Thursday, May 21, 2009

John D MacArthur Beach State Park in North Palm Beach, Florida

Yesterday we decided to take a drive over to the Atlantic coast. We left our RV park in Wauchula, which is in the south central part of Florida, and drove east. I had packed us a couple of sandwiches and some drinks and away we went with our Annie in the car. Our direction was east to West Palm Beach and then north on Highway 1 from there.

About the time we got to Highway 1 another huge thunderstorm broke right overhead. It was complete with lots of lightening. It was raining so hard we could barely see. We pulled over into a McDonald's parking lot and ate our lunch to wait out the storm. It only took about 20 minutes and the rain quit. The wind blew those thunderclouds toward the west and behind us.

We proceeded on up Highway 1 and crossed a causeway over to Singer Island. Lake Worth is the body of water between the mainland and Singer Island. On Singer Island we came upon the John D. MacArthur Beach State Park. Why not go in? The land for this park was donated by John D. MacArthur in the 1970's as a means to protect this biological treasure for generations to come. The lush and diverse subtropical coastal habitats here are like those that once covered southeast Florida.

This is the 1,600 foot boardwalk that spans a productive estuary. It allows the visitor to get from the nature center out to the beach. The park encompasses 325 acres but we saw only a small portion. At the foot of this boardwalk, a trail winds through a forest of gumbo limbo, mastic, cabbage palm, strangler fig and other tropical trees before opening up onto a wide beach. From the boardwalk we could see this strange tree. It is a red mangrove with large aerial roots that make the tree appear to be "walking" into the estuary. These funny roots provide safe refuge for small fish and places for barnacles, oysters and mussels to attach and grow.

At the end of the boardwalk we could see the powerful Atlantic Ocean and the beautiful MacArthur Beach. The beach is a prime nesting site for sea turtles. The large loggerhead, green and leatherback turtles nest here from early May through late August.

Looking south from the boardwalk, we could see the high-rise condos that line the beach past the state park area.

Since the storm had passed, the clouds were beginning to show white again instead of dark gray.

Annie, the Schnauzer, was waiting in the car for us so it was time to leave the beach. We walked back across the wooden boardwalk to the parking area and she was happy to see us again.

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