Yesterday we signed up for today's pontoon boat tour of the river. It was originally scheduled from 2-5 p.m. and that worked out perfectly for our lazy morning schedule. However, the park manager kept one eye on the weather and decided to take the trip this morning (10-1) to avoid possible rain. A wise man. The sun was shining and the temps were able to reach the mid 70's, a perfect day to get out on the water.
The boat was small, that made for a more personal tour. Perfect. There was a couple from Indiana, a woman and her two teenish children and us on the "party boat". At least that is what we call those flat pontoon boats on our lake at home. The captain was the park manager and we also had a naturalist/ranger along to tell us about the golden grass "meadows" we were to navigate and its resident wildlife.
It wasn't an exciting trip, it was a slow pleasant cruise in a pristine environment most of us don't know about and never get to see. No homes, no cars, no stores, no people, no noise, just miles and acres of golden marsh teeming with birds. We saw a bald eagle, wood storks, a roseate spoonbill, double crested cormorants, terns, numerous gulls and swallows, egrets, pelicans (Brown and American White), pied billed grebes, an American Oystercatcher, Kingfishers, etc., etc....
|St. Mary's River undercutting its shoreline|
The river is alive and always changing. Our captain has been the manager for the last 10 years and spends all his down time on the river. He talked about the changes that occur almost overnight, sand bars disappearing, moving, changing shape and location as well as the relentless shore erosion at the park's bend. In 2004, his first year here, Crooked River State Park lost 27 feet of shoreline to the river's currents. All in all, in his 10 years, the river has claimed more than 50 feet, taking the park's swimming pool and fences. Many of the cabins have had to be moved back to avoid falling into the swirling water.
We started the cruise this morning at high tide and it was interesting to watch the oyster shoals and mud flats slowing emerging on our way back to the dock. We sat under the bimini so I didn't take many pictures. The lack of good photos is absolutely not a measure of how much we enjoyed the voyage.
Tomorrow we leave this lovely State Park and head for one of our favorite campgrounds just north of St. Augustine.