Florida Melbourne Ft Pierce Jupiter Vero Beach
Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday & Wednesday September
Just like clockwork Central Florida's blue sky fills with billowing cumulus clouds every afternoon. As the land mass heats up during the day hot moist air flows in off the surrounding water and rises. As the super moist air (you know how humid it is in Florida) rises it meets the cold several thousand feet up. Cold air does not hold as much moisture as warm air. Rain results when the super moist air gives up that moisture in the form of rain. The cycle repeats itself daily almost as regularly as the sun rising and setting.
FSU played Colorado Saturday afternoon. The game was close through the first half but FSU pulled away in the second half (47-7). Three unbeaten teams in the hunt for the National Championship this season aren't in the hunt any longer. FSU is not one of them!
Joyce and I never go to movies. Well . sometimes we go to ONE per-year. We have now broken a record. This week we went to TWO movies. We saw "Open Range" a western filmed between Calgary and the Rocky Mountains. The scenery was absolutely beautiful. Then we watched "Seabiscuit" a movie about a small spirited race horse that the experts had given up on. A group of human "down-and-outs" purchased and trained Seabiscuit to be one of the greatest race horses of his time. Joyce and I were interested in the movie because one of the horses that "played Seabiscuit" in the movie was a race horse we watched run when we were in Ruidoso, New Mexico earlier this summer. The race track announcer went on and on about the movie and this horse. By the way, the "movie star Seabiscuit" did not win the race in Ruidoso. The real Seabiscuit was a winner.
Thursday, September 25, 2003
We got up early this morning and moved the motorhome to Ft Pierce. We headed to Ft Pierce to visit friends. Dale and Cheryl have been friends since the late 1960s when Dale and I were in the Navy stationed in Brunswick, Georgia. Dale met and married Cheryl; I met and married Joyce, and all this happened while we were stationed in Brunswick. We have been friends and stayed in touch since those years together in southeast Georgia. They have recently moved from Orlando to Ft Pierce. Ft Pierce is located on Florida's east coast 50-miles south of Melbourne. It is an agricultural area with orange groves along the coast giving away to huge dairies as you move inland toward Lake Okeechobee.
We had no longer entered the Savannas City Park (tonight's RV-Park) than the phone rang. It was Dale. They were on their way out to get us. Within minutes we were headed to the city marina in Ft Pierce where we dined on the water at the Tiki Bar. Later Dale rode us around Hutchinson Island and Ft Pierce Inlet State Park.
Ft Pierce has a rich history. Back in 1838, during the Second Seminole War, a palmetto log block-house, or fort, was built by soldiers of the First Artillery and named for their commander, Lt. Col. Benjamin Kendrick Pierce, U.S. Army- whose brother Franklin Pierce later became the President of the United States. Through the years Ft Pierce has been the center for businesses connected to pineapple, citrus, truck-farming, fishing and cattle. Indian River Citrus from this area is widely known as the very best citrus available.
Friday, September 26, 2003
Dale & Cheryl stopped by the motorhome and picked us up in their sleek, South Florida, convertible. We headed south on SR 707 (South Indian River Drive) toward Jenson Beach. That drive with the Indian River to the east and waterfront estates lining the other side of the road is eye candy. The view from those waterfront homes has to be simply incredible. Lush foliage, manicured lawns and magnificent homes make this a tropical paradise. In Jenson Beach we stopped for breakfast at Dena's one of those mom and pop places on the water across the street from Pitchford's RV & Trailer Park. Spending quality time with good friends is something everyone should indulge in. The experience was great. One thing was evident as we dined in Dena's and that was how this quaint little restaurant must be the quintessential gathering place for snowbirds that inevitably fill the RV-Park across the street during the winter months.
After breakfast we headed to Jonathan Dickinson State Park in the community of Hobe Sound. Jonathan Dickinson SP had a nice campground that we may visit when we return to this area in the winter. We got to wondering who Jonathan Dickinson was to get a State Park named for him. It turns out he was a Quaker merchant that became shipwrecked off the coast in this area back in 1696. Don't pass over that date without putting it into perspective. In 1696 Florida belonged to the Spanish. There was a Spanish settlement in St Augustine and Pensacola and a few Spanish cattle ranches/haciendas in the interior around Gainesville. Other than that Florida belonged to the Indians. The interior was, for all practical purposes, impenetrable. It was 1838 before U.S. Troops were sent to Florida to rid the area of hostile Indians. Back to Jonathan Dickinson, legend has it that Dickinson, his family and other survivors of the shipwreck, made an arduous journey along the coast to St. Augustine after being shipwrecked in this area. His journal, describing encounters with Native Americans and Spanish settlers, gives valuable information about life in early Florida.
Our next stop was Castaway's Bar in Jupiter. Castaways Marina/Bar is where Allen Jackson & Jimmy Buffet recently recorded the hit record/video "It's 5:00 somewhere". One night I was watching an interview with Allen Jackson as he was talking about making this video at the "Castaway Bar/Marina in Jupiter". I grabbed a piece of paper and scribbled down that information. Later, it was easy to find Castaway's address from on-line yellow pages. From there a google search for Castaway's located even more information on the Bar made famous by Allen Jackson & Jimmy Buffet.
It was not exactly what we expected. The Bar is a quaint "Good old Boy" hangout on a waterfront catering to commercial fishermen. It just happens to be located extremely close to a zillion mega-million dollar waterfront estates. It seems that the "good old boys" who have made it big (Allen Jackson, Jimmy Buffet, Burt Reynolds and their ilk) like to stop by and hobnob with the "good old boys" who still commercial fish for a living.
We had planned to eat lunch at Castaway's but they did not serve food, my mistake. In the music video a barkeep was featured concocting a variety of mixed drinks. They did not serve mixed drinks, only beer and wine. I guess that was an "artistic liberty." We settled for diet Pepsi. Other things in the video are accurately portrayed. The dock/marina is home to a variety of commercial fishing boats. Castaway's is not really the name of the bar, it is the name of the marina. The bar is actually the "Square Grouper". You would not know either place actually had a name as there are no signs. I got a kick out of a bar named "Square Grouper". It has been 30-years since I have heard that term. Back in the "dark-ages" (1960s) it was a term used by commercial fishermen when they referred to transporting bales of marijuana. Think about it Square Grouper/Bales of marijuana. Back in the mid-late1960s some fishermen turned to running marijuana from central/south America to remote locations on the Gulf Coast. Those that did not get caught made some easy money. Those that got caught spent time in prison and lost their boats.
Saturday, September 27, 2003
The park we are staying in was hosting a Civil War Reenactment Battle this morning. It was billed as the battle for Ft Pierce. As far as I know there was no actual battle for Ft Pierce during the Civil War. You would never know it by the number of people who showed up to watch and participate in this event. There is a bunch of Union soldiers from all over the United States as well as Confederate soldiers from a wide variety of states. They were all wearing period clothing (wool pants) and such. Each group had cannons and horses to pull the cannons. Each soldier had their own gun. The park had bleachers set up so spectators could watch the two sides do their thing. We did not watch any of it but we could hear the cannons and rifles from our motorhome.
We spent the day sightseeing and exploring Hutchinson Island the barrier island offshore of Ft Pierce and Jensen Beach. We started at the north end of Hutchinson Island and explored the island from north to south. The north end of Hutchinson Island features a small village complete with a public fishing area along the jetty guarding the south side of Ft Pierce Inlet. South of the village area is 11-miles of undeveloped island. St Lucie County maintains a series of public beach access areas along that 11-mile stretch of beach. There are probably 6 to 8 county owned and maintained beach access areas. That is an impressive number of public beach access areas. Most of Florida's coast is wall to wall condominiums with few areas for the public to enjoy the beach. As we neared the south end of Hutchinson Island commercial development appeared. Just before the commercial development was a nuclear power plant. It seemed odd that someone would build a nuclear power plant on a barrier island, but what do we know? A little further south and just north of the causeway to Jensen Beach is the unique development of Nettles Island. Nettles Island appears to be an island created by dredge spoil. It has been highly developed. The island is a conglomeration of condos, site built homes, mobile homes and RV lots. All have postage stamp yards with narrow streets. There must be 2,000 of these "residences" crammed on the island. Ninety five percent of the places appeared to be vacant when we toured the island. However, the realty office that handles rentals for Nettles Island assured us that they would be full this winter. We can only imagine what Nettles Island must look like when it is full of snowbirds. The widely scattered RV sites vary in price from $34 per-night for an interior site to $45 for a water front site. RV'ers looking for a place like this when you head south for the winter can contact www.vnirealty.com and see what they have to offer (1-866-229-1518).
You can stay in the area and enjoy what it has to offer much cheaper than that. We are staying at the Savannahs County Park in Ft Pierce for $20 per-night for full hookup ($18 without sewer connection), Jonathan Dickinson State Park is near Hobe Sound for around $15 per-night. Also at the west end of the Jensen beach causeway as it intersects SR 707 is Pitchford's RV & Trailer park (N27° 15.058' W80° 13.375'). I do not have a web site or phone number for Pitchford's but you should be able to locate the phone number by using one of the online yellow pages using Jensen Beach for the City. Pitchford's is not one of those fancy resort places so it should be reasonably priced.
FSU played Duke tonight. It was on Pay-Per-View and no sports bars in the area were showing it. It wasn't even on the radio. Jeff, my son, finally called saying that the score was 47-7 in the 4th quarter then Janis, my sister, called to say the final score was 56 -7. Our next game is two weeks from now when FSU hosts Miami in Tallahassee.
Sunday, September 28, 2003
Yesterday we explored south, today we headed north. Yesterday we explored Hutchinson Island, today we explored Orchid Island. Orchid Island is the barrier island offshore of the mainland between St Lucie on the south through Vero Beach, Webasso and finally Sebastian at the north end.
We checked out boat ramps and other places where I might fish when we are back through here this winter. We also checked out posh neighborhoods scattered along both sides of the island. The homes are awesome but the landscaping and exotic plants really fascinate us.
The weather was partly cloudy when we headed out this morning but by 1:30 the sky turned angry and black. It rained like you only see once or twice in a lifetime. By the time the sun went down the area had received 3 to 6 inches of rain. During one 15-minute deluge it rained so hard driving was impossible. We knew the rain was of monsoon proportions but I would never have guessed that 6" actually dropped in a 5-hour period according to the National Weather Service & nightly news.
Monday, September 29, 2003
More rain was predicted for this afternoon so we got going early. The rain came as predicted. We had a good day it just wasn't filled to overflowing with exciting things. It started raining around noon and did not let up. Even though it rained constantly all afternoon we only got 1" of rain today. The rain today was like the rain in the Pacific North West with the sky overcast and a constant drizzle.
To cap the day off Joyce cooked. Amazing things happen. VBG
Tuesday, September 30, 2003
The weather remained threatening all day. The chance of rain was with us until after dark, instead of rain all we got was blustery threats.
On the causeway from Ft Pierce to Hutchinson Island is the St Lucie County Historical Museum and Smithsonian Marine Ecosystem Exhibit. The Historical Museum is something the county can be proud of.
At one time this area was the world's leading producer of pineapple. After a few bad years farmers turned to other crops like citrus. The Indian River Lagoon separates the mainland from the barrier islands runs for 156 miles along the Treasure Coast. The Indian River is not a river at all it is an estuary. This terminology is pure semantics but a traditional river starts and flows to someplace generally the sea. The Indian River Lagoon is an estuary where fresh water and salt water mix. Tidal flow dominates the movement of water in the lagoon. We read somewhere that the Indian River Lagoon was 156 miles from north to south while averaging 3-5 miles wide with an average depth of 3-feet.
There is no telling what we might learn when spending an afternoon in two class museums/exhibits.
Until next time remember how good life is.
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Until next time remember how good life is.