People have been telling us, “You guys would love it up in Stuart.” Stuart is just north of Jupiter and Hobe Sound, places we have already visited, and yes we do love it there. With less traffic and public beaches with free parking, it was more like the Florida we imagined on those cold winter nights in New Hampshire. So we packed the beach bag once again with towels, sunscreen, my Kindle, and my ever present IPhone with its trusty camera. I Googled directions and scenic info. We set off for another Florida adventure.
The drive took about an hour, it was further than we thought. My husband drove but once we got past Hypoluxo, I could have handled the road. When you cross the tropical latitude near Lake Worth, the traffic eases up, the drivers chill out. I’m not sure why it’s like it is on Route 95 in South Florida. I was thinking Bob Marley, jammin’ and chillin’ like my travels to the Caribbean. I’m sorry to report, it’s not like that, mon.
Crossing two bridges to Hutchinson Island, we pulled up to Ross Whitman Beach and walked onto a shore that immediately reminded the both of us of Aruba. Modest beach houses, sure they’re worth a million bucks, but pretentious was not a word that immediately came to mind.
In 1869, a ship named Georges Valentine, built in 1869, sailed from Liverpool, England bound for Buenos Aires with a load of lumber. On a dark and stormy October night in 1904, the boat was shipwrecked. Five of the 12 member crew drowned and seven others found shelter on this shore at Gilbert’s Bar House of Refuge. Nestled behind a sand dune and a picket fence, it is now a museum.
At one time, there were nine of these houses on Florida’s East Coast. This is the last one standing. Run by the U.S. Life Saving Service, keepers provided shelter, food, clothing, and transportation to the survivors of shipwrecks throughout World War II.
We walked the beach. Ross Whitman Beach is AKA The Turtle Man’s Beach. The sign says “This is where it all started.” This morning when I sat down to write this blog I had to find out what started there. Apparently it has something to do with the sea turtle preservation efforts at the beaches along the coast. I couldn’t find any websites referring to this particular beach or Ross Whitman. Many other sights in Palm Beach county claimed to be where it all started. But today we’ll give credit to Ross and this beautiful beach where sea turtles lay their eggs.
It might have been my birding adventure yesterday that made me hyper aware of the superhighway I was walking beneath. Every few minutes a flock of birds flew overhead:
Or skimmed along the water’s edge:
We walked about a mile, then set our towels on the sand. My husband napped, a real nap with snoring involved. I watched a one legged sandpiper and thought about his chance of survival. He flew just fine but seemed to be at a disadvantage when earthbound. His two friends scurried in and out of the surf, pecking in the sand for bugs, eating their late lunch. He just gazed out to sea and when the surf approached he hopped away on his one leg.
His healthy friend scavenging for lunch:
I closed my eyes and imagined living here on this beach despite the evidence of hurricane damage to some of the homes.
Further down the beach, a large crane was disturbing the peace. It was building a seawall in front of a house with a crumbling foundation and a torn apart roof. I decided for the time being, I like renting. I’ve been through enough nor’easters and ice storms sending large tree limbs thumping on my roof and pine trees crashing through my van. I enjoy calling the landlord when something goes wrong these days. I opened my eyes to watch another flock of birds fly overhead.
This beach is called Bathtub Reef because the waters are calmer here. There were lots of small kids playing in the sand but there were hazards out in the water. Old pilings and tree stumps from hurricanes past.
We took a more leisurely walk back to the car. I hunted for seashells.
We watched several surfers catch some decent waves at the rougher end of the beach.
We drove back over the two bridges. People were right about Stuart, we loved the little town on the St. Lucie River.
It had an old, historic Florida feel. The Lyric Theater is one of those historic places I love, like the Ioka in Exeter, NH. I picked up a schedule. A Glenn Miller knockoff band is playing here this winter. I may have to work on getting my husband In The Mood for that.
Several streets lined with shops and restaurants radiate off a rotary with a lovely fountain.
The whole place has a much more laid back, Caribbean vibe. These buildings reminded us of a balcony we sat on in Nevis one morning, drinking coffee and people watching.
A friend called my husband. They talked for awhile, about golf, skiing, and our day trip. I overheard him say, “Yeah, the weather is great, finally what I was hoping for. It makes suffering through the summer heat worth it.” I smiled and said nothing.