Posted by: sunnyharvy | February 22, 2017

Birds, Gators, and Dolphins

Things are now very busy here in Southern Florida, which makes unplanned traveling more difficult. We were not able to get a campsite at Koreshan so we camped overnight at Walmart in Naples. The next morning we headed to nearby Delnor-Wiggins Pass State Park for breakfast and time on the beach. Although it was very windy, we found a sheltered area to soak up some sun.

delnorwiggins1939

Short hike out the boardwalk to lookout tower.

delnorwiggins1945

Walk around point and into inlet.

delnorwiggins1953

Admiring unknown artist’s creativity.

collierseminole1963

Beautiful hawk (red shouldered?) at Collier-Seminole State Park where our day visit was cut short by a voracious mosquito population. We did manage to score some much needed showers and drinking water before making a hasty retreat.

bigcypress1966

Limestone road to Burns Lake Campground where we stayed for the 3-day holiday weekend.

bigcypress1969

We were happy to get a reservation at this quiet off-the-beaten-track location within the Big Cypress National Preserve. Just $12 a night with our Golden Access Pass!

bigcypress1985

Sunset from our lakeside campsite.

bigcypress1973

We knew nothing about this area before arriving. After an hour in the Visitor Center we were happy we had three days to explore.

evergladescity7910

We took a boat tour out of Everglades City where I snapped this pic of an Osprey in her nest.

evergladescity7953

As well as this one of two bottle nose dolphins.

evergladescity0737

Al caught this good one of a dolphin jumping our boat wake.

evergladescity7992

Colorful lawn art in Everglades City.

bigcypress7996

Alligators are everywhere in Big Cypress.

bigcypress8012

Lots of birds too. I believe this is a Little Blue Heron.

bigcypress2008

A yearling gator along one of our boardwalk hikes.

bigcypress2012

bigcypress2018

bigcypress2019

bigcypress2030

An Anhinga spears lunch.

bigcypress2036

bigcypress2038

bigcypress2041

Another hawk fishing for dinner, first from the shore.

bigcypress2049

Then from a tree branch above.

bigcypress2059

We even got to view this magnificent Crocodile, a fairly rare sight, on the Marsh Trail. South Florida is the only place in the world you can find both alligators and crocodiles in the wild.

bigcypress2076

While we hiked down the trail he turned around to show us his other side.

bigcypress2069

Birds are plentiful!

bigcypress2085

A curiosity alongside the highway.

bigcypress2084

The story behind the “smallest post office in the United States.”

bigcypress2096

This tree decided to hang onto the boardwalk railing for extra support.

bigcypress2091

Air plants are plentiful and beautiful.

bigcypress2093

One more gator for your viewing pleasure.

 

Posted by: sunnyharvy | February 21, 2017

An Inside-Out World

A few miles east of Fort Myers, Boondockers Welcome host Larry, offered up this beautiful river front location as our free campsite.

fortdenaud1896

Our next stop proved to be quite peculiar. Koreshan State Historic Site is where Dr. Cyrus Teed established a communal colony in 1894. He brought his followers to Estero to build the “New Jerusalem” for his new faith, Koreshanity. The colony, known as the Koreshan Unity, believed that the entire universe existed within a giant, hollow sphere!

koreshan1937

koreshan1906

One of the models Teed used to explain his belief.

koreshan1903

What do you think about his “proof”?

koreshan1904

koreshan1908

What remains of their once vibrant community are 11 beautifully maintained historic structures that date from 1882-1920 and landscaped grounds including unique ornamental exotic vegetation from throughout the world.

koreshan1913

Bamboo Landing, where all goods were delivered before there were roads.

koreshan1919

Beautiful staircase built by one of the members.

koreshan1921

One of just a few private residences. Most lived in dorm type accommodations.

koreshan1929

This massive engine powered the settlement.

koreshan1932

koreshan1933

The power house control panel.

koreshan1897

Gopher tortoises are among today’s residents at Koreshan State Historic Site.

Posted by: sunnyharvy | February 18, 2017

Southwest Florida

During our ten days at Marcus’ apartment in Sarasota we enjoyed the pool and Jacuzzi at the complex, got caught up on logistics (mail, medical, laundry, etc.), rode our bikes, and soaked up sun on a few local beaches.

sarasota1206b

Seen on the bumper of a Prius.

sarasota1232

Beach near Venice.

sarasota1552a

Bike path next to Intracoastal Waterway.

sarasota1554

What Al was reading in photo above.

sarasota1508c

Historic Venice train depot next to Intracoastal Waterway.

sarasota1502

sarasota1821

Tom and Claudia drove down to Florida from Rhode Island to join family members here. We were pleased that they found time to spend an afternoon with us too!

We are now back on the road aboard haRVy. Our first stop was just an hour’s drive south at Punta Gorda where our gracious Boondockers Welcome host Pauline took us on a boat ride up the Peace River and a quick car tour around town.

puntagorda1835

Pauline at the helm.

puntagorda1834

Al navigating us around crab buoys and shallow areas.

puntagorda1832

Small beach on a remote island.

puntagorda1826

Bird Island. That pink spot in upper right corner is a Roseate Spoonbill.

From Pauline’s we drove to Fort Myers to visit the Edison & Ford Winter EstatesTouring twenty acres of historical buildings, gardens, the Edison Botanic research Lab and the Edison Ford Museum kept us interested for a full afternoon.

Thomas Edison and Henry Ford made an unprecedented impact on the small town of Fort Myers when both chose it as the location for their winter retreats.

edisonford1836

edisonford1839

edisonford1841

edisonford1842

edisonford1847

Extensive tropical gardens are filled with exotic plants from around the world.

edisonford1849

edisonford1855

Thomas Edison’s study.

edisonford1865

One of many lighting fixtures designed by Edison in Seminole Lodge.

edisonford1876

Ford Model T pick-up truck.

edisonford1879

The estates have expansive frontage on the Caloosahatchee River.

edisonford1882

Those are some serious roots.

edisonford1884

The botanical research laboratory where Edison sought a source of rubber that could be grown and produced quickly in the United States. After testing over 17,000 plant samples, he finally discovered a source in the plant goldenrod.

Posted by: sunnyharvy | February 3, 2017

More Meandering

route1520

We have no planned itinerary or time constraints so we are literally just wandering around Florida, as shown on the map above (blue lines indicate this year’s route so far). Weather forecasts and suggestions from fellow travelers often determine our direction. Websites, tourism brochures, and just interesting features on a map may also direct us. Sometimes the location of a Boondockers Welcome, HarvestHosts, or RVGolfClub host will take us to an area we would not otherwise visit.

After our paddle on the Ichetucknee River we headed to Oleno State Park to camp. Before sundown we took a quick hike to the River Sink where the Santa Fe drops below the ground for several miles.

oleno1674

oleno1676

oleno1681

Early evening reflections on the river.

olena1683

The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) work in evidence here.

forelakeonf1689

Trying out our modified dining table outside before severe weather keeps us mostly indoors for three days while camped in the Ocala National Forest Fore Lake campground. Just $6/night with our Golden Passport! A tornado warning had most of the campers gathered in the bath house for an hour.

silversprings1697

Once the weather cleared, we headed to Silver Springs State Park where we had a pleasant and interesting paddle on the Silver River.

silversprings1717

Silver Springs is a group of artesian springs that feed into the Silver River in Marion County, Florida. It is the largest artesian spring in the world and Florida’s oldest tourist attraction. In 1971 it was designated as a National Natural Landmark.

silversprings1720

Must be really beautiful here when the deciduous trees are green.

silversprings1721

This Little Blue Heron allowed me paddle very close. Didn’t need much telephoto to get this shot.

silversprings1724

Didn’t get as close to this sunbather…just in case.

silversprings1731

A tour boat operator turned a bunch of rhesus monkeys loose on an island in the late 1930s not knowing that they could swim. It didn’t take them long to spread our across the area.

silversprings1741

Can’t say I’ve ever seen a monkey while kayaking before.

silversprings1742

Lots of fun to watch! Isn’t he a cutie?

rainbowriver1750

We visited Rainbow Springs, but it was too windy to paddle.

inverness1758

While boondocked at Inverness, we peddled part of the Withlacoochee State Trail.

inverness1759

And hiked around a bit. Just love the moss on the trees.

medard1763

Spotted this guy at Edward Medard County Park.

medard1766

Explored the park on our bikes.

medard1768

And hiked around the “Sacred Forest.”

sneadsisland1804

While perusing the map of Florida, Al spotted Snead Island and thought it looked interesting. So, off we went!

sneadsisland1810

Emerson Point Preserve is a 365 acre preserve located at the tip of Snead Island in western Palmetto.

sneadsisland1813

The beach trail led to several small beaches that felt like parts of the Caribbean to us.

sneadsisland1816

Panoramic view from observation tower (click to view larger).

sneadsisland1817

Zoom view from same tower. That’s the Sunshine Skyway Bridge in the distance. Al was wishing he was on that anchored sailboat.

We are now taking a few days off in Sarasota where Al’s nephew Marcus is letting us stay in his guest room. We will be catching up on some business, riding our bikes, and visiting local beaches. Expect to get back on the road next week. Life is good.

Posted by: sunnyharvy | January 22, 2017

Wandering About Central Florida

We have been enjoying northern and central Florida much more than we expected to. There are numerous rivers to paddle, countless paths to hike, and many trails to bike. One would need to spend a lifetime here to do them all justice. With just a few months to spend, we are seeking the ones that most appeal to us. For paddling we prefer narrow, winding rivers with clear water. For hiking our favorite paths are relatively flat and not too long. We have found that many rail trails converted for biking are often straight and boring, so we search for other types. Florida has it all for the outdoor oriented visitor, that’s for sure!

Florida is also loaded with natural springs. At Wakulla Springs, the world’s largest and deepest freshwater spring, we took an educational boat tour.

wakullasprings1203

Vultures roost in live oak trees above spring.

wakullasprings1216

LOTS of gators here!

wakullasprings1218a

Anhingas typically spear fish through their sides with a rapid thrust of their partially opened bill. This one is drying its wings in the sunshine.

wakullasprings1230a

Dense jungle surrounds the river the spring feeds.

wakullasprings1237a

Another fine specimen. Glad we’re not paddling here.

wakullasprings1239

OK, that’s enough gator photos.

wakullasprings1256

Hollywood visited the springs many times. The first film shot at the Springs was “Tarzans Secret Treasure” in 1941. In 1954 the underwater scenes for the 3D film “Creature from the Black Lagoon” were filmed.

wakullasprings1238

The Wakulla Springs Lodge has an interesting history. Click link if you want to read about it.

wakullasprings1301

Ornate hand-painted ceilings in the lobby, incredible slabs of Georgia marble throughout, and the oldest operating Art Deco elevator in the south (that I somehow failed to take a photo of). We did enjoy an ice cream cone at the old fashion soda fountain.

whitesprings1717a

A relic from the good ol’ days in White Springs, our next stop.

whitesprings1716

Baby, mommy, and daddy chairs?

whitesprings1121

The Suwanee River runs through White Springs on it’s amazing journey.

whitesprings1447

Museum to the “the father of American music,” Stephen C. Foster in the state park bearing his name. This too is in White Springs.

whitesprings1401

This tower, erected to honor Stephen Foster, contains the world’s largest tubular carillon. It plays some of Foster’s tunes four times a day.

whitesprings1209

We biked the entire length of the Woodpecker Trail in the nearby Big Shoals State Park.

whitesprings1207a

All to ourselves…lovely.

itchetucknee1431a

Our next destination of note…Itchetucknee Springs State Park.

itchetucknee1430

These words helped us decide to make the most of our visit…under and above the crystal clear water.

itchetucknee1576

We dug out the snorkel gear and dove into the 72 degree spring.

itchetucknee1565

Looks like a swimming pool with grass, eh?

itchetucknee1573

itchetucknee1579

itchetucknee1593

itchetucknee1594

That deep hole to the left is where the spring emanates.

itchetucknee1614

The next day we launched the kayaks a bit further down stream.

itchetucknee1620

Paddling the Ichetucknee River.

itchetucknee1623

Beaver den, didn’t see any of the critters though.

itchetucknee1631

itchetucknee1640

Turtles galore.

itchetucknee1653

itchetucknee1657

Lots of birds too.

itchetucknee1665

Al trying to get a movie of this one taking off.


Posted by: sunnyharvy | January 15, 2017

The Hidden Coast, Forgotten Coast, and Dead Lakes

manateesprings1462

Boardwalk hike at Manatee Springs State Park.

manateesprings1466

This hole is know as Catfish Hotel. Cavern divers enter here to explore over 5 miles of underwater caves.

horseshoebeach1625a

Camping right on the Gulf at Horseshoe Beach all by ourselves. Maybe because the temperature dipped down to 28 degrees that night!

horseshoebeach1610a

Nice view though. We spent hours watching a wide variety of birds come and go with the tide changes.

horseshoebeach1615

Part of the small local shrimp fleet.

horseshoebeach1830b

steinhatchee1330

Lunch time view in Steinhatchee.

ochlockonee1472

This squirrel’s coat pattern is mostly white with a distinctive gray head patch and dorsal stripe, reportedly unique to Ochlockonee River State Park and surrounds. Cute, eh?

ochlockonee1474

Bike ride around the scenic back roads in the park.

ochlockonee1755

Post sunset sky over the river.

stjoepeninsula1651a

St. Joseph’s Peninsula State Park has a lovely bay on one side.

stjoepeninsula1507

9 1/2 miles of white sand beach on the other.

stjoepeninsula1652

And a lovely lagoon in-between.

stjoepeninsula1493

Lovely sunsets over the water.

stjoepeninsula1530

During our visit we were also treated to a full moon set after sunrise.

stjoepeninsula1033

We biked to the end of the park road and them climbed over these dunes to a secluded section of the beach.

stjoepeninsula1509

Who was under that blue umbrella?

stjoepeninsula1546

Great beach combing (I only took photos).

stjoepeninsula1548

stjoepeninsula1537

Florida has MANY beautiful State Parks, but this one is our favorite so far. We might have stayed longer but the campground was fully booked over Martin Luther King holiday weekend.

nearpanamacity1650

Our wanderings took us a few miles inland to this boondocking spot on Deer Point Lake near Panama City.

deadlakes1248

Then we headed back in an easterly direction to check out the Dead Lakes.

deadlakes1301b

 

 

 

Older Posts »

Categories