A Day With The Dogs
This past weekend I decided to take The Littles out for a day of fun. I needed some kid-free time, so while my husband took the small humans elsewhere for the day, the dogs and I headed out for a day on our own. It had been a rough week, and I was going to go nuts if I had to listen to squabbling kids one second longer. So I made sure everyone was securely harnessed in and we were off! Clara rode in her new Kurgo Loft Seat and Isy in her bed wearing a seatbelt harness. I put her in the middle so she couldn’t reach too far out either side of the Jeep so she wouldn’t fall out. Isy is 9 years old now, and she rides very well, but I’d rather err on the side of caution.
Shopping And Lunch
Our first stop was our local Petco, where they enjoyed visiting and doing some shopping.
Our next stop was Cocoa Village, a lovely pet-friendly historic area of downtown Cocoa, Florida. It was a quiet afternoon down there, and we found seating at one of our favorite places relatively quickly. Their food is amazing, and they also make their own hand-crafted sodas and ice cream!
I’d been itching to hit a trail, but you should never wheel alone and there weren’t any local rides that I was aware of, so after lunch we headed for Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge. It’s not exactly a wild afternoon of off roading; pretty flat out there but it’s not paved and it provides lovely views of our local landscape. It’s as close as we get to wide open spaces around here. The preserve is adjacent to non-public lands occupied by the Kennedy Space Center and also borders the Canaveral National Seashore. You will find lots of gates and warning signs as NASA will close off certain areas when they are close to a launch. Because of the proximity to the Space Center, most of this area is pretty unspoiled. The preserve is home to many species of animal and plant life, as well as a variety of different habitats. Florida’s ecosystems are diverse and impressive.
From the preserve’s Wikipedia page:
The refuge provides a range of habitats, from saltwater estuaries and freshwater impoundments and marshes, to dunes, hardwood hammocks, and scrub. It contains over 1000 species of plants, 117 species of fish, 68 amphibians and reptiles, 330 birds, and 31 mammal species. Of these species, 21 are listed as endangered either by the state of Florida or by the US federal government. The following are some of the more important species using the refuge; most of them nest there:
- Sea turtles including
- American alligator
- Bald eagle
- Many species of waterfowl use the refuge as a wintering ground; blue-winged teal and northern shoveler are resident in small numbers
- Many species of shorebirds, some resident and some using the refuge in the course of their migration
- Several species of rails
- Several species of heron and egret
- Glossy and white ibis
- Roseate spoonbill
- Florida scrub jay
- West Indian manatee
- Florida panther, an endangered subspecies of cougar
- Dwarf siren, a recently discovered salamander
Even though it was hot, the ocean being so close provided such a welcoming breeze. I came across a few other vehicles out there, but for the most part you really do feel as if you’re in the middle of nowhere. If you look closely in the above photo, you can see a very famous building. Do you know what it is?
Even though there are hiking trails within the preserve, I didn’t want to get out of the Jeep here with the dogs. The water is pretty much on either side of the road and alligators are plentiful, so we enjoyed the area from the Jeep, dogs safely harnessed in their seats. There were some spots where you could turn around, but for the most part the road was narrow.
I can’t wait until the temps get a little cooler here. It’s currently miserably hot and humid. We will soon be preparing for the first of our Fall outings. We don’t get Fall like they do in other parts of the country, but we do get very excited when we get a few days that require a light jacket, if only for a few hours in the morning. But until the cool air returns to Florida, it’s afternoons like this that keep me going and provide me with much-needed me time. We stayed out until the sun started to go down over the preserve.
After a while behind the wheel of the Jeep and in the relative quiet of the preserve, I felt calmer than I had before I’d left the house. There’s nothing quite like a little wind therapy to recharge the soul. What do you do for me time?