Friday, February 25, 2011

Afternoon at Rookery Bay

Today we went to the Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve ,one of the few remaining undisturbed mangrove estuaries in North America.  It's just down the road from where we are and we've passed it a number of times in the past years and have never visited.

It was awesome. The learning center was so well done. Since I've worked at the museum I've come to understand the cost associated with running something like this. From that standpoint alone, this place was mind-blowing. This place was FULL of things to do and cost $5 per adult and $3 for a child. It was new and clean and very interaction-oriented.  I've been talking about it all day since we left. I was completely impressed.

There was a walking path that went over a river where we saw sting rays. We had just missed the manatees that swam by before we got there.

Down the path they had an old pioneer cistern. The home used to be loacated next to it. I swear, I can find pioneer stuff just about anywhere. But my goodness, imagine being a pioneer in south florida....It was 85 today. And it's February...

This is amazing.
This parcel of land was part of a controlled burn for wild
life management. You could still smell the charred plants/trees. I took this picture today.

4 weeks ago it looked like this.

This is from their website. Peek at my picture again. Look at all that green-in 4 weeks.

Look at how nature renews itself after fire.
While this renewal is predictable it's also kind of a miracle.
And something we can all apply in our lives.

This was really moving to me in a way I'm having trouble explaining.

Upstairs in the learning center. If you look closely you can see the words pioneer area on the wall.

Next to it you can see the words prehistory. Below that is this display with a primitive tool as well as real pot shards that are thousands of years old and found right at the perserve.

These kinds of things strike me dumb half the time.

I imagine a person so so long ago holding that pot and having a human experience just like I am. And then I feel small and part of something much larger. 

There was a butterfly garden.

And an authentic Seminole Chickee Hut.

This was by far my daughter's favorite thing and she played on it many many times. It had all of the trappings of a real boat, interactive bird noises and boat controls, videos of the ocean bottom, headphones, and sea creature replicas that you could touch and play with.

They also had an art gallery as well as an auditorium where they showed a movie about the estuary. There were many beautiful outdoor sitting areas and nature inspired art. And their whole mission is to teach and perserve.

I can't get this place out of my mind tonight. It was completely engaging.  I found out that one of the retirees at the pool volunteers there so tomorrow I'm going to ambush find him and ask him more about it.

When I'm an old walnut beach woman I'm going to volunteer here too.

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