Florida landmarks, food, friends, fun, Jenkin's Creek, moments, nature, photography

Swampfest 2018

This weekend is the 25th anniversary of Swampfest, and my first Swampfest ever.  It is held at Linda Pedersen Park, which is right across the street from Jenkin’s Creek, so not far at all from home.  It began as a fundraiser for our local businesses and community organizations, but it has grown into an event that draws a big crowd from the surrounding area.  The funds raised go back into the community, a worthy cause.

I enjoyed the vendors’s colorful booths…

There was lots of food to choose from (but I was good, except for the strawberry shortcake for breakfast)…

Had nice nice chat with a photographer working on her degree…3-3photographerThis gentleman asked me what I was going to take a picture of, and I said, “You!”  And I did.3-3you

The entertainment was provided by Actual Bank Robbers and they were very good.  I don’t know what it says about them that they played songs I knew and liked, but everyone seemed to be enjoying their music.  Google them to find out where they are appearing, I think you’ll like them.3-3bandDid I mention the Swamp Monster Contest?  The gals looked great, but that little guy stole the show, and came away with third prize of $25, causing him to dance around yelling that he had dollars.  The gal in blue won first place.3-3monsters3-3littlemonster

But on any given day a visit to this park is worthwhile.  Nature at it’s finest.  The observation tower is newly reopened after a fire, so of course I went up.  Aside from the power lines it gives you a very nice view of Jenkin’s Creek and the fishing pier.  I was excited to go there for the sunset one night when I first heard about it, but no one had mentioned the power lines in the way.  No eagles flying today.

3-3swamp23-3tower3-3Jenkin's Creek

Bayport, dogs, finding my way, growing old, life goes on, loneliness, moments, photography, sunrise

A new day…

Out on the lanai at 4 AM, enjoying the dark and quiet. Well, not so quiet. The pond creatures were chirping away, punctuated by the low, throaty strums of the bullfrogs. The coffee was ready, set to automatically go off at 3:45 AM even on a day off, because even if she hadn’t set the alarm her four-footed roomies would make sure that she was up in time to get to work. But it was not a work day, and the coffee was good, and hot. To be enjoyed the coffee must be scalding hot. The pond serenade was in full swing, sometimes increasing or decreasing in volume as if a hand was on a knob out there turning it up and down. How they all decide to step it up or down in unison remained a mystery to her, but she enjoyed the mental image of the hand and the knob. The star she thought she saw twinkling out there turned out to be the lights of a far off airplane, but then she saw that there were stars shining dimly, and she knew that she would head out for the sunrise. But that was still several hours away. One of her dogs had been out already, sniffing the air and finding all to be well. They had been enjoying the serenade together, but then the second dog wanted to go out, and immediately headed around front, requiring her to follow, in her pajamas, coffee in hand. There were new neighbors across the street and she wondered what they would think if they were up and saw the old lady across the street out wandering in her pajamas in the wee small hours of the morning. That maybe she was losing it? Was she losing it? She didn’t think so, but how would you know really? And then the wandering dog returned, and the coffee had cooled, it was time to start the day…2-232-23sunrise12-23sunrise22-23sunrise3

Florida wildlife, moments, nature, otters, photography, sunrise, unintended images

Expect the unexpected…

2-22sunrise52-22sunrise42-22sunrise12-22sunrise62-22sunrise4I’ve been in touch with an old friend recently, and since he is into fishing I had the thought to take a really spectacular sunrise photo that included a fishing pier.  Since most of the sunrise/sunset photo ops involve fishing piers there were several possible options.  But it was the sunrise that didn’t cooperate, it never really developed.  So I wandered a bit, hoping to get a few decent photos to use.  I decided to walk up onto the little wooden bridge to see what things looked like from there.  That’s when I got a surprise.  To say that I was surprised is one thing, but the look of surprise on my visitors faces was priceless.  I climbed up onto the railing in hopes that they would continue their trip across the bridge, but they retreated.  I snapped photos but it was dark and they were in shadow, though it doesn’t look like it since to see them I had to lighten the photos, and was just glad to get an image at all.  I didn’t find an eagle at Jenkin’s Creek this morning, but I’m not complaining.  This little otter family more than made up for it.2-22company2-22company22-22company3

adventure, Florida landmarks, friends, moments, perseverance, photography, sky, sunset, weather

Clearwater ferry and sunset…

What if they gave a photo meet-up and nobody came?  I knew that cancellation was a possibility, but the clouds didn’t obscure the blue sky enough for me to worry about it as I left the house with 2 hours to spare.  As I stood at the ferry landing looking for other people weighted down with photo equipment I checked my email and found the notification that it was cancelled.  For a brief moment I considered heading home, but then I kicked myself in the butt and told myself to get on the ferry.  Not only that, but I decided to ride the sunset cruise rather than stand on the beach by myself, and that was a good choice.  I made two new friends, Rhonda and Art, and we had fun taking photos and pointing out photo ops to each other.  I showed Art how to set the focus and exposure in his iPhone, and he showed me some editing tricks that I hadn’t discovered.  We toasted the sunset with champaign, compliments of the cruise!   Rhonda said it tasted like ginger ale, which it did, and later I discovered that my horizon line was off in most of my photos, but I can’t blame the alcohol for that.  I’ll blame the boat, rocking on the water.  It was a lovely evening…

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history, honor, learning, moments, photography, soldiers, The Booksville Raid

The Brooksville Raid…

The Brooksville Raid was a Civil War skirmish that is re-enacted in Brooksville every year, and is said to be the biggest Civil War re-enactment in Florida. It recounts the landing of 240 Union troops at Bayport on July 1, 1864. Those troops then marched to Brooksville, pillaging and destroying plantations in their wake. The Confederate defenders skirmished with them, and sent to Tampa for help, but there never was an actual battle. The union troops did what damage they could and returned to Bayport and from there returned to Ft. Myers.

Charley liked to call it “the war of Northern aggression”, but then he fancied himself a southern boy. We went to the Brooksville Raid in 2013, and watched the battle but didn’t venture into the Union and Confederate camps at all. I’m not sure that we knew they were available to tour. Sunday’s photo meetup at the Brooksville Raid started when they opened the gates at 9 AM. It was to our advantage to be there so early so that we could take photographs without crowds in the background. Walking the camps went a long way to helping to imagine what a soldier’s life may have been at that time. I overheard a re-enactor explaining to another photographer that his great-grandfather had left the farm at 15 years old, and fought for all four years of the Civil War. He became a re-enactor to honor his ancestor’s service.

Once I had toured both camps, and watched the artillery demonstration there were still two hours to kill before the actual battle was going to be fought. I took pity on the dogs who would be needing to go out, so I didn’t stay for the battle itself. But I had it on good authority that the South was going to win this time. They do two re-enactments, one on Saturday and one on Sunday. I looked up the information on the raid because I was told that since the Union had won the skirmish on Saturday, the Confederacy would win on Sunday. That seemed like rewriting history until I read that I wasn’t a battle as much as a series of skirmishes. Charley was on my mind the whole time I was there. He would have been pleased to see the South prevail.

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Clydesdales, fun, moments, Nature's beautiful creatures, photography

Budweiser Clydesdales…

Everything about Wednesday night’s photo shoot was new to me.  And not so much Nature Coast, and probably the farthest thing from wildlife. Old Palm Harbor is not strictly part of the ‘nature coast’ per se. I’m fairly sure it would be considered part of the Tampa Bay designation. But the area was charming, at least in the dark, with it’s small neighborhood feel. The restaurants with their lights, and teeming with people, looked so enticing that I wanted to go into them all.  The next time my friend Kathy visits we will. But the hordes of people wasn’t the norm for a Wednesday evening. No, we had been drawn to the area on this very chilly evening because of these magnificent animals.

The Clydesdales.  They hadn’t even gotten off the trailers and they were displaying their big personalities.  They played to their audience.

The Clydesdales were in town for the 50th anniversary of the local beer distributor, and they made the rounds of the local restaurants, delivering beer in style. It was quite a sight to see, but tougher to photograph. Once they were underway the crowds made the photo ops a lot more difficult. Even if I’d had my tripod and knew how to adjust for the darkness better, (ironically this Saturday’s class is on shutter speed, which is what I needed to adjust for the circumstances), I’d have gotten elbowed out of the way. So I was glad that I concentrated my shots on the process of unloading and hitching up the Clydesdales. Clearly the two lead horses were chosen as much for personality as for their beauty, because all the horses were equally gorgeous. But no, those two were hamming it up for the photographers in the crowd, no one will ever convince me that they didn’t know exactly what they were doing. And they did it well.1-17saycheese2 copy1-17saycheese

It was amazing to see how patiently the horses waited as they were hitched to the wagon one by one. The first horse in had to stand there while seven more horses were hitched up.  He was a champ.  I looked down to see their hooves, and it occurred to me that there were plenty of people in flip flops, (crazy people, I hope their toes didn’t fall off), within feet of these horses. They were unflappable. Barking dogs in the crowd, (really?), and camera flashes in their faces were all in a day’s work to them.1-17firstonein copy1-17bigfeet copy

1-17readysetgoI had considered bailing out on this event because of the hour-long drive, and the chilly temperatures, but I’m glad I didn’t. They will also be appearing in Tampa and St. Pete this weekend, so if you are in the area and would like to see them check their website. I was going to give a link to their schedule but the only one I found wasn’t current, but there are a lot of pages available if you Google the Budweiser Clydesdales. This photo op popped up at the last minute, spotted by a member of the group. Props to them!1-17details copy.jpgEvery de-tail was perfect!