Tag Archives: Florida

crowded beach drive on

There’s Something in the Sand, Crabs, Crowds, and Yikes!

Our trip to New Smyrna Beach today told me that summer is here. Kids are out of school, and trips to the beach pick up. Tourists are free to bring the family and they certainly do. All those white bodies, with red sunburned shoulders, are a sure sign that tourism is booming here in Florida.  This is Friday morning for Pete’s sake.

crowded beach drive on
Summer Crowds at New Smyrna Beach

We wanted to go out on the boat, but the ramp we usually use was full. No place to park the boat trailer. We checked out a couple more, but they were very busy too. Friday is the new weekend it seems. With many companies going to a 4-day work week, it might be best to avoid going out on Fridays as well as weekend days. Since we were dressed for outdoors, sunscreen and all, we decided to go to the beach.  We took the boat home and headed over the causeway.
We drove on at Flagler Ave. right behind a lifeguard / beach patrol truck. And it was crowded. We drove way down toward the jetty, and found a more sparsely populated spot to park.

Ghost crab on the beach
Ghost Crab (I think) on the beach

The tide was way out and going out further, so we had a lot of beach. Right away we saw Ghost crabs scurrying around. At least I think they are called Ghost crabs. One, in particular was near us, and I got some photos and video of him.
Then we went in the water. As I was coming back in from cooling off, I saw my son pulling a fishing line up out of the sand. Many people fish along the shore, and this was a piece that had been left / lost by a fisherman.
But at the end, buried beneath the sand, was this huge hook!

big fishing hook found under the beach sand
Big Fish Hook – found under the sand!

Hey… this is why I wear beach shoes when I go in the water! Look at the size of that hook. I hate fishing on the beach, for precisely this reason. My son always does it – fishes at the beach – but I am opposed. There are many other places to fish. Leave the beaches to the swimmers.  Imagine that thing stuck in the bottom of your foot… I feel woozy just thinking about it.

portable bathroom, porta-potty
Porta-potty… just in case

Unrelated in every way, but just in case someone has to really go to the bathroom… port-a-potties are at the exit.  FYI everyone.

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various Florida seashells

Found Some Great Shells, But Not On the Beach

new fishing pier
New Fishing Pier

My son and I headed over to the beach today, which is an unusual thing for us to do on the weekend.   Weekends are too busy.  We did go early, and still hit traffic, but it was a lot of fun. I love living so close to the seashore.

I’ve been debating on whether or not to buy a year pass for Smyrna Dunes Park. It’s an awesome place to walk with nice boardwalks that lead out to the beach on all sides of the peninsula. The cost is $20 for county residents and it’s $10 for each visit. If I go twice I will have paid for the pass. But… the pass is only good from now until the end of the year… not a full year, really. Still, it seems worth it because it’s a wonderful place to visit.

At 9Am on a Saturday the place was packed with cars! The woman who put the sticker on my car (yup, I bought the pass) said it’s turtle season (and the beach doesn’t open until 8am) so the surfers come here to surf early in the morning.

It’s also a place where everyone goes to walk their dog! Almost everyone we saw had a dog…. or 2 or 3 with them!   We saw all kinds of dogs…. from Corgi’s and Shepherds, to big and small Poodles and mutts .  Even so, the place is clean as can be. Locals respect the area and dutifully clean up after themselves.

The boardwalk is being replaced, so the first part is torn down and you must walk in the sand. I assume they will do the second part after the first part is finished, but I don’t know.

construction
Construction on Dunes Walkway

No matter. It’s still a wonderful place to visit. They have a new long fishing pier (see it in my first photo above) and my son and I went there first. He has a new metal detector and is dying to find buried treasure. So while he searched for treasure I cooled off in the wonderful ocean water.  It was clear and refreshing.  Fabulous!

little coquina shells in beach sand
Little coquina shells in beach sand

Of course, I also kept my eyes open for seashells. I saw some of the usual arks and many tiny coquina in the sand. Found an orange jingle shell, a bit of coral, and a little crab climbing up one of the pier’s pylons.

little crab
Little crab climbing up the dock pylon

The best shells I found were not on the beach though, they were up near the construction site!  Look at this wonderful Lettered Olive!  It’s small, but so pretty once I rinsed the dirt off.

lettered olive shell
Lettered Olive Seashell – 1.25 inches

Yup… I found this Lettered Olive and Banded Tulip along the fence which blocks people from entering the construction area. All that digging moved the shells around I guess, and there was not a single hermit crab to be found!

Hallelujah..!

The tulip shell is not in great shape. It’s encrusted with something that is gradually flaking off. It may end up being sorta pretty.  The bands tell me it’s not the True Tulip like I’ve found before, but the Banded Tulip.
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I also got this little gem of a shell, even though it’s somewhat broken, I love it.  I think it might be a little Knobbed Whelk.
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On the way back to the mainland we had to wait for a boat to go by and the traffic was building while the north causeway bridge was lifted.

bridge up at north causeway
Bridge up for tall boat to pass

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boating florida

Our Little Boat Fishing Trip Looking For Keepers

catfish
Catfish (not mine – credit goes to tpsdave @ Pixabay)

Went out on the little boat yesterday and three of us tried our best to catch a keeper. If we wanted to eat a meal of catfish, we could easily have done so. I caught a couple of large cats when we stopped one of the backwater canals for a swim and then fished from the water. We had more room than when we all tried to cast a line from the Gheenoe.

Other than the catfish, I did get a small snook. He was a silver shimmering beauty! It’s snook season right now, and my older son was hoping to reel one in. All he got was a few catfish himself. My younger son got a small redfish, and we certainly saw more than a few “tailing redfish” along the shore.

Yes, I am beginning to learn fisherman talk. When redfish are eating they circle and show their tail. The ones we watched each seemed to be alone, but they can swim in big groups with their tails above the water, and that’s what the fishermen look for.  The ones we watched would swim in a circle and make a large ripple in the calm water. These fish are really beautiful and they are delicious to eat. But size is important when you catch one you want to keep.

Because the little “Yea Mon” Gheenoe has a shallow draft, we can get into the backwater channels where most other boats can’t go. We always find shallow water to swim around in and sand islands when the tide is low.

And we have the place all to ourselves!  The water was flowing, and we could drift along in the very warm water.  Yes, it’s brown, but it usually is in this area.

florida backwater swimming
Floating in Backwater Chanel

Other than fishing and enjoying the sunny Florida weather, I also did some shell hunting. Because the tide was just coming in, there were a number of sandy beach areas exposed. I found a large shark’s eye shell with a piece missing. Also picked up a crown conch and pear whelk. Picked them up and then had to put them back down. Every shell was inhabited by a hermit crab.

sharks eye and crown conch
Shark’s Eye & Crown Conch
seashell
Slime covered Pear Whelk Shell

I really would have liked to keep those shells as they are all favorites of mine. In fact I don’t think I have ever found a pear whelk. I really wanted that one for my seashell collection! The place to go and get great shells is the Gulf Coast. A vacation may be in order – one day.

I took photos with my iPhone, but because of the extremely sunny conditions, it was difficult. Also, I worry about dropping the darn thing. I really need a waterproof case. Shuffling along the uneven sandy bottom of the canal is tricky. I could step into a hole at any time and drop my phone! My nice camera is still packed away, waiting for me to move into a permanent home.

Once we have our newer, bigger boat, it will be so much easier to grab the phone and get video and photos while the boys fish. Not to mention that fishing will be much more fun! So it’s all a waiting game, which is par for the course in my life. But we still had a very nice day out on the water.

 

florida horse conch shell

Found a Big Horse Conch to Take Home

horse conch big seashell
Horse Conch

Yesterday, while walking the low tide sands around Three Sisters Islands, I came across a big seashell that was empty! I saw a lot of nice crown conchs, small pear whelks, and a nice big sharks eye shell, but all were occupied by hermit crabs. Until I saw the horse conch, all I had collected were bivalves, which were filled with sand, and not living creatures.

I found a giant Atlantic cockle which is joined, so I have two perfect, connected halves, and a pretty flat white shell which I believe is a dosinia.

IMG_0597
Dosinia shell

We piled into the Gheenoe – three of us – which was a tight fit, and headed out in the heat to do some fishing and island hopping. Being the middle of the week, we had the river pretty much to ourselves. Since the tide was just beginning to come in, there was plenty of exposed sand to explore.

The only types of shells that are abundant are the clumps of oysters which are the bane of boaters. So finding some collectable shells means searching. It was a 95 degree day (actually cooler than what we’ve been having), and even the water was hot – yes, like a hot tub – but I shuffled around the edges of the island in search of something good that was close enough to see and reach. Continue reading Found a Big Horse Conch to Take Home

Florida and New Hampshire, in Comparison

beach chairs
Florida vs. New Hampshire

Florida and New Hampshire don’t have much in common.  I have lived for extended periods of time in both locations.  But each place has a beauty which is uniquely their own.

Both states have beaches, although they are distinctly opposite.  Warm water vs. icy cold; long stretches of smooth sand vs. one small area packed with so many people you can barely see the sand.  Actually, I haven’t been to Hampton Beach, NH since I was a kid. But the ocean water in the north stays extremely cold even in mid-summer.  I see no reason to venture near it!  I’ve been spoiled by the tropical, sandy beaches.

Let’s talk home improvements.  In Florida I had no time limits as to making home improvements.  In NH we scramble to replace the roof and landscape the yard before it freezes and snows.  Except for the afternoon thunderstorms in Florida, and the occasional threat of a hurricane, the weather was not much of a concern.

But in Florida I never felt safe, like I do living in my area of New Hampshire.   Continue reading Florida and New Hampshire, in Comparison