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Day 129 - Florida Condo's and Beaches (Photo's Added)

We tried driving up the coast (Hwy A1A), very slow going and they don't like RV's (no parking along beaches). We finally find a beach further north where we could park near Palm Beach, a lighthouse and a museum.

sunny 0 °F

Well, we're in South Eastern Florida so it seemed to me we ought to spend some time at a beach or at least driving along the shore. Surprise, surprise - the beaches in south eastern Florida are lined with Condo's, hotels and mansions.

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We continued driving north along Hwy A1A, the road that goes up the barrier islands separated from the mainland by the Intercoastal Waterway (or maybe they're not even islands, I'm not sure). Generally this is as close to the shoreline as you can drive (either Atlantic Ocean or Intercoastal Waterway). Some parts of the road ran right along water. It was also interesting seeing so many mansions - there's quite a bit of money in SE FL!

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We could see beaches on occasion, but the parking areas had big signs - No RV's. It didn't matter how big or small, nor how much space was open - No RV's. Fort Lauderdale has a beautiful beach and had parking available (it was fairly early in the morning), but again big signs saying - No RV's. We kept driving and and finally found a county park just south of Palm Beach that didn't have any signs outlawing RV's! It was a nice park also. There was a small flock of Ibises were wandering around the picnic area - including both adults (white) and juveniles (brown).

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(Thumbnail alert - on small photo's, you can click to enlarge).

Across the highway was a nice beach.

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The flags indicated moderate hazard surf (yellow) and dangerous marine life (Portuguese Man O' War & Jellyfish I suspect). Here's a Man O' War that had washed up on the beach, very toxic and dangerous.

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We didn't want to get stung by these things, but got out and enjoyed the water a bit anyway.

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Lovely beach, much more like I was expecting for eastern Florida. OK - I expected the Condo's and development (I have been here before), but not the lack of access (I have not been here before in an RV). So now I'm wondering why everyone goes so far south - why not just stop in mid FL? Oh well, maybe they like it hot, humid and crowded. That's probably not fair of me, most people who just fly use a rental car, or drive and stay in hotels or drive a big rig and two a small car behind should do fine. Can't expect the whole world to cater to my travel preferences (but I can ask, right?)

Anyway, since we're on a trip to travel - not just to sit on beaches (I think), we got back on the road and continued North. Having done some beach sitting, I decided to switch to the Interstate (I-95) for awhile and really make some tracks. We did make pretty good time too, at least until we saw a brown sign just a little north of Palm Beach for a place called Jupiter. Jupiter, it seems, has a Light House and a Florida History Musuem.

Disclaimer: No, I am not a Lighthouse fan particularly, nor a Butterfly collector, nor a bird watcher, nor a... Or at least I was none of these things before we left on this trip! It's just that if we see something of interest, we stop. Since we've been following the coast down from Maine, we've passed a lot of lighthouses and stopped at several. Maybe I just find a lot of things of interest?

So we stopped at Jupiter. I had to get off the freeway anyway since Mom had an important phone call appointment to straighten out her Social Security benefits (which she was able to do successfully BTW). While she completed her phone interview, I checked out the museum grounds. This is located on a channel & river with an outlet to the ocean so it must be a place where fish concentrate. There were quite a few different shore birds at the waters edge. I've posted pic's before of these same types of birds, but still thought these were cool because of the mix of birds together in the shots.

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OK - enough of the birds (maybe you think I've gone to the birds?) Mom got off the phone and we went through the museum. This is in a building that was built for US Army as married mens quarters at the beginning of WWII. The Army needed to establish a station to try to find German U-Boats that were torpedoing ships off the Florida coast. Since Mom was also born and raised on the west coast, all this U-Boat activity off the east coast surprised her as much as it did me.

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After the museum, Mom went back to the RV to relax while I decided to climb the Lighthouse (of course). George Meade also designed this structure (seems he was a pretty good engineer even if he wasn't the best Civil War General). The Lighthouse was located at the top of a small (46') hill so the brick structure wouldn't have to be as tall to still get the light high enough.

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The reason the lighthouse was needed is that the Gulf Stream is closer to the Florida coast here than any other place. There were no Americans in the area nor any community except for the Seminole's, but there were a lot of wrecks along the coast here due to the proximity of the Gulf Stream. The Lighthouse was the first structure built in what is now Palm Beach County and for many years was the only presence of white men (& the keeper's families) in the area. The area was thick with Mosquitoes and was quite unhealthy. This was in 1855 - 1859, when the lighthouse was built, so this section of Florida was populated fairly late.

There are 105 steps to the top (plus 50 or so up the hill, so the total climb is a bit longer then some). The steps at the top are fairly narrow, but at least are connected to the walls.

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At the top is a first order Fresnel lens. The windows in the tower were for air flow to help keep the flames burning (they didn't have electricity in 1860 when this was first lit.) Whale Oil was too expensive so in the 1800's the lanturns burned lard. This was switched to Kerosene in 1910, the electricity in 1928. The lighthouse building was restored in 2000, which was a very expensive undertaking. At least two local celebraties bought bricks to assist with the cost, Perry Como and Jimmy Buffett (who has also apparently written a novel based in part on the Lighthouse). During the restoration, the glass in the Fresnel Lens had to be individually removed, restored and replaced. There are at least 25 separate pieces of glass in each of the four side panels. If a piece of glass gets broken, they just keep it or fix it in place the best that they can. The formula to make the glass has been lost and Fresnel Lens glass cannot be replaced.

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The exterior glass also has an interesting shape. The triangle sections make it easier to curve the housing around the lens.

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Of course, the view from the top was great. BTW - the house on the left in the top shot of Jupiter Island is (or was) Perry Como's. The second shot shows more of the inlet & ocean. Some 11 lucky Coast Guard families live in these houses on the grounds (it is still an active USCG station, but only used for the residences at this time).

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It was still pretty early at this point, but I was tired (from playing with the video editing software too late), so we pulled into a State Park across the street and, surprisingly, they had space! We hadn't plugged in for the last two nights - and had managed to spill the better part of a box of cereal in the rig, to say nothing about beach sand, so I spent the rest of the remaining daylight vacuming - but the campground was nice and we enjoyed it. Mom gathered some scrap twigs and pine cones and actually started a pretty nice little campfire!

Logistics:

Miles Driven - 88
Camped at Jonathan Dickinson State Park near Jupiter, FL

Posted by jl98584 19:39 Archived in USA Tagged family_travel

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Comments

Very interesting. I didn't know the eastern shore of Florida was as built up as that. I know Miami is all condos....beautiful light house.
It is amazing what we enjoy and see when work is not the focus of our lives.

by rllomas

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