Tag Archives: beach

Seeking Seclusion? Try Dog Island!

Dog Island is Private, but Not Exclusive

Dog Island, off the coast of the Florida panhandle, is a favorite spot of mine. In fact, it may hold the #1 position, so prepare to return with me, time and again, because one entry will never be enough.

Our trip to the island was not without adventure. Our start was delayed by a half hour and rush hour traffic in Tampa is never fun, but we’d cleared the area by 7:45 am so we missed the worst of it. The fog near Gainesville was almost cozy, like driving through clouds, which is what it is, I suppose. Watching it roll off the horse pastures in Ocala reminded me of my stays with country cousins, those primeval mornings when you half expect an ancient mastodon to appear in the mist. It was a day filled with anticipation reaching fruition.

Our innocence was shattered when I reached for my wallet to pay for our breakfast in Gainesville. It wasn’t there. I looked on the seat. I looked under the table. I looked on the floor of the restaurant. My panic rising, I told my husband what was wrong and hurried to the car to search while he paid the bill.

It wasn’t in the car. Either I’d dropped it (or it was stolen) at a rest stop or I’d left it at home. As we hurriedly back-tracked to the last rest stop (over an hour south), I frantically called our youngest son, who called back to affirm that the wallet was indeed in my everyday purse and the money and cards were safe. We didn’t have the debit card, but we did have a couple of credit cards in my husband’s wallet, so we decided we had enough to push on. We wouldn’t be spending anything while we were on island anyway, so there wasn’t any need for a cash advance from the bank before we boarded the ferry.

We found the ferry on Marine Street in Carrabelle without incident. Parking is free and your car will be safe. Our water taxi captain, Russell (Rusty) Cahoon 850-697-8909, ferried us over. His fee fluctuates with the cost of fuel, but he divides the cost, depending on how many are riding.

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The six mile ride across the bay was rough, but Rusty’s boat was good-sized and sturdy and he is supremely confident in his boating skills, informing me that he is the last one to evacuate people out when a hurricane threatens. It was as exciting as an air boat ride.

 

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We were staying at the Pelican Inn (we reserved through owner Jane: 1-800-451-5294) and were met by manager Terry Cannon (850-697-4710), who took us to the Inn. Rates were not cheap ($150 per night, slightly less for longer stays) but not outrageous and after all, guests do have an entire island to enjoy!

 

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For now, I leave you on the docks. Next week, we’ll explore the Dog Island beach!

Hunting Fossilized Shark’s Teeth at Caspersen Beach in Venice, Florida

For the Best hunting Ground for Fossilized Sharks Teeth, go to Caspersen Beach in Venice, FL

Caspersen Beach is people-friendly. The new walking trails, paved and unpaved, restroom/shower facilities and walkway have helped make the area even more welcoming to swimmers, sunbathers, fishing enthusiasts, and shell hunters alike.

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The handicap area is well shaded and the rocky shoreline gives way easily to the beach. Families with small children may find low tide to be less challenging for a swim. There is an ADA compliant playground in the pavilion area.

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Some dedicated “shellers” invest in a “Florida snow shovel”, a basket with a long metal arm for sifting through the sand. I’m not sure why the shark tooth hunting is so much better at Caspersen Beach in Venice, Florida, but it is. They are easy to find along the beach and scuba divers who go digging into the Gulf bottom are often rewarded with super-sized teeth as big as a man’s hand for their efforts.

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It takes a while for the eyes to adjust to the telltale gleam of a fossilized tooth of the ancient carcharodon megalodon, a fifty foot long shark that weighed more than a tyrannosaurus rex.

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The teeth are black because they have fossilized with age. The younger, white teeth, are often too hard to find. They are jumbled up in a swirl of seashells that wash ashore with every wave, at the shell ledge, where the tide coughs up its bounty: a confetti of glimmering silvers and whites, broken bits of shell, sometimes a tinge of pink or aqua, depending on the mollusk. A sliver of black streak on a clamshell looks no different from a shark’s tooth at first, but you learn to look for the shiny black that identifies the composite and then, of course, for the shape.

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The area is not without controversy. In 2010, nude sunbathers and those seeking a bit less exposure clashed over their rights and even the police departments could not agree on who had jurisdiction to sort the mess out. The controversy continues. The naturists hope to curry favor by making extra efforts such as organizing regular beach cleanups, but the law and the majority side with those who oppose a “clothing-optional” beach.

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Nature still has her way at Caspersen Beach. There are no gulfside motels and hotels lined up along the shore and the condominium crowd is found further inland. Left to her natural state, Caspersen has repaid visitors tenfold with a seemingly endless supply of shark’s teeth and shells, some from as far away as Australia, Mate. Even better, although the beach is popular, parking is plentiful and the beach is big enough to allow each visitor a sense of privacy. The rocks that protect the soft white sand are full of ever-changing tidal pools that bear exploring again and again as each new wave delivers fresh treasure. The water calls the swimmers and surfers closer, and the sun gently warms the soul. Who couldn’t fall in love with Caspersen’s allure?

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