Tag Archives: florida

Limpkin Invades Wakulla Springs State Park

Limpkin in Wakulla Springs State Park

I have over the years learned to really appreciate the wildlife photographers that specialize in photographing birds. It is no easy task when they are usually so skidish of any movement. This guy was shot from a small floating boat in the swamp, he must be use to crazy photographers.

Wakulla Springs State Park in Florida has an unbelievable number of species to be able to photograph, and you don’t have to have a real high dollar setup to get some good shots here. This photo is a Limpkin (Aramus guarauna), which are somewhat related to the cranes.

They are a pretty good sized bird, this one is protecting his nest as we go quietly by in our non-motorized boat, although he doesn’t look all that happy about our presence.

Image Specifics

  • Body – Nikon n90s
  • Lens – Nikon 75-300mm @ 300mm
  • Film – Kodak 100S

Using the Beauty of Simplicity in Photography

Sometimes I really like abstracts for their simplicity. This image was taken in Gainesville, GA (not the “other” one in Florida), on a mountain pond. I almost didn’t stop to take the shot but I am glad I did.  This particular shot was one of the first sets of images I did on film back in 1997. Some of the most powerful images come from isolating the background and use only one or two colors.  This particular shot with basically two colors and a cool smooth background make for a more stunning image than if there were other elements in the background.

Any time you are trying to make a clean quality photograph, one of the first things you want to look at is the background of your image.  Move to a spot where the background is either blurred out or is one smooth tone, this will simplify the image immediately.  If your subject has to compete with your background the viewer might now know where the important elements of the photograph are supposed to be in, and any image that has to be explained wasn’t composed very well.

I love the lines in this photo. It gives the image architecture, grace, and elegance. Sometimes it is hard to reproduce an image, this is one I have tried for some 10 years to find again without any luck.  Another example of this type of image is this grasshopper.

Image Specifics

Lens – Nikon 105mm Macro
Film – Fuji Velvia 50
Tripod – Bogen

Sunset Photography at Saint Marks National Wildlife Refuge

Sunset over St Marks NWR in Florida

Starting off the day with a sunset. This image was taken looking west, of course, over the bay waters in Saint Marks National Wildlife Refuge in Florida at sunset. The pieces rising up are a broken pier that leads out into the waters.

Sunset at Saint Marks NWR – Image of the Day

This is an interesting place (also see Paddling Access at Wakulla Beach / St. Marks NWR, she has posted some good wildlife images of the park) where the sunsets are beautiful and the wildlife is amazing.

Image Specifics

Body – Nikon n90s
Lens – Nikon 75-300mm
Subject – St Marks NWR, FL

Cold Day on the Beach in February is Empty and Fun

Sunset at the Marina

Some days a cold day on the beach is better than a warm day inside. The beaches, in most parts of the country right now, are completely empty, but put a nice cool breeze and January into the mix and you get this (see beach image below). Not only is there a rare February thunderstorm in the distance but the only visible moving object on the beach is a tiny little bird in the very center of the image. The sunsets at the marina are always so dynamic and each one is different. The thunderstorms here made just enough of a hole in the sky to give us a great sunset today.

This image was actually taken by my cell phone. I am really amazed at the quality of images that can be taken by a cell phone these days. Not that it is worthy of publication but for just sticking a phone up in the air, its not bad.

Gulf Shores in January

This weekend we did spend the day on the beach (see all the photos below) but we came down to be on Laughalot. We did enjoy the peace and quiet that the marina always has around this time of year, and of course on the beaches too.

We have several favorite beaches down here, some are in Florida, some in Alabama, but depending on the time of year, you can usually walk several miles in either direction and enjoy a quiet walk. As is customary for me, I try to get in about 5-7 miles while I am on the beach, here I am on my way, yes, it is cold. I don’t look all that thrilled but I really am glad to be there, even if the weather is a little harsh.

Scott going for a walk

Of course, DK has here own way of keeping warm, stay in the tent, don’t move much and have a ton of layers on. We do have some larger shots of the tent area on the beach but this close up gives a better idea of how cold it really is down here today.

Deborah's Beach Tent

It still made for a very nice sunset at the marina and we had a great weekend on Laughalot.

Thunderstorms on Perdido Key and Bearpoint Marina

Storm at Perdido Key

Friday morning we left for the boat for a long relaxing anniversary weekend on the boat. Scott’s parents had rented a condo for the week in Perdido Key, so when we arrived in Orange Beach we unloaded the boat stuff and headed over to the condo to visit. Scott and his parents went for a swim while I watched from the beach. They all headed out of the water when something kept stinging or biting the guys. The stings weren’t terribly painful, something like ant bites, but they couldn’t tell what the culprit was so they opted to depart the waves for a shower in the condo and dinner.

We dropped them off back at the condo after a good, but odd dinner at Doc’s Seafood Shack, Orange Beach and went for a walk on the beach before returning to the boat. If you haven’t been to Doc’s, you are missing quite an experience. The restaurant is an interesting little place to say the least. It is truly a shack in every sense of the word. Structurally sound, it is not. Driving by the place one has a sense that the food must be very good because the parking lot is always full. Upon closer inspection it is revealed that the parking lot is just woefully inadequate. This is not a reflection on the food, just poor planning.

This planning runs over into the construction of the shack itself. A building that should have been condemned many years ago, the restaurant consists of three to four rooms that seem to have been added one at a time to the initial existing structure, accommodating the increase in patronage through the years. Hence the lack of parking space. The walls are buckled in all the rooms from years of leaky air conditioning ducts, salt filled air and humidity.

There is a sign out front that reads “Local Food, Local Atmosphere”. Inside the entryway is a gum ball/game machine that we have personally witnessed several kids and more than one adult loose quarter after quarter in because they could not make the suction cup stick to a gigantic gum ball, which is the objective of the game. Even Scott’s father gave two quarters to his mom so she could try her luck. In another corner sits another game machine.

This one filled with water and a couple of pathetic looking lobsters. A claw hangs from above and for $3 you can try your hand at catching one of the lobsters with the claw. If you are lucky(?) enough to capture one of these creatures the restaurant will cook it for you for free. The place is quirky indeed, but the food is local seafood and the price is very reasonable.

The remainder of our weekend was spent listening to NOAA weather radio and watching the skies. The “showers and thunderstorms” that the NOAA voice reported to be imminent were and we enjoyed watching them roll in and over the boat. We were even treated to a rainbow while Scott tried his hand at fishing again. Dinner’s out were at the Oyster Bar in Perdido Key, FL and the Jolly Roger at the marina. Here are the photos, enjoy.

Storm at the marina

Pretty Bird

Scott fishing under the rainbow

Sunset from the bow of Laughalot

Delivery Captain Sails From Tampa To Orange Beach

Captain Bill, Captain Vicki, and the New Marina

LAUGHALOT arrived today in her new home in Alabama. Captain Bill and Captain Vicki sailed her up from her port in New Port Richey, Florida to a port here in Alabama where she will be much closer to us. We went down to meet with the Captains and give them a lift to the airport where they could pick up their car rental for their return trip.

We were a little nervous about having her delivered and I was more than a little jealous about not being able to bring her up here ourselves. She was in capable hands though and now she is here and all ours. We are very excited about having LAUGHALOT close by where we can visit more often and we love the gulf coast.

Now the fun/work begins…

Captain Bill and Captain-to-be Scott

Bought a Morgan Out Island 33 Sailboat Called LAUGHALOT

Laughalot

There is a lot in a name. We found this boat about three weeks ago and it was exactly the make, model and condition we were looking for. The only problem was we had to wait two weeks to get free to go down to Florida to see her. Luckily, we put a contract on her right away, subject to inspection, so we would be the first in line to buy her, if we liked her.

I am so glad we acted when we did. There were at least three other VERY serious buyers that we were able to beat to the deal. One of those buyers showed up at the boat last Saturday night to try and get a look at her and we had to inform him that she had been sold *TO US*! I couldn’t believe how sad he looked. This will be our third sailboat together and hopefully we will have a little bit more luck with this one than the last two.

Anyway, Laughalot is ours now and we have already started the process of bringing her into the 21st century. There is so much to do to her. She is in great condition to sail right now, but we want to update the electronics, work on the engine, electrical systems, rigging, and plumbing. Updates on her restoration progress will be posted here.

She did come with loads of extras that we weren’t even expecting. She has a gimbaled stove/oven, hot water heater, refrigerator, brand new stereo system, wind generator, water maker, dinghy, life raft, epirb, bimini with dodger, and even an air conditioning/heating unit that works perfectly. Unbelievable!!! We were truly “laughing a lot” at our good fortune when we made the deal and she was all ours. Enjoy the photos.
Our Second Home

Beautiful!

Galley

Salon

The marina where she is located is at the end of a long channel that leads out to the Gulf of Mexico. There used to be a restaurant in the big building you see in the photos, but it burned on the inside and never reopened. As you can see from the photos we are in the last slip on the dock and it is so private and peaceful there. When you are looking at the building from the channel Laughalot is to the right, tucked back in the corner.

Laughalot's Current Marina

The channel to the Gulf of Mexico

Our first weekend we spent on Laughalot was last weekend and we were surprised and excited to see all kinds of birds. We saw white herons, gray storks (or herons, not sure about that one), pelicans, seagulls, and one bird of prey who apparently is a local.

White Heron

Pelicans

My Honda Nighthawk Sold Today, What a Great Bike

Sad to see it go, but ecstatic about the future… there are many things in life that I am glad I did, this is one of them. I have had so much fun riding with my wife on our motorcycles, and this one has nothing but great memories for me, especially getting to take a long trip down to the Florida Keys.

Ready to go

Final Ride

Bye-bye Nighthawk

We Decided to Go Book Hunting in Miami Florida

To celebrate St. Valentines day this year we combined business with pleasure, as usual, and took a much needed escape (I mean trip) to Miami. We found a book distributor (NOT – more about this later) in Ft. Lauderdale who sold books by the pallet. We decided to go down and check them out to see if the books were worth our time. On the way down we stayed in Orlando and went to Universal Studios for dinner. We didn’t care much about going to the theme parks, but just outside the entrance to the theme park is the Universal Studios Mall.

It is an open air mall with about 20+ restaurants. The largest two restaurants there, in size and name, are the Hard Rock Cafe and Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville, where we ate. The atmosphere at Margaritaville was fun and of course laid back. They had a solo guitarist who was loads of fun with his crowd interaction. After dinner we decided to go play a round of putt-putt at a course across the street from our hotel. I won the putt-putt game, even after landing in the ruff, but Scott beat me at the air hockey table in the game room afterward. These first photos were taken with a cell phone so the size is pretty small.


Hard Rock Universal Studios


Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville Universal Studios


Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville Universal Studios


My expert golfing landed me here.


The Nascar Budweiser Car at Universal Studios

On To Ft Lauderdale to the Book Distributor

The next day we headed for Ft. Lauderdale and the so called book distributor. I say “so called” because we were expecting a warehouse with stacked pallets of books and what was actually there when we arrived was a 30′ x 100′ “warehouse” full of mostly made in Taiwan items. He had books in the back of the unit, but most had either fallen off their pallets, been crushed, or been subjected to so much humidity they were coated with mildew. We opted out of taking a pallet home and decided to continue looking elsewhere. This meant that the utility trailer that we had taken with us to bring back a pallet was still empty and that we now had room to take home a few plants from the wholesale nurseries in Miami. Yipee!!

Miami was packed with traffic congestion everywhere we went, but we managed to make it to the hotel and to dinner on South Beach. The water and sand was wonderful, but we have ruled this out as one of our spots to frequent because of the shear number of non-tourist people everywhere.


Beats the 40 degrees back home!!


The Hotel


Scott on the beach outside our hotel.


The temp may be 84, but the water is still cold!!


Walking with sand between your toes, what could be better?


Cleveland’s Miami Beach

We took the Hwy 997 route back home where we picked up some fabulous plants for our new house and a Key Lime tree just for the fun of it. Across the Everglades and up through Sarasota. The weather was changing as we were on our way back up north. The wind picked up and the temprature dropped from a cold front that was blowing through. We went to the beach anyway. Our last evening we ate at Boston Market (one of my favorite places) and stayed at a Comfort Inn Suites in Ocala that had been open about 2 weeks. It was probably the nicest, cleanest, and best smelling hotel we have ever stayed in. Then it was back to the house and back to searching for more suppliers for books.


Bird on Sarasota Beach


Me, cold again….

Weekend Mortorcycle Riding in Panama City Beach Florida

About a month ago, August 18-20, we rode our bikes down to Panama City Beach for the weekend. We were originally going to ride down with a group of riders from Hog Heaven, in Columbus, GA for the Ride to the Beach, an annual bikers trip to raise money for the March of Dimes. We found out about the ride a little to late to garner sponsors this year so we just decided to make the trip ourselves for the fun and sun.

Along the way we took time to do a little geocaching.

We arrived at our hotel just as it began to rain. Since afternoon showers are common here we hung around in the room enjoying the view for a while until the storm subsided.

Once there was a break in the storm we headed out to dinner and to observe the nightlife of Panama City Beach. We decided to eat at a place called Pineapple Willy’s. This place is supposedly famous for it’s ribs that were featured in a Visa commercial some time back. The ribs were average, but the dinner was quite memorable. We arrived at Pineapple Willy’s just before it started to storm again. We were seated out on the far end of the gazebo pier and enjoyed our dinner while it rained heavily, complete with simultaneous lightning and thunder. Apparently we are braver than most because all the other tables in the gazebo cleared out as people finished their dinners and no one else wanted to sit out there in the storms. Eventually we had the entire end of the pier to ourselves. Magnificant!!

Saturday we spent the day exploring the city, marinas, and geocaching. We had lunch at a great little spot called Lime’s that was tucked away and was a bit of a challenge to find. Dinner that night was even more fabulous as we enjoyed the boat traffic and the sunset from the upstairs open air dining area of a place called the Boatyard.

We made our way back home on Sunday taking a few detours here and there to investigate some of the backroads of Alabama. Although the trip was very short it was a lot of fun and we were able to get a feel for how far we can travel comfortably on our bikes in one day (and how much stuff we can take along).