Wednesday morning we got up and had breakfast at Denny’s…worse service, better coffee. Then we headed for the Atlantic side of the state and Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge.
We started at Merritt by going on the Gator Creek Trail road. It’s a long loop drive with incredible scenery, birds and gators.
Then we stopped at the Visitor’s Center to get a map. There is an amazing trail system behind the visitor’s center, and we walked that loop.
When we went to Merritt last time, we ran out of time for the Hammock area. Not this time! We started on the Oak Hammock loop.
Part of the Hammock area is full of “air plants” like bromeliads (as attached to the central tree, below). The whole area is very hot and humid…and protected from fires because of it.
As we walked around, we smelled a spicy, exotic scent in various parts of the trail system…wild oranges!
I have always been a bit freaked out by spiders. But we came across some that were so horrific, I wanted to die. If I had one on myself, I swear I would light myself on fire and RUN!
This next image is not for the weak-hearted. It is not a close-up…that’s actual size. And the webs were all across the path, so if you weren’t paying attention and just ran the loop, you’d have about ten of these nasty things in your hair. Eek!
Next we went to see the manatees, but didn’t see any manatees even though it’s their time of year to hang out in the park. Bob did rescue a turtle that was trapped in the parking area, though.
I should point out that it was raining off and on all day, with the prediction of thunderstorms.
According to NOAA, “Central Florida is the “Lightning Capital” of the United States. On average, lightning is responsible for more weather-related deaths in Florida than all other weather hazards combined, and Florida has the highest number of lightning casualties of all 50 states.”
This Pine Flatwood Trail area is noteworthy because it all burned away in a recent fire, brought on by lightning. As we set out on the path, we heard a bit of thunder.
Nervous about the upcoming storm and being out in an area known for lightning strikes, we cut the trail short and headed for dinner.
We went to the Old Florida Grill on our last trip as well. It’s a little dive off the side of the road, with good food. While we were eating dinner, the floodgates opened and the storm hit full-on.