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.
Waterfalls were supposed to be the destination for stops along the Blue Ridge Parkway on our last day. Nearby Brevard County, NC has dozens of waterfalls, but we had been away for quite a while and if we were to go there we wanted to spend lots of time, so we settled on the falls that were right on the parkway as we continued south. Only there was a detour that took us past Linwood Falls without being able to stop, a big disappointment. But Looking Glass Falls made up for it.
Somewhere in this trip we found a cliff-side overlook, where, we were told, they held events that allowed people to become certified to paraglide. (I hope that’s the right term.) For the life of me I couldn’t see down the cliff, try as I might for a photo. The feature photo was from this same area. Spending a few days traveling those very scenic roads was a pleasure, not only for a photographer, but for anyone who appreciates nature in all it’s glory.
We looked into the haze at every stop along Skyline Drive. I don’t know if it was better or worse than usual while we were there, but it didn’t stop us from taking shot after shot at every overlook we came to. A couple of days ago I mentioned my previous trip there when the pop-up camper popped off the hitch of my car, and how I just headed for home after that. What I didn’t mention is that my cousin was a supervising ranger at Skyline Drive for 21 years, and that he lives in the area. We had lunch with him on Cape Cod while we were there, but he wasn’t going to be back home when we got to his area the next week. So imagine my surprise when I posted a picture of a surprise engagement shot I got on our first day on the drive, and he commented that his farmhouse is in the background of the shot. Small world and lucky accident of timing, it all factored into the shot, which I love all the more now.
There are so many pictures that now I find them hard to group into a cohesive story. The iPhone will tell me where the pictures were taken, and when, which is helpful provided I also took a few shots with my phone as well as the camera. As we approached home I said that I didn’t know when I’d be ready for a long trip like this one was, but the thought of a couple of days here and there is already sounding like a good idea.
The last time I drove Skyline Drive I popped the pop-up off the hitch when I drove over railroad tracks in Front Royal. Fortunately two very nice gentlemen appeared out of nowhere and jacked up the now bent front support and got me back on the road. So I drove the whole way preoccupied with the camper, worried it would pop off again. I know I took pictures and enjoyed the scenery to a degree, but not like I did on this trip down Skyline Drive. The fact that I wasn’t the only driver was both a blessing and a curse because we both really would prefer to be the driver, but we managed to share the driving duties peacefully. But driving that road with its ups and downs, and hairpin turns to the right, and hairpin turns to the left, and stopping at every overlook to take pictures, can wear a girl out.
And when you come to the end of Skyline Drive you immediately begin your drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway, with more ups and downs, and twists and turns. So we stopped for the night in Hillsville, VA. Which my son may remember from an infamous trip we took from FL to upstate NY, dragging a uHaul, and he said, looking at the map, “Mom, there is a road that’s a shortcut from the road we are on to the one we are going to”, and we took it. Much to our dismay we found it had twists and turns, and ups and downs, and we groaned when we saw that we had been driving, however appropriately, through Hillsville! I asked him if I had been driving him nuts by driving too slow over that road and he said no, I was driving him nuts because he thought I was driving too fast! I never imagined I’d spend four days driving that sort of road willingly, and calling it fun!
My first trip to Florida was in 1988 and I came away with the impression that it was entirely too flat. At this moment in time I think that Florida’s flatness just might be its best feature.
Judging by the number of photographers there it was a perfect night for a Pink Moon at Safety Harbor. Yes, it could have been more perfect if the moon would have shown itself through the clouds when it was still behind the Tampa skyline, but I didn’t hear anyone complaining. Just one by one people started saying they were starting to see it showing through the clouds, what a night it was. Some nights are just right.
I got a little carried away with the wood stork chicks at the rookery the other day. I do think they are cute, in an a ‘face only a mother could love’ sort of way. Plus they were really the only game in town. They are always earlier than the egrets, but I did expect to see a few egret chicks by now, but I didn’t see any. I asked another family that was watching if they had seen the alligator, and the dad answered that yes, he had seen one. What followed was a comedy of errors as they, the father, grandfather, and young granddaughter who was manning the binoculars, began to spot alligator after alligator. Or so they said. I on the other had spotted none, but that didn’t stop me from shooting in the general the direction of where they were pointing. Eventually I did hear the dad suggest that what they were seeing might be soft shell turtles. My feature photo seems to have proved him correct.
Yes, the lovely egrets were present, but without a busy nest of chicks to tend. Not so far at least.