Palm Beach County

For Ev­ery Plea­sure, Pas­sion and Pas­time

Snowbirds & RV Travelers - - Contents - WORDS AND PHO­TOS BY JA­SON TANSEM, PERRY AND CINDY MACK

CRUIS­ING THE INTRACOASTAL WATERWAY IS

A UNIQUELY FLORIDA EX­PE­RI­ENCE, and while Beach Wa­ter Sports was the most af­ford­able op­tion, the staff were less than friendly. Nev­er­the­less, we rented a 22’ Pon­toon boat and set out on an af­ter­noon cruise north on In­dian River to­wards Peck Lake, which is a part of the Intracoastal. Along the way you can marvel at the wa­ter­front homes and neigh­bour­hoods, each has a boat dock or ma­rina, but al­ways be on the look­out for dol­phins or man­a­tees. We didn’t see any – dol­phins or man­a­tees that is, but lots of beau­ti­ful homes – most shut­tered for the sum­mer. Jupiter is the win­ter home for many golf­ing greats like Tiger Woods, Greg Nor­man, and Gary Player, and singers in­clud­ing Ce­line Dion, Alan Jack­son and Kid Rock, and other celebri­ties and pro­fes­sional ath­letes - so bring along your binoc­u­lars and pa­parazzi cam­era lenses.

We moored on the east side of Peck Lake (look for the tower) and walked 50 me­tres across Jupiter Is­land along a path to find the At­lantic Ocean and a rel­a­tively un­in­hab­ited beach. An­other fam­ily had packed along a tent, chairs, cooler (and the fam­ily pet) to spend the af­ter­noon – and so should you.

This ad­ven­ture into Seabranch Pre­serve State Park is great on a hot day as you can en­joy the breeze as you cruise, even if Mother Na­ture hasn’t pro­vided any wind. The Intracoastal is pro­tected from waves, so you do not need to be an ex­pert boater to en­joy your­selves.

Na­tive fauna can be hard to spot in the wild, but not at the Busch Wildlife Sanc­tu­ary. This non-profit or­ga­ni­za­tion is ded­i­cated to pre­serv­ing Florida’s wildlife through the res­cue, re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion, and preser­va­tion - and ed­u­ca­tion of lo­cal and vis­i­tor hu­man in­hab­i­tants. While some of their ‘guests’ vary as they are re­ha­bil­i­tated and re­leased, others are per­ma­nent res­i­dents, which can’t re­turn to their nat­u­ral habi­tat in Florida due to their in­juries or com­pla­cency to­wards hu­mans. Ex­plor­ing along the lush trop­i­cal paths, you’ll typ­i­cally be able to see ev­ery­thing from Florida’s foxes to fal­cons, skunks to snakes, par­rots to pan­thers, and of course the in­fa­mous al­li­ga­tors. www.buschwildlife.org

The wind whips past us, as our ear­muffs at­tempt to pro­tect us from the roar of the mas­sive fan pro­pel­ling us through the for­est of tall grass. We are hunt­ing (with cam­eras) for the elu­sive al­li­ga­tors that so far we’ve only seen at the Busch Wildlife Sanc­tu­ary. The adren­a­line rush of cross­ing the small lake is re­placed with

an­tic­i­pa­tion as we qui­etly idle through the nar­row chan­nels, peer­ing into the murky grasslined banks, search­ing for the wary pre­his­toric preda­tors that we know are all around us. ‘There’s one”, shouts Ja­son as our pi­lot cuts the en­gine and cam­eras fol­low eye­balls to the rus­tle and splash on shore. While that was our only sight­ing, our guide took us to see an al­li­ga­tor nest, and a small pond where gaz­ing be­low the still sur­face, in wa­ter as clear as an aquar­ium, schools of fish swarmed to­wards the bread we tossed from the side. 45 min­utes passed in the blink of an eye and then it was time to re­turn to the dock. Ea­gle Boat Air­boat rides have great staff, a small out­door fresh food mar­ket, and of course – ga­tor head sou­venirs. For the hearty and the brave – you can hold a baby ga­tor!

Ma­rina Square in Fort Pierce (an hour drive north of Jupiter) seems to be Florida’s cap­i­tal of out­door mar­kets. We stopped there for the Farmer’s Mar­ket (ev­ery Satur­day 8 am to 12 pm) to wan­der among the eclectic mix of ven­dors. Fresh fruits and veg­gies, ex­otic plants, spices, cloth­ing, food and mu­sic – and all free to see. At the same time, you can also stop in at the Jazz Craft Mar­ket, or make it to the Wed­nes­day Green Mar­ket in­stead. The Fort Pierce Ma­rina even pro­claims to have ‘Florida’s Best Fish­ing.’ Next time we’ll let them prove it!

Shop­ping can make you thirsty and tired, so it’s a good thing the ‘Orig­i­nal Tiki Bar’ is next door to the mar­ket, over­look­ing the ma­rina with a great vibe and live mu­sic. Odds are you’ll hear Jimmy Buf­fet’s great­est bal­lads from the mi­cro­phone, and en­joy an­other iconic Florida ex­pe­ri­ence.

Our only caveat is that the road into Fort Pierce, un­for­tu­nately, doesn’t dis­play the pros­per­ity of Jupiter, with barred, shut­tered and aban­doned busi­nesses along your route to the mar­ket. While Ma­rina Square and down­town is a fan­tas­tic place to visit for the day, I can’t say I would rec­om­mend you make this a home base for your stay.

Af­ter ex­plor­ing so much of the nat­u­ral habi­tat, we needed some civ­i­liza­tion and found our­selves with tick­ets in hand en­ter­ing Roger Dean Stadium, home of the Jupiter Ham­mer­heads and Palm Beach Car­di­nals in the triple A league, and the Gulf Coast Mar­lins and Gulf Coast Car­di­nals in the Rookie league. With four teams call­ing the stadium home, there is a game in the stadium al­most ev­ery day April through Au­gust. Then dur­ing spring train­ing, you can watch the St. Louis Car­di­nals and Mi­ami Mar­lins prac­tice from the end of Fe­bru­ary to the end of March.

Speak­ing of civ­i­lized, when I sug­gest service to your chair, a call but­ton for food and al­co­hol, while in re­clin­ing seats with a tray ta­ble, you nat­u­rally think air­plane. How­ever, th­ese words de­scribe the lux­ury cin­ema ex­pe­ri­ence at Ci­neopo­lis cin­ema in Jupiter. We pur­chased our tick­ets ($41 US for two adults), chose our seats at the ticket counter, passed the full-service bar on the way to our the­atre, re­clined in our spa­cious, plush, leather seats, and then or­dered food and bev­er­ages from the server af­ter re­view­ing the menu. If we had any fur­ther food and drink de­sires, we pushed the call but­ton on the arm of our chair, and our server reap­peared. You can also or­der your tick­ets on­line, choos­ing your movie, time, and seats. There are also non-lux­ury the­atres avail­able as well. It is ex­pen­sive for ‘go­ing to the movies,’ but then again it is a quite an ex­pe­ri­ence.

West Palm Beach County, like much of Florida, is over­flow­ing with a mul­ti­tude of sat­is­fy­ing ex­pe­ri­ences for ev­ery plea­sure, pas­sion, and pas­time. Don’t wait an­other year to get your fill!

Clock­wise: Boat rental on Intracoastal, Ea­gle Bay Air­port and the Roger Dean Stadium.

Top: Fort Pierce and bot­tom: Ga­tor at the Ea­gle Bay Air­boat.

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