Wednesday, February 1, 2017

The Amazing Blue Spring State Park in Orange City, FL

Hi all!

I know I am behind on posts, but most of my racing pictures are trapped on my phone. As soon as I can get them off of the phone, I will do the racing story. So I don't get too far behind, I am going to share some pictures and video from the trip to Blue Spring State Park yesterday.

More manatee info from Blue Spring State Park

Every winter, the manatees migrate to places with warmer water. Some of them have their young with them at this time. The park rangers and some manatee preservation folks combine their efforts to count all of the manatee that visit the park during this time. The manatee count yesterday was 458. Of course, by the time we got there many had left, but we still saw a whole lot of them.

The waters of the spring run down a channel to the St. John's River. The water in this channel is crystal clear. Live oaks, palms, and a wonderful amount of Spanish moss line the banks. Even before we saw any manatee, I was captivated.

Once we reached a viewing platform where we could see the manatee, I knew I was hooked. We will have to return to this park many times. Maybe it will become and annual pilgrimage. Some of the manatee came swimming right up to the viewing platforms. Others lazed in the sun on the opposite shore. The camera took great pictures. The manatee really show up well. Please enjoy these next pics and keep scrolling.

Here is a nice video clip of the manatee. They move so gently.

There are also quite a few cormorant in the park. I haven't gotten my book out yet to make an i.d. but I will edit this with the correct species when I do.
I took this picture of the manatee education sign. The warning sign that follows it made me think, "Yep, you can't fix stupid."

We also saw many schools of fish. Some of them were quite large. The ones building nests were very interesting to watch.

As we were walking along the boardwalk trail, eating our ice cream, I heard some rustling in the bushes. What a cute little guy it turned out to be.

We really enjoyed our time in the park. Since my eye exam was at 2pm, we were too lake for the eco boat ride. We hope to return later this week to do that. I also want to visit the house on the site. It is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.

Until next time, keep us in your prayers for safe travels and keep well yourselves.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

The Everglades

Tom and I were completely entranced by the Everglades. We had made reservations for 14 nights in the Flamingo camping area thinking we could leave early if we didn't find enough to do. Silly us! We actually added 3 more days to our stay and enjoyed them in the Long Pine Key campground.

I couldn't believe we could get so close to this nesting pair of osprey.

A real, live, wild, crocodile.

Marina bay

More croc!

I love the pink buildings!

Ranger Tim gave our Croc Talk. He was great!

This guy had lost part of his jaw about two years ago and is still living and doing well.

A young croc swimming.
 The National Parks as part of its wildfire management policy, conducts prescribed fires. We were fortunate to see this policy in action.The burn took place in beginning of our time in the park. We were able to watch the new shoots develop in the wake of the fire in the following days.
Despite the signs, people stopped at the Visitor Center to be sure the rangers knew there was a fire in the park.
Flames in the grass.

Smoke drifts across the park gate.

Smoke on the horizon.

Me with the Florida panther statue.

Tom with a Florida panther statue.

First time I had to worry about a cat crossing.

So beautiful

We got a little dizzy here. *joke*

The water in front of the Visitor Center at Flamingo.

Flamingo Visitor Center
 We really enjoyed our walk on the Mahogany Hammock Trail. The change from grassland to jungle-like forest was striking. Just a small change in elevation made for an entirely different biome.

Another guided talk that Tom especially enjoyed was to the Nike Missile base on the park grounds. I spent most of my time trying to not be too afraid of the rattlesnake and pygmy rattlesnakes they had warned us we may see.
Our guide

The company flag.

Graffiti, this is a mosquito.

The missile.

That is quite a warning.

More in the next post. Time for alligators to go with our crocodiles.