Secret Spot Secrets

How wonderful this park is.  I think I don’t ever want to leave.  Even with the raccoons, it’s a haven of solitude and natural beauty.  The kids and I take walks during the day, and always see an array of wild things. The beaches and shorelines are loaded with fiddler crabs.   Ibis come pecking through the campsites each morning looking for breakfast insects.  Doves, Gulls, Egrets, Herons, Cranes, Pelicans, Roseate Spoonbills, Eagles, Osprey and Hawks abound everywhere.  Secret Spot Park even builds nesting posts for the Osprey to occupy right in the park.  It is amazing, but unsettling to see giant long legged long neck long beaked birds standing on the edge of the road.  I think they could kick my butt.

My big boy and I take long walks in the evening when the moon is big and bright. From time to time, a cruise ship is hovering in the bay as we walk up to the boat launch.  Raccoons test every garbage can on the property nightly.  We hear rustling in the mangroves, swaying in the palm trees and splashing in the water.  Secret Spot used to have an infestation of wild pigs.  Too bad that isn’t the case now, or I would be achieving the whole reason why I came to Florida.  But it’s hard to know just what that rustling is. We have yet to see a pig or deer in the park.

The water itself is quite interesting.  Solid salt water ocean off the beach, but as you come around the little fingers of land the waters turn brackish, a combination of fresh and salt water.  There are no alligators here because of this.  They don’t like the salty water.  But it’s a great place to catch both bait, and fish.  All along the water’s edge there are open spots cut into the mangroves, just big enough to fish in.  Those clearings are edged with thick crustations of clams sharp enough to cut a foot open. An ignorant person may try to harvest those calms, but in fact they are not edible unless they remained under water until found.  When they are exposed to air, they become tainted.   A sad waste for us, but it doesn’t stop the wildlife from consuming them.

I frequently see fish jumping out of the waters here.  They splash throughout the day and night  Sometimes, they will rise up out of the water and skip across a good 50 yards or more distance, like a skipping stone, then dive back under water. They are the Mullet, and they cannot be easily caught unless they are netted.  What can be easily caught hook and line is Catfish, Flounder, Redfish, and Trout, just by stepping feet away from the campsites, and offering either a shrimp or fiddler crab on the hook.  But perhaps the most intriguing thing is that there are so many other creatures swimming these waters.  They say there are Hammerhead sharks, Tarpons, Grouper, Dolphin and Manatee, and a hodge-podge of sea fish too long to describe.  Standing at a mangrove clearing and fishing is somewhat daunting when you don’t really know what you might hook.

After stormy weather, the beach is filled with interesting treasures to search for in the sand. Secret Spots beach is deteriorating into the ocean, exposing much of the plant life structure.  I wonder if this is partly why so few people can be found visiting here.  It’s not exactly pretty at the beach with all the erosion. But its plenty fine for me.  Understanding the tides is a critical component to spending time on the water whether it’s for tanning kayaking, swimming or even fishing.  High tide is the best time to fish.  Low tide you may get your boat stuck and grounded, and anglers can be found walking out several hundred yards fishing in knee deep waters.  What a strange thing to have to keep up with.

On land, the foliage is dense and green.  Everything is growing in sand, except the air plants that just sit on the trees and grow, and of course, the mangroves.  There are 3 types of mangroves, red, white and black.  Several varieties of oak trees, several varieties of palm trees and of course thick Saw Palmetto is found everywhere.  I have seen Saw Palmetto a good 15 feet tall. Sadly, many of the palm trees here are dying.  I look around and see tall skinny trunks, void of any green leafy tops.  I hear there is no funding or support to rescue or replace them.  I think about back home and the dedication given to remove diseased elms and replace.  Too bad the same urgency isn’t shared in Florida with the palm trees.  But the trees that are here provide bedrooms for the squirrels, birds and raccoons. 

Apparently Secret Spot is just that, a secret.  The rangers do such a fantastic job of keeping everything about the park as top shelf as possible, yet most of the locals either don’t know about it, or choose not to enjoy it.  And the people here now, are saying, “please don’t say where you are!”, because they don’t want to see this quiet paradise become a party capital.  And I get that.  So for now, I will continue to refer to my temporary home as Secret Spot Park.  Jenn was right, it really is a wonderful get away destination.  If I was king of this forest, I would do everything I could to promote it to people who appreciate the need to preserve and protect natural beauty like this, and could help to make it even better.   But for now, I do my part by writing messages along the sand trails with a big stick that say:

Respect The Land

Pick Up Your Trash!

Yup, you could say I’ve become emotionally invested in Secret Spot Park.  I simply love it here.

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Comments

  1. Lynn Marie Macy says:

    This sounds like a place I would like to see!

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