Monday, October 8, 2018

Local Review: Grassy Waters Preserve

Recently, I had the opportunity to spend the day with my mom so I wanted to take her somewhere new while going easy on the pocketbook.

We ended up at the City of West Palm Beach's Grassy Waters Preserve. This free facility is a great way to see restored Everglades up close and personal. The Cypress Boardwalk Trail is a 1-mile loop that allows you to see, feel and smell the wetlands without slogging in the muck.

Cypress "knees"

The cypress trees - from their tall tips to the knobby "knees" jutting up through the water - are one of my favorite trees in Florida. I've never been a big fan of the scrub foliage or the hardwood forests when compared to the dynamic nature of the wetlands.

There are wide open sections, where you can see the paths gently cut through the spikes of grass by canoes, kayaks and the local wildlife, including alligators.

The wild feel of the flora and fauna are special at Grassy Waters. The facility brings you closer to Old Florida in more ways than one.

The facility has a lovely little welcome center that houses rotating exhibits. On this visit, we enjoyed artifacts from the Native Americans who lived in and migrated through the wetlands.

I visit Grassy Waters about every six months or so, and love that there are new displays on a regular basis, but I am also partial to the permanent displays like the live turtles and taxidermized animals.

I have never seen an osprey that didn't look angry!

This place is truly a representation of tax dollars doing great things. This portion of the Everglades is managed by WPB's Public Utilities Division - don't you wish the "water works" card in Monopoly was this cool?

If staying on the boardwalk checking out the wildlife and plants is not close enough for you, sign up for one of the guided canoe or kayak tours.

And for those who prefer the slogging, the Nature Center has Swamp Tromps too. Check out the Grassy Water Facebook Page to see what events are coming soon.

But this was a short trip, only about an hour, so we stuck to the boardwalk. I enjoy the cypress domes (didn't I mention how much I love those trees?) and how they literally create tree islands. The history unearthed from islands like these are still being discovered in areas of Florida that were drained and developed more than 80 years ago.

Typical cypress dome - with the oldest trees and tallest trees near the center
Pickerelweed has some of the prettiest flowers

Duck potato and water lilies

I missed the chance to photograph a juvenile alligator, but did catch this beautiful great egret who didn't seem to mind me hanging around one bit.

Mom's favorite view

So, this place has an area for little ones inside the air conditioned center and programs at their level, but you can also find things for history buffs. There are places to sit and relax if the walk seems too much to tackle at one time. And it's FREE. Seriously, not taking the time to check this place out is inexcusable.

Maybe take your mom like I did - she had fun and found another reason to consider moving to my side of the Sunshine State.

Busted - Why did I let my mom have my phone?