A Travellerspoint blog

Day 133 - We made it to St. Augustine

We saw manatee's again at Merritt Island NWR, then headed North to St. Augustine area.

semi-overcast 78 °F

Before we left the campground this morning, Mom saw this across the road from us and borrowed my camera to snap a picture of him. Good to know she's still enjoying such little things.


Mom hadn't been able to attend chuch for a couple of weeks, so I took her back to Titusville this morning to a Seventh Day Adventist Church I found on the internet. There was also one in Daytona Beach, which wouldn't have required driving backwards, but it was farther and I wouldn't have been able to get her there for the Sabbath School, which she likes. It was a pretty nice church, they had a concert for the main service today. (I forgot to grab the camera before everybody left.)


After the service, we ate a picnic lunch on the lawn behind the Church, which was quite nice.

This took us into the afternoon of course, and since I'd gone back south to get to Titusville, we'd actually gone a negative 10 miles so far today! Since we only had about a 1/2 day left and I wanted to get to Saint Augustine by tonight, I figured we had about enough time for one side trip at the most and it should be Merritt Island NWR. It has something called a "Manatee Observation Area", which sounded promising. We had some doubts after reading my Aunt's comments, but thought maybe they'd fixed the road since her visit so we'd give it a try.

When we got to the turnoff, it appeared to still be a sandy road, but it was quite compacted so I kept going. The observation area was not very far past the turnoff, maybe a block or so? There were a few people around and others fishing on the other side of the canal. I wasn't very optimistic since we'd learned at the Manatee Center that manatee like to go out into the open bay when the weather is nice, but figured it was worth a try.


We did see three manatee, they sometimes swam directly in front of us, sometimes off to the side, then back. We stayed there at least 30 minutes and saw manatee's the entire time we were there. The sign says they just like that area, scientists aren't sure why but suspect minerals in the water. Sometimes as many as thirty have been seen at one time - I was just happy to see three.

The first thing you might see is something like this. Often, that's all you see.


The water is shallow enough here to see the animals much better however. For a change, I actually used a filter to good affect here! The water was a little difficult to see through, but with the polarizing filter I could actually see, and photograph the animals much better.


Now, here's the real treat - three manatee's in the wild:

I also wanted to go to the visitors center, but am afraid I didn't check the map first. With Mom navigating, we actually went to the Cape Canaveral National Seashore Visitors Center, not the Merritt Island NWR Visitors Center. So we ended up seeing different things. Merritt Island NWR is a major birding location - but if I upload any more bird pictures I'll probably break Travellerspoint, so maybe it's just as well we went a different direction. We were also running out of time (the Seashore Visitors Center was much farther out of our way), so we didn't take the time to really check out the area as much as we'd have liked.

We did stop by a place called Turtle Mound. Before Juan Ponce de Leon landed in Florida in 1513, there were as many as 40,000 Timucuan people living in this area. The mounds and middens were created as they discarded shells, animal bones and other refuse. By the time the Spanish withdrew from Florida in 1763, there were only a few Timucuan remaining and they went to Spain with the Spanish. Earlier settlers didn't understand the archeological value of these mounds and used many of them for road building material. Turtle Mound is one of the few reminders we have left of the Timucuan. The mound isn't much to see in itself, it is now covered with tree's and brush and the NPS has built a raised trail to the top so you can climb it without damaging the mound. However, when you think about how it was built with only discarded shells & bones, it's pretty impressive (maybe 100' x 50' x 25' tall? That's just my guess from climbing it.)


We stopped at the visitors center and bought a few postcards and such, then hit the road. I was bound and determined to get to Saint Augustine tonight - and we'd used up almost all of the day and were still in the same general area that we'd stayed in last night! So I headed over to the Interstate, I-95, and just drove North. Of course, I picked the most expensive campground in the area (not picked really, I just turned into the first one I could find). It's on the beach however and just a few minutes from St. Augustine. Just for kicks, I decided to check out the beach. Mom was really, really tired, so I thought she'd be asleep before I got back - but no, guess who decided to go for a night walk with me?


Good night - and please enjoy the manatee video! (Didn't want to slow things up trying to edit it and make it fancy, if you turn the sound off - it's not too bad just as is.)


Miles Driven - 149
Camped at Bryn Mawr Campground on the Atlantic Ocean, just outside of St. Augustine, FL

Posted by jl98584 19:09 Archived in USA Tagged family_travel

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It is very nice. They are very interesting animals. I have a friend that used to scuba dive in Florida and she said there is an area, maybe where you were, where you swim with them.

by rllomas

so you fnally got to see some manatees! great video. the computer i watched it on is not connected to its sound card yet, so i didn't need to turn off the sound. cute squirrel with wooden ducks, mom. you know, you could spend the rest of your life exploring this country and never see all of the things you might like to see. you are living at least part of your dream. go for it!

by drque

I think the area where you can swim with the Manatee's is at Crystal Springs (or River), I'm not sure. I'm just thrilled that we actually got to see some (and in the wild, not at a zoo).

I do have one video where I finally replaced the background noise - the 7 mile bridge one. Usually I'm too rushed. Let me know what you think - more editing on the video's?

by jl98584

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