Last Wednesday, I took the camera out and headed to unplanned places, some days are just like that. Living in Southwest Florida, 1 and a half-hours south of Tampa, 3 hours west of Orlando, and 3 hours north of Miami, gives me great latitude to explore all things Floridian, pretty much at will. However, on a beautiful, sunny, breezy day such as it was on this day, I did not have to travel very far at all, thirty minutes at most.
I let my instincts guide me south to Punta Gorda, as I enjoyed the landscape while driving along US 41, Tamiami Trail as it is known. I quickly decided on a visit to Ponce De Leon Park. First stop, the Peace River Wildlife Center (PRWC), at the park’s entrance. I took my time strolling along; taking pictures of the rescued animals that inhabit the center; which according to its website, was “founded in 1978; dedicated to the rescue, care, protection and preservation of native small wildlife. Since its beginnings, the wildlife center has treated over one hundred thousand birds and small animals, offering a high level of skilled care by trained and permitted wildlife rehabilitation specialists with years of experience in treating native fauna disease and trauma”.
The center and the park for that matter are hidden gems in Charlotte Harbor. Its location almost makes one forget of its existence, but if you are in the mood to explore nature, see native birds and enjoy some quiet, you cannot go wrong by paying a visit; just make sure to bring enough bug repellent since a walk through the nature trail is sure to bring out some uninvited guests. It is totally worth the trip.
On the way back home I made a detour into the Port Charlotte Beach Complex, as it was soon time for the sunset and I wanted to snap a couple of shots. One of the benefits of living on the Gulf Coast—water is everywhere we go. Be it the ocean, rivers, lots of canal property, pools and more. So catching a sunset from anywhere is not difficult—for whatever reason we always seem to head toward the water.
Another benefit, you can have all of this for less than the price of a movie ticket. All I spent during this day trip was $0.80 cents for parking, the cost of adding two new batteries to my Canon, and less than a gallon of gas; you can not get it any better than that!
That was my unplanned day trip near home. I am sure there are gems such as this one hiding in your own backyards; the economy being what it is today, it pays to go out of the way to find places near home that can provide inexpensive entertainment, while providing family and guests with fun activities to do this holiday season.
Go ahead, explore!