Friday, March 28, 2014

Crooked River State Park, St. Mary’s, GA

After St. Joseph State Park, I headed to Crooked River State Park in Georgia.  While there, I drove back to Jekyll Island on a rainy day.  I am thinking about spending a month or 2 there next winter and wanted to look at it again. 

I hiked a couple of their trails which was much like most of the trails I’ve been on recently in North Florida.  But I still enjoyed the walk.

There were a few good views of the marsh and river.

Up until this point, I had not seen much pollen.  But on the first day of spring, the pollen fell like crazy.  It seemed like within a few hours everything was yellow.  On a bike ride, I saw this van in the campground. 

I have been singing/humming Happy for a while and then when I saw this I had to smile!

From here, I headed to Fort Yargo State Park in Winder where I currently am. 

Friday, March 21, 2014

St. Joseph Peninsula State Park, FL

Of course, when I am in the area I have to visit St. Joe State Park.  I got there on March 11 and was there for 5 nights. 

On my initial drive into the park, I saw a sign that said “Smoke/Fog ahead”.  I quickly realized that they were doing a prescribed burn.  When I drove thru with my RV, I saw a flames and a lot of smoke.  I was a bit worried that my smoke detector would go off, but it didn’t.  I set up my RV and rode my bike back, but by the time I got back most of the flames were further away.  You can just make out the flames in the picture below. 

Like in most places I have visited recently, while there I biked and walked. St. Joe is known for it’s sand dunes and white sand beach.  Like St. George, St. Joe is not very crowded.  On my morning walks (about 4 miles round trip), I would see very few,if any, people.  

The picture above is a picture of my footprints  in the sand. 

On my walk I saw a few areas they had blocked off for nesting birds.  I am guessing it was for the Snowy Plover.  It looks like the one below has been banded.

Below is a picture of me enjoying the beach --

While there, I made some Sloppy Joes.  I am trying to get back into healthy eating and this recipe is a great find!  It came from the Skinnytaste blog.  (skinnytaste blog link)  She has some very good recipes that I have used.  While making these, I chopped a Green Pepper and then was cutting the Red Pepper, when I found something interesting.  I found another pepper growing within the red pepper.

A shot of my open faced Sloppy Joe is below. Note the spinach under the sloppy joe filling.  I would have never thought of this, but it is really good!

If you looked at the recipe you may have noticed that it calls for Turkey sausage.  I typically use Jimmy Dean’s Turkey crumbles, but while I was in Utah last year I discovered a grocery store with great Italian chicken sausage.  I froze a few packages of it and used the last of it in these sloppy joes.   Yumm!!!!  A great thing about this recipe is I eat it for a few meals, but the rest freezes really well! 

From here, I headed back to Georgia stopping first at Crooked River State Park.  Believe it or not, I am up to date as I am currently at Crooked River State Park.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

St. George Island State Park, FL

I visited one of my favorite places in Florida starting March 4 and was there for a week.  St. George Island State Park is in Eastport, FL not far from Apalachicola.  While there, I biked and walked.  The mornings it was not very windy and cold or rainy, I walked 4 miles on the gorgeous, almost deserted beach.

One day on my walk I saw a lot of dolphins.  Below is a few of them. 

On one walk, I noticed there were almost no shells and then another day there were lots of shells.  The beach changes daily --

While in my RV, I noticed a bird just outside of the RV that I did not know.  So I took a few pictures.  Like many of my bird pictures, they are fuzzy.  But they do what I want them to,  I use these pictures to identify the birds.  Here is one of the pictures that I used to identify the Eastern Towhee.

Another picture used to identify  was the picture below of some Buffleheads (which I had seen before).

From here, I head east to St. Joseph State Park. 

Monday, March 17, 2014

Jonathan Dickinson State Park, Hobe Sound, FL

Late February and early March, I stayed at Jonathon Dickinson State Park in Hobe Sound, FL.  My Florida plans were based around this reservation as it is extremely difficult to get a reservation here.  I stayed at the full hookup campground, which was nice, and the spot was big.  But there was absolutely no privacy. 

I was surprised that my neighbors were the same neighbors that I had in the Flamingo campground in the Everglades!  Small World!

While there, I walked some, but biked quite a bit.   But the most fun I had was when I went to the Blowing Rock Preserve.  This park is another great Nature Conservancy area that they have worked hard at preserving.  When I went was overcast and the waves were not very big, so I didn’t see anywhere near the plumes of water shooting 50 feet skyward that I had read about.  But just seeing the rocky shore was quite different for Florida.

Before I left, it started clearing up but the ocean was fairly calm.

On my last full day in Hobe Sound, I decided to go back and see if it was different.  As I drove there, I saw several surfers so I was hoping that the waves would be better.  Once I got to the park, there is a short walk thru the trees and sea grapes.  While walking I could hear the waves so I was looking forward to it.

Wow, what a difference!!!  I took so many pictures and could not decide on what to post, so here are a bunch of them.

The picture below is the same as the one above without the waves and the water shooting out of the blow hole!

The waves were great, even without hitting the rocks as you can see above!

I took some video and am going to attempt to post one of the shorter ones.  Well, I tried it but Windows Live Writer requires a You Tube Account and I don’t have one and am not sure I want one.  If I can figure it out I will post it later.

After spending a couple of hours there, I headed back, but first walked a short distance down one of their trails that goes through many sea grapes and parallels the ocean.

From here, I headed north to St. George State Park. 

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Everglades National Park–Flamingo Area

I stayed at the Flamingo campground in the Everglades Feb. 19 – 23.  It was a bit warmer than I would like, but I suffered through the heat!!  I did most of my walking and biking in the mornings. 

As I pulled into my spot, I noticed the RV just across from mine.  It was another Lazy Daze and that’s unusual in this part of the country.  After I set up, I walked over and talked with the owners for a while.  As it turns out, they live about 15 – 20 minutes from where I used to live in Georgia.  They had also attended several of the SouthEast Lazy Daze Get togethers, so we knew some of the same people. 

My new Lazy Daze friends mentioned that the birding was not as good as normal.  They had been camping close to the Anhinga Trail (a favorite of mine) and said the few times they went they saw almost no birds.  One of my main reasons for coming here was the birds! 

The next morning, I biked to Eco Lake.  A ranger had told me that there had been a lot of birds there for the past few days.  She was not kidding.  When I got there, I saw hundreds of birds.  Most were Snowy Egrets, with some Great Egrets, Tri-colored Herons, Reddish Egrets, Stilts and quite a few Spoonbills.  If you have gotten tired of Spoonbill pictures, sorry – I really like this bird!  I went back everyday and saw the same thing.  On my last day there were not as many – maybe half. 

Some close-ups -

I also drove back about 30 miles to the Anhinga Trail twice.  As my Lazy Daze friends mentioned there were not as many birds, but I had fun and saw some wildlife.  For those who read my blog regularly, you may remember a few years ago I went to the Anhinga trail and posted a couple of pictures taken from the parking lot. The first was of a sign warning that the vultures may damage your car and the second was of some vultures on a car.  link here   This year, I noticed they had tarps for your cars.  So a picture of my car prepared for the vultures is below --

While walking the path, several photographers and I were watching a Green Heron when I happened to look back and saw an alligator.  He seemed to want across the path, but we were in the way.  I mentioned it and one of the photographers quickly moved away and took some pictures.

The Purple Gallinule below would turn over the edge of the leaf like he was looking for something.  Very interesting to watch!

One day, I biked to the Snake Bight trail.  I did not know this but “Bight” in this case means a bay within a bay.  Snake Bight is within Florida Bay.  Snake Bight is one of the few trails you can bike on.  Instead of Snake Bight it should have been called Bug Bite!  I had repellant on, but some of the bugs seemed to like it!  I biked faster to avoid them.  The trail is below --


I had read that the best bird watching was at high tide.  But I got there at low tide because I wanted to ride in the morning when it was cooler.  Even though there were not many birds I still enjoyed the ride.

Several days I would bike on the road a bit and then head back to the visitors center.  I had discovered a bench under some trees and on the bay.  One day, I watched some birds for 15 or 20 minutes doing what I called synchronized flying. 

From here, I headed to Jonathan Dickinson State Park in Hobe Sound.  I will post about it in a few days!

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Miami, FL

Before I get into my stay at Miami, I need to post something that I forget a couple of post ago.  While I was in Midway Campground at Big Cypress National Preserve, I saw the following on my phone.


I know the weather has been strange this year, but 75 degrees and a 50% chance of snow!!!  I got a kick out of this.  Actually this was not WeatherBugs fault.  At the campground I had a very slow data connection and I looked at Clayton, GA’s weather and then switched to my local weather.   Each section slowly changed with the 50% snow being the last to change.  I captured the screen before it change to Sunny!

February 13 – 17, I stayed at Miami Everglades RV Resort.  It is in southern Miami surrounded by nurseries – not kids, but plants.  Next door to the campground is a Bromeliad/Orchid nursery, I think wholesale only.  I enjoyed looking at the nurseries in the area.  My campsite was shady and several days the high was in the low to mid-70’s, Perfect!! 

I was supposed to work on my Spring and Summer traveling plans, while there – I didn’t!!  I still plan on going up to Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota, but don’t have any solid plans yet.  I need to make a few reservations soon as some of the state parks fill up.

While in Miami, I ran a few errands and spent 2 days sightseeing.  I went to Fairchild Tropical Botanical Garden.  That was a great way to spend a day.  When I got there, I took the tram tour to get an idea of the park, then walked about 4 miles after that.  I was lucky and there were only 3 of us on the early morning tram, so instead of the big, loud tram we went in a long, quiet golf cart type vehicle. 

The garden has miles of beautiful trails.

One of the first things I saw was a Rainbow Eucalyptus.  They are native to Australia and I believe I took a few pictures of these trees when I was in Australia years ago (1989 & 1990).

As the bark peels, the green of the tree turns blue, purple and then red as it is exposed to air. 

While on the second half of the tram tour, we went around one side of a lake and I was a bit surprised to see an American Crocodile.  I would have expected alligators, but a croc???  The guide said they have a few in the area and we were lucky to see one.  I walked back later, but he was gone.


I knew there were crocodiles in the Everglades, but never dreamed they were in Miami!!  I know it is not that far away, but still…

There was a beautiful tree or bush that I had never seen before called the Flame of Jamaica.  Sorry, my picture of the tree is not good, but I wanted to include it.

The flower of the above tree is below and I am suspicious that they are really bracts (modified leaves), with the yellow inside being the flowers   --

They have a nice Butterfly house which I enjoyed.

Almost as interesting as the butterflies are the paved trails in the house. 

Different leaves were pressed into the cement and all of the leaves came from the gardens.

Orchid --

They have a 560  foot  Pergola with many different plants and has at least one thing blooming all year.  While I was there 3 or 4 different vines were blooming.  Below is the flower on a Golden Chalice Vine.  The flower is huge, about the size of my hand and I have big hands!

While searching for the crocodile (after the tram tour), I spotted a large iguana across the lake and while watching it a smaller iguana decided he wanted in the photo also. 

I have many more pictures taken at the Garden, but I need to get to my other day of sightseeing.  In all my trips to Florida, I have never been to the Keys.  Well, I went this time– sort of!  I only made it to Key Largo, where I visited John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park.  There I took the glass bottom boat tour.  I was fortunate in the boat was not too crowded, I had read reviews that sometimes there is so many people it was hard to see.  In my case it was few enough that we could move between the 2 areas to get a good view.  Below is one of the areas.

My pictures through the glass aren’t great, but I’ll post a few anyway.

It’s a bit hard to see, but there are several yellow and black fish in the picture below.

We watched a rather large school of some type of Parrotfish swim by.


Below is a Brain Coral.  This huge coral was broken a long time ago, when a boat dropped it’s anchor on it.   Based on it’s size, they believe it is about 800 years old.

In the past, I posted signs that I had not see before.  Below was a new one for me--

If I could post this on the day I wrote it, I would actually be up to date with my blog – Surprise!!  But, I am currently in Everglades National park where it is 86 degrees at 2:00 (It’s too hot!) and there is no cell, internet or TV.  So I’ll post when I leave here and get to Jonathon Dickinson State Park.