It was a big relief to see that the weather cooperated because we wanted to enjoy our day at St. Marks Lighthouse. Edith packed ham/cheese sandwiches, cookies and fruits for our lunch.
We decided not to fix breakfast, were going to get donuts from the bakery in the town. However, the main road was closed off to traffic for few miles in preparation for the festival parade. Dang! No Donuts! :(
No breakfast for us because there was no bakery shop or a restaurant that serves breakfast along US 98 before we reached St. Marks Lighthouse.
First stop after entering the park was at the Visitor Center and there were booths outside the center. We went inside the gift store, looked around and did not see anything we would want to buy. Edith liked the yellow T- shirt that has beautiful butterflies on the front, but it was asking $20 for it.
Next stop was the picnic area, but we decided to go past it cause it was crowded and continued to the lighthouse area. The road leading to the lighthouse was closed off to traffic and we had to go to the boat ramp, parked the Jeep, got on the tram that took us straight to the lighthouse. We were lucky to be able to find a parking space. If we had come much later we would have trouble finding one.
After getting off the tram we went to the back of the lighthouse, walked to the “beach” area, admired the view of the lighthouse, took pictures.
There were demonstrations/displays in front of the lighthouse station. At the first table there was a net bag containing live Monarch butterflies and a guy would take one out of the bag and let people hold it. Next table had a sign explaining Monarch’s lifecycle and how important it is for people to plant certain flowers/plants that will attract butterflies. At the last table it was interesting to watch how each butterfly is tagged. Before the butterfly is tagged the ranger will explain the anatomy. The purpose for tagging is to see how far the butterfly flies after the release. The tag remains on the wing for up to 2 months. If you happen to see one Monarch butterfly with blue tag you will know it came from St Marks Lighthouse area.
|Edith holding Monarch butterfly|
|Monarch Butterfly being tagged|
|Before the release|
Not too far from the observation deck there were lots of Monarchs on the shrub. The ranger came over with the net, let the young girl try to capture some of them. One of the butterflies had a blue tag, so we know it did not venture too far from when it was released. The girl did not have any luck in netting one.
|They failed to tag this one!|
We took a hike around the pond back to the boat ramp parking lot. Along the way we could see butterflies fluttering around.
|Swimming/wading not advised!|
|Gulf of Mexico|
|Prickly Pear fruits ready for picking and eating. |
Alas, we don't know how to prepare them!
After leaving the lighthouse area we slowly drove along the way to look for wading birds in or near the water, but there were not that many. It is because they had already migrated somewhere else during this time of the year. The best time to see lots of wading/shore birds will be in the spring. There were few egrets, a couple of Great Blue Herons, some ducks. Yes, we saw an alligator, maybe a 4-6 footer.
For lunch we stopped at the picnic area, enjoyed the view of the scenery while lunching. When we were done we walked over to where the booths were and looked around.
The parking area at the Visitor Center was getting so full and we were glad that we came early in the morning.
Edith wanted to check out Stone Crab Festival in St. Marks, about 6 miles west of the lighthouse. However, the traffic was long and the parking lot was almost full. It was around 2 pm and we decided to turn around and headed back to the campground.
Perry, FL had its own festival going on today and it was Florida Forest Festival. There were Lumberjack demonstrations, shows, etc at Florida Forest Museum. It was around 4 pm when we went by it, but most booths were already closed.
After a good supper we went for a walk inside the campground. It was a very pleasant evening.