Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.

Henry David Thoreau

Paddling Salt Run and Hiking Ancient Dunes

Friday and Saturday                                                                     Most Recent Posts:
November 11  and 12, 2016                                                            Beach, Birds, Bummer & Surprise
Anastasia State Park                                                                     St Augustine’s Anastasia State Park
St. Augustine Florida



 I particularly love parks with lots of things to do without driving anywhere.  Two of those things are ones we did this week-end. 

On the map you can see where the Salt Run, the water area behind the beach,  is in relation to our campground, the smaller one in the lower left and in relation to the Atlantic Ocean.

We put our kayaks on our carts and walk them over to the put in which is approximately where the “clean fishing area” is labeled toward the bottom of the run.   We paddle up to the lighthouse which is off the top of the map.

My favorite kind of kayaking is wetlands or marshes.  The Salt Run is sort of an inlet apparently for fishing and wind surfing.  Today we see many of the former and none of the latter.




I’m not actually expecting much, I just want to be out on the water, but there is a lot going on in the Salt run when we put in on Friday afternoon around 1pm.

David washes off his cart wheels so he can put the cart in the hold of the kayak before he gets in and shoves off.   The put in is a bit muddy and he doesn’t want the mud from the wheels in his hold.




Net fishermen are just off the shore,  a couple of Great Egrets to the left on the shore and a Great Blue Heron doing quite a dance across the water near the opposite shore.






When I first look over, I’m not sure what the heron is doing stretching out his wings.
He’s turning around this way and that.  He’s either got a problem or he’s showing off.




Then it becomes more clear.   Those are oysters lining the shore.






I watch them for quite a while until they fly away and then turn to the right to paddle as far toward the  end of the run as possible and then paddle out.  The run goes right up to the sand dunes but it is far too shallow to paddle there.   The Atlantic is right on the other side.




It isn’t the vegetation that is wonderful today it is the number of birds.  They are everywhere.  These are just a small sampling of what we saw in this relatively small area.  Must be mighty full of fish.


White Ibis




Adult and juvenile snowy egret.


The park gave us a brochure of the birds we could expect to see.  Unfortunately two of them look like this guy but I’m going with Black Bellied Plover.  If you know better please let me know.  I have a terrible time with all these plover/sandpiper types.



These oyster catchers are actually standing out in the middle on some sort of high spot.
Are there oysters out there?  There certainly are by the shore line.




Heading on down the run we can see the lighthouse in the distance and even closer as we approach.




Wonder what it would be like to live right next to such a cool lighthouse?



The two fishing stars today are the osprey and the pelican.  There are two or three osprey and probably half a dozen pelicans diving into the water all around us.  It’s wonderful to watch.  We don’t move much, we don’t have to.  It’s all happening in every direction I look.




What a wing span.



Headin’ down.




And another


This may be my favorite photo of the day



It’s pretty easy to take pictures of them when they are fishing all around you.



Looks like this Double-Crested Cormorant sees something.




The fish hawk is Keepin’ an eye out.  He’s definitely not shellfishing.





These guys seem to be working a lot harder than their feathered competition.  Are they having as much luck?  I wonder how does this boat work in water no deeper than the guy to the left is standing?



We didn’t paddle far but we sure saw a lot and  had great fun watching the birds.




David returns first and has a single stork welcoming committee on shore to greet him.






As we’re getting our kayaks out of the water this man is taking his kayak out of the trunk.
It was flat when he started.




Neither of us has ever seen anything like this before.  You unfold it and snap it together.  It’s called Oru Kayak, is made in the USA. and weighs 26 lbs.  Check out the link and you can see it unfold.  Pretty niffty.




There are four series depending on what you want to do with them costing from $1175 to $2475.



All set for fishing which is what he does with his.





Today we walk over to the market rather than bike.  The route takes us along the campground road which is beautiful with overarching Live Oaks.




The group of ad hoc musicians has grown since last week.



Today David spends most of his time at the African coffee truck.  Its friendly owner is giving away samples of their dark brews.  Just the kind he likes.  The business is owned by an African husband and wife team who take the proceeds back to help their villages in Africa.




His favorites are the Kenyan and Ethiopian coffee.  The stand also sells cashews and macadamia nuts.  Those trees shade the coffee trees.


He finallyl determines that it is easier to buy one of each than to decide.  He’s definitely happy about the prospect.



We look around at the fruit and veggie stands, pick up the things we can use and head back this time taking the Ancient Dunes trail.  If you want to see more of what’s at the St. Augustine Farmer’s market a link to last week’s post is in purple above.



The Ancient Dunes Trail leads up and over a series of ancient sand dunes that were formed by wind and wave action during the time when the ocean extended farther inland than it does now.  Over time the process of life, death and decay gradually enriched the sand so that now a maritime forest stands where there was once only sea oats. 

The entire rest of the park other than the dune at the seashore is so flat that it is amazing to find these hills here in the woods.



We go up and down several of the dunes.  The first two are just paths over the dunes.



But as the dunes get higher, steps are provided first just to go down and then to go up as well.  I’m happy that these ancient dunes are being so protected.  Bikes are prohibited here.






As you can see, I am in front as we go up, down and around in this wonderful forest.




It’s about a half hour walk and a wonderful relaxing experience.


After putting away the groceries and having lunch we head up and over the current dune and as we are walking up the boardwalk David notices this narrow fellow in the grasses below.




He’s snoozing in the sun.  He’s the Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake, the largest venomous snake in the US.   His average size is 5 to 6 feet long.



Well maybe not snoozing.  A zoom in shows he’s alert, looking and the rattle is going.  Guess the kids that preceeded us up the boardwalk running and stamping worried him.  From a coiled position like this he can strike half his body length.  Glad we are 7 to 8 feet above him.   Notice the blurr of the shaking rattle.




It’s another beautiful day at the ocean, although the breeze eventually makes us bundle up.




Life is definitely a beach!



  1. wow, the pic of the bird with the fish is just stunning. . .and yowzers. . .that is quite the rattlesnake. Goodness.

  2. Great fishing pictures in the Salt Run. Glad we waited for the wind to be down - that made conditions perfect I thought. The men fishing for a "living" have to take a ridiculous amount of oysters I assume daily (hundreds of pounds no doubt), so I guess they have a boat that can float in shallow waters, even with a considerable load. The birds have no worries in that regard. Fantastic to have seen that rattler all tensed up, even if we did not disturb him. A rare sighting for us. Great pictures as always!

  3. You certainly gave me chills looking at the rattlesnake pictures. Nice creatures, best viewed from a distance (or your blog)! :c)

  4. You hit the jackpot for birds this time, and the rattler is absolutely stunningly gorgeous! What a beauty.

    I remember back some years ago my brother was in Africa and brought me coffee from Kenya and another country. I liked it but as it was too strong for me to drink by itself, I mixed it half and half with my regular blend and really enjoyed it while it lasted.

  5. I love all your bird photos especially the pelicans!

  6. What a wonderful couple of days...sunshine, paddling, birds, lighthouse, farmers market, RATTLESNAKE and your own private beach:o)) Such a classic lighthouse and great photos!!

    1. Oh, I almost forgot....COFFEE for David!!!!!!!

  7. I'm glad to see you back at the beach that you love so much. That was an interesting kayak but looks a bit flimsy.

  8. Wonderful dancing herons!! And your pelicans put on quite the show :-) Bingo indeed. I thought you might have misplaced your groceries along the trail then figured David took over transport of the precious cargo :-))) That forest is magical, complete with a handsome villain.

  9. A marvelous birding day on the water. You captured some good shots here, especially the pelican dive. Good eye on the snake sighting.

  10. Your bird pictures are so clear what paddle you had. The snake on the other hand I could live with out. :)

  11. What great shots of the birds catching fish! Some of them look like they're walking on water :) Rattlesnakes make me nervous, but they are beautiful. Good thing you weren't close enough to him to catch a strike!

  12. We would love to spend a couple of weeks at Anastasia SP—there's so much to do! We barely scratched the surface in three days last winter (spent most of our time biking into St. Augustine and exploring). Your bird sightings are wonderful—I think you're right about the Black Bellied Plover. That rattler—yikes!

  13. So many birds ...what a great paddle! Looks like you got a lot of good loot from the market. The rattler's markings are quite pretty actually. Nice spot he had in the grasses. They're pretty too.


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