Natural Florida on a Wednesday Morning

Yesterday morning I was feeling a little low. Studly Doright had been out of town for a couple of days, and I was lonely. The news, both national and local, was depressing as hell. The book I was reading couldn’t keep my attention, even though it’s an excellent bit of almost poetic mystery. My first inclination was to go back to bed, pull the covers over my head and cry.

But some little niggling thought wormed its way into my head. “Girl, get outside,” it said, so I washed my face, pulled on my favorite jean capris and a comfy old t-shirt, and drove straight to Wakulla Springs State Park.

As soon as I arrived I purchased a ticket for the boat ride, but had about 45 minutes to wander around before time to board.

Below is the diving platform into one of the springs that gives the state park its name.

Above and below are photos of the outside and inside of the lodge. I visited with a young couple who were staying at the lodge and they said the rooms are lovely. Maybe some day Studly and I can spend a night out there.

Doesn’t it appear that the butterfly is hovering above the walkway outside the lodge?

About 15 minutes before the boat was scheduled to leave I hurried back to the dock and was first in line, a decision that paid off as I noted a school bus disgorging teenagers out on a day trip while I waited patiently to board.

I believe the vegetation pictured (above) beneath the water’s surface is eelgrass.

My early bird status in the boarding queue paid off, and I found myself in the front row with a couple of families and a smattering of young couples in the seats beside and immediately behind me. The teenagers and their chaperones were herded to the aft section of the boat. Yay! Although, I have to say they were extremely well behaved and seemed to enjoy the experience as much as I did.

The trip was immediately rewarding as we literally passed directly over this manatee mom and her calf after leaving the dock.

You’ll think I’m silly, but I got a bit teary eyed.

Can you spot the alligator nestled in his hiding spot? He was the first of several we saw that morning.

Above, framed by the boat’s scaffolding, is one of my favorite birds, the anhinga. Anhingas swim quite well, but they have to spread their wings to dry them upon leaving the water; otherwise, they’d be unable to fly. When anhingas swim only their heads and slender necks appear above water, giving them the appearance of snakes and earning them the nickname, snakebird.

This guy, above, was one of the larger gators we encountered.

Below, are just a couple of photos that made me happy. Our boat captain turned off the motor and let us experience the beauty around us in silence. It was like being in a true church.

Now, this guy below was one of the highlights of the tour.

Prior to us seeing him, a couple of small male alligators came shooting out of a grassy area to our port side. Our captain told us it was mating season, and the males were likely establishing territory. Then the guy above came swimming directly towards our boat, hissing as if to scare us away, before he claimed the spot the other two males had just vacated. If I’d been a better photographer I’d have captured the whole thing, but I was too busy watching with my mouth wide open as nature’s drama played out in front of me. It was incredible.

We also were privy to hearing a bull alligator’s mating call. That was quite an impressive sound. I tried my best to capture it in a video, but it didn’t come across well. The ride was a bit anticlimactic after our gator standoff, but everyone was buzzing about what we’d witnessed.

I left the park feeling so much better than I had earlier in the day. My spirits were refreshed, and world events didn’t seem quite as dark and scary as they had just a couple of hours earlier. Plus, Studly would be home soon, and I couldn’t wait to tell him about my morning.

Peace, people!

Wakulla Swim

On Tuesday morning I took our granddaughter, Dominique, and her friend, Sophia, to Wakulla Springs. Sophia had never seen an alligator outside of a zoo setting, so we had high hopes for a sighting.

When we first arrived at Edward Ball State Park rain was falling, and tickets for the boat ride weren’t being sold yet due to the possibility of lightning down the river. The girls donned their hoodies so we could go exploring.

That’s the diving platform above.

The small blue markers strung across the river are the only demarcation between swimming territory and all manner of wildlife including gators, manatees, and snakes. According to the park rangers the only real thing keeping wildlife out of the swimming area is the presence of people.

Occasionally an alligator will cross the line and have to be removed. While the girls were swimming I watched two other swimmers each pull a snake from the water. They assured me that these snakes weren’t venomous, but eeek!

Around noon we were cleared for the boat tour. The rains had cooled everything off, so while we saw a good many gators, they were all in the water.

And I managed to fail at getting a photo of anything other than my fellow passengers, trees, and swampy water.

After lunch the two Texas girls swam in the Florida sunshine for over an hour.

Meanwhile I reclined on my brightly colored blanket and read.

The girls slept all the way back to Doright Manor, while I sang along to the 60’s channel on Sirius/XM. Now, I need a nap!

Peace, people.

My Morning View

Our little piece of the lake behind Doright Manor is my happy place. From my favorite spot on the sofa I watch the day unfold.

If you look closely you can see one of two fairy houses in the bottom right hand corner. The fairies are stealthy, though, and we only get glimpses of their daily activities.

Occasionally a snowy egret sweeps low over the lake. A pair has nested here every year since we moved in, and most likely long before that.

We haven’t spotted an alligator yet this year, but I’m always watching for the telltale bubbles.

Fish jump, turtles perch on logs, and frogs, who are quiet right now, have a concert scheduled tonight and every night this summer.

Lizards provide entertainment for my cats. They climb the window screens, secure in the knowledge that their furry nemeses are stuck inside on this late spring morning.

Oh, let’s not forget the snakes. We’ve seen a few this year, but the birds and the squirrels give us warning. I click to the squirrels and whistle to the birds.

Who’d have ever thought a girl who grew up in the dry, dusty Texas panhandle would ever get to live in such a place? Certainly not me. It’s heaven.

Peace, people.

Wakulla Springs Ride

Yesterday while poor Studly Doright had to toil away at the office I rode my CanAm Spyder RT out to Edward Ball Wakulla Springs State Park. From our home outside of Tallahassee it’s only about 42 miles to the park, and best of all, most of the ride was on shaded back roads with very light traffic.

Once at Wakulla Springs I walked around the park, had a light lunch, and enjoyed the scenic boat ride before starting home. I had intended to take photos for the blog, but using my cell phone as a gps ran my battery awfully low, so I only snapped a few pics:

A beautiful blue heron

A not-so-beautiful, but impressive gator

A tree framed by the window of the boat

Next time I’ll take along a charger for my phone. There were so many more shots that had to be foregone.

This was my second adventure on my Spyder, and I’m really beginning to enjoy the ride. I’m much more visible to drivers on this machine, and that’s always a good thing. The Spyder has plenty of power, and I feel comfortable in the seat. The only thing I haven’t tested yet is its performance on the interstate. Soon.

This is me pre-ride on the Spyder, before I put on all my gear:

My brother commented that I look tiny on the bike. Yay! For once something makes my butt look small.

Peace, people.

My Way 

I just thought this was funny. 


And I’m willing to bet, if you’re of a certain age, you probably sang this line in your best imitation of Frank Sinatra. 

If you aren’t of a certain age, here’s the reference. Croon along:

http://youtu.be/J9Enr0FW6E8
Peace, people!