Smyrna Dunes Park

It was a perfect spring day today: dry, sunny, and mild. I woke up early and decided to drive out to Smyrna Dunes Park because I read there's a dog beach there. It was idyllic. Lots of happy dogs and nice people. I met a 13-year-old Jack Russell who'd been adopted at the age of 9; she'd been used in a puppy mill and had lived her whole life up until she was put up for rescue (the building had burned down) in a concrete pen. She was afraid of grass the first time she saw it; she was not used to being touched by people. The woman who became her mom said the dog saved her because she has no family here in Florida and the dog is now her family. She and the dog, whose name is Lucy, were sunbathing next to each other on a blanket. There was a young dog named Mabel who had a thick, wavy coat of glossy fur and spun around in joy when I bent to say hello. I saw a Great Dane big enough to throw a saddle on and harmless as a cotton ball, a jelly-boned puppy who was excited to be there for the first time, and lots of other wonderful dogs. The beach itself is quite small—not much sand, and the water comes up close. (First picture.) But there's room to set up a blanket and watch the dogs play and read a magazine (purchased at an old, immaculate Winn-Dixie; last picture). And even though it was breezy and probably only in the 70s, the water was warm enough to wade in up to your ankles. Afterward, I walked the big boardwalk path that loops two miles through the park. The land, which is protected, looks like a lunar surface, with the odd blooming cactus appearing here and there. There's not much to see and there's everything to see. The boardwalk also takes you past the part of the beach where you can drive right onto the sand. Someone was surfing with the aid of a big kite while people looked on.