Sunday November 22, 2015 Most Recent Post
Bahia Honda State Park We Get Busted Snorkeling
Big Pine Key, Florida
It rains seriously over night and is predicted on and off today so I am not at all surprised to see the heavy clouds in place of the sunrise this morning as I approach the kayak rental ocean beach access. This poor little juvenile yellow crowned night heron sitting on the railing on the opposite side is drenched.
The winds are strong at 15mph. I am actually too cold in my t-shirt and shorts. Winds of 25 mph with gusts to 35mph predicted for today but David wants to try paddling along the shore anyway so we need to get out early as winds increase as the day goes on.
We take the kayaks over to the marina launch and before 9am are in the water heading out to the Gulf. I am NOT kayaking in the Atlantic in these winds even with the protective reef off shore.
You’ll notice not another soul is out or going out. This is David’s idea so I’m following him. It’s hard to catch the size of the seas when you have to paddle not to be forced backwards.
Things are definitely looking sketchy
Before going by the waterfront campgrounds, I cut into the camper’s marina just to check it out from the water and find a Great White Heron. I’ll talk about him later but he’s a shock when you first see him thinking he must be a REALLY BIG great egret.
Once we get past the waterfront campsites, David wants to go under the bridge and around to the lagoon where we got busted on Friday. Then just beyond to check out the spot where Nancy Mills saw folks snorkeling. Not sure what he’s going to check out in these winds. We didn’t get a chance to go out there obviously since we were evicted from the “dangerous quarry”.
For a while, the skies in this direction are looking some better. However, in my opinion, paddling over there is one thing with the winds at our backs but paddling back may be something else so I decline to go that far. I see a nice shoreline take out spot and pull in there to wait since there really is no where else to take out along his planned route other than to again violate the no getting into the quarry rule which David says he’ll do in a pinch. Wonder which part of “no swimming” he doesn’t get.
I pull up here, he sets off to round that land mass in the upper part of my picture.
He becomes a tiny white dot, his paddles, and I zoom in on him to see how far he’s gotten. So far so good and then he’s around the point and out of view. I play around taking selfies in that direction while he’s gone
Later he shares his pictures of what he finds: slapping waves, one boat way bigger than he is and darkening skies. At the spot in question there appears to be an enclave of workcampers or volunteers with their RVs. They were probably snorkeling off their point when Nancy saw them. This would be unavailable to us without kayaking in.
He’s gone about 15 minutes and when he returns we pull the boats out of the water. I walk back to the marina and get the car. I picked this spot because it is just along the road on the way to the cabins.
Now the big question is can Ruby, with the kayaks on top, fit under the low 6’8” bridge between us and our campground. If not, we’ll have to paddle all the way back against the wind which has increased in the just the hour we’ve been out. What do you think? Decide now before you scroll on down.
Sweet Ruby has no trouble. A real advantage in this park to having a low to the ground car.
The beautifully painted pipe is midway between the two lanes of the new Highway 1 bridge and it is lower than the bridge itself.
Boy that rudder looks close doesn’t it? Did you guess right?
Luckily we get back to Winnona just before another drenching rain. We wait out the showers and then, with clearer skies, ever determined, we set off to take a walk down the ocean side beach which is miles long unlike the very short little one at Curry Hammock. But you must go at low tide or near since at high tide or near there is no beach. The water comes right up to the dune.
The fishermen are out. I wonder if this is a family group. They float along together and every few minutes one or more will take off, circle around and plunge straight down into the water like an arrow shot from a bow. Righting itself, it will throw back its head and gulp down the fish.
I just love pelicans and think they are among the most interesting of birds with their huge pouches and ability to soar through the air with no effort even at their large size. They are a wonderful example of the effectiveness of the endangered species act to bring animals back from the brink of extinction.
Just down the shore from the pelicans we see a Great white heron and a snowy egret. The Keys are the first place I have seen the great white heron which is apparently unique to south Florida and the Keys. There is a controversy in the birding world concerning whether this is a morph of the great blue or a separate species. Doesn’t matter to me what they decide he is huge compared with the snowy egret standing behind him.
Also found along the shore.
We see the same or another Great White Heron further down along the shore.
This time I get pictures of him lifting off. He is SO big and so graceful. He just lifts off.
It’s definitely turned into a gorgeous day by now even with the nearly 20 mph winds.
I assume these coral rocks have been placed here to “hold the beach”. The are very picturesque and remind me a bit of the rocks on the coast of Ireland although I don’t think those are coral.
This would be a good one to put out on your porch on Halloween
We come to a rather large detritus float and walk out in the water around it.
We walk until we run out of beach and on the way back David, but not I, chooses to walk on/in the detritus. We take pictures of each other.
You may have noticed David walking behind me most of the way. He keeps stopping to pick up this and that which catches his eye and at the end of the walk drops them all on the sand for a picture. They make a pretty group of stones, shells, coral and sea beans.
By now it is only 1:15 so we go over to the little Gulf beach to sit and read. From the palm tree you can see the wind.
We just get there and start to get out our chairs when we notice the skies have changed dramatically. Seconds later the rain drops. We don’t bother to set up, we just get back in the car and head to Winnona for lunch. It POURS down rain. Very glad we didn’t stay.
Eventually the sun returns. It’s only 3:30 so we do take 2, back to the beach where most folks were sent packing by the previous rain and there is now a beach side shelter empty. We set up under it and prepare to enjoy ourselves. Skies look good in this picture of David and our chairs.
But looking the other direction, not so good but still seems OK.
And then in roll the dark clouds, they take over the sky and ……….
the rain comes sweeping in. As quick as a flash, we can see the sheets coming toward us. No chance to pack up, no chance to do anything but try to keep out of the probably 3rd or 4th down pour for today.
David takes up a spot on top of the picnic table since the winds of course are blowing the rain. Turns out, he’s the only one who doesn’t get at all wet.
A woman who was on the sand under her umbrella joins us. It’s her husband’s birthday and he’s still out in the water snorkeling but coming in……very slowly.
He’d be less drenched if he just stayed down. But it’s getting worse and starting to thunder.
Taking off his flippers, he then walks in and she greets him with a towel. Happy Birthday we wish him!
David’s watching it all from the driest spot.
It rains and rains.
And rains some more.
And then as if someone just pulled up the curtain, it’s gone. Things are looking good in both directions. People go back in the water, including the birthday boy. They are back out on the sand which dries quickly in the warm winds
Just to our right a young couple are making what looks like it could be some sort of intro for a porno movie. Over and over they cuddle and fondle and kiss in front of their camera. She jumps. Who knows what this is. Clearly they don’t mind being exhibitionists. Ok, fair game.
The clouds are still black and oppressive at sunset. I think they will just drop down over the setting sun. But the mighty sun holds out to the end.
It rains over night.
The winds keep blowing.
Florida Keys in November.