Friday, April 25, 2008

Open-Air Amphitheater

April 22-25, Titusville-Fernandina Beach, FL
Some cruisers speak in disparaging tones referring to the Intra-Coastal Waterway as “the ditch.” Waiting for bridge openings and watching channel markers is definitely a different style of cruising than island hopping in The Bahamas, but we enjoy this part of the trip, too.

A fair amount of real estate along the winding rivers, lagoons, and land cuts is developed, but there are also beautiful wide-open spaces. Between hammocks of graceful palms and sturdy pines, marsh grasses sway. Rose-gold and spring-green savannas contrast with stands of dense and lush green jungle growth. As we travel northward, moss-laden live oaks here and there indicate progress.

We’re in an open-air amphitheater and the wildlife puts on a delightful performance for us. Aquatic birds and other wildlife abound. Pelicans glide in a ballet on the breeze, then, spotting fish, descend into the water in hilarious nosedives that are anything but graceful. Egrets stalk the shoreline in lurching staccato steps, looking for little minnows. Dolphins surface in undulating waves, displaying tail flukes and arching high above the water, then with uncanny timing they disappear at precisely the moment the camera is ready or the shutter is snapped. The manatees in Titusville Marina are less camera-shy, but may be less photogenic.
Our last stop in Florida, Fernandina Beach, has a colorful history that goes way back to 1562. In its earlier years, pirates and other rogues used it as a hideout. In more “modern” times, Victorian stores and homes were built (and have been restored) in the historic district. The flags of eight different countries have flown over the town, making it the most highly prized area in our nation. We’ll miss the big show in town—the shrimp festival is next week—but didn’t miss out on fresh-caught jumbo shrimp for dinner.

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