One of the most remarkable things about Fort Desoto Park is that it sits, like an oasis, in the midst of this intensely developed stretch of central Florida with an overall population of 3.5 million people. Sarasota is about 30 miles south, Tampa about the same distance east, and St. Petersburg is just 10 miles away. Fort Desoto Park, which is run by Pinellas County, is made up of a chain of five interconnected keys (or islands) with just over 1,100 acres of undeveloped beaches, estuaries, marshes, and parkland and we have become completely immersed in the incredible beauty.
The park ranger told me that the Park’s North Beach, which fronts on the Gulf, has been called one of the most beautiful beaches in the country. No disagreement here. For our friends in New England, the temperatures have hovered around the mid-60s making our daily bike rides completely comfortable. We’ve had mostly clear days and some amazing rainstorms at night. The evening Josh and Jessica and the girls came for supper we ate outside at the picnic table, watching a spectacular sunset, pictured here above.
Our campsite sits right on a body of water called Mullet Key Bayou. On the horizon we can see the tip of Mullet Key as it reaches one arm around the Bayou. Over its shoulder lies the Gulf of Mexico. We’ve watched the tides rise and fall here in the shallow Bayou, as the full moon called the waters in and released them over these past few days. Each morning we’ve observed the locals going about their daily lives – egrets cracking open clams; pelicans with their improbably shaped bodies, swooping in formations with wings tipping the surface of the water; osprey diving from heights to snare fish. A few days ago the water was so still we watched two pods of dolphins cruise, dive, roll, and generally bask in the glorious light. Early one morning, I watched the nearly full moon, the color of a ripe tangerine, set over the bayou, like a diva taking the stage for a curtain call after a brilliant performance. “I’ve done a good night’s work as you slept,” she gestured. “I’ll be back tomorrow with a completely different and equally spectacular performance”. And she was and it was.
This is the longest stretch in one campsite – we are at day 10 of 14 – bringing new meaning to the definition of a home base. We are deliriously content.