Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Camping and Kayaking at Jonathan Dickinson State Park

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An Alligator Seen While Kayaking
Earlier this month, we finally got a chance to get away and go camping.  Friends of ours were able to book a river site at Jonathan Dickinson State Park, in Hobe Sound, FL.   This is the best area in the park to camp, because of all the trees and shade.  The Pine Grove campground is all open and not very secluded.

This camping trip was supposed to be three of my friends in an RV and Nadia and I in our tent.  I really love listening to the sounds of the outdoors.  As the camping trip got closer, one of our friends had to cancel, and they were calling for a rainy weekend with thunderstorms.  I took the easy way out and asked if Nadia and I could stay in the RV too.  

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Rain Clouds Rollin In

We arrived Friday night, but before we could start a fire, the rain started :(  So we climbed into the RV and told some ghost stories and then sang Karaoke - I tried, but I am not very good.  I prefer the privacy of my own home with no one around to hear me :)

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Saturday morning, we got an early start kayaking to try to beat the thunderstorms.  I have been canoeing and kayaking at Jonathan Dickinson numerous times and all I have seen on my trips were various birds and big fish jumping in the water.

We started out around 9:30 a.m. and there was no one on the water and the water was very calm.  About 15 minutes later, I see my first alligator while in a kayak.  I have only seen alligators from a boardwalk or air boat so this was new for me.  This was also Nadia's first time kayaking.  We were a little afraid, but we just showed it respect and stayed far away.

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My first alligator seen from a kayak
It swam in front of us and then went underwater.  So we paddled a bit faster, but thought it was a neat experience.  Then as we rounded a bend of mangroves.  I spotted another one.

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Then as we were kayaking a long.  I shouted, "Here is another one. Oh, no, sorry it is just a palm tree trunk in the water", then I got a good look at it. "No, it's, it's a Manatee!!!!" We were so excited.  I apologize the pictures of them did not come out too good.

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My first manatee spotted at Jonathan Dickinson State Park
We were just so excited until we realized they could tip us over into the water with the alligators.  They were not afraid of us and were very curious.  They were coming to us and us NOT going to them.

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It almost started to feel like Disney's Jungle Cruise. What was going to pop up out of the water next?

We continued to paddle on.  Our goal was to get to the Trapper Nelson Interpretive Site.

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A Turtle Sunning Himself
Another manatee.

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We then paddled by an Osprey nest.  It was huge and the Osprey was actually inside feeding her young.  

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Osprey Nest
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The Osprey feeding her young
We still were not at Trapper Nelson's yet, but I thought this cove of trees covered in moss looked neat, but I was to afraid to kayak in there.

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Finally, we arrived at Trapper Nelson's.  It took us about 2 1/2 hours to paddle there.

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The Boat Dock at Trapper Nelson's 
You just pull your boat up to the dock and get out.  

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Trapper Nelson came to live on the river around 1936.  He was a bit of a loner, who became a local legend known as the "Wildman of the Loxahatchee"  He had created a wildlife zoo back in the day and built his own cabins out there.

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Trapper Nelson
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The Trapper Nelson Interpretive Site is open 9:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. and closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays.  You can reach the site by canoe, kayak or aboard the 25-passenger Loxahatchee Queen II.

As for the paddle back, we did not stop to observe any wildlife and we made it back in an hour.  Remember do not feed the wildlife, this is including the manatees.

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When we got back to RV, we had lunch.  We went for a quick bike ride, cause the weather was starting to look really bad.

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An Alligator seen while bike riding
The wind was picking up and the temperature dropped a bit, but we were able to light a campfire for a bit before we had to bring it inside.  

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Even though we only got to sit around the campfire for a short time one night, it was still a fun and scenic trip.  You can read about our past trips to Jonathan Dickinson State Park by clicking on the links to the right.


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