I love to visit Emerson Point in Palmetto and get my dose of nature. I escape down the shoreline path, or take one of the many marked trails, or boardwalks, and around each bend I might see a new bird, spot a butterfly, or find a new flower.
Emerson Point is located on Snead Island where the Manatee River meets Tampa Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. It is a quiet retreat rich in nature and history. Early Native Americans harvested the water's bounty here and built great shell mounds. Later, Europeans settled here. Today, fishermen cast their lines near the mouth of the river, where egrets and herons also fish.
Written by Lucy Noe
Just off the Skyway Bridge are two fishing piers and a park that I had been meaning to check out for a while. I finally visited just the other day. First, I stopped at the rest area on the southern side of the bridge. I walked along the water where there was a tiny forest of seaweed just a few feet out. Strange flashes of light beamed out from this mysterious landscape. They turned out to be small fish that were very nearly invisible until they turned at just the right angle to reflect the sun into my face.
Later, I drove along the strip of land that connects the southern pier to the mainland. There were a few vehicles parked in the grass and a few palms, but mostly it was empty, leaving plenty of space to sit and watch the clouds. Of course, being me, the clouds did not satisfy for long. I walked along the cracked concrete at the edge of the water, looking for life among the weathered, hole-riddled rocks on either side. The nearby pavement had large holes in it, too. There were numerous scurrying isopods that were incredibly camera-shy. Finally I managed to photograph one of them. I also saw a pretty snail. It was an incredibly hot day, but there was a strong breeze from the south that kept things tolerable. It was much better than the rest stop side.
Reaching the pier, I walked to the end and back. There were many people fishing and there were many birds fishing. They were of all ages, races, and sexes and mostly friendly. One guy from New York explained how easy it was to get into the hobby. Apparently one only needs a cheap pole from Walmart and some bait and they can have dinner in minutes. I’ve never really had the opportunity to go fishing before. Perhaps I’ll look into it. There is more than enough space for everybody if they don’t want to be too close, and there is also plenty of space if they do want to be close. This also means plenty of space for parking. There are also restrooms and a bait shop. The clerk told me that I’d be surprised how many people show up unprepared without bait, ice, poles, or snacks. As for myself, I forgot to bring water when I left the house and so I bought a coke. God bless capitalism!
Driving to the north end of the bridge, I explored both sides. On the southwestern edge there are numerous shady spots to park and sit by the water. Unfortunately, the ground is rather bumpy here and there are deep puddles. On the northeastern edge there is a large sandy beach. Further down is a walkway leading along the bridge to the city. While I’ve never seen a path that I haven’t wanted to take to see what’s on it, I’ve also never seen a path that I haven’t wanted to leave to see what isn’t on it, so I took a minor detour under the bridge to cross over to the southwestern edge again. The wind on that side was incredibly refreshing as I sat in the shade of the bridge, getting out of the sun for a while. I never did make it to the northern fishing pier. By this time I was tired and thirsty and wanted to head home.
Instead, I made a spontaneous adventure decision (S.A.D.). I stopped at a gas station for water and snacks and returned to the southern park to place my chair on the grass and watch the sunset. I sat and waited and read a little and doodled in the sand with my toes. There was something burning on the horizon sending up a plume of smoke that wrapped around the bay. I thought when the sun went through this that I might get some interesting pictures. Instead, the best pictures were behind me. First there was a rainbow as a cloud went overhead lightly sprinkling on me. Then at sunset there was a cloud whose very top was still in sunlight, reminding me of a stack of pancakes with butter on top. Just before I left, a thunderstorm started in the north, creating a light show better than any fireworks display. This is Tampa Bay.
Written by Daniel Noe, InkDoodler.com
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