Merritt Island for Christmas

2015anniversaryAHappy Anniversary to us and Merry Christmas to you all. We celebrated Christmas 2015 at Merritt Island Wildlife Refuge, close to Titusville, Florida.

We’re wearing 2016 T-shirts to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service, while at a Wildlife Refuge. Oh no!

After three days at Disneyworld and a day at Kennedy Space Center, I looked forward to a couple of days in nature. Canaveral National Seashore and Merritt Island Wildlife Refuge are basically next to each other.

Can you see the alligator?

While parks are for people, refuges are for wildlife-and for hunting. So a refuge has fewer amenities for visitors. We couldn’t even find a picnic area. What we did find was a multitude of birds and even a couple of alligators. This is Florida at its best.

First, we had to check out the manatee observation deck. Sure enough, a couple of manatees were lounging in the lagoon. They came to the surface just long enough to take their next breath but did not show much of their bodies. They kept teasing us with their presence but nothing good enough for pictures.

We drove/walked the Black Point Wildlife Drive, a seven-mile drive through an amazing wildlife viewing area.  This is one of best places to see all the birds of Florida, from sparrows to roseate spoonbills. The latter are large shore birds, with pink, punky stripes on their white bodies.

20151225Merrittisland 004A We took the drive slowly and Lenny kept checking the birds in our Peterson bird guide.

But driving a few hundred feet and then getting out of the car constantly is tiring. So my granddaughters and I walked most of the way. After all, it is flat. Lenny drove the car most of the time and we popped in to get some water. It was hot.

My son, Neil, called Merritt Island a hidden gem. But it’s not hidden. It’s on every map. Because it is paired with a national park unit, it’s even on national park maps. Nothing is hidden. You just have to look, read and explore.

One more park unit tomorrow, before we had home.

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