I made a new friend today. She is the sister of another friend that I occasionally meet up with for a photography session. This time they met me at the bridge near me in hopes of a good sunrise session. So photography was the excuse to get together at, ahem, 6 AM, but it was nice to know it would be a social trip too. And breakfast at a place new to me, and boy was it ever good. I don’t know if I’m happy to know it’s there or not, after all, feeding myself has not been an issue during this time of social distancing. The sunrise could have been more spectacular, but the company was just fine.
Thursday of my silly little, chilly little, spur-of-the-moment trip to Fort DeSoto was the day with the promise of the best weather. So when I saw that a ferry trip to Egmont Key was available from the park I decided that Thursday would be the day I would go. We had a pelican keeping us company as we waited to board the ferry, and I couldn’t resist taking yet another picture of the Egmont Light, even though I knew I’d see it up close in just a little while.
We landed right at the weather-worn lighthouse, and we were told to take the trail to the beach across the island, and that we should be sure to see the ghost town also.
The day was warm and sunny, a nice change, and a nice day to walk on the beach. While I was preoccupied with taking pictures of the birds and shells my fellow travelers were finding sand dollars and shark teeth.
The ghost town turned out to be ruins of defenses constructed to defend Florida during the Spanish American war.
And ruins on the beach too.
In just two hours it was time to head back to the park, bringing our treasures, and pictures, and memories with us.
I have a friend that we tease with ‘butt shots’, so I made it a point to take this photo of the Willets on the beach. Little did I know that it would be my best photo of them.
Even with the chilly weather this was a fun trip. I didn’t know a soul when I arrived at the park, but there were four people to give me a hug goodbye. Everything I heard about camping and campers has proven to be true. I wonder where I’ll end up next?
Waking up in a camper with no heat on the coldest morning in 7 years wasn’t as bad as it sounds. The heated mattress had kept me cosy all night, and I plugged in the ceramic heater (with only one available plug-in at a time it was a deliberate choice) as soon as I woke up. I left for the day intending to take the feature photo, the line-up of rental kayaks and canoes at the (closed) rental shop. There has been very little activity here these last cold days. And that probably explains why the campground that is normally booked up months in advance seems to have a lot of empty slots available.
Then it was on to the actual fort which lent it’s name to Fort DeSoto State Park. The sign explains the significance, and all that information was news to me.
There is a raised walkway with a view which I may have missed if I hadn’t noticed a creature with a very, very long tail enjoying lunch in a very sparse tree. No, not an escaped monkey from the zoo, which from a distance was my first thought, but a squirrel. Not seemingly too different from your general, run-of-the-mill-squirrel, other than it’s tail.
The day before Joe had been working at the snack bar at the campground when I wandered in and asked him what was on the menu. Nothing, was his reply since it was close to closing time. But come and see me tomorrow at the Gulf Pier and I’ll make you some grouper. I’d been eating the almonds, clementines, apples, and animal crackers that I’d brought from home so that sounded divine. You can sit outside on a stool and enjoy the sun and the view while you eat, was his further comment, which at that point didn’t sound like a good idea at all. But on this new day by lunch time the sun felt great, and some nice grouper outside was enticing. And delicious. Up on a nearby pole I saw an osprey eating a fish and wondered it he also was enjoying grouper. And as I sat there I half expected an osprey to swoop down and steal my lunch. The sky was full of them. But I didn’t have to share and it was great.
While I was at the Gulf Pier I had noticed an empty dog crate, and the posted information with it was all about what to do if you catch a bird with a fish hook, and how to take care of it so that it can be rescued and recover from any wounds. I didn’t expect to see this situation in action so quickly, but I had moved on to the Bay Pier just in time to see a rescuer leaving the pier with a wounded pelican. She said that the pelican had caught a fish and hook as the fisherman reeled it in, just as I recently saw happen back home in Aripeka, but in this case the fisherman got the hook out and the bird just needed to have it’s wound heal. And to be fattened up. She said that the young pelicans are starving because these cold temperatures have driven the fish into deeper waters and food hasn’t been as plentiful for them. I was glad to see this pelican have a chance for a good outcome from his adventures.
I love a happy ending, and didn’t know that there was one in store for me too. A chance conversation with fellow campers not only got my electrical issue fixed, but I was also assured that when I leave on Friday I will be able to make the turn onto the one-way road with the trailer in tow and it would would clear the surrounding trees just fine. Yes, happy endings all around!
The trip to Citrus County on Sunday was to attend the solstice meeting of the Citrus County Drum Circle. I had seen a drum circle before on Pine Island, but I hadn’t been to this group before. My friend is a member and knew the names of all the various drums and horns that were being used. They all were unusual, and the entire evening was spent with the rhythm of the drums gently marking the time. People danced in the circle as the spirit moved them, but most just watched quietly. I learned that one very graceful dancer had been a belly dance instructor, and the elderly lady who had caught my eye had been a clown in her younger years. There was a certain peacefulness to the evening, the only thing missing was a lovely sunset. I would like to attend again, but nothing could move me to get up and dance in that circle. But I envy those who can let themselves go like that…
When it comes to being thankful I would be amiss if I didn’t mention Walter. He’s not exactly a new friend, he’s the young man I’ve talked with before while watching the sunrise at Aripeka. But now we’ve exchanged names and phone numbers, and that’s because he has had a recent encounter with One-Foot Fred. And he even took a picture! Be still my heart! I had mentioned Fred to him since he gets to a lot more sunrises in Aripeka than I do. I told him that Fred used to be on the bridge with me every time I was there, but then he disappeared. I don’t think I’d seen him for a year, but that includes time I wasn’t even in Florida. So I asked Walter if he’d ever seen Fred and he hadn’t, but I did tell him that I’ve been told by several fishermen that Fred still comes around now and then. So the minute Walter noticed that the heron he was watching only had one foot he knew it was Fred. I had only watched him as he posed for me on the bridge, but Walter watched him fishing. Fred would use his stub to take a step but would have to catch himself and balance as he landed on his other foot. Walter was impressed with his obvious adaptation to his new reality. Walter also mentioned that it’s probably lucky that herons stand in the shallow water and wait for lunch to come to them. He was pretty impressed with old Fred. I’m so happy to hear this news and know that Fred is okay, and so happy to have a picture also. Thanks Walter!
A photographer friend announced that she was going to the Dunedin Causeway for the sunrise on Tuesday. Not wanting to miss an opportunity to shoot with her I, of course, tagged along. And I wasn’t the only one. New friends and old friends also were there. And we were lucky enough to be invited back to the beautiful home of one of the group, for a truly delicious omlet breakfast. Mimosas may have been enjoyed also. What a treat! The shoot, and the wonderful breakfast visit with friends.