You know what they say about tourist hotspots like Venice (the other one) and the Lake District? That they may look impossibly crowded but you only need to show a little independent spirit and deviate a few streets from where the hordes gather and you'll have the place to yourself.
Such, we found, was Caspersen Beach, happily just down the road. While everyone was converging seawards from the seething car park, lugging chairs and parasols and picnic coolers, we walked against the traffic, towards land. And a lovely tranquil nature reserve.
It looked, I'm guessing, pretty much how it would have looked in the days of the pioneers. Which of course was a tough time. Snakes, alligators, panthers, mosquitoes, heat and humidity. But if you could stand all that and had a sense of humour, it must have been one long adventure. Now we have to get our thrills in small, carefully managed parcels. Though there are, of course, still alligators on the golf course. Nothing in Florida is ever completely safe.
And just to add to the historic atmosphere, we discovered some intriguing fossils.
And wonder of wonders - could that possibly be a rare scrub jay sitting on the tree? I'm no expert but we were standing right by the sign that said "Scrub Jay Habitat". So I'll carry on believing. A pity they're not called something more appealing and they don't look as gaudy as blue jays, which are the noisy neighbours of birdworld, vulgar, brassy and two-a-penny. But scrub jays are as authentically Floridian as you can get. Thankfully, here at least, at the moment, they're safe from golf clubs and gated communities.
Goodness knows what else you might find lurking out of sight in the jungle.
We meandered along quiet paths, hardly meeting another person. Just hearing the rustling of the palms and the strange cries of birds. Until we got to the intracoastal waterway and got a hefty reality check.
And a glimpse of another possibly endangered species.
Probably feeling a little disappointed now but still flying the flag. At least they were having fun. Gazing on the beauties of nature does tend to puts things in perspective.
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