Monday, December 04, 2006

Dunedin, FL

"Not all who wander are lost." I forget who said this, but I sometimes feel it is very apropos for the way we travel. We are again on the west coast of Florida, having cut straight across the state. We stopped in Seffner for one night along the way at Lazy Days. This is the dealership where we bought Spirit. They have an RV Park next door...offering WIFI and a jacuzzi. Sometimes we need to keep our needs simple.

We chose Dunedin because of its proximity to Honeymoon Island and Caladesi Island. Since we're not "collecting" national parks on this short trip, we had decided to add to our collection of Florida State Parks. We picked up two more this past weekend.

Our first night in town we read that there was to be an "Old Fashioned Christmas" in downtown Dunedin. I thought it would help me get into the Christmas spirit. There was an outdoor concert, carriage rides with horses wearing sleigh bells, luminarias lining the sidewalks and the shops were all decorated for the holidays. There was also a lightpole decorating contest - these were just two of my favorites. The two guys hanging on the pole on the left are from my favorite Christmas special!

Saturday morning we went over to Honeymoon Island just to walk the beach, look for seashells, and check out kayak launching for Caladesi. (Caladesi Island is only accessible by boat.) We had a wonderful time just scouring the white sand beaches for shells. We found lots of conch shells, lightning whelks, and a variety of smaller ones. But Andy eventually pulled me away so we could go to Caladesi. We launched from the Causeway instead of from within Honeymoon Island State Park. It was an easier put in and the water was flatter in the harbor then trying to paddle across Hurricane Pass.

Once we reached Caladesi, we paddled to the marina and ate lunch on a picnic table overlooking all of the sailboats. A short hike took us to the other side of the island and to the beach that is rated as one of the prettiest beaches in the country. We couldn't stay long because low tide would stop us from continuing our paddle along the interior canoe trail. The 3/4 mile section we did was narrow, and this particular section required us to separate our paddles and paddle our kayaks like a canoe. Wonderful - like a tunnel. Good thing I didn't notice all of the little crabs waiting to jump from the mangroves.
Quick Notes for those wanting to paddle Caladesi: watch your tides and when you're in the mangrove tunnels follow the PVC markers. Always turn to the side that the PVC pole is located - for example, if it's on your lft, turn left. Otherwise, who knows where you'll end up in this maze. More on paddling Caladesi.

Back out in the harbor the tide was going out and we noticed that the edge of the island was lined with oyster beds. Paddling close to these beds, we noticed all of the living shells taking up residence here as well. We picked up lightning whelks and a variety of conchs. All were still occupied which meant I couldn't keep them. Bummer! We continued our paddle to the north end of the island and got out to walk the beach. There were only two other people at this remote end. There are tons of birds in this area - oystercatchers, terns, sandpipers, plovers, pelicans, ospreys, herons, and more. And when you paddle across the shallow, grassy areas the fish start jumping. And if they don't jump out of the water, their movements alone will cause the water to boil. It was a great paddle. We spent about five hours on our tour today.

On Sunday we rode our bikes along the Pinellas Trail north to Tarpon Springs, then south again to downtown Dunedin and then out the causeway and into Honeymoon Island for more shelling.

We noticed that there were a variety of birds that liked to visit the canal right by our RV park. Here you can see woodstorks, a roseate spoonbill, and an egret.

A wonderful variety of birds here on the Gulf.



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