Thursday, February 14, 2013


January 31 - February 14, 2013
Jonathan Dickinson State Park
Hobe Sound, FL

Jonathan Dickinson State Park  (shortened to J-DICK!) had been on my “places to visit” list for about a year and we were able to snag a 2 week stay.  It’s on the east coast of Florida, not directly on the beach but close enough!   We stayed in the Pine Grove loop as it’s the most accommodating for big rigs.  The downside to this loop is that it is close to the highway (you can hear traffic almost non-stop) and there is no tree coverage for shade.  But - it has full hook-ups and there are tons of activities to do in the park and in the general area.  And, we were meeting up with friends Gin and Syl and Bill and Nancy.  That’s a recipe for fun!!

Geocaching is VERY popular at this park and all in all, I think that we found about 30 caches during our stay.
Dan and Bill searching for the cache
Nancy keeping watch

A very clever hide in an Altoids tin
Hobe “Mountain” is 86 feet above sea level and has a wonderful observation tower to view the Atlantic Ocean, inter-coastal waterway, and much of the park.  It is also a great place to watch beautiful sunsets.

One day we all packed our lunches and piled into Bill and Nancy’s Tahoe.  We were going to explore the area.  We headed to Jupiter Lighthouse.

It was a bit pricey to go tour the lighthouse so we just admired it from afar.   We headed to a beachfront spot to enjoy our picnic lunch.  Afterwards, we enjoyed the beach a bit….

Such a cute tern
We headed to Blowing Rocks.  Now this is different from the Blowing Rock (in NC!) that I am used to….
It is actually a pressed coquina formation that can increase beach erosion and intensify salt spray.  Erosion causes blow holes and can shoot salt spray 50 feet high.  We didn’t see any spray come close to that but it was a very neat sight to see regardless.

Dan, Nancy, and Syl went to explore one of the paths and Gin, Bill and I sat down at a deck that overlooked the beach.  There were a handful of people on the beach and we heard someone shouting to look in the water.  We turned to see what the commotion was about…..

It was the largest turtle we had ever seen.  We watched it parallel the beach until it was out of sight.  We thought maybe it was a  loggerhead turtle.  After we left Blowing Rocks, we headed to the Hobe Sound National Wildlife Refuge.  We were talking to one of the workers, told her what we saw, and showed her the picture.  She believes that it was not a loggerhead turtle but a leatherback turtle.  These turtles are about the size of a VW Beetle and can be up to 6 feet long and weigh up to 2000 lbs!   She told us that these turtles usually nest in late February and seeing one this early was unusual.  

The refuge had some really nice exhibits including a baby alligator, a baby crocodile, spotted skunk (descented of course!) and a few others.  

We had a great day exploring the area outside of the park!

The Loxahatchee River flows thru Jonathan Dickinson State Park and Bill, Nancy, Dan, and I set out to paddle it one day.
Nancy and Bill

It was a gorgeous day to be on the water.  We saw dozens of osprey and a few alligators.  I am out of my comfort zone with the gators and REALLY don’t like it when they are in the water.  I prefer them to stay on the banks but sometimes they don’t listen to me!  No pictures of alligators this time - I was too busy being a scaredy cat!

We paddled up to Trapper Nelson’s site.  Trapper was a pioneer that homesteaded in the area beginning in the 1930s.  The park offers a guided tour and it was well worth the visit.
It was  really interesting to hear about Trapper’s life and the guide did an excellent job portraying what life was like back in the day.  All of the buildings were built by Trapper and he lived quite a solitary life for the most part.
Trapper's hurricane log
After the tour, we ate our picnic lunch and got a chance to chat with the guide.

He, along with his wife, have volunteered as guides for Trapper Nelson’s site for 4 years.   You could tell that he really enjoys his work-camping gig and I doubt that he will give it up anytime soon.

On the way back, we saw another gator or two and, as we rounded a bend, I heard a noise that I thought I recognized.  I was not sure though and thought maybe it was a gator bellowing.  We rounded the bend and started seeing river grass clippings that were floating.  Yep - manatee!  I like these guys much, much better than the gators!!  They were rather elusive and we only got to see one glimpse but it was enough to put a smile on my face.  

We finished our paddle without incident and called it another great day on the water!

The park rangers at Jonathan Dickinson had recommended that we visit Busch Wildlife Sanctuary if we got the chance.   We had a free day so the six of us piled into the Tahoe and off we went one afternoon.

Dan, Syl, Gin, Nancy, and Bill
The sanctuary is a non-profit organization that is dedicated to the protection and conservation of Florida's wildlife.  The vast majority of the animals at the sanctuary are there due to something that a human (or humans) did to them.  It could have been deliberate (shooting) or accidental (hit with a car).  The staff does try to rehabilitate and release but sometimes that is not possible.
Beautiful butterfly on lantana

Owls are so cool!
We had a great time watching the river otter.  He was all by himself and looked like he wanted to play so, so much.  He decided to pose pretty when we were taking pictures.

Another great afternoon was had by all!



  1. That looks like a great park and area to explore and it's always so much fun to do it with good friends. Between all you guys and your travels, it seems there are plenty of places for us to visit when we finally get to Florida :)

  2. Looks absolutely wonderful! Miss you guys!

  3. Just lovely! How cool to be able to see that turtle. We can't wait to be in Florida!

  4. Wow, y'all sure have been busy taking in all that nature has to offer there in the Everglades! Breathtaking scenery, encounters with so much wildlife & interesting historical tidbits. I bet it was hard to leave there, but be glad that you're not here in Raleigh where it's only 41 degrees 16 12:27 p.m.

  5. How cool to see that turtle. Trying to comprehend a turtle the size of a VW Beetle -- wow!

  6. Spent some time in that area, love it. I recommend, if you haven't already visited, the Florida Oceanographic Coastal Center exhibit on Hutchinson island and the Loggerhead Marinelife Institute on Juno Beach. Both are great! Enjoy!!!

  7. We're now in Tampa and catching up on our blog reading. Sure is nice to have shared memories of great places. We enjoyed Disney so much that we left a bit of ourselves there... kinda like you and J Dick. Nice warm winter.

  8. Haven't checked your blog lately, busy getting things in order for Monday. Loved seeing all the great photos especially the pussy cat meowing---HA! Leaving for Raleigh tomorrow for my pre-op visit & back home Thursday. Enjoy the Fl. weather. We saw the orioles 1st pre-season game televised yesterday & they beat the Yankees 5-1. YEA! People at the stadium were in shorts, we are in sweats.