Life on the Open Road

Life on the Open Road
Showing posts with label sharks. Show all posts
Showing posts with label sharks. Show all posts

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Awesome Expectations

I had a really cool realization this evening after an experience on the beach. I have fun, interesting, new rendezvous every time I go out. The same way I have the expectation of meeting friendly people everywhere, I have the expectation of these exciting experiences. I adore the variety, diversity and range of them. I love the brief conversations or moments with animals or whatever it may be. This week alone, I’ve had several and it has me wanting to venture out even more often because it is so fun and satisfying. I love time and physical space to myself and I love connecting with others. I love being awake and I love being asleep. The ebb and flow and ease of it all is enjoyable. 

That said, here are some of the examples of these rendezvous of late. 

I was driving an EZ Go (that doesn’t have a windshield) and a butterfly came right at me. I ducked so it wouldn’t hit my face and had a good laugh. I love seeing so many butterflies happily fluttering around. 

A different location and butterfly that same day. Kudos if you can spot it there, somewhat central and left. 
Remember that post about my evening beach walk where I said it was an eagle I’d spotted, then corrected it as a hawk? It WAS an eagle. I saw one at the beach again today and got some pictures as it stood eating something it had caught. That was cool because I knew it was an eagle and not a hawk and now know I can be sure there are eagles here, at the beach. 

Eagle, right? It was big! I zoomed in quite a bit so as to keep my distance and leave it be. 
I have had some very nice short conversations with people who have had lovely things to say and have complimented me on some things I’ve been doing. Without getting into the specifics of that, I take a lot of pride in what I do and to have multiple people notice that and comment was incredibly fulfilling. 

I love excellent customer service and people who are kind and professional and that is always nice to meet with. I got some propane the other day when the weather was grey and storms had been passing through and this particular place is one I like returning to because, despite it being a fill station I need to go the “wrong” way into for them to reach my LP fill, they are always friendly and professional plus I can pay via credit card right there and the price is fair. Yeah, some places may be cheaper, I haven’t looked. I like paying for good service and the ease of it being nearby and I’m happy to return to this place. I was told they will not fill if there is lightning as that is considered dangerous for them. Thankfully the rain stopped for the bit of time it took and she got exactly the amount I asked for in! 

And then there is this evening when I was walking the beach, closer to the end of the walk. I saw some folks fishing and recognized a shark fin. The reeling it in was also noticeable as I’ve seen other-than -fish caught enough times at this point and I know what this looks like. It was a nice sized shark. I watched from afar, wondering what they’d do. Long story short, they tagged it, measured it, and released it. I took one picture since my camera is full and that was all I could get. I passed them but then went back and one saw I was going to ask a question. I asked if they’d tagged the shark and he said yes, they are volunteers with NOAA. He then explained that they get postcards from NOAA and, when they catch and tag the shark, they send the stats to them for tracking. This isn’t the GPS kind of tracking. I thought that was interesting and I was glad to have this experience as it was totally new to me. I also learned it was a lemon shark! I said I thought it was a great white and he laughed and said no. I know what great whites look like and hadn’t really looked at lemon sharks before. I can clearly see now that they are rather different and now I know how to tell them apart. 

Lemon shark. 
So… I have more to share about sharks at some point. For now, I will simply say that during a beach walk the other day I saw a fin very nearby me, close to where I stood with just my feet in the water. It was a shark moving swiftly and deliberately. I had thought it was a great white that was young but larger than the babies I’d been seeing. I now think it was a lemon shark. 

I love the beach! 

I love having these experiences. I love having awesome expectations for fun and satisfaction to be a part of my days in moments like these. I love learning new things and making connections. I love walking the beach and I have the expectation of enjoying it every single time. Each night especially, when I walk it, I look around so thrilled to be in such a beautiful place. It's one of the easiest places I know to be. I love it. 

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Anastasia Island State Park in St. Augustine, Florida and Beaches and Sharks

I'm combining what was originally to be two separate posts here. I feel they go fine together.

We were due for a cold spell here in Florida and I decided I wanted to stay at a campground to run my space heater. I like being warm and freezing temperatures are not warm. So, a night at nearby Anastasia Island State Park was a good fit. I got a nice site, fairly private, not too far a walk to the comfort station. I specifically asked about the water and it is not well water and was not chemical-like in taste or smell. Woohoo! The dump station area is great, with three in one and rinse water. They also have a recycling area, which I really appreciated. The beaches in St. Augustine tend to have recycling and trash bins as well. Really great. 

Anyhow, the beach is the same lovely beach I’d been walking so much, just more on the other side of the pier. There’s a nice walkway, store, picnic area, water sport area, and free wifi in the beach parking lot. I decided to only spend one night here although I did eventually return to use the dump station again. For $10, you can use the dump station without being a camper there and I was also able to fill my fresh tank. 

The rangers here were super nice. The showers were all right. The laundry was down when I visited so I ended up going to a laundromat in the area instead. Campgrounds are usually cheaper and this would have been but the industrial sized machines in laundromats work really well and this place had great dryers! 

I’d stay here again and found it to be a campground with enough to do and like that I’d actually like being there, too. Mostly I’ve used campgrounds to charge, dump and fill, shower, etc. It hasn’t really been about enjoying the park beyond those amenities, but more a brief overnight to take care of these things and have electricity. There’s more at this park than I even checked out. 

Beaches and Sharks 

I went back to Jacksonville Beach where I had my first encounter with a shark. I think it was a great white, though it was a baby, maybe just a couple of feet in length. Someone had been fishing and reeled it in. I guess they tossed it out and it didn’t go far enough to not get swept back in again. I watched a man pick it up and throw it again. It came back, he tossed again and farther and I think it was out enough to go back out. I’ve mentioned, I was so impressed by the calm, confidence of people around these sharks… sharks because, I later returned to St. Augustine Beach and had the second encounter with a shark up close. This was a much bigger shark! It took a long while for it to be reeled in. I could see its fin from the distance. Briefly, I thought it might be a dolphin. I was so glad they released it because it really wanted back out. 

Again, I was impressed with how calm and confident the young man who caught it was. When I mention certain aspects of Florida wildlife to people who aren’t from here, I’m sometimes met with some responses that have me rolling my eyes a bit. Gators, sharks, snakes, whatever. They are a part of life and they are around here and for all the encounters people have with them, so few are of what might be called a dangerous nature. If you’re confident, calm, and feel safe, you are. They’re generally not interested in us anyway. When you freak out about things… I enjoy the encounters. I like knowing there is such a diverse variety of creatures out there. I like seeing the signs for gators and snakes. I like the wildness, the freedom, the realness of the REAL Florida. I’m unafraid. I’m confident and calm. And if I’m not, I’m out of sync with myself and tend to notice right away. That does happen sometimes and it’s great because I can make better choices to feel better and aligned with my secure, knowing all is well self again. 

So, yep, sharks in the ocean. Gators are in the swamp. I love Florida.

Oh, and sometimes gators do wander to ocean, too as was seen during my visit to Talbot Island State Park a month or so earlier.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Talbot Island State Park

Taking the easiest route at the time, I pulled into Talbot Island State Park just south of Amelia Island and inquired about any openings. This was the holiday weekend at Christmas and my online check suggested many places were booked. Since I stayed at Fort Clinch last time, I decided to try this one this time. Well there were two non-reservable sites left and I had my choice of the two. I drove around and opted for one away from the tents, nicely secluded by nature yet close enough to some neighbors. It was a nice size, too!  

I had a feeling I'd stay more than one night in a row and the ranger said to let them know by 1pm the latest. I appreciated the electricity and the showers. The water here, however, is well water and they treat it so that I can't fully recommend a stay here. After showering the first night, my skin was burning and I smelled like chemicals. I inquired and was told the water is tested daily and safe for drinking. I did not want to fill my fresh tank with it though and, as a fulltimer, this is important. It would have been like sanitizing the tanks and then continuing to have bleach in them. Actually, it was way stronger than the half cup or so it takes to do so. It's still a really nice spot so the shortcomings are not enough for me to say I wouldn't recommend it. I did learn to ask prior to staying elsewhere. This is the second time I've encountered highly treated water at a campground. If it's city water, you're not likely to have such strong treatments to have issues. 

Anyway the campground is across the street from the state park where you have access to the beach. I would love to see them put a crosswalk to get from one to the other. I unhooked and drove over. You can rent bikes for a great rate at the ranger station. There is a trail to walk or ride on and plenty of space to enjoy them. The campground itself is a nice size and allows for a max of 30' RV. The road in it is a bit narrow and the sites, at least near where I stayed, have nice natural privacy and are somewhat canopied. There is a fishing area, comfort stations, and I'm forgetting if there is a playground... 

The beach was nice. Lots of parking options. The bathrooms haven't got lights, just natural lighting which was really neat. While I was walking, I saw a gator on the beach. A ranger was circling the area with his truck and then walking around so I stopped over to inquire. He said it was hissy, sunning to warm up, and had been swimming in the ocean the other day. It probably came over during a recent storm and would wander back to fresh water on its own. I was also told there were a lot of sharks out now. All different kinds and if I went in the water, there'd likely be one within 100 yards of me. I'm a beach walker so this is mostly not a concern for me, however, I have seen two sharks right on the beach lately (both caught by someone fishing- I'll be sharing more later) so a rendezvous can still happen. I have been pleasantly amazed at the confidence of those folks encountering them. Again, more on that later. I saw jellyfish, too. This particular location had the most to look out for than any other for me. 

I did end up staying more than one night. A first for me, since I have largely preferred dry camping, and what I call urban boondocking. This marked a bit if a shift for me and how I travel. In general I have sensed some changes in my feelings, desires, and approach. More on that later, too. 

This was a nice way to spend the holiday, a quiet place with hook ups(water, electric- the dump station is on the way out), and enjoy the beach. 

Despite the treated water, I would stay again. Fort Clinch has better water, less privacy at the sites, and nicer bathrooms. I'd stay there again, too but I'd want to at a quieter time because when that place was busy, it was less enjoyable all around. Talbot Island was pretty full yet still pleasant.