I got up fairly early and had to wait to leave. I spent some time in the motel lobby setting up lodging for tonight and researching some of my stops. Then I packed up and headed over to the Seven Gables Visitor Center in old town Ft Pierce. What a nice couple of ladies-they even called to get me specific directions to Bathtub Reef.
Next, I wandered across the parking lot to the Manatee Observation and Eduction Center. The facility is very limited, but I took a walk along the pier looking for manatees. Then I inquired about their boat tour at 1 pm, but it was completely full.
I drove down the back side of Ft Pierce and St Lucie (FL 707) and crossed over to FL A1A at the causeway. This was really a very nice trip with virtually no commercial establishments.
Arriving a Bathtub Reef was disappointing. The parking is atrocious and the bath house is closed-they experienced a lot of damage from recent storms. The next beach north had parking (though a smaller lot) and a functioning bathhouse, so I opted for this location. The snorkeling was actually better than John Pennekamp state park, but you gotta watch for the waves. One came down on top of me and slammed me into the reef ouch! The tide was coming in but was still low enough that you could still enjoy the tidal pools on the beach-overall a great experience.
I was very hungry after my water adventure. There are very limited choices on the island, but Publix grocery is there and the sushi chef was hard at work when I walked up. The three huge sushi pieces were exactly what my tired an hungry body needed. The tuna(2) and salmon(1)were very fresh and paired very well with the avocado slices and spicy tobiko. The pieces were very lightly sauced with a spicy mayonnaise type dressing-tasty stuff.
I stopped at Florida Power & Light's Energy Encounter at the St Lucie Nuclear Power Plant on Hutchinson Island and was quite impressed with the interactive displays. I can see children from 5 years old up to adults enjoying this attraction. You could easily spend several fun filled, educational hours here and it is all free. They offer turtle walks from early June to Mid July, but you have to sign up for them as soon as registration opens on May 1. Definitely on my list for my next visit!
I also stopped at St Lucie County Historical Museum ($4 admission) and St Lucie County Marine Center/Smithsonian Marine Ecosystems Exhibit ($3 admission). I found the historical museum wanting, but did not pay the admission cost. The marine center was quite limited, but the price was right and the gift shop had very reasonably priced items.
I headed up the road to Melbourne. The skies dropped tons of liquid on the medium sized city before I headed out to Kissimmee on US 192. This turns into the Irlo Bronson Hwy and runs all the way out past Disney World. My hotel was located way on the west side of town, but I appreciated it being further away from all the tourist attractions and shopping. If I want to indulge, it is just a short drive to either the shopping area, Disney, or downtown Kissimmee.
I found the hotel to be everything the reviews had promised and am so delighted that I will be trying to book it again for the next two nights. After resting a bit and reading the local literature I headed out in search of food that would not break the bank. I thought about Crabby Bills (they have them all over Florida) but found very few people in the restaurant (located in the Clarion Hotel) and a funky fish smell when I arrived. Right across the street was Shoneys-we have missed our Shoneys since it closed several years ago. I decided to give it a try. I was seated next to a very loud group of crying babies (this is Disney World central) and decided that a take out seafood buffet was the way to go. When I got back to the room I found the flavors of all the items to be delicious. I particularly liked the scallop patties and the rice with shrimp. In for the night, I decided to watch some TV and relax.
Here's Your Sign: for the railroad crossing
ROUTE: US 1 North> FL 707 South> FL A1A South and then North> US 1 North> US 192 West into Kissimmee
Lodging: Destiny Palms in Kissimmee
Shoneys (***Food ****Service)
Attractions: Seven Gables Visitors Center, Manatee Observation and Education Center, Bathtub Reef, Florida Power & Light's Energy Encounter, St Lucie County Historical Museum, and St Lucie County Marine Center/Smithsonian Marine Ecosystems Exhibit
$$$: $18 Fuel $36 Hotel $4 Souvenir $18 Food = $76