Florida Everglades: Chelle 1, Mosquitoes 3,452

Braving the new Marsh Trail at 10K Islands NWR

OK, I  didn’t actually count them. But judging by the swatted sampling still stuck to my skin by the time I slammed my car door – quickly – that’s about how many skeeters I encountered on the quarter-mile hike to the new observation tower on the new Marsh Trail at Ten Thousand Islands National Wildlife Refuge this week.

What was I thinking? Stepping foot into the Everglades in September DEET-less? And clueless, one might think.

The good news: From the top of the ramped tower, the buzzing little vampires desisted, and I could enjoy the view without slapping myself silly. And OK, while I’m admitting, the view was worth giving blood for.

The entire trail stretches 1.1 miles through a saltwater marsh sandwich. The first quarter-mile to the tower is paved. Scopes on the tower’s two decks zoom in on the shorebirds and gators populating the placid panorama of subtle wetland beauty.

This is the first true public-use facility at the raw, wild refuge, so don’t pass up

View from the observation tower on Marsh Trail

a chance to explore it. The parking lot lies right off Highway 41 between Naples and Everglades City.

Just don’t forget the bug juice.

Bi-Polar in Palm Beach County

Jupiter Beach shoreline

Everyone has heard of Palm Beach, right? As winter home to the Kennedys, Pulitzers, and other mega-names, the posh island steals all the fame for the entire 47-mile-long coastline stretch of Palm Beach County. At the two extreme boundaries of the county, however, Jupiter Beach and Delray Beach slide under the radar to present untapped gems for getaway artists looking to duck the over-discovered. Not only extremely polar geographically, these two communities couldn’t be further distanced by their character, demographics, resort scene, and oceanfront vibe.

Orbiting Jupiter

Someone once told me that the closest equivalent to Sanibel Island that Florida’s East Coast claims is the Jupiter area at Palm Beach County’s northernmost reaches. Fair enough: It has its lighthouse and eco-conscious parks and attractions. The beaches don’t quite compare, but then I’m biased; and the palatial homes on Jupiter Island put me more in mind of Captiva, but with the manicured yards that are trademark of Palm Beach. Read more of this post