Friday, November 23, 2012

Day 80 - Naples, FL to Melbourne Beach, FL

We headed from the west to the east coast of Florida today.  After a bit of congestion and traffic up through Ft. Myers, we settled into some pretty, agricultural areas.  Some observations:
First prize for the most original use of something other than concrete for a sound barrier along an interstate goes to this formation seen on I75 near Naples, FL.  The barricade is terraced and has plantings all over it; hedges, trees and flowers.

Even if you drive the speed limit on a non-interstate, you will attract a following.  This morning as we were toodling down some road or other we encountered a pickup truck pulling a trailer full of vegetables.  He was doing 50 in a 65 zone.  Since we are 53 feet long, we didn't really have an opportunity for a passing maneuver so we remained just behind him.  At intervals, our followers passed us, pulled ahead and saw that it really wasn't the geezer in the 5th wheel who was slowing things up.  Ha!  These vegetable towing pickup trucks park alongside the road, set up a tent and sell produce.  I know because we stopped at one of the stands.
These fellows were parked next to a huge citrus grove (whose oranges are not yet completely ripe).  I never know if I'm getting a good deal or getting ripped off when I buy from these vendors but I choose to think it is good.  We got 6 oranges, 6 ears of corn and a bag of green beans.

I needed to ride through central Florida again to be reminded that there are agricultural lands a plenty.  But I still don't understand sod farms.  Horses and cattle are all over the place.

Just east of the little town of Okeechobee (which is also very near the lake of the same name), we came upon this little restaurant.  There was a huge parking lot full of cars and air boats and a big sign announcing "Land Owner Not Responsible for Theft, Loss, Damage.  Park At Your Own Risk".  It was past lunch time so we decided to do just that and risk it.  The place was busy with a lot of old people (like us) and road workers.  A waitress told us to sit where we liked and that we wanted the special.  Who were we to argue?  We got the special which was a buffet that included salad, biscuits, corn bread, fried turkey (which is just as good as southern fried chicken), mashed potatoes, green beans (cooked the southern way - over), corn on the cob and gravy.  We did indeed want the special.  The waitress chatted with us for a bit.  She said that the area is "country".  There are cattle and cowboys and Indians.  She said there are a lot of ranches around the area but that you won't see the ranch houses from the road.  These ranches are often 20 miles off the main road.  People, she said, like to live away from the crowds.  I felt better for being amongst the cows and horses and pastures.

Our destination today was Sebastian Inlet State Park.  This is located in Melbourne Beach, FL and is not too far from Vero Beach.  The word "beach" features in many of the place names we drove through.  Except for a glimpse of water from a couple of the higher bridges, it would be impossible to tell.  Route A1A took us where we needed to go. The ocean side is lined with vegetative barriers (so as not to see the mansions), gate houses (so as not to approach the mansions) and the beautiful luxury homes that completely obscure access and sight of the ocean.  The sea only became visible once we approached a nature preserve and the state park. 

There was a very nice volunteer at the park gate (from Boston) who directed us to the proper place for campground registration.  A very grumpy ranger gave us our paperwork and directions to the site.  The campground is full.  We were lucky to get this site for two nights.  The reservation information said our site would hold a 40 foot rig and it does (just).  It took maybe three tries to get situated in a manner that would allow the slides to open and keep the bedroom out of the road.  Now there must be some manly, camper creed that says "you must park in one pass or you are a failure".  Poor Brett fussed over this until I told him to quit it.  If anybody is at fault for the parking predicament it would be the person directing the driver (i.e., me). 

After we got through taking and assigning blame for parking and having a bit of a nap, we took a walk to explore the park.  This is a very heavily used park (at least this afternoon).  Although the picture doesn't show the crowds, it does show fishermen and the bridge and fishing pier in the distance.  A fish doesn't stand a chance here.  Between the fisher folk (on land, on the piers and in boats) and the pelicans, if you've got fins and scales you are probably somebody's dinner.  This is the Indian River lagoon.  The bridge goes over the inlet and the Atlantic Ocean is on the other side.  We walked down to the bridge and out on to all the piers.  Along the way we saw a manatee!  Somebody pointed it out.  I've never seen a manatee in the wild until today.  Then I got to watch the pelicans dive bombing for fish.  On the ocean side pier, we saw an osprey quietly sitting (almost next to a fisherman) on a cement wall with a fish in his mouth.  He let us stand and watch him for quite some time.  Further past the bridge there is a pier that goes out into the ocean.  Brett walked the whole way out but it was windy and wavy and the waves were breaking over the pier so I stopped midway.   This did not save me from the wet and I got sprayed just the same when a big wave broke closer to shore.

This little girl was watching the manatee too.  We chose just the right time for our first exploration.  The sun was setting so the light has that beautiful pink tinge.  The sunset happened while we were out on the pier under the bridge and then we walked back to the campground in the twilight.  Magical.

No comments:

Post a Comment