Sunday, April 21, 2024

4/14 Sebastian Inlet State Park

This is an extremely nice state park--not because the sites are fantastic, but because it is alongside an inlet to the intercoastal waterway, and by walking under a highway bridge, you can get easily to a pier and the Atlantic Ocean Beach.  

However, this park in the past has caused me problems.  A few years ago, I got terribly bitten by mosquitos as I was walking a friend to her car at dusk.  Normally, I do not go out at dusk because I am very sensitive to mosquito bites, but I was being polite that time, and ignored my rule.  

Another time, I was camped in a spot next to the swampy woods along the back of the campground and in the early morning hours when it was still dark, I heard a lot of thumping and bumping in one of the underneath storage area under my bedroom area.  I waited until dawn and went out armed with a senior grabber and a flashlight.  As I suspected, a raccoon had started to set up housekeeping, but she was easily evicted, though not after tearing up half a role of paper towel into tiny bits.  

This time, it was mosquitos that got me again and required a trip to urgent care on my way out!!!  Anyway, I enjoyed the week I spent here, though it would have been more enjoyable if I had not accumulated 30+ bites that blistered and kept me up the last couple of nights! 

I had a good campsite this time, well away from the swamp and closer to the inlet where there was a beautiful breeze every day.  I also had a good view for people and boat watching. 

The campground is along the inlet, shown here.  There are a couple of fishing piers and boats seem to like to anchor nearby for fishing.  In the distance, you can see the highway bridge and the day use area across the river.

This is a view looking into the wide intercoastal waterway. 

This is a redhead African agama, which is an invasive species and has been eating butterflies and other native insects.  I have seen a lot of these in state parks, but there does not seem to be much effort in catching and destroying them.  Here is an article:

Across the inlet is a protected beach area.  Not supposed to be any alligators hanging around here because of the current and salt water.

Not sure what this lizard is, but it looks a lot like the orange-headed one, except without the coloring.

This is the highway bridge that goes over the inlet.  It has two big fishing piers underneath it, but unfortunately they are both closed because parts of the concrete from the bridge overhead have been falling down.  Plans are underway to build a new, and higher bridge here. 

In the meantime, the pelicans are enjoying it as a roost. 

This is the beach on my side of the river.   A couple of centuries ago, a treasure ship was wrecked along this coast and supposedly, occasionally, someone finds Spanish coins on the beach after a storm.
A nice store and rental shop in the day use area.

This is the campground check-in and fishing museum building. 

One of the campers told me that there would be a SpaceX rocket launch on this night 56 miles away at Canaveral, so I put on long pants, a mosquito hat and a long-sleeved jacket.  I am not positive, but I think the mosquitos got me that night because I had neglected to put rubber bands on my pant legs at the ankle.  

Anyway, I walked out on the pier past the bridge and waited in the dark with a bunch of fishermen and a couple of fellow campers.  This is what the lift-off looked like in the far distance. 

It took me a while to realize that this ball of fire was the rocket.  It came up from the pad northeast of us, took off headed across the ocean to the south, and passed in front of us, but way out to sea. 

I think this is where it dropped the booster.  But did you know the booster does not just drop into the ocean?  It is steered to a special ship landing platform and lands upright ready for the next flight.  Amazing.  After this, it headed up and so far away that I could not get any photos.

Down the beach about a mile or so is a treasure museum.  My photos are a bit blurred, but it was an interesting place.  

On my last morning here, I checked out and headed for urgent care.  Got prescriptions for prednisone and antibiotics, which have really helped my bites over the past few days.  I am trying to stay in at dusk from now on.  

4/9 Alligators at Myakka & Bad Dump Hookup

The best place to see alligators at Myakka State Park is along the bridge that passes over the Myakka River.  The river widens a bit here, and a lot of fishermen use the bridge for fishing, so it attracts alligators.  

Here are some of the photos I took this week while I stayed in the park.  

No swimming in this river, for obvious reasons!!

The birds do not seem worried, however.

I like to come back to this campground at Myakka because the sites are very large and this area has full hookups, meaning I can hook up my rig to electric, water, and sewage.

Most of the time, sewer hookups are level with the ground.  Unfortunately in this campground, someone decided that water could run uphill.

What this means for campers like me is that we have to "walk" the liquid in the sewer pipe by lifting it up in sections to drain it.  I know they have done this to prevent sewage from ending up on the ground, but it is very irritating to have to by lifting the hose up, and hoping the end does not come loose from the hookup, thus dumping sewage on ourselves and on the ground!!  Grrrrr!

4/8 Marie Selby Botanical Gardens Historic Spanish Point

I've been driving for several days in a row and recovering from a bunch of infected mosquito bites that required me to go to urgent care a few days ago, so I am late getting several items posted.  I have downloaded photos, so hope I can get them sorted and posted by later tonight.

Anyway, a couple of weeks ago, I visited the second of the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens.  This one is several miles south of Sarasota along the Gulf of Mexico, at a place called Spanish Pointe.  It originally consisted of a large family compound with several homes and was donated to the botanical gardens because of its location and variety of plants. 

I parked my big motorhome at the entrance parking lot, and started walking, following the signs below. 

What I did NOT know was that I had parked at the public library lot, which acted as an overflow lot for the botanical gardens.  This meant that I had a very long walk to the real parking lot and entrance!! (They gave me a ride in a golf cart on the way back.)

There is a lot of walking in this botanical garden even when you DO get to the right parking lot and entrance booth!  One of the first buildings I found was what had originally been a garage and utility building, but was now an archeological museum.   
Ancient peoples also lived in this area, particularly on the peninsula where these homes are located.  Because this Gulf here was loaded with oysters, the ancient peoples picked thees up from the shallow water and ate them in groups on the peninsula, building up a "midden" of shells over hundreds and thousands of years.  Such middens are common throughout the world and became the foundations for living structures, including this building.  (See also the Neolithic community of Skara Brae that I visited in Scotland that is built into a midden: )

On the left, behind the glass, is a section of the oyster midden here.

And a closeup of the shells in the midden.  Lots and lots of meals of oysters eaten here! 

This is the end of the peninsula looking out over the waterway and homes in the distance.

Another home at the end of the peninsula.  

Another view looking down the peninsula. 

The main home was located about halfway back along the peninsula, and has a lovely, formal garden.

The house is now used as a restaurant, serving very good food. 

After a pleasant lunch, I headed back down the trail to another part of the gardens.

This area has a lot of mangroves and also oyster beds.

This is part of an aqueduct that the owner had built to provide water for her fountains.


Another one of the homes.  This one was open to the public to view the inside, however.

Very interesting crooked tree in the yard!!

While there is not much original furniture, other than the hand-carved bed seen here, the paneling is gorgeous.  I am guessing it is cypress.

Most of the paneling is just straight-grain wood, but the "curly" cypress on the stairs is amazing!!

It was a pleasant day with a cool breeze coming off the Gulf.  Before air conditioning, homes of the well-to-do in Florida were built along the coast for those breezes and also because originally, it was easier to get to them via boats than roads, which were mostly lacking back then.