|Railroad Vine (Ipomoea pes-caprae)|
Growing up in landlocked Utah, I considered a visit to the beach to be a real treat. And after 19 years in Florida, I can't shake that feeling. As soon as we near the intercoastal waterway, the landscape changes. Pine trees open to sea grasses. You catch glimpses of the water over the dunes. Pelicans fly over. The sky is amazingly blue. Then you arrive at the actual beach and it's even better. Long flat sand as far as you can see, with ocean on one side and dune on the other. The roar of the waves drowns out almost everything else. Just smelling the ocean air makes me feel like I've had a vacation. It's Paradise.
|Water and Sky|
We like Anastasia State Park because, among other things, you can't drive on the beach there. Many other beaches in Florida allow cars on the sand. I think they're annoying and silly because the cars often get stuck in the sand and they make a lot of noise and smell. People also get run over occasionally, and the cars and trucks run over nesting birds. I much prefer the State Park.
|Dunes. The tire trucks are from Park maintenance vehicles.|
It was a very busy day at the beach on Sunday. The weather was great, and it was also the first weekend after school let out for the summer. But the nice thing about beaches is that they can fit a lot of people and not feel too crowded. The air was filled with the sounds of waves, gulls, and happy people.
|Happy Beach Day|
We found a nice spot for our umbrella and chairs and I just sat and watched the hypnotic waves sweep back and forth while my husband, Art, took a run on the sand. Pelicans, Seagulls and Terns flew over and I didn't even try to take their picture! I watched a couple of Grackles running in the surf trying to pick up clams and coquinas. Very relaxing.
After sitting for a while, I took a walk up the beach to look for shells. In a short time I made a little collection and was reminded of the first year we lived in Florida. We took a camping trip to Cayo Costa State Park with some Wisconsin friends. Cayo Costa is a small island on the Gulf, and you get there by boat. There are no stores or supplies other than water and there are cabins and tent camping. We spent Christmas Eve and a few days after on the island and swam and hiked and found tons of beautiful shells. We also had our one and only encounter with an endangered Indigo Snake, and saw a Magnificent Frigate Bird and a dead Sea Turtle. It was quite the introduction to Florida. Later that Spring, our younger daughter did a 4th Grade project on the Shells of Florida. I still remember the names of a few of them.
|Shells and Seaweed|
A little way up the beach I came across this Sea Turtle nest. Summer is nesting season. I like to think that these little turtles will have a good chance. No disorienting lights on this beach.
|Sea Turtle Nest, Protected from Predators|
I didn't add any June Challenge birds to my list but we had a glorious day on a Florida beach.