NOTE: After a week, Thanksgiving turkey is probably getting old and not something you want to eat. I’m about a week late with this post, and I’m hoping it’s not quite as stale.
It was a week of lots of home health care visits. The nurse who will be staying with Laura’s mom on a regular basis dropped by a couple of times over the holidays. Another nurse came by a couple of times, and there were two different physical therapists in multiple times to work with her. Laura and I were tasked with heading out to get various items necessary for all of these pursuits. Add to that the desire for a traditional Thanksgiving meal, and things could get stressful very quickly.
Even so, we managed to have a traditional Wright family turkey gathering, and I was able to spend some time with my family. I even managed a couple more escapes on my kayak.
We managed to get Laura’s mom into the car and took a drive up to Avalon Beach a couple of times. There is a spot where we can park and let Mrs. Wright look out over the beach, while we walk. Both times we went it was windy, and we managed to hit it at high tide.
On the first trip we drove on up through Vero Beach then took the Wabasso Causeway back to the mainland. In Sebastian we stopped at one of Amy’s favorite places, Rock City Nursery. This is an amazing nursery, and is set up more as a garden that happens to sell plants. They even have space to hold events.
Thanksgiving Thursday, and I was ready to get back out on the water. It was a bit choppy and windy, so I decided not to cross the channel. Instead I headed north toward the Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute. I figured paddling against the wind and tide first would be the way to go. I had plenty of time, so I wondered if I could actually make it to Harbor Branch. I stayed several hundred yards off the bank, but not far enough out to be in the boat channel.
When I reached Harbor Branch I saw that they had added some rather unattractive “No Trespassing” signs that blacked their original sign. Amy had said that since 9/11 they had tightened down on port security, even more so in recent years. I hadn’t remembered these signs, though.
The jetty that protects the entrance to Harbor Branch also provided a nice sheltered cover. Without having to battle wind and waves, I floated along watching the huge boats pass on the channel, while herons, egrets, and osprey played in the mangroves. I was wishing I’d brought a camera with a decent zoom lens to take photos of some of the birds.
Rounding the cove brought me past Harbor Branch’s aquaculture center, then on to the D. J. Wilcox Natural Area. This is a popular fishing spot, and we have taken long walks here in the past. A narrow channel leads back into the mangroves and to a canoe launch. I used this as an opportunity to change GoPro batteries and catch my breath.
I made my way on back to the Indian River Lagoon. It was a pretty straight shot on back to Amy’s channel. I made it back in to to help with dinner.
We had our Thanksgiving meal – traditional turkey, and far too much of it.
Friday morning, and it was time to visit with my family. My niece, Katie, had moved to the Jupiter area, just a mile south of Amy’s. Two of my sisters and their families were spending the holiday in the Jupiter/Palm Beach area, so I drove down to see them.
We started by loading up two cars and taking a tour of the places were rich people live. Katie played tour guide, giving us a rundown over speakerphone. The guys in my car would occasionally mute the phone to add our own commentary.
We paused for a group selfie with the GoPro on one of the seawalls.
We wound up at City Central, a remodeled shopping destination centered around an old church/theater in the middle of town.
We divided for the trip back, with Beth, Mason, Philip, and I making a mandatory stop at Guitar Center for some Black Friday sales.
Saturday morning in Fort Pierce is farmer’s market day. Amy hadn’t been able to get to the market because she had been staying with her mom. We left Laura to mind the house, and Amy and I headed downtown. Amy bought some vegetables, and I got breakfast. Across the road from the farmer’s market is a weekly arts fair, and we spent a good bit of time there. We even bought a few things as Christmas presents.
Laura and Amy decided to take their mom for another ride, and I opted for one last kayak trip before we had to head back to South Carolina. It was just as windy as my previous paddle, but I decided to head on across the channel to the islands anyway.
The problem with windy days is that the GoPro is almost useless. The bouncing waves send seawater onto the lens, making shots almost impossible.
Even trickier, though is trying to cross the shipping channel. Crossing the IRC on a holiday weekend Saturday is like trying to cross I-95. It can be crazy. There were lots of boats out today – lots of BIG boats.
And, of course, their passing created even more waves in their wake. Even so, I managed to get across to the island directly across from Amy’s neighborhood. The western side of the island was sheltered and calm, but I was not alone. Apparently families will set up enclaves on these islands and spend the entire weekend camping.
I had some other, unexpected company, too. As I rounded the south side of the island I spotted a pod of dolphins moving across the channel.
I paddled to keep pace with them, trying not to get too close. I knew I wasn’t disturbing them because they could have outrun me in a heartbeat, yet they seemed to be hanging fairly close by. Here’s a bit more video. About six seconds in you can glimpse a dolphin just to the left of the boat.
I left the dolphins in peace and turned north. I headed up to the second island, and found it just as populated as the last. The sheltered beach was wide enough to share, so I pulled up on the other end to take a break, change GoPro batteries, and watch the boat traffic out on the channel.
After a break, I decided to head on back. We had more chores to do, and we needed to get packed up for the long drive back in the morning. Crossing the main channel proved even trickier the second time, mainly because of some fisherman on a boat that weren’t move in a predictable manner. I couldn’t cross until I knew exactly where they were going.
I made it, then paddled on across to the D. J. Wilcox Wildlife Area. I made my way back southward, much as I had earlier in the week. This time, however, I made one more detour. I pulled into the channel that runs just across the street from Amy’s.
This used to be a fairly nice mobile home community. Ten years ago Hurricane Ivan came through and wiped out the community (and did some major damage to Amy’s house.) FEMA trailers were set up as a replacement, but eventually those were also removed, and the area was left abandoned. Last year while walking through the streets we found a large illegal tire dump on the property.
Amy said that law enforcement had come through and was investigating. In the meantime, the streets had been blocked off. However, the channel was still accessible…sort of. Mangroves had started to encroach, and I didn’t see how a boat could get down the channel any longer.
The ruins of the docks and fishing shacks were still there, though. There is a boat ramp on one side, but it’s now inaccessible because of the road closures.
As I turned back I heard voices. A couple of guys were ignoring the No Trespassing signs to find a good fishing spot along the channel. I think I startled them.
At this point I was only a few yards from Amy’s front door. I could have pulled the boat out, but there wasn’t a good take out here. I paddled on back to the river and entered the channel that runs behind her house, pulling up at her boat ramp.
Since we would be back in a couple of weeks for Christmas my plan was just to leave the boat and paddling gear down there.
Laura and I ran a couple more errands, then I ended the day catching the sunset at Indrio Savannahs.
It had been a good week. We got Laura’s mom settled back at home, and I got to spend time paddling and visiting with family. Couldn’t ask for better.