Thursday, January 26, 2012
Thursday, our first walk there, had many osprey and brown pelican sightings. The osprey don't seem to mind people being near them or their nests and the preserve provides many nesting posts just off the beach.
OOPS, my pictures are out of order. This was Saturday after Bec arrived on a morning flight. Her first request was for sun!
Saturday night we went to Iguana Mia, a Mexican restaurant , for dinner. Caught a poor picture of John and Bec while we waited for a table. Food was great as usual. We had to keep up our strength for the Pat's game the next day. Sunday was a pool morning with the game at 3:00
This was Friday at the beach. Tough life down here.
On Monday we left John's for some camping further north. Bec was leaving Monday afternoon and other friends were arriving at John's later in the week, so we got our camper out of storage and headed to Withlacoochee State Forest, 50 miles west of Orlando.
Arriving at the Cypress Glen campground at Silver Lake area of this State Forest found the campground almost empty. Apparently, the price of camping was doubled last November, and many long term campers have found cheaper places to camp. Great having such a private park.
There are several trails from the campground so naturally we explored some of them. First one out was called the "Low Water Trail"
Thick cypress growth of youngish trees
Cypress knees. Scientists believe these knees develop for support, not air.
With the high water mark obvious, I was glad it was low water season
View of Silver Lake from the campground
Marlin finishing breakfast at our campsite
Wednesday, January 18, 2012
Mike starting on the hike
A few of the twists and turns.
A small group of ibis foraging for food below the boardwalk.
One of the many large cypress (and Mary)
The strangler fig vines begin at the top of the trees when birds drop seeds into epiphytes or crevices in the upper branches. Then the vines grow down and root in the ground. They don't really hurt the trees, they just look like they are "strangling" them
I could not resist taking pictures of the boardwalk's jigs and jogs. They are very appealing. The Sanctuary was founded in 1954 when timber companies began logging the giant cypress. A joint effort between concerned citizens and lumber company owners resulted in both purchase and donation of timber land. The area also contained the largest rookery of storks and egrets, inhabited by approximately 8 to 10,000 birds at the time of the purchase.
A little blue heron
The afternoon took us to Shark Valley in Everglades National Park. Shark Vally provides a 15 mile walking, biking, or tram loop trail through the sawgrass prairie with an observation tower at the halfway point. The two hour narrated tram tour is staffed by a park ranger or a concession naturalist. This is the third time we have taken this tour and each time we hear new facts about the Everglades. Each narrator seems to have a different interest which they highlight on their trip. This time our guide was a Florida native college student studying in New York. His interest focused on the ecology of the land and soilin the Everglades. His great sense of humor kept you interested in the mud, the vegetation and the water.
At one point in the tour he asked for volunteers to take off their shoes and follow him into the "river of grass"
Our naturalist shared a soil sample he called periphyton. He explained that periphyton is a complex mixture of detritus, algae, microbes and a few other things that live below the water and serve as a food source for many life forms. The sample felt like a sponge rather than mud.
The battery in my camera died. I took a few shots with my phone, but the quality was so poor I am not posting them. We stayed until dark watching many flocks of ibis, herons, ahningas, and egrets fly in and squabble for roosting position.
Sunday, January 15, 2012
John's condo development has over 2 miles of paved walking trails that wind around two man made ponds and a small marsh. I could not help but take pictures again of all the magnificent blooming plants along the walkways.
I take a picture of this stag horn epiphyte every time I come here. It never ceases to amaze me.
Yesterday when we started out on a walk we saw our first wildlife of the day!
Today we went to Koreshan State Historic Site in nearby Estero. This 300 acre park has the usual camping and boating on the Estero river, but also contains the Koreshan Settlement Historic Site. Established here in 1897 by a man named Cyrus Reed Teed, this religious community arrived here from Chicago looking for a location where they could be accepted for their views.
The Planetary Court. This building housed the seven women who governed the Koreshan Unity. Teed's idea for the governing body included himself as the sun, Gertrude as the moon and the seven women who comprised the Planetary Chamber represented the seven planets.
The Art Hall ca. 1905. This was the center for cultural, social, educational, and religious activities. Theatrical productions, lectures and musical events are still held here today.
Tuesday, January 10, 2012
We arrived here in Florida last night and it looks like we headed out of town just before winter arrived. In a text this morning from Jed, he said the kids had a snow day.
When we left Dixmont on Wednesday, January 4, we planned a two day stop in Massachusetts to visit some of my family there. It seems like every year we encounter some sort of glitch during our exit from home, and this time was no exception. The trip to Mass was no problem until John Miles called, when he arrived in Florida Wednesday evening. He called to tell us the truck keys, we thought were on his counter down there, were not anywhere to be found. Since they were the only set we have to the camper, which was stored in Florida, we had a problem.
I was sure he would call back later and say he found them, but we did not want to take that chance so at 4 AM Thursday, we piled in the car and drove back to Dixmont - 250 miles north - searched every shelf, cupboard, drawer, and pocket for the missing keys. After an hour search Marlin said, "I think I will look in the car glove box." End of story. We had them with us all the time!
We drove back to Randolph, MA to have my favorite Lynwood pizza along with a good Thursday night visit with family. Friday morning we headed for Maryland and a weekend visit with former Dixmont residents, the Baldwins.
The Baldwins are always our first stop when traveling south. Frederick, MD, although an ever expanding suburb or D.C., is surrounded by farm land, the Monocacy River, which is a tributary of the Potomac River, and the Catoctin mountains.
This part of Maryland is close to many major Civil War battle sites. Frederick is, in fact, famous for a skirmish called "The battle that saved Washington D.C." Although the small untrained Union force of 3,500 men was pushed back and defeated by the Confederate's 15,000 advancing soldiers, the resistance the small number of men provided slowed the Southern troop's advance toward the capital long enough for Union reinforcements to reach Washington and protect the city.
Judy, Glen, Marlin and Bob
The Utica Bridge was moved from its original location over the Monocacy after a flood in 1889 destroyed half its length. The remaining half was moved to Fish creek and repaired. I was excited to see the three different types of support at each bridge. The use of massive wood beams during the 1800's made me think of the construction of the Dixmont Town House.
The next bridge, Loy's Station Bridge, is a one lane, 90 foot road that was built with multiple king post trusses. This bridge crosses Owen's Creek and is used by local traffic daily.
The Roddy Road Bridge was constructed with a single king post truss design. It is the smallest bridge with a 40 foot single span and a tin roof. It was built in 1856.
We were in the neighborhood of Camp David and since we were not invited for lunch we stopped at the Cozy Restaurant for a snack. This establishment has greeted many famous people who visited Camp David at the invitation of U.S. Presidents, beginning with Franklin D. Roosevelt. FDR originally called the compound "Shangri-La" but Eisenhower, thinking that was a bit too fancy, changed it to Camp David.