Friday, March 24, 2017

Davis Bayou, St. Augustine & Going Home

Casita tucked into Davis Bayou Campground

Davis Bayou, part of Gulf Islands National Seashore, was an accidental discovery last year and one of our favorites, so we definitely put it on our itinerary this year. It borders Ocean Springs, MS.
Biloxi waterfront and casinos from our kayak, and bridge to Ocean Springs

Crayfish, potatoes & corn, with Cajun seasoning and an IPA.

We like to try the "local fare" when in the South, so this night it was crawfish at The Crawfish House. Quite a bit of work for a very small bite....but there were lots of them!

Taken from Visit Mississippi site:
The Walter Anderson Museum adjoins the community center where Anderson painted imaginative murals in the 1950s, (for a cost to the town of $1) depicting the flora and fauna of the Mississippi Gulf Coast. It contains the intricately painted "Little Room" from his cottage, public school murals from the 1930s, permanent and changing exhibits."

The museum was lovely and the style of the art work from the museum and walls of the community center are reflected in the painting below. Walter Anderson developed severe mental illness and he spent periods of time in hospitals, escaping from the last one through a window using the bed sheets. The painting's  lines remind me of Van Gogh's Starry Night.

St. Augustine
We didn't visit the lighthouse last year, so we made a point of getting there this time. The property contains the lighthouse, keepers' house, boat building shed and underwater artifact preservation site which will have a new building when we return next year.

I think it was about 270 steps to the top for a great view and a lot of wind. I could feel it in my legs for a couple of days.

The lighthouse at St. Augustine
Looking down.

The view from the top towards Anastasia Island

Walking the beach at Anastasia Island State Park is always interesting. This was our first stop in Florida at the beginning of our trip, and our last before heading north. It was also the beach where the ranger told us they release rattlesnakes and vipers on the other side of the stay off the dunes!

I was taking pictures of the sand when a couple came by and asked if we had found "something". I answered "patterns in the sand". I think they were disappointed...

Diane finally found a perfect sand dollar on the last beach walk of this trip.

 And for everyone asking for more tree pictures (second only to bird photo requests), a couple of examples of the amazing flexible properties of live oaks. 
Again I am wondering who is asking for these photos? But the live oaks are something!

This live oak is growing just outside the St. Augustine lighthouse keepers' grounds. These two branches were probably pushed down by a fallen tree or a large limb during one of numerous storms. They continued to grow over the wall and onto a garden area where the branches have rooted and continued to grow.

This live oak is growing in an area bordering the parking lot of the very exposed Anastasia State Park beach.

Heading home! 

Sunday, March 5, 2017

St. George Island, FL & Davis Bayou,MS

St. George Island
The island is a gorgeous barrier island off the coast of the Florida's panhandle. We were crossing bridges for about 1.5 miles to get here. It is a really nice area with beautiful white sand beaches, biking, kayaking, hiking etc. We spent a day at the beach, a day hiking day and a day biking.
The beach at St. George Island

Slash pine
Among the local pines you can see the tell-tale triangular shaped scars from past tapping of the trees for pitch that was made into turpentine.
Turpentine harvesting scar

These photos are from a walk along the beach and show a mosaic from the under surface of a starfish and the other is a natural collage of shell pieces broken, worn down and washed up on the beach.

The following photo is of fiddler crabs "waving" their large white claws extended from their holes in the mud. It would have been a lot more dramatic as a video as every few seconds all of them at the same time would lift and wave their larger claw! Please use your imaginations!

This is another piece of beach art, a pattern in the sand made by the actions of the waves.

Davis Bayou
Davis Bayou is on the Mississippi shore. We were here last year and have returned. Today, our first day here' was a hiking day. 

Davis Bayou

Turtles and an alligator warming in the sun
Grilled tuna with Mediterranean compote

George is still perfecting recipes while we are on the road!

While visiting  Apalachicola, Florida which is a lovely "old fashion" town, we visited a photo gallery and met the photographer. He told us there was a story behind every photo, so we heard a number of his stories and bought a photograph of oystermen working on the bay.

Most of the photos were of the people who live and work in the bayou. His photos were beautiful and captured the essence of the people who live a hard working life.

And as an aside...gas is cheap! We have seen it as cheap as $1.97.

George & Diane at the beach

 A picture of us at the beach (above) and the birds (below)...It looks like I have gained weight and George has lost some? George says the birds are back by popular demand...but I want to know who keeps demanding them!!

A willet on the beach at St. George

Saturday, February 25, 2017

The Keys: Winter Star Party, Key West, Bahia Honda Beach

Winter Star Party
We are spending a week in the Keys at the Southern Cross Astronomical Society's Winter Star Party. We did not bring our telescope, but others have been very willing to share their viewings with us. There are amateur astronomers and also photo-astronomers, so a lot of technology and red lights at night, people staring at eye pieces, red tinted computer screens, whirring and whizzing noises as computers turn telescopes to find star clusters, galaxies, nebula off in distant space. The photos can really enhance what is seen in the eye piece, so sometimes the "smudge" you see in the eye piece looks much more exciting in the photo.

This one was the winner!

One of the astrophotography contest winners.
When the clouds roll in and it starts to rain. . .

The telescopes put on their rain jackets and patiently wait for clear skies. . .

to see this:

Key West
We went on a hop on/hop off trolley tour in Key West which gave us the historical background of the island and highlighted the architecture and points of interest.

The end or beginning of US Route 1. We can only head north from here!

The beach is gorgeous, the water refreshing and we are going back today!

The beach at Bahia Honda State Park

Fiddler Crab
Fig-like fruit

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Flamingo, Everglades Nat'l Park III

We're in the everglades again, this time deep in the park at Flamingo - the end of the road. It is notorious for its numerous and vicious mosquitoes: The rating of hysterical does not mean "funny". 

But don't worry, Diane is always well prepared. I had been looking for a net jacket for protection against bugs and found it at the Flamingo marina store. It was only $17...I would have paid a lot more! And "A plus" is how stylish I look...
Our boat tour along the mangrove channels lead to some large inland brackish water lakes. We saw a few animals, the most exciting being the manatee mother and baby. The water was clear enough, so we had a good view. The mother manatee had the propeller scars on her back from a motor boat that you hear so much about. People, more adventurous than we are, can make a canoe or kayak trip of over 90 miles from chickee hut to chickee hut. The huts are two raised platforms over the water where you can set up your tent and there is a porta potty to share between two platforms. I will see if I can find a photo online, so you can consider making the trip...

Our captain and our naturalist.

Red mangroves and their "walking" roots

A baby manatee - mama was nearby.
Short tailed hawk perched on the edge of the canal

The pink and aqua mid-century modern Flamingo Visitor Center

Converting our Weber gas grill into a baking oven for blueberry muffins.

 Leaving the everglades early in the morning fog. On our way to the Keys and the Southern Cross Winter Star Party!

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Jonathan Dickerson State Park

Jonathan Dickerson State Park
Here is a photo of the "soil" at our campsite. It looks like a limestone conglomerate with lots of tiny and not so tiny shells. I like to call them "fossils" which doesn't seem to be scientifically correct.
Limestone conglomerate that makes up our campsite.
On our way to the Hobe national wildlife refuge ocean beach, we passed through a majestic tunnel of banyan trees.
Banyan trees lining the road to Hobe Beach

Kayak trip up the Loxahatchee River

From Jonathan Dickerson State Park you can travel up and down the river by kayak, canoe or small motor boat. Our kayak trip was wind against us on the way up river and at our backs as we returned. We saw a few birds, turtles and fish. There was something that "moved" under our boat that scared me...that I will call a monster fish....The beauty of the trip was being surrounded by the mangroves, which doesn't show up too well in these photos, so use your imaginations. The photo of the pine tree on the right is showing how the roots are exposed when the bank is eroded away.

A story but no photos
One early evening while biking we saw a bobcat who was also using the bike path (without a bike, Tristan!) and the following night we went out again and found deer, but no bobcat. We also walked up Hobe Mountain, all  86 feet of it. It is the tallest point south of Lake Okeechobee. It had a tower on top not counted in the 86 feet which offered a nice view of the area-Atlantic Ocean, intercoastal waterway and the surrounding landscape of sand, palms and pines.

We have now moved on back to the Everglades, Flamingo...where the mosquitos are....