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Thursday, January 26, 2023

Discovering Dania Beach

Thursday, January 26, 2023

Hi Blog!

CB Smith Park in Pembroke Pines is only 15 miles from the Atlantic Ocean. Between Hollywood North Beach Park and Dania Beach is the Dr. Von D. Mizell & Eula Johnson State Park. The park is named for Civil Rights Movement leaders who led “wade-in” protests to desegregate South Florida beaches in the 1950s and 1960s. It was once the county’s designated “colored beach” and once bore the name of the Broward County attorney, John U. Lloyd, who was instrumental in transferring ownership of the land to the state, in lieu of being developed for residential high-rises.

This beachside park is the last example of an undeveloped coastal ecosystem in Broward County. The park area encompasses 310 acres between the Atlantic Ocean and the Intracoastal Waterway, stretching from Port Everglades Inlet on the north to Dania on the south.

We were hoping to find the trailhead for the Barrier Island Trail that was listed in AllTrails, but there was no evidence of a trailhead at the very busy beach parking lot. We took off in the direction we assumed the trail would follow and we were able to follow several different paths through the mangroves. In a clearing, we came upon this century plant:

This type of agave can live for 20 to 30 years before sending up a flowering stalk. After it blooms, it dies. But don't worry, there are already several other agave nearby waiting their turn to flower.

We were expecting a cold front to come through and lower the temperature today. Unfortunately, the cold front is slowing down and won't be here until tomorrow. The dense growth of mangrove provided us much welcomed shade.

Kathy stopped to check out a lone palm tree.

The barrier island is divided in half by Whiskey Creek. There are several bridges over the creek.

The Whiskey Creek Paddling Trail is a 3.8-mile loop from creek to Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) that is best paddled on a high or rising tide as portions of the creek are only a few inches deep at low tide. The creek is suitable for beginners if they launch at the park marina or Whiskey Creek Hideout and paddle south towards Dania Marina and then return to their starting point. More experienced paddlers can complete the loop as long as they are aware the ICW is a major shipping channel used by large ships headed in and out of Port Everglades just across from the park. If we decide to paddle, it will definitely be an out-and-back. No need to play with the big boats.

Without the breeze off the ocean, the hiking was hot. We decided to leave the forest and hike back along the beach.

After driving through 15 miles of dense suburbia, it was hard to believe that this area had not be developed. It soon became evident why. The Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport is just west of the park. Planes come in off the ocean and right over the beach. We could stand on the beach and planes would fly right over us!

What a beautiful day for a sail!

After dipping our toes in the water and watching the planes fly by, we worked our way back down the beach toward our parking lot. Along the way, we did a little beachcombing.  One of our finds was this bright orange coconut!

It was a good day for sea glass, shells and coral fossils. The little green bead was a fun find.

Our time here in Pembroke Pines is winding down. We may not have another blog while we are here this year. However, there are many adventures to discover at our next stop. Stay tuned.

Sea and Friends and R&B

Wednesday, January 26, 2023, and we had our last visit with our friends in Stuart, Florida.  We were set for a night of dinner and music at Terra Fermata, but we decided to drive up early to beat the afternoon rush hour traffic.  We just had to find some activities to fill the intervening time.

We decided to visit the Florida Oceanographic Coastal Center to view local sea life and learn about efforts to research and save the flora and fauna of this coastal region.  The facility is quite new --

-- and boasts a 750,000 gallon gamefish lagoon:

As you enter the facility and walk the grounds, there are also thematic sculptures in the garden areas:

The creatures in the lagoon were quite curious and swam over to us, possibly hoping that it was feeding time; whatever the reason, it gave us a chance to get a good look at the fish --

-- the resident cormorant --

-- loggerhead turtle --

-- and this cute little fish hiding in his hole and eyeing us suspiciously:

Inside the exhibit center, we were provided educational materials, many suitable for adults but many also oriented toward schoolchildren.  This is "Rosie," the roseated spoonbill, created by Cathy Pelusi from plastic marine debris to emphasize how much trash end up in our precious marine ecosystems:

Generous donors contributed enough money for a microscope lab to allow guests to examine marine specimens in greater detail:

Of course, what is a sea life museum without petting tanks.  Kathy took full advantage of these living exhibits to pet some cuddly crustaceans.  She even got her finger hugged by a pencil urchin:

The rays were quite interesting.  They are curious creatures, not unlike cats.  If you wait patiently with your hand in the water, they will come over and glide by to let you pet them.  Some will even bump your hand.  They also occasionally are so curious about individual visitors that they were climb out of the water to get a better look.

We even got a chance to do a little scuba diving!

Once done at the Ocean Center, we headed into downtown Stuart to park and take a walk around.  We enjoy the boardwalk, where, on this particularly beautiful, clear day, we had a chance to enjoy the waterfront --

-- complete with this egret, concentrating on her fishing --

-- and this heron who was equally intent on prey:

We stopped by the Roasted Record coffee house and roastery to grab iced decaf lattes and enjoy the downtown activities.  We also picked up some bags of fresh roasted beans.

But, of course, the main event was at Terra Fermata, where The Nouveaux Honkies were performing, as they do most Wednesday nights.  They're a great R&B band with mixtures of western, bluegrass and blues.

Before the music, we took time to take our (now) traditional Red Chair Photo, a bunch of crazy friends just hanging out:

We won't have a chance to see George, Nan, Nancy and Jim for another full year, but we're already looking forward to the adventures will have with them next January.  Hey, you guys, see you down the road...and safe travels.

Where the Boys and Butterflies Are

 Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Hi Blog!

Camped in Pembroke Pines, we are close enough to visit with our friends Ron and Brian over in Fort Lauderdale. They invited us to join them, and their friend Richard, on an adventure to Butterfly World. Of course, we said "Yes!" Who doesn't like butterflies? 

Butterfly World is located in Tradewinds Park in Coconut Creek, Florida. It opened in 1988, and it is one of the largest butterfly parks in the world. The facility houses around 20,000 live butterflies.

While we waited for the boys to arrive, we had time for our traditional selfy!

Thanks to Ron and Brian, we had an $8.00-off admission coupon! We started our tour in the laboratory where we learned that there are four stages in the metamorphosis of butterflies and moths: egg, larva, pupa, and adult. Richard noticed right away that the eggs were laid on the leaves of the passionflower vine. Apparently, different butterflies prefer different varieties of passionflower. These plants will then become the food for the hatching caterpillars.

The next stage is the larva. This is also called a caterpillar whether the insect is a butterfly or a moth. The job of the caterpillar is to eat and eat and eat. As the caterpillar grows it splits its skin and sheds it about 4 or 5 times. Food eaten at this time is stored and used later as an adult. Caterpillars can grow 100 times their size during this stage. We watched as these caterpillars make quick work of the passionflower leaves.

When the caterpillar is full grown and stops eating, it becomes a pupa. The pupa of butterflies are also called a chrysalis. Depending on the species, the pupa may suspended under a branch, hidden in leaves or buried underground. It may look like nothing is going on but big changes are happening inside. Special cells that were present in the larva are now growing rapidly. They will become the legs, wings, eyes and other parts of the adult butterfly. The caterpillar's job was to eat. The adult's job is to mate and lay eggs. 

After the laboratory, we entered the aviary. This is where all the mating happens. There were so many different kinds of butterflies flitting around, we didn't know where to start. If we had one photo, we must have ended up with over 100. The following are just a sample of some of the more interesting ones.

When we weren't chasing butterflies, we stopped to watch the playful finches enjoying their breakfast.

After strolling through the hanging garden and tropical rain forest, we stopped at the Butterfly Museum and Bug Zoo. The exhibits included butterflies from around the world.

The bug zoo had enclosures with scorpions, hissing cockroaches, millipedes and tarantulas.

To erase the memory of all those creepy crawlies, here is a picture of a pretty little green frog:

As we learned earlier, the butterflies love passionflower vines. The museum grows all the passionflowers the caterpillars eat. They created a secret garden maze with one of the largest collections of passionflowers in the world. Here are just two of the prettiest flowers we saw.

Our next stop was in the tropical bird aviary. There were signs everywhere to watch your step. We soon realized why. Tiny tropical quails were scurrying back and forth across the walkway.

We were soon buzzed by several parakeets. Did you know there are over 115 different species of seed-eating parrots of small size, slender build and long tapering tail? Like this little one:

Parakeets form strong monogamous pairs and will typically mate for life. Their partners can be of the same or a different sex. Here are some "love birds" setting up housekeeping.

Here are some more love birds:

To get to Macaw Landing and the Jewels of the Sky Aviary, we crossed a replica of the Tinalandia Bridge. The bridge is a replica of one spanning the Toachi river, near the Tinalandia Lodge in Western Ecuador. While our family has visited Ecuador, we've never been to this bridge. However, our daughter may have driven past it on her Ecuador road trip.

Since 1986, Butterfly world founder, Ron Boender, has been traveling to the Tinalandia site to study rain forest butterflies. The replica bridge is his effort to bring a bit of the adventure he experienced there, to Butterfly World. The bridge bounces and sways as your walk across it.

At the other end of the bridge are the resident macaws. These beautiful birds were rescued from an unhealthy situation. While they can never be free, at least they can live out their lives being well cared for and entertained by all the silly tourists who come by asking if "Polly wants a cracker!"

In the Jewels of the Sky Aviary, we met some of the most colorful birds in the tropics. Who can resist a canary yellow colored canary!

The prize for most colorful was the Lady Gouldian Finch. The small, multi-colored birds are covered in green, yellow, blue, purple, red, and black. They are endemic to Australia, preferring tropical savanna woodland habitats in the northern part of the country. 

After seeing all the birds, it was time to get our hands on some. The Lorikeet Encounter is a hands-on experience. Lorikeets are medium-sized parrots and unlike the parakeet who eat seeds, lories feed on pollen, nectar and bugs. If you buy a cup of nectar from the docent, you are immediately best friends with the lorikeets in the enclosure.

While Richard and Kathy proceeded to the gift shop, Ron and Brian decided to become members. We have a feeling there will be more butterflies and passonflowers in our future.

After a morning filled with butterflies, flower buds and bird bonding, it was time to get serious about lunch. The boys took us to one of the favorite restaurants - Rosie's in Wilton Manor. Rosie's is a fun, festive and all inclusive place. You can't be sad at Rosie's. The folks there are fabulous! Here is a link to their menu. What's not to love about a big bowl of Kaling Me Softly or Beet Your Brains Out!

Thanks guys for a great adventure. See ya down the road.