Summer just wouldn’t be the same without a trip to the beach. In fact, I can’t think of a summer when we haven’t carved out some beach time. This picture of the girls on the beach was taken during one of many vacations in Sanibel.
This year, the month of August started in Jacksonville with some time on the beach, and then last Friday we took a day trip to the beach visiting St. Augustine in the morning and Ponce Inlet in the afternoon. And later this month we’ll spend a few more days on the beach.
TBT Lesson #63: It isn’t summer without a trip to the beach.
At Washington Oaks Gardens State Park you can start the day on the nearly deserted beach soaking up the sun, catching some waves, fishing in the surf, or just walking down the unique coquina rock shoreline. Better than Daytona or St. Augustine or Jacksonville, the beaches along the Flagler County coast are less crowded and the have a little more character.
After some time at the beach cross A1A and stroll through the formal gardens at the park.
Named for a previous owner and distant relative of President George Washington, the property was developed by Owen Young as a winter residence and his wife Louise Powis Clark developed the park’s formal gardens and citrus grove. She’s also responsible for donating the land to the state of Florida with the provision that the gardens be kept and maintained.
In addition to the formal gardens, there are trails for walking and biking and an interpretative exhibit.
Sit out in the shade and watch the boats in the Matanzas River or fish from the seawall.
Washington Oaks Gardens State Park is another great place to enjoy the Florida of yesteryear.
Unlike last summer, we didn’t plan this year’s trip to the beach as a turtle adventure; however, to our surprise Manasota Key turned out to be a sea turtle paradise. Upon check in, the woman at the desk pointed out the turtle information in the packet and told us that a turtle recently came ashore during the middle of the day and laid its eggs at the corner of the building in which we’d be staying. It was even difficult to find a place to set up chairs and umbrellas around all of the nests.
Then while walking taking a walk on our first night, we noticed turtle tracks on the beach and saw a loggerhead returning to the gulf after making a false crawl. Even though we didn’t see any turtles laying eggs, it’s still pretty amazing to see one on the beach lumbering through the sand.
Excavation in progress
One of the unhatched eggs
Shells of hatched turtles
The next day as we headed out to fish from the shore we met Richard, a volunteer with the Coastal Wildlife Club Turtle Patrol. His job that morning was to excavate a nest that hatched three days earlier to take a count of the number of turtles that hatched and to determine if any hatchlings remained in the nest. When I stopped to ask about the excavation, he drafted me as his assistant.
Richard dug out the nest removing the shells as well as the unhatched eggs while I recorded the information in the notebook kept by the volunteers. He unearthed ninety-nine hatched eggs and eleven more that did not hatch and appeared as though they never developed. Before the excavation, Richard said the nests were averaging about 110 eggs, and that’s exactly what we found.
Armadillos got to this nest
Hatchlings to be saved after nest disturbed by a predator
Wire added to prevent further damage
The parallel tracks of a green sea turtle
Our final morning on the beach resulted in another day of working with the Turtle Patrol volunteers. On this day, five nests invaded by predators had to be excavated in search of living turtles. In the first nest 19 hatchlings and another eight pipped eggs were removed and relocated to the Turtle Patrol headquarters for observation and release at a later time.
While three of the volunteers took care of the turtles found in the disturbed nests and then protected them with wire to discourage further problems with predators, I joined a fourth volunteer, Adam, checking on the remaining nests and looking for evidence of hatches as well as new nests. We identified two more nests predated by armadillos, two new nests – one a green turtle nest, which is not very common, and one nest that hatched.
What a great way to spend the final day at the beach!
On this date, March 3rd, in 1845, Florida entered the union as the 27th state. That sounds like reason for celebration. Make March celebrate Florida month. Can you complete ten of these Florida friendly tasks this month?
Visit a Florida State Park
Florida Caverns State Park
Falling Rivers State Park
Silver Springs State Park
Fort Clinch State Park
Go to the beach
Eat key lime pie
Listen to the music of Floridians like Lynard Skynard, Mel Tillis, Tom Petty, Ray Charles, or Gloria Estefan.
Read a Carl Haisaan book
Eat a Cheeseburger in Paradise
Place a bet on the “ponies” at the Florida Derby at Gulfstream.
Wear flip flops
Travel by boat
Visit the “Ancient City” of St. Augustine
Swim with the manatee
Drink a glass of orange juice
Visit a Florida spring
Ride a bike trail
Paddle a canoe or kayak
Register to vote (or update your registration)
Visit a tacky tourist trap
Eat a Cuban sandwich
Sip a frozen tropical drink
Take a hike
Visit a botanical garden
Tour a fort
Take an airboat ride
Drink from the Fountain of Youth
Watch a Major League Baseball Grapefruit League spring training game
Enjoy to a festival
Go to Ron Jon
Explore the Rocket Garden at Kennedy Space Center
Drive on Daytona Beach
Smoke a cigar from Ybor City
Climb a lighthouse
Ride a glass bottom boat
Experience bike week in Daytona
Sleep in a chickee
Collect sharks teeth
Drive the overseas highway
Ferry to the Dry Tortugas
Sing the state song while on the Swanee River
Get LOST on the Lake Okeechobee Scenic Trail (LOST)
Drive Spook Hill
Whale watch from Gamble Rogers State Park
Crack a coconut
Leave a comment and let me know what I forgot, but don’t forget to celebrate Florida! And don’t forget to take pictures!