🚍 Wildlife Eco Drive in Your RV

Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge
In the making of RV There Yet? Episode #5, Vacation Paradise, our original plan on our final day was to leave the Space Coast at 6am and drive 4 hours south to Everglades National Park to shoot the last segment of the show. The night before at dinner I received a text from Brad, our Director of Photography, that read check tomorrow's weather. The forecast looked grim for South Florida. I had to make a last minute change - one of the most difficult decisions in shooting a television show. We didn't have a backup plan. We needed one more segment to finish the Space Coast episode. At 9pm the night before, we texted our contact at the Space Coast Office of Tourism to see if they could ask the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge about waiving the filming permits and allow us to shoot the following morning. It was a long shot. We woke up the next morning and waited for her text. She scored us full access to the wildlife area and even scheduled an interview with Ranger Kim when we arrived. Love our clients!
I've been to the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge many times for the Addictive Fishing TV show, but I've never taken the RV there. We arrived at the Visitors Center early and met the staff and Ranger Kim. While the crew set up an interview outside the visitors center, she told us about the 140,000 acres that is the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge located on Kennedy Space Center property. She recommended that we stop by the Manatee Observation Platform and take the Bio Lab Road Scenic drive. We spent 10 minutes interviewing Ranger Kim before we headed out in the Refuge to sample the wildlife.

Ranger Kim Interview

One of the most popular stops in the Refuge is the manatee observation deck. Patrice had never seen a manatee up close, so this spot was a great place to get her first glimpse. She was in awe of the slow moving sea cows. I would recommend making a stop if your interested in seeing a manatee.

After hanging with the manatees, we drove to the Bio Lab Scenic drive. I had never taken this drive in a car let alone the RV, so I was a bit nervous as to how we were going to shoot this segment on a one way road. Thank you tech gods for our walkie talkies!

Safe Travels,

Producerman Calling the Shots
Below is a written transcript of the video link below:

One of the things that I always have to get in on a trip is a nice hike. I knew you had something in store for us for some Florida wildlife, so we drove out the beach line SR 528, took a right-hand turn went north on US 1 through Titusville then we headed east. This is the area around Kennedy Space Center that is the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge and this is one of the best places in the country for bird watchers. 

First, pulling up to the visitors center and going in and meeting Ranger Kim was really cool because she's been here for six years. The National Wildlife Refuge is a hundred and forty thousand acres and that includes area both inside and outside the Kennedy Space Center's secure area. Visitors come and they're outside the secure area driving, hiking, boating, enjoying the wildlife. After we left Ranger Kim, we went to the manatee observation deck, and we got to see some manatees. So the manatee observation deck is on the shore of the Haulover Canal which is a great place to look for wildlife. It connects the two lagoons. It's about six miles away from the visitor center, and it has a lot of educational information there too, so you can learn about manatees while you're watching for them. Ranger Kim's the one who gave us the tip to take the Bio Lab Scenic Drive because we have the RV. The Bio Lab Scenic Drive is seven miles and it's one way and you're going to drive right along the shore of the Mosquito Lagoon. It's really pretty, and it usually has lots of wildlife on it. For an RV to come down this road I know it's a gravel road but it's really well maintained. Yeah. You get to sit up high enough so you can see above the mangroves here if you're in a car you can't see that. Yeah. It's really a tunnel. I know Patrice's smile was just I couldn't get it off her face because she just couldn't get enough. There's fishing on this side, there's alligators on this side, there's birds flying everywhere, it was a really interesting drive. The best thing to do for this drive my advice would be to come as early as you can. The earlier you come the better chance it is that you're going to see more wildlife certainly alligators. Ranger Kim had said that the wildlife refuge is the only national refuge that works with NASA in the country so it's cool how they all coexist on this little strip on Merritt Island. There are a lot of endangered species. One of the ones that's easy to see is the manatee. There's the Florida Scrub Jay which is endemic to Florida only found here in the state. We also have the wood stork and the gopher tortoise. Those are ones that people see all the time. Mother nature truly puts on a show. All the sights and the sounds of all the birds and this has been a wonderful day. You'll never forget that you're on the Space Coast because you can see that Vehicle Assembly Building everywhere that you are.

If you haven't seen RV There Yet? Ep #5, Vacation Paradise, click here to watch the full episode.