I believe I’d been to one hockey game in my life, and we sat in the nose-bleed seats so I’m sure I paid no attention what-so-ever to the action on the ice. I also remember watching hockey on TV with my son, on an old console TV that sat low to the floor, and we laughed our heads off over the kitten who zoomed back and forth trying to catch the puck. So I had very little preparation for the game I attended the other night with my photographer friend, who is primarily a sports photographer by choice. ‘Try to get the puck in your shot’, was the main instruction given to me before the puck dropped for the first game of the season. Of several seasons with the pandemic. USF vs. UCF…
In the feature photo you see the teams shaking hands in a refreshing display of good sportsmanship. Especially welcome after watching such a physical game as this. It was a fun evening…
You know how it is. You head out the door intending to do one thing, but the conversation leads you in an entirely different direction. That’s what happened yesterday when we set out to see and take photos along the back roads of ‘old Florida’, but we wound up at the Chassahowitzka Wildlife Preserve instead. I’ve been there before, but I’ve always been the passenger tagging along with friends who know the park backwards and forwards. Which means that I have no idea how to get around in there so I wasn’t the best guide that a person could hope for. In fact we never did see the scenery I expected to show him, but that was okay, we’ll find that next time. And next time maybe there won’t be bow and arrow hunters in the woods, a fact that kept us close to the road as we got out for pictures. Not that we are hikers. As you can see from the feature photo we found lots and lots of butterflies in the thistles at the side of the road.
The wildlife was keeping a low profile as we drove through. Of course it was afternoon and there is usually more action in the morning and at dusk. Still my friend was happy to see the Florida landscape as it was before people decided to ‘improve’ it…
I have to confess that as much as I enjoyed the butterflies at the Butterfly Rainforest yesterday I did let myself get distracted by the adorable Chinese Painted Quail that were busy scooting around in the underbrush. And sometimes napping on the walkway. Another visitor asked if they were okay, and the workers said yes they were. And added they they are the worlds smallest variety of quail. You can see them in the feature photo, a male and female I would expect.
Actually the fun started right when you walked into the lobby, before you even entered the rainforest. In the lobby was a huge screen on the wall, and when we entered on the screen was a Mastodon and baby, wandering in the lobby. We quickly discovered that if you walked into the area the animal on the screen would start following you, and chasing you. You can imagine how excited the two young boys we saw were as they were chased by a tiger.
Did you know that giant sloths existed years ago? Big! Like 14 feet tall or so. And Dog bears? Not a dog and not a bear, but a dog bear. And did you know that horses used to be small and have gotten bigger over time? I didn’t either. And now I wish I’d taken more pictures.
We visited a Rainforest yesterday. In Gainesville, FL. With Butterflies. A shorter road trip this time. Your price of admission included visiting the museums associated with the University of Florida, so we saw more than just a host of butterflies. But for now it’s the butterflies that stole the show.
We set the record for heat in the Tampa area yesterday. If it wasn’t a record in Gainesville then I’m sure it was close. Plus the humidity was even more than what was natural to enhance the rainforest atmosphere. But it was a worthwhile trip, we were happy we got to enjoy this colorful place.
We were very lucky to have a nice day to spend in Asheville, in between raindrops the day before and again the next day. We wandered a couple of blocks through the charming downtown and people-watched for the afternoon. The next day was our big drive home, most of which was through the sometimes torrential rain, so a planned stop at Tybee Island was cut short, and we drove home using all the possible speeds on the windshield wipers.
Once we crossed into Florida the rain let up so the drive home was uneventful after that. We were very lucky to have accomplished all that we set out to do while we were away. We each reconnected with friends and family, and we certainly enjoyed the scenery everywhere we went. I wonder where we’ll go next?
Eventually we did reach the southern end of the Blue Ridge Parkway, which put us in range of Asheville. We only spent a day there, which was way too short. We would like to spend more time in the area this fall, wouldn’t that be a perfect place to see fall color? But once in Asheville we spotted the Basilica of Saint Lawrence, and headed in that direction to take photos. We didn’t expect to be allowed in, welcomed even, and told to take all the pictures we cared to. So I took a lot, but with the trusty iPhone. Our trip south was about to being in earnest, and even when you have had a nice trip the thought of home begins to sound very good.
As I write this I still don’t know what we missed seeing in Asheville, we left the next morning. But we enjoyed our visit and left wanting to return.