Wickham County Park, Birds and Cronuts

We will miss the show, but we know who Blake Shelton is a least

We will miss the show, but we know who Blake Shelton is a least

Counties count in Florida much as they do in California; big state stuff. Florida consists of 67 governmental counties; the most recent creation being Gilchrist in 1925. In 1968 Florida gave the counties the power to create their own charters which allows them to levy taxes, provide public services and pass laws. A few counties have seen name changes; Mosquito County became Orange County in 1845 (wise move!) and Dade County became Miami-Dade in 1997- did you notice?

All the county talk can be confusing to a non-native nomad who is lucky to know the town they are in let alone the county or the neighboring county. And try to figure out the taxes- Florida state sale tax is 6% and it seems that the counties have optional taxes they can levy on a multitude of items, campground sites being one.

All this is background for my saying that Brevard County (named for Judge Theodore Washington Brevard an early settler and State Comptroller in mid-1800s) is a darn great county. Seventy-two miles long from Titusville, south to Melbourne Beach/Sebastian and covering the Indian River (AICW), Cape Canaveral, Merritt Island, Brevard is one-third the size of Rhode Island but 33% of its square miles is water.

Enough room and sunny enough to use the awning; chairs came out too

Enough room and sunny enough to use the awning; chairs came out too

The county has several county parks but I think only one includes campgrounds; Wickham Park, where we spent eight nights. Trees, but not too many, wide sites, full hook-ups, walking/biking trails, ponds, soccer field and working Wi-Fi!

A gopher tortoise out of his/her burrow for a stroll or maybe lunch

A gopher tortoise out of his/her burrow for a stroll or maybe lunch

Have you heard of Disc Golf? The park has a 22-hole course.

A disc golf basket/hole- the game is played by tossing a small Frisbee-like disc

A disc golf basket/hole- the game is played by tossing a small Frisbee-like disc

Have a horse? Bring it here to exercise on the track. Perhaps you and your best canine friend prefer to participate in a Barn Hunt Event. Guess it depends on the prize; a nice fat rat! Groups and clubs get together for Barn Hunt Trials where one dog at a time races through a straw bale maze and tries to have the fastest time at finding a boxed live rat; the aerated container is “approved” for barn hunting. Between this and all the country stations we listen to on XM or local radio I’m beginning to feel a little bit country.

The bird watching continues. Viera Wetlands we’d heard about from the photographer we’d met along the Marsh Trail. We stopped at the Melbourne (the locals pronounce it Melburn) Chamber of Commerce and picked up a few maps and booklets. The January Birding and Wildlife Festival in Titusville had leftover programs and from that we found several nearby sites worth a visit. Viera Wetlands was one and we came prepared with walking shoes, light jackets, water bottle, only to find it was primarily a drive through! Here is a seriously culled-down selection of our visit.????????????????????

This was a dead giveaway that some bird was worth photographing

This was a dead giveaway that some bird was worth photographing

This green heron- bet you expected something better- but wait...

This green heron- bet you expected something better- but wait…

This great egret was a delight to watch

This great egret was a delight to watch

This great blue heron enjoys a tree top snack

This great blue heron enjoys a tree top snack

A female belted kingfisher

A female belted kingfisher

A tricolor heron- front view, neck in

A tricolor heron- front view, neck in

Another tricolor finds lunch

Another tricolor finds lunch

Anhinga couple; perfect mates

Anhinga couple; perfect mates

Cattle egret- I finally get one for sure

Cattle egret- I finally get one for sure

Oh no, not again- who is it this time?

Oh no, not again- who is it this time?

Yes, the same guy- stalking lunch. Stayed there at least 15 ins

Yes, the same guy, different spot- stalking lunch. Stayed there at least 15 mins

I got three good shots of this gal; the final as she landed

I got three good shots of this gal; the final as she landed

?????????

Related to the blue jay we all know, these birds are more slender and aren’t afraid to fly right at you

Cruickshank Sanctuary was guaranteed to produce sightings of the Florida Scrub Jay; the only avian species exclusive to Florida. Sure enough they were there in all the sanctuary’s scrubbiness. ?????????Later when we walked a favorite campground trail section, sure enough we saw scrub jays there too. Gopher tortoises every time. But no nine-banded armadillos; only the sign.

The park is only a couple of miles from just about everything; grocery, shopping, dining, gas stations and if you head a few more miles east over the Indian River, voila! The beaches.

We found time for a trip south and stopped near Vero Beach City Marina for lunch and old times Velcro-ness.

We found time for a trip south and stopped near Vero Beach City Marina for lunch and old times Velcro-ness.

Black skimmers and royal terns; I am checking off birds left and right in my booklet

Black skimmers and royal terns; I am checking off birds left and right in my booklet

If an app can get worn out, I believe Russ has several on his phone that would look very faded by now. Trusty TripAdvisor being one. This time it led us to Love Bug’s Bakery; I mean how could you resist the name?  We couldn’t resist the glazed Cronuts with chocolate drizzle; amazingly delicious and close to the longed-for and adored kettle doughnut made at Frances Pastry; my high school bakery job.??????????????????????love bugs

Sea fog crept in on little cat feet the morning we were to leave, but snuck out by 10 am. Today was fueling up day; never a simple drive in and fill up like with Bonny. As Good Sam members we receive a whopping 3 cents off fuel at Pilot and Flying J which exist primarily for trucks but we are allowed in too. The problem with these is the price is not exactly competitive and even with a 3 cent deal, we can do better at other places, and you have to pay inside not at the pump. Their upside is a flat, easy entry with plenty of fast pumps and friendly truckers.

When we can, we scope out a local station (like we did in Marathon) and that worked out well this time too. Diesel prices are up from our lowest $2.74 in the Keys and $2.89 at the nearby Shell was lower than most. Backed out of our site, I drove Bonny and parked her in the empty community center, then we fueled up. Most stations with diesel make them the outer row(s) which helps. But they don’t always allow enough room for a rig with a tow so this time we played it safe and left Bonny home. As usual, some guy stops to chat about fuel, trucks or driving.

That plan worked well and since we had a short 76 mile day, by 1pm we were pulling up to the gate house at Wekiwa (say Wa-kigh-va) Springs State Park.

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