top! You can barely see the ocean in the distance. The road in the distance is U.S. 1.

This was apparently a training base for the signal corps in WWII, so here is the plaque explaining that.  Hard to imagine over 6,000 solders stationed here.

Friday, February 22, 2013

2/21 Jonathan Dickinson State Park River Tour

I have been planning to take a boat tour on the Loxahatchee River, but had trouble getting this scheduled because they do not go all the way to the end when there is a low tide.  The river has been designated a National Wild and Scenic River and dumps into the Atlantic at Jupiter Inlet.  While the beach areas are pretty heavily developed, as in all parts of Florida, you just have to drive a few miles inland to see the "real" Florida as it used to be--full of scrub and pine hammocks. 

I have been staying in the newer campground nearer the entrance of this park, but since this is a very large park, it is 4.5 miles by road to the main visitor center and the river tour concession.  Rather than unhook everything, put my slides in, and drive, I decided to ride my bike.  Luckily it was not too hot, but there was a stiff breeze and the few ups and downs of the road wore me out.  Pretty countryside and very quiet while you are riding.

I saw a couple stopped ahead of me, and then noticed the gopher turtle that was munching on grass:

There was also a place where you could rent a horse or take a wagon ride.  Believe it or not, in many of the state parks here, you can bring your horse and camp in a special equestrian campground nearby.

Here are some photos of the tour boat and the river. 

As we went upriver, the river got narrower, and we approached the homestead of a man named Trapper John. 

Apparently, in the 30s, this guy lived by trapping all kinds of animals and having paying guests, among them some famous people.  Looked too buggy and primative for my tastes! Here is his home and the places where he kept live animals to sell.

Saw a few birds and some turtles on the way back.  The guide said these were called sliders:

Some lady in the parking lot saw me getting on my bike and commented to her friends that she didn't have the stamina to ride a bike.  Well, neither do I, but I do it anyway.  By the time I got back to my motorhome, I could barely make it up the stairs and indoors.  My right knee was really swollen and bothering me, so I collapsed in my chair for a couple of hours before I got the energy to get some dinner and take a shower.  Whew! 

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

2/18 Jupiter, Florida

The rain finally stopped and the temperatures are a little warmer, so I got packed up and went out and about today.  Seems like I have been stuck indoors for a long time! 

First stop was the Jupiter Lighthouse. 

There are 105 stairs to the top, which was not too bad, other than there was a railing on only one side, but I was careful, as falling and getting hurt is one of my major concerns. 

Here are a couple of views from the top showing the Jupiter Inlet where the Loxahatchee River empties into the Atlantic Ocean:

My next stop was a small park near the Jupiter Inlet.  It was windy and I immediately slid on my rear down a dune, almost landing on this guy:

After brushing the sand off myself, I headed down the beach to the inlet and saw this guy.  Yes, he had only one leg, but seemed to hop around just fine.  I think he is a western sandpiper.

Here's a small flock of birds.  The ones with the orange beaks are royal terns. There is one juvenile royal tern in the lower middle that looks like the others but has a black beak:

It was really windy and rough, but since it was a school holiday, there were a lot of kids out surfing, or at least trying to surf. I did not actually see many really riding waves, but they seemed to be having fun anyway.

It took about a dozen tries, but I finally got a photo of a pelican diving for a fish:

They seemed to be doing pretty good and seemed to be catching something at every dive in this small area near the pier.

Friday, February 15, 2013

2/15 Ramblings

It's been roughly eight months since I have been living entirely on the road, so time for some reflection. 
  • I've driven over 17,000 miles through 23 states--probably too many miles in that period of time.  One of my goals on this trip has been to "travel slow" but I think that I am still traveling too fast.  I need to focus on spending more time in places.
  • I don't need to be sightseeing every day because I am living on the road, not just traveling.  I am perfectly comfortable sitting at "home" even for several days in a row just watching TV, being online, and working at my part-time online job.  I would be doing the same in a "sticks and bricks" home.
  • I've been to a dozen national parks and probably two dozen state parks in various places.  I really enjoy seeing scenery, animals, and plants, and have made a serious effort to learn the names of the things I have seen.  I think this has been pretty successful, even though I still have a lot to learn. 
  • Having a good camera to record my trip so I can remember where I have been is important to me, and I need a new camera.  I broke my old camera in Wisconsin and bought a new one on the spur of the moment, not noticing that it had no viewfinder.  I am getting tired of not being able to see what I am aiming at in bright light. 
  • Driving is tiring, but not as stressful as it was at first.  I can go almost anywhere I want to in this big rig, at least with a little planning.  Shopping centers and stores with big parking lots are not much of a problem.  I am getting very good at backing up into a campsite at one try, assuming it has no tricky trees or rocks.
  • The hardest things about this life are getting a good haircut and receiving mail and packages.  I am always getting haircuts from strangers, so I never know how they will turn out.  Mail and packages are tricky, but I can get things held for delivery at a  UPS or Fed-Ex location.  Just need to predict where I will be, get the location of a delivery site, arrange for delivery there, and pick it up a couple of weeks later. 
Future plans?  I see only health problems or an accident stopping me from continuing to live on the road like this.  I hope I have at least five years that I can still do this. 

More immediate plans?  After I leave Florida in April, I plan a couple of weeks driving up the east coast to Virginia Beach and then heading northwest to Ohio and Michigan.  After that will likely visit Ontario and then head west to North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming, Colorado, Montana, Idaho, and eventually California.  Next winter will probably be spent in Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas. 

Thursday, February 14, 2013

2/13 Near Jupiter, Florida

Moved campgrounds again.  This is a very nice place with very large spots and full-hookups.  Fairly quiet except for a little road noise, but nowhere near as bad as John Prince last week.  I like lots of space between campsites because it gives you so much more privacy and fewer potential problems from noisy neighbors and smoky campsites.  Neither of those are present here, luckily.

Here is a photo of this campsite.  No trees or shrubbery since it is fairly new.  You can see in the first picture that there are some areas nearby that were damaged by hurricanes.

I really like campgrounds with asphalt roads and pea gravel in campsites.  It keeps down the dust and dirt from vehicles driving by. 

I did spot an amazing rig that was pulling two trailers! 

Yes, that is a very large Class A motorhome, pulling a truck, which is pulling a trailer with a golf cart on it.  I cannot believe this is legal in Florida or anywhere else.  And how does he make a turn with that setup??  He obviously cannot pull into a gas station with it.  I was riding my bike to the registration office when he passed me, so I speeded up in order to take a photo.  Luckily, he had stopped at the booth to check out, so I was able to sneak a couple of photos. 

2/10 West Palm Beach, FL

I have not posted much lately because I have been busy doing my online work and visiting relatives.  I had five days without long-term reservations.  I had hoped to get some place down farther into the Keys, but no luck.  The prime Florida State Parks are booked up long in advance, and I did not want to drive too far out of my way up the east coast of the state because my next campground would not be too far away. 

but I found out about John Prince Park near here.  It has a very big campground on a lake, and I was lucky to get a spot with water and electron only on short notice.  The good part was that it was close to one of my cousin's homes, so I was able to ship a bunch of stuff from Amazon to him.  One of the problems with this life is not being able to have a place to get mail and packages.  I was able to get a book shipped to a Fed-Ex Office but had to go quite a bit out of my way to pick it up.

Here are some photos of John Prince Park:

Anybody know what kind of a duck this is??  I don't think it is native to Florida, but a pair of them were wandering around the campground.

My cousin and his wife live in a very nice gated community.  Here are a couple of photos of the beautifully landscaped canals and ponds behind their house:

This photo I took of a cormorant apparently perched on a duck threw us for a while.  It was not until the bird flew off that we realized it was a decoy!

And some birds I later determined were some American coots. They have white bills that are different than the ones on ducks, and have a spot of white under their tails:

And finally, have to show you my cousin's pineapple plant.  They had stuck the top of a pineapple in a pot of dirt, and this is what happened!