Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Relaxing in Florida

My brother-in-law Dan and his wife Peggy just returned to Madison, Wisconsin after spending a week with us in our home.  The visit was a combination of taking a vacation and seeing each other after a gap of eleven or twelve years.
It was a pretty full week.  Our first event was a trip to Riverbend Park off Indiantown Road in western Jupiter.  The site is a large parcel of preserved land which represents Old Florida.  Only walking and biking are allowed on the dirt trails.  A typical farmstead is the first developed feature of the park.  Work has begun on a Seminole Indian village.  Attention will be paid to history.  This was a battlefield in 1838 between the US Army and the Seminole Indians who were supported by fugitive or runaway slaves.  Other features are planned and, when complete, this park will be an important tourist site, I'm sure.  We saw several birds including wild turkeys on the ground and pileated woodpeckers high in the overhead tree canopy.
We made three, maybe four, trips to the Atlantic ocean to swim.  The water was a little rough, waves 2 to 3 feet with shorebreak.  Water temp was 83 degrees.  On our second trip, I took my Morey Boogie bodyboard which I haven't used in a while.  I picked up a good size wave and rode the board  in.  I got knocked around pretty good. I'd like to think I am out of shape, but it's not that.  I'm just too old now.
Fish were running out from the shoreline that day.  On one occasion, we found ourselves swimming among a school of fish.  I was treading water watching these sleek silver fish leap over the waves when suddenly there was an upward explosive surge of fish and water around Peggy.  She let out a little shriek.  The lifeguard blew his whistle several times and we saw he wanted us out of the water.  I asked the lifeguard about the fish and he said that something was after them and that was why he called everyone out.   We were allowed back in shortly, but he called everyone out one more time that day.
I have been swimming at that beach off and on since 1987 and I have never been whistled out of the water before.  I have seen schools of fish many times but never witnessed the sight that Peggy experienced when about two dozen fish, 8 to 10 inches long, blasted from the water all around her in fright of whatever wanted to eat them.
On our first trip to the ocean, we walked from Carlin Park to the Jupiter inlet and back (59 minutes).  It wasn't a good week for finding shells, but we enjoyed the shore birds: gulls, pipers, sanderlings, ruddy turnstones, and, of course, pelicans soaring over the water.
A visit was made to The Loggerhead Marine Life Center which promotes the care and preservation of sea turtles.  They maintain a hospital for turtles there and assist in rescue when injured or sick tortoises appear on he beach.  The 'patients' recover in large circular tubs filled with recirculating ocean water.  Visitors to the Center are allowed to walk between the tubs to see the huge magnificent sea creatures.
Another stop was the Loxahatchee River Center, a non-profit facility located in Burt Reynolds Park east of Route 1.  Its primary purpose is the education of children of the need for maintaining river quality for the good of the community.  But its information is equally useful for those adults who have never learned the elements of what constitutes a healthy river.
Our final visit was to see the Busch Wildlife Sanctuary in Jupiter, Florida.  90% of the animals here are recovering from injuries received due to human carelessness or meaness.  The walk-through is well-designed and enjoyable.  Plenty of information is posted about the various birds, animals, and plants found there.  We saw the red fox, gray fox, Florida panthers (2), river otter, alligator, corocodile, varieties of turtle, varieties of birds including wood storks, bald eagles, golden eagles, red tailed hawks, owls, buzzards, etc.
All four of the above facilities are free to the public althought they do encourage a donation of whatever one  can afford.

We ate out twice, the most notable being breakfast at Harry and the Natives in Hobe Sound, Florida.  This is a local landmark, in business since 1941, and great fun to visit.  Their standard breakfast is so hearty that you won't need lunch.  Three, not two, slices of bacon cut thick.  Two eggs scrambled but it looks like three eggs.  A generous serving of hash brown (red-skin new potatoes coarsely chopped), a biscuit, jam, butter, and all the coffee you need.  Check out the video if you click on the link to their website.
One morning, Peggy made German pancakes for breakfast, a treat that I had never had before.  They were delicious served with fresh squeezed lemon juice and sprinkled with powdered sugar!

Finally, the day after Dan & Peggy left to return to Madison, I discovered a bottle of Blue Moon beer lying on its side in the rear of the refrigerator.  Danny had bought a bottle sixpack of it while here but he must have missed this one.  I had never heard of the beer so I opened it and drank it down.  It is a Belgian style wheat ale.  From the label:  Brewed with white wheat and oats, Blue Moon features a crisp wheat finish and the perfect combination of orange peel and coriander.  Bring out Blue Moon's natural spices by serving it in a Pilsener glass with and orange-slice garnish.
I didn't need the garnish.  Thanks, Dan.

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