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.