As mentioned in our March in the Keys post as well as the March Report, we ended the month with a drive up to Coral Springs, staying with Xavier and Joy for four days. We timed the stop to overlap with two of Rose’s sisters’ visits there. Dolores, Josh and Tamiri flew in from California, and Melissa from New York.
Tamiri opening her Easter basket from us, with lots of Cricut enhanced items.
The city of Coral Springs does a massive Easter Egg “hunt” for the local children, with dozen’s of volunteers organizing the kids by age group and having separate “heats” for each group. The plastic eggs are scattered quite liberally all over the ground and hay bails in the designated area, and no child walks away without a few. Niece Tamiri certainly got her share.
Somehow we did not take a pic from the big Easter Egg Hunt, but here is one from the private, Tamiri only hunt Dolores arranged at Xavier and Joy’s house.
We also enjoyed a great afternoon at Melissa’s friends Ralph, who threw a taco barbecue event for us with wayyyy more food than we could eat. Ralph’s cousin visiting from Georiga is a chef, and the results of his work were clearly indicated by those of us that had to have just one more taco before lolling in a semi stupor waiting to digest.
Ralph, Tamiri, and Bardock, who is named after the father of Goku from the Dragon Ball Z anime series, because geek.
We also were fortunate enough to have our time in Coral Springs include Easter, and managed to bring together a decent sized gathering of family and friends for a robust meal. Which is another way of saying I cooked a full turkey, again using my never-failed-me three step process: brine it overnight, get the butter and herbs under the skin, and spatchcock it. I love this recipe so much I would make at least three turkey’s a year given the opportunity. This year I managed to get an even better surface browning thanks to a tip from Ralph’s cousin.
For our last day in Coral Springs, Rose and I hit a couple of Best Buy stores to pick up one of her long time wish list items: a new waterproof point and shoot camera. I had narrowed the field to five contenders, of which we were able to find three to compare in person. Surprisingly, Rose was perfectly happy with one of the less expensive options in the group, the Fujifilm XP120. For a compact camera it has a nice big screen, easy controls, only one water tight door to deal with (some models have two), and will certainly be suitable for the shallow water snorkeling we enjoy.
From Coral Springs we crossed over to the Gulf Coast for a short stay at Koreshan State Park near Bonita Springs. It is an odd place, founded by a utopian religious group called the Koreshan Unity, that, as best I can tell, were very arts oriented, had a few hang ups about with whom and for what purpose their members had sex (surprise!) and believed we were all living inside the earth, not on the outside surface. Huh. Anyway, the group petered out in the early 20th century and the last surviving member deeded the Unity’s land to the state, which eventually turned it into the Koreshan State Historic Site.
Our site at Koreshan State Park. Reasonably spacious with some privacy.
The property is beautiful, and deviates from the scrub forest setting that many of the states central and southern properties have. We also encountered some wild life, which we would most definitely have missed had it not been for our sharp eyed and keen of hearing cat. She found two black snakes ( or possibly one snake two times) while we were having cocktails (Rose and I, not the cat and I) one evening.
Another night she was pressed up in full alert mode against the window behind the kitchen sink, a place she knows she’s not supposed to be. Her demeanor suggested something interesting, and upon investigation we found this. Awesome. Good cat.
These things are nearly blind, and I was able to get right up to him, close enough to touch while he was foraging wood ants.
Koreshan’s location allowed for easy day trips to three beaches on Rose’s shelling radar: Lover’s Key State Park, Barefoot Beach County Preserve, and Little Hickory Island Beach Park. We tried out Lover’s Key first, using our new Lifetime Florida State Park Pass for free day use entry. It is an excellent state park with plenty of parking and a really nice beach a few hundred yards from concession and parking areas, and even offers a tram service for those that might have trouble with that distance.
The beach itself was quite nice, and we were lucky enough to be there on a day with relatively clear water. Aside from The Keys, most of the Florida Gulf Coast beaches we have visited have had terrible water visibility, so it is nice to luck out and have reasonable near shore snorkeling. While the shelling was limited, once in the water we spotted plenty of live fighting conchs, a horse conch, large lightening whelks and an olive snail.
Florida Horse Conch
On the way home from there we made a scouting run by Little Hickory Island to help decide between there and Barefoot Preserve for the next day’s outing. It looked like a nice enough beach but pretty similar to Lovers Key, but much more crowded, so we spent our last full day Barefoot Preserve instead. This was the right decision. It is a long beach, and therefor easy to find spots that are not particularly crowded. Though the water was not as clear as our day at Lover’s Key, the beach shelling was significantly better, and we had compared for a longer beach stay than normal, using our fat wheeled market wagon to tote our cooler, lounge chairs, snorkel gear, and beach umbrella.
We closed out the day with stops at a couple of local thrift stores before setting in for a calm evening to ourselves before heading to Venice to see Rose’s mom Gloria the next day.