I fly to Jacksonville to deliver a speech about suburban sprawl and traffic congestion. The venue will be the UF Whitney Lab. My audience is the South Anastasia Community Association.
Generously, my host offers to show me his old boyhood stomping grounds, since he grew up in Crescent Beach. He offers and I readily accept a quick motorboat trip up the Moses Creek. The creek feeds into the Intercoastal Waterway at Crescent Beach, and we depart near dusk.
We pass the tallest tree along the shoreline, and as one can predict, the king of eagles has set up residence at the treetop with the best view of the area — the magnificent bald eagle.
Soon, we beach our boat and ascend to bluff that provides us with an impressive vista view of the estuary before us. My host then brings us back to a quiet campsite, where we sit before a crackling campfire, drink a few beers, smoke a few cigars, and discuss important ideas and childhood reminisces.
First thing the next morning, I arrive at a fish camp concession, where kayaks can be rented. I have changed my mind overnight. Instead of a long, arduous paddle across the sometimes intimidating Intercoastal, I have decided the much better approach is to drive to an upstream put-in point for the Pellicer Creek, thereby bypassing an unrewarding paddle and starting much closer to the wilderness I seek.
The problem with the plan is that I have a small rental car. Not willing to let that stop me, the concession attendant and I fashion a way to carry the kayak on the little vehicle. Carefully, I drive off to Faver Dykes State Park, where a boat ramp awaits me.
At 9 am, I put in at Faver Dykes. I paddle upstream for about 1.5 hours through a zig-zagging esturine creek system. Happily, I do so without other boaters in the vicinity. A great many flying mullet and bait fish leap in the air in front of my kayak.
I cross under the I-95 and US 1 bridges.
That is when the paddling becomes superb.
I enter an exceptionally narrow, wilderness-like creek channel. A channel that does not appear to have every seen a boater before. The creek here seems so remote and so much like a wilderness far from civilization that I start getting the disconcerting feeling that should I get lost, I may never be found.
Certainly, the fact that the creek here is somewhat braided and presenting me with forks (which way should I go?) lends more anxiety to my trip. “Will I be able to remember this fork well enough when I paddle back to recall which direction to go?” I make a major mental note of any sort of creek landmark. “Remember that chain-sawed palm tree and turn right when I come back. Don’t forget. I ain’t gettin’ out of here if I forget.”
Along the way, I am treated to two otter (one playing in the water just in front of me, and one scampering along the creek on dry land to my left – otters are not the most graceful animal when running). I also spot a red fox darting through the cypress trees.
One also is able to enjoy an enormous number of heron and ducks along the Pellicer Creek.
I recommend it, and plan to return for additional exploration in the future (hopefully with a GPS…).