|Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge|
The real Florida lays off the beaten path, far away from the land of make believe worlds. There is more, a lot more to Florida then stage managed make believe in theme parks and outlet malls. Off the beaten path you will find native Florida as it existed before air conditioning and mosquito control transformed it.
This picture was taken in the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge. The refuge is a direct result of, and in the shadow of, the Kennedy Space Center. NASA and other federal government agencies that were involved in the space program wanted a large exclusion zone around the work they were doing to protect outsiders in the event something malfunctioned on the ground and to keep prying eyes at a distance. So while buying up land and moving a couple of small towns for the space center they bought a few miles of extra land to the north, land that became the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge and Playalinda Beach at the Canaveral National Seashore. To get here you go to the north end of Titusville, and take Garden Street east across the new bridge out toward the north entrance to the Space Center. When the road forks, take the right fork. You will see the Vertical Assembly Building on the right as you drive out. Stop at the refuge visitors center and ask for advice and a map. This picture was taken along the sand roads (trails) along the shore of the Indian River. The ranger will help you find the entrance and tell you if it is safe to drive without 4-wheel drive. Also ask for directions to Bio-Lab Road,and if the road is passable. These are unpaved, unimproved roads, little more then sand trails that you can drive in most cars if the conditions are decent. A car with a little more ground clearance will work better - if you have a choice of a Corolla or a Kia Soul and are planning drive this, the Kia will work better. Both of these routes can get messy if it has rained a lot and the water is high, and are in areas subject to wildfires if it has not rained in weeks. The rangers will know what is safe to drive.
Black-Point Wildlife drive is slightly to the North, it is better maintained and has a small honor system fee to enter. If the gate is open, you can assume it is safe to drive. It is much more developed, and much busier then the off the beaten path trails.