Note from David: Jodi and I were so fascinated by the features of the Canaveral National Seashore that we made three visits to try to experience all that it had to offer. From eyebrow-raising moments to local history to natural beauty, this place had it all.
We will have a total of three separate posts about Canaveral National Seashore, each one coinciding with a visit.
David: It’s great sometimes what we re-discover by accident. I guess I was feeling a little restless one day and just needed to get out…maybe do some exploring. I decided to do some much-needed shopping along with my exploring. The required items were soon secured and I headed toward New Smyrna Beach on SR 44. My plan wasn’t so much to go to the beach, but to, I guess, fill in some gaps in my knowledge of the coast line from New Smyrna Beach and south. Continuing on SR 44 across the causeway, I made the big right “bend” onto A1A or S. Atlantic Avenue and headed south. I had a vague idea or, maybe, a “recollection” of where I would end up, but wasn’t positive. A small road sign informed me that the road would end in a few miles at the Canaveral National Seashore. HUH? Didn’t one get to the National Seashore through the Cape Canaveral area? Totally intrigued, I continued south and soon found myself at the attended entrance to the Seashore. The entrance fee of five dollars per car seemed reasonable and I asked the attendant if there was a map to be had. He handed me a printed map along with my receipt or “pass” which was good for an entire day. Pass and map in hand, I drove onto the property which, according to the map, was the “Northern District” of the Canaveral National Seashore.
I pulled into one of the parking areas which promised beach access to take a closer look at the map and to take, at least, a peek at the beach and ocean. Well, I’ll be, I thought as I looked closer at the map reciting to myself, of course, the somewhat familiar place names: “Castle Windy”, “Eldora”, and “Turtle Mound”. Now, I can be a little slow on the uptake as they say from time to time and it took me a couple of minutes to realize that I had been here before. That time was almost 20 years ago when I was a graduate student at UCF. My herpetology class came here to look for salt marsh snakes and we were based in a house that the university owned on this property. A very adult and educated, “freakin’ cool”, went through my head as these memories and realizations came together.
It was getting a little late, but I wanted to do two things before I headed home: walk the beach and see if the “UCF house” was still here. Crossing the dune on the elevated crossover, I stopped to look north and south along the beach. There were, maybe, five other souls as far as my eyes could see in both directions. I am not a crowd person and liked this beach quite a bit. I limited my time and distance walked knowing at this point that I would be back and probably soon. Noting the marked sea turtle nests at points along the beach, I hoped that there were… “enough”. Back to the car and, sure enough, there it was, the sign marking the UCF laboratory property. Wow, how cool!
Hey Jodi, I’ve got a place for us to check out!
Jodi: On a Friday morning at 9:00am sharp, Dave and I set out for Lake Ashby Park. Roughly 45 minutes later we turned off the main road following a boat launch sign. We then found ourselves on a dirt road that led to the parking area of the park.
David: The access road to the park passes through some, what appears to be, old-growth pine flatwoods with longleaf pine and saw palmetto. Some of this area may be considered to be a little on the wetter side or “hydric” with another species of pine – pond pine. Read More…