We have left Troy Springs State Park and have made it to St. Sebastian River Preserve State Park in Fellsmere, Florida which is 20 miles west of Sebastian Inlet State Park in Vero Beach, Florida. This is a fairly new state park and being a “Preserve” it doesn’t have a lot of things to do here. They do have a new Visitor’s Center at the North Entrance with very nice and informative displays. We start working the center tomorrow so we will be able to take some pictures for our readers. There is primitive camping here is specific areas of the park, fishing at the spillway along the canal and lots of trails all over the 23,000 acres. They have a Volunteer Village on the north side with electric, water and sewers onsite. They also provide the live on-site volunteers with a washer and dryer to use once or twice a week. They are currently working on getting a shower area but at this time it is just a shower head with cold water attached to the back of the storage shed. We are assigned days to wash and dump our black water as the sewer system in this area is not very big. Someone donated a very nice double door refrigerator that the volunteers can use. Of course, the first thing I did when we got here was clean that puppy up. It is so nice to have ice cold drinks and space in the fridge so we can now buy more food at one time.
There is only one other volunteer here in the village right now and a couple in another RV between us that is waiting on their permanent campsite to be completed near the carpenter’s shop area. The other volunteer is a retired gentlemen who workamps in a few of the Florida State Parks by himself, since his wife passed away, including Troy Springs State Park and Mike Roess Gold Head Branch State Park. He gave away their 5th Wheel and created his own “Stealth Camper” out of an enclosed cargo trailer (very cool). He also travels with a little red-hair dog that likes to chase after lizards. The couple are living in a large Class A RV (very nice). He is an OPS Park Ranger that is trying to get all the equipment and vehicles up and running. She volunteers in the Visitor’s Center and cleans the park office buildings. All three have been so helpful taking us around the park and training us in our duties.
The park’s new Volunteer Coordinator, Heidi Grooms, is also very nice and very easy to work with. She has been very patient with us and tries to make sure we have all the equipment and supplies to do our jobs. She is working towards getting everything all organized before she takes maternity leave. I hope she comes back after the baby is born because, so far, we really like being here. The assistant park manager has a house behind the north shop areas. He introduced himself on the day we arrived but we haven’t really seen much of him so far. His dog escapes his yard almost everyday and comes over for a visit. Mr. Wilson, the dog, is very nice and Katie gives him a bowl of water and a couple of treats when he visits.
They have a south side area of the park with more primitive camping areas and trails as well as another shop area where most of the mechanic repairs are done. The park manager has a house in this area and we met him in passing when Heidi gave a car tour of the park. The park has a bunk house where an Americorps volunteer lives. They mainly work on destroying the invasive plants. The bunkhouse has another washer and dryer set with hot water. We have been told we could use that one if we like. They also have one live onsite volunteer campsite over there. It will be a little while before we go back over in that area with all the rain we have been getting here. The whole park is pretty swampy.
So far our duties have been mowing the acres of grass on the north side, Katie is painting a large wagon that the park wants to use for educational tours and we will be working in the Visitor’s Center at the front desk and while we are there cleaning the public bathrooms and offices in the building. This week we are assigned to opening and closing the park gates. We have to drive down to the spillway and into one of the primitive/equestrian camping areas to chase off lingering visitors before we can lock the gate. It’s about 5 miles of road that we have to drive up and down. Tonight we even got to meet two of the local Florida Wildlife Officers. They are chasing off people who are picking palmetto berries. Apparently, people are getting between $1 to $2 a pound for them but being on state park lands it is illegal to take.
There are quite a few deer running around the park and we see groups of them every day. Within the last two days we have had a couple of brave ones come right up to our RV but the assistant park ranger’s dog was in the area and likes to chase them around. Katie said she saw an owl in a tree next to our RV and there are lots of frogs, mosquitoes and various other kinds of bugs here. Now that we have our own working swamp buggy, Kubota, we can wonder around the trails and get some more pictures. There are supposed to be a nest of eagles somewhere here along with all the Blue Scrub Jays.
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