We finally stayed in one place for five weeks and it felt good to settle somewhere for a long period of time. We stayed at the Savannas Recreation Area, a county park near the water in Ft Pierce. We had a nice spot overlooking part of the last savannah area on the east coast of Florida. Everything else has been developed. A Savanna is a grassland ecosystem transitioning from land to sea. It is rich in sea life and birds. We pulled head first into our spot so our vast windshield overlooked the Savanna Jensen Lake (a very shallow lake with an abundance of grass growing in the water. Because of all the recent rain, the campground was partially flooded. Within the month we were there the water eventually soaked into the ground. In addition to fishing spots, there were a few trails, and a very nice dog park.
While we were camped a civil war reenactment was held in the park. I wonder why the South wants to reenact such a bloody war they lost. I don’t get it.
We took my great-niece kayaking in the waters on one of the few days it didn’t rain. We paddled around the shallow waters looking for my little alligator friend that swam by our campsite regularly. S(he) was only about three feet long, nose to tail, and so cute. There are signs everywhere, “Don’t feed the alligators”, however, I believe people fed them anyway. Usually we would watch the little guy quietly from the bank of the canal, but, one day I was talking to our neighbor and the alligator swam right over to us. I think he was looking for food. One day I saw him catch a small fish and put on a nice display wrestling that little fish and finally swallowing it. We looked for that little alligator everyday! There was a couple of bigger gators in another part of a canal that I spotted on the bank a few times during my morning walks, but I steered clear of them!
The park was full of birds: Sand hill cranes, great blue herons, great egrets, magpies, yellow finches, and common moorhens, just to name a few. I got out my “Birds of the Western States” book to identify as many as I could and they were all in my book! Did they know they were on the wrong coast?? The fact is that the birds are migrating in different patterns due to weather changes and land development. I hand fed the Sand hill Cranes! What beautiful birds! They have a red heart on their heads and gray feathers. Love the color palette!
We spent a lot of time in the historic section of Ft Pierce. The small town has changed so much over the last thirty years and especially in the last ten years since the hurricanes hit the area. With new government buildings as anchor tenets, the entire downtown area has been re-energized. There is a new marina and lots of restaurants and new businesses. Ft Pierce is one of the few affordable towns on the water in Florida. I don’t think that will last long. It’s becoming very popular. On the waterfront for Christmas they had a light show to music and it was truly magical to watch at night. We ate at several restaurants in the area. I think Dave’s Diner was Ralph’s favorite. They had fried chicken to die for. You had to order it 30 minutes in advance and show up and a table was ready for you. I don’t know where they found the extremely large chickens. We had three meals out of six pieces of chicken! We took my friends Mike and Sandy there too. Mike and Sandy drove up from Marathon to visit and we were so happy they did. We considered leaving the rig in the park and driving the car down to the Keys, however, it is expensive and hard to find lodging in “season”. And especially for just a couple of days. Mike’s cousin lives in Jensen Beach so they were able to kill two birds with one stone and visit us both.
We went to the Christmas Boat Parade in Ft Pierce. Some people go all out!
There was a Farmers Market every Saturday morning with great foods and also art vendors and live music. It’s held near the marina in Ft Piece and is a great way to spend a Saturday morning. I purchased the most beautiful mushrooms freshly picked the day before. They were delicious! I did a little Christmas shopping for my great-nieces. The market is supported by the people in the area and it a great success for the community. There was an artist studio/gallery called Art Mundo where local artist and craftspeople work and display/sell their art. It is a wonderful way to support local artists and provide reasonably priced art to those in the area. I loved it! Even purchased a small piece for the rig. It is wood burning and paint and measures about 5 X 6 inches. It’s perfect for the little wall space I have to hang things.
One evening we ate at a small Tapas restaurant with my nephew Michael and his wife Lauren, and my niece Theresa and her husband Jeff. Michael is one of the funniest people I know (Ralph’s right up there too) and we laughed the entire meal. It was so much fun! I love those kids (adults) so much and I am very grateful my brother had kids for me to enjoy! We will be visiting the youngest, Kevin and his wife, Mariya when we get to Yuma, Az where they now live.
Michael and Lauren had us over for BBQ and to see the new pool. Lots of fun!
We spent Thanksgiving at Theresa and Jeff’s house and Christmas at the kid’s mother’s house. We’re still all one big happy family through marriages, divorces, deaths, new partners, etc. I love it! This was the first time EVER that I’ve spent both holidays with family since 1978. It was great to spend some concentrated time with my brother, Dale too. My Dad and Suzanne were supposed to come to Florida in November, but, Suzanne took a nasty fall and hurt her back, so they weren’t able to make it to Florida yet. Unfortunately we will be gone by the time they arrive. I’m grateful I had the time with him in Michigan.
We did a little sight seeing too. We visited the Navy Seal Training Center Museum on North Hutchinson Island near Vero Beach. The Underwater Demolition Teams (UDT) were an elite special-purpose force established by the United States Navy during World War II. They also served during the Korean War and the Vietnam War. Their primary function was to reconnoiter and destroy enemy defensive obstacles on beaches prior to amphibious landings. They also were the frogmen who retrieved astronauts after splashdown in the Mercury through Apollo manned space flight programs. Later the SEALS (sea, air and land) were trained at the center. Interesting place.
I visited the Smithsonian Marine Ecosystem Exhibit and Aquarium a couple times. Once on my own and once with the nieces. We were headed to the beach and got rained out after lunch at Archie’s. The first time I visited I was one of a handful of people. The second time it was packed due to the rain. Everyone was on Plan B due to the rain. And talking about the rain! There has been SO much rain since we arrived November 23, and oppressive humidity. In fact, we were experiencing July weather on Christmas Day. The majority of the time is was in the mid to high 80s with 80 to 100% humidity. Theresa told me “This is as bad as it gets. You survived this, so now you can move to Florida!”. I’ve always said that I don’t think I could stand the summer weather here and live in Florida all year long. If I lived in Florida I would certainly see more of my Michigan friends. They all seem to travel to Florida, but rarely, if ever, to California. Maybe someday…
I’m grateful I was able to spend so much time with family during our month+ stay. It certainly was bitter/sweet to move. We both had “hitch-itch” and were anxious to move on to new adventures as we begin our westward trek, and sad to leave our wonderful camping site and family behind.
Being on the road is a series of hellos and goodbyes.
Our next stop is Fort Desoto Park in St. Petersburg, about 150 miles due west of Ft. Pierce.