'scene' along the way, a second look, adventure, Circle B Bar Reserve, Florida landmarks, Florida wildlife, friends, fun, making memories, nature, perseverance, photography, road trip, sky

The big picture…

Of course I can’t resist a close up view of creatures that you would never be able to see in detail other than in a photograph.  It’s a challenge to try to get a sharp image like that.  But I also like landscapes.  Open spaces.  My very first trip to Florida was thirty years ago, and I wasn’t impressed.  I thought it was too flat, but that’s not how I see it anymore.  I see gorgeous skies, and I still marvel over the palm trees.  And the sunshine that lures you out your door…05-21-20view405-21-20egret05-21-20view205-21-20view105-21-20view305-21-20anhingaview05-21-20cameratotersA photographer will recognize that the woman in this picture is toting a big camera/lens combination.  As were half the people we saw at Circle B recently.  Sunrise at the B would be fun to do, but at two hours away it might be better easier to wait until daylight savings time.

a second look, boats, Florida landmarks, foggy sky, life goes on, memories, moments, perseverance, photography, sky, sunset, weather

Old photos…

I missed the announcement that the photo shoot for the evening had been cancelled.  I figured it out while waiting for the ferry without another photographer in sight.  I went ahead and rode the ferry anyway, and also rode the sunset cruise out of Clearwater beach. The sliver of sky at the horizon provided enough sunset color to make me happy that day, and happy with my pictures, but they look different to me now, two years later.  Now I’m reviewing pictures from that day  and I find myself wondering about all the people who were there, all the dramas going on behind the windows that I photographed that day.  Were people enjoying a longed-for vacation?  Were there reunions of old friends happening anywhere out there?  Engagements?  Happy news?  Sad news?  I was enjoying my day that day even if it hadn’t turned out exactly as I’d expected.  But today I know that those hotels and condos are still there, but they may be empty, or nearly so.  There may be people enjoying the sunset from home even as I write this.  I hope so.  The hotels are man made, but the sunset is a gift.  It’s still there to be enjoyed.

I don’t know why I never went back and rode the ferry again.  My friend just visited me recently and I wish I’d thought to do this with her.  Right now I feel like I just can’t wait to go out and do things like this again.  I hope I remember to make the most of my  opportunities when that day comes.

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'scene' along the way, a second look, Florida landmarks, perseverance, photography, second chances, sunset, technology

The end of the day…

I have to admit that we had quite the day of shooting last week, with the Venice rookery and Myakka River state park. But we weren’t done.  Our last stop was the causeway bridge in St. Pete, which my friend hadn’t been to before, and I wanted to improve on the pictures I had taken the last time.  But it had been a long day, and we were very tired as we waited for the sun to set and then for the lights on the bridge to come on.  I had the lens that I regretted that I didn’t have the last time, and the tripod, so my shots should have been good.  But again I managed to miss the shots I most wanted to get, this time they were blurry.  The iPhone didn’t miss the shot however, so once again it saved me.  Gotta love the iPhone!

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'scene' along the way, adventure, Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Preserve, Florida landmarks, friends, fun, live and learn, making memories, natural wonders, nature, perseverance, photography, sunset

Finding our way home…

What we had been deciding, before we took our little side trip to find the lost hiker, was whether to head to Eagle’s Nest or to just call it a day.  Imagine driving the pot-holed trails that you see in the feature photo, and coming across a person in full scuba gear.  It came as a surprise to me, but the signage told the story.

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Exploring the underwater cave system is for experts only, with the proper equipment and experience.  Another mysterious natural world right underfoot, something you would never in a million years expect to be there.  Unfortunately the area has been underestimated with a certain degree of regularly over the years.  Of the 14 people who have died here in recent history it is the father and son who went out on Christmas Day with their brand new equipment and never returned that tugs at my heartstrings.

This is the view that greets you as you arrive at Eagle’s Nest…03-03-20chassnestview.jpg

Divers told us that the no-see-ums were out in force, but we were aware of the time and knew that we would have to head back before they closed the road at dusk, so they didn’t get to feast on us for long.  But the drive back to the entrance took longer than it would have if Mother Nature hadn’t been teasing us with a beautiful sunset.  There was so much purple in the sky, if you see it in the photos it’s completely natural.  We shot photos out the car window every time the view brought us to a halt.  The view and the pot holes in the road, I’m not sure which stopped us more often.  When I headed out the door to join Betty and Linda on this adventure I had no clue what to expect, but I did know that we’d have fun, we always do.

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'scene' along the way, a second look, adventure, Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Preserve, Florida landmarks, Florida wildlife, friends, fun, making memories, nature, old dogs new tricks, perseverance, photography

Chassahowitzka with friends…

I headed north to join my friends Betty and Linda for a hike in the Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge yesterday.  It is a vast, 30843 acre, of preserved wilderness area encompassing four of the coastal counties in the area I call home.  They volunteer at the Chinsegut Conservation Center and have become quite knowledgeable about the history of the area.  The point of our hike was to find an area they had been to on a guided hike a while back, wanting to see the area again without a big group of hikers.  That the hike began with us looking for the particular tree that would mark the spot to go off the trail and into the woods didn’t come as a huge surprise to me, I had faith in them that we would in fact find our way back to the cars at the end of the day.

We were in search of the ruins of a thriving community that existed here from the years 1910-1917.  It was built around a logging company, and these are the remains of the actual logging business and mill that worked the area.  In addition to this area there was a town nearby with neighborhoods populated with workers of various nationalities.  They had a small railroad to move the logs to market, plus there were houses, a post office, school, saloon, all the components of a community.  By 1917 all the usable trees in the area had been cut and the people moved on, taking as much of their building material as they could, to be reused as they rebuilt in a new area.  In the 100 years since they left Mother Nature has reasserted herself, with help, and leaving not much to mark this time in history.03-01-20woodsruins03-01-20woodsruins203-01-20woodsruins503-01-20woodsruins6Some of where we hiked yesterday had been underwater when they had been there before.  The area is spring fed and there is water just off the road in a lot of the area.  Water and the creatures who live there, such as an alligator they dubbed Nestor, who they thought was a male until she had 16 babies last year.  As we hiked I had to wonder where she and her babies might be lurking as we took pictures.03-01-20woodsruins303-01-20woodsruins4I, for one, would not want to be lost on these trails.  Once we got back to the car we did something we don’t usually do, we sat and talked at a picnic table, deciding where to go next.  We were aware of a woman who was waiting for her 84 year old friend and his Jack Russel terrier to return to his car.  She was calling his cell phone, but she suspected that he’d left his phone in the car.  He had been gone quite a while, she said, and it was now 4 PM and with only a couple of hours of daylight left we offered to drive the roads to see if we could find him while she waited by the car in case he came back.  We drove a long way, I was afraid that if he had fallen we may have driven right by him, and we all suspected that surely a man his age wouldn’t have walked that far.  But Linda said that something told her not to turn around, to keep going, because this road was not traveled by many visitors who might come across him to help.  And the story has a happy ending because sure enough, we found him.  He was fine and still walking, but boy was he happy to see us.  He had gotten lost, and the trail he was on would eventually loop back to the parking area, but not for another five or so miles.  Don’t you just love a happy ending.  I do…03-01-20woodsbuddy

His name was Kenny and he said he learned a big lesson from this experience.  Always keep your phone with you.  Good advice.

'scene' along the way, a second look, adventure, Florida landmarks, Florida wildlife, friends, fun, gardens, healing, learning, making memories, Nature's beautiful creatures, perseverance, photography, simple things, The Narrows, turtles

BOGO…

The Narrows came to me in a brainstorm as a place to go with my friend while she was here.  How often do you get to see raptors up close and personal?  Or at all really.  The brainstorm came to me because while we were at the eagles one day we ran into a friend of mine who volunteers there.  I have walked the trails with him while he held a little screech owl on his wrist and interacted with the other visitors on the trail.  It’s such an unusual way to visit with nature.

But this visit was a little disappointing at first.  There were no volunteers out on the deck with hawks, or Sarge the eagle, on their wrists.  They hadn’t changed their policy, they said, but there is a shortage of volunteers to take the birds out.  A group of disabled veterans arrived as we were getting there also, and I thought they were visitors, but in a little while we saw them out with birds on the trail.  One said that the bird he was holding had had a brain injury, and he had a brain injury also.  It’s a heartwarming place to go.  Maybe a 90 minute drive isn’t too far to go to volunteer…02-29-20vet-owl02-29-20vet-owl202-29-20kestrel02-29-20horned02-29-20Egreathorned02-29-20Easternscreech02-29-20barredA volunteer pointed out the dark-eyed owls and light-eyed owls, and said that the dark eyed ones are spectacular night hunters.  Nature has given them incredible night vision, and I have read that owls can see their prey a mile away, so day hunters also have us all beat by a mile.

I had a plan for the next day also.  I was going to take my friend to the Florida Botanical Gardens for a photo walk with my photo group.  For the heck of it I checked to see where it was in comparison to The Narrows, and it was only two miles from where we were at that moment.  So of course we headed there, but on a chilly day in February it was not nearly the amazing place I have visited in the past.  We didn’t stay long at all, but I am glad to know that I can easily visit these two places on the same day from now on.  Kind of a BOGO!02-29-20rose02-29-20hearts