St. Augustine and the GPS

posted in: Florida | 8

The GPS is a great tool and helps to get you where you are going–most of the time. When we bought our new Subaru, we wanted a built-in GPS. It works but has some issues. For example, sometimes when I try to enter in an address it can’t find it. So luckily we brought the old faithful GPS from Maine. On our day trip to St. Augustine, we had to use the old GPS with the new GPS as a backup. Of course they both failed us. Our plan was to visit four different places in St. Augustine. 1) Anastasia State Park, 2) St. Augustine Lighthouse, 3) Fountain of Youth and 4) El Galeon Tall Ship. It was best in that order because we had Shelby and as we know it is “all about him.” If we got him to the park and tired out, it was better for us when we visited the next three locations.

When the GPS said, “You have arrived at your destination” we looked around and knew we weren’t in the right place. So we went back over the Bridge of Lions and saw the El Galeon Tall Ship in the water. It was crowded and we were not able to stop and view this beautiful ship. Our #4 choice was then done. We set the second GPS to try to find the park and it brought us down what is St. Augustine’s narrowest street in the United States. Sure glad we didn’t have the truck camper! After almost an hour we finally found Anastasia State Park no thanks to the GPS’s.

We took a walk through the nature trail and then went to the beach. Since dogs aren’t allowed on the beach, John and I took turns walking down to the beach to take a look. It was a beautiful beach with white, sandy dunes.

Beautiful dunes on this beach
Beautiful dunes on this beach

 

Walkway to the beach
Walkway to the beach

 

We had a picnic lunch before heading off to #2 destination – St. Augustine Lighthouse. As we were leaving, I took a picture of a turtle. I had to take it quick as he was charging right at me. Guess he was looking for his own lunch.

Turtle charging at me.
Turtle charging at me.

 

The St. Augustine Light Station is an active lighthouse in St. Augustine, Florida. The current lighthouse stands at the north end of Anastasia Island and was built in 1874. There is a tour you can take to climb up the lighthouse. It has 218 stairs and has an expansive view from the top. Unfortunately, we didn’t want to leave Shelby in the car since it was so hot so we opted out of this tour. But I can cross another lighthouse visited and photographed off my list. (To see other lighthouses I have photographed visit this page on my website.)

Top of St. Augustine Light
Top of St. Augustine Light

 

St. Augustine Light
St. Augustine Light
Keepers House
Keepers House

 

St. Augustine Light
St. Augustine Light

 

Stop #3 was the Ponce de Leon’s Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park, the original site of the Nation’s oldest city. Located in the area first explored by Juan Ponce de Leon in 1513 and settled by Pedro Menendez de Aviles in 1565, historic St. Augustine is the oldest successful European settlement in the United States. The good news for us was this site was pet friendly and you can take your dog everywhere. The good news for Shelby was as soon as he walked in he got his first look at peacocks and his favorite–squirrels.

We had never seen peacocks and they didn’t disappoint us. We got the full show from them.  They have quite a cry you can hear from all areas of the Park, and their colorful displays are unforgettable. The cries sound like little kids screaming, “Help”.

Strutting his stuff
Strutting his stuff

 

Peacock dragging his beautiful feathers behind.
Peacock dragging his beautiful feathers behind.

 

Peacock looking for food
Peacock looking for food

 

Front of white peacock
Front of white peacock
Backside of white peacock
Backside of white peacock

 

We went to the Fountain of Youth fully expecting we would leave there looking younger once we sipped the water from the spring. The spring comes directly from the Floridan aquifer, which lies below ground under much of North Florida. After one sip, we tossed the rest of the water. The taste was just terrible. So I guess we won’t be looking younger any time soon.

 

Watchtower
Watchtower

 

This concluded our tour for the day. We did use the GPS for the ride home and we arrived safe and sound.

Alligator Alley and other wildlife

posted in: Florida | 6

We found another wildlife location called Sunnyhill Restoration Area. We have visited it twice. The first time we walked along a stretch of the Ocklawaha River and even saw a few motorboats going through. It wasn’t very wide so we were surprised to see the boats coming through. It was open so was quite warm walking.

Lots of sun on this hike
Lots of sun on this hike

 

The second time we visited this area, we took another trail and saw alligators, birds, turtles and deer. The alligators blend in so well it was difficult to spot them at first. Compare the next two pictures and you can see what I mean. Looking at the second picture you can see some of the tree stumps to the right of the alligator and then view the first picture to see where it is.

There are 2 alligators in the middle of this picture.
There are 2 alligators in the middle of this picture.

 

This is the picture zoomed in showing the alligator.
This is the picture zoomed in showing the alligator.

 

Hidden Gator
Hidden Gator

 

This gator was a lot bigger than some of the others and was a little scary as he kept staring at us as we walked by.

I've got my eye on you
I’ve got my eye on you

 

Cormorant looking for lunch
Cormorant looking for lunch

 

We came across these cranes on the side of the road. The camera was in the back of the car so I had to jump out, grab the camera and get these pictures. The cranes were quite willing to let me take their picture.

 

Sandhill Cranes
Sandhill Cranes

 

Walking in the grass
Walking in the grass

 

There is a small pond down the street from our house and a pod of pelicans has been hanging around. (Had to do a Google search to find out what a group of pelicans is called.)

 

Pod of Pelicans
Pod of Pelicans

 

Pelican swimming to meet his family
Pelican swimming to meet his family

 

This little guy landed on the wall in our backyard. Thought he was really cute.

Bird visiting us on the lanai
Bird visiting us on the lanai

Canaveral National Seashore

posted in: Florida | 3

We took a trip to the east coast and visited the Cape Canaveral Seashore. We walked along a beautiful beach picking up some shells and watching the birds run in and out of the water. This was a nice stroll until we started walking by “big fat ugly naked guy.” After seeing two or three of these, we decided it was time to turn around. You can only handle so much scenery walking on the beach. And for those of you wondering, no I didn’t take any pictures of them!

Cape Canaveral Seashore
Fisherman at Canaveral Seashore

 

Canaveral Seashore

 

Birds in motion
Birds in motion

 

Wading in the Water
Wading in the Water

 

We took a trail called Turtle Mound trail. Part of the trail included a wooden boardwalk to an oyster midden. There was some nice wildlife as well as some pretty flowers along the this trail and others in the area.

Interesting Flower
Interesting Flower

 

Happy Lizard
Happy Lizard

 

Turtle trying to get away
Turtle trying to get away

 

Turtle Mound Trail
Turtle Mound Trail

 

After a nice day at the seashore, we stopped for lunch at Norwood’s Eatery & Bar Treehouse. We climbed the stairs into the treehouse which was quite interesting. Reminded us of the TV show “Treehouse Masters”.

 

Lunch in the treehouse
Lunch in the treehouse

 

Anniversary Celebration

posted in: Florida | 12

John and I celebrated our 40th Anniversary on April 10th. We had a wonderful day starting with a hike at Fort Cooper State Park. Not much to take pictures of but here is the best of the lot. Most of the trail consisted of trees. No wildlife but a good day to get out for a hike.

FortCooperIMG_6299

 

Sharon brought us some beautiful tulips for our anniversary and John made a spectacular dinner of shrimp for appetizers and scallops for dinner. (You notice I did nothing but enjoy the day.) We also celebrated with our traditional bottle of champagne. I have saved the champagne cork every year from each bottle. We’re getting quite a collection.

john&cheryl72
A throwback picture from 1972 when we first started dating.

 

Celebrating 40 years of marriage.
Celebrating 40 years of marriage.

Shelby the lizard chaser

posted in: Florida | 1

Shelby is not quite sure about being in Florida. He watches us constantly to see if he is going to go with us. If we go out, he waits at the door for us to come home. His favorite thing to do (other than going for a hike) is to go to the dog park. Not that he is spoiled but it is a 15 minute drive to the dog park. He loves it when he gets there and is doing great playing with all the other dogs. Occasionally he has enough and starts to growl at the dogs and then we know it is time to go. A King Charles Spaniel took a real liking to him. The spaniel followed him around like a “puppy dog in love”. Shelby wasn’t quite sure what to make of it but there was definite love in the air.

Shelby has just discovered lizards in the yard. So far he hasn’t caught one but it isn’t from lack of trying. There are plenty of bushes for the lizards to hide but they do come out on the cement and Shelby is right there. We have to put the chairs around some of the bushes as he is making a mess of them.

 

Shelby searching for lizards
Shelby searching for lizards
"I know they're in here somewhere"
“I know they’re in here somewhere”

 

Shelby's favorite lizard
Shelby’s favorite lizard
Waiting for us to get home
Waiting for us to get home

Bucket list item completed

posted in: Florida | 9

After being on my bucket list for years, I finally was able to check off “Take a Zip Line Tour”. Sharon, John and I took the super zip tour in Ocala, FL which is promoted as “Fly like a super hero on Florida’s newest, highest, fastest, longest zip! You’ll lay face down and head first in our hang-glider style harness as you travel at speeds of up to 50 miles per hour down this beast of a zip line. You’ll zoom past lakes, cliffs, and over treetops, all while lying suspended in your harness, hands free.”

Unfortunately, I didn’t dare take my camera on the trip to prove we did it.  As I was posting this blog, Sharon surprised us with actual video of John and me on the zip line. She met someone who had a video camera and they were able to video us. Click here to see us in action. John has his arms out, and I had my arms by my side. Another video which shows some of the scenery is posted to the Zip Line and Canopy Tours website at this YouTube video. Here is a picture before we started.

Sharon, John and Cheryl before the ziip line trip.
Sharon, John and Cheryl before the ziip line trip.

 

This picture shows someone going across the river, however, we actually went head first and had helmets on as well. Another tour consists of walking across rope bridges which you can see in the picture. We did not opt for that trip.

 

One of the zip line tours.
One of the zip line tours.
One of the zip lines across the river
One of the zip lines across the river that shows the height of the lines.

 

The Super Zip tour consisted of putting on what felt like a flak jacket, taking a ride up a hill, and climbing up about 6 flights of stairs with this jacket on. I think the worst part was trying to climb the stairs. This picture below is from the zipthecanyons.com website. We went two people at a time. When you get all hooked up, you then need to lie flat until the guide releases all the lines and you let go. It felt like you were actually going to hit the trees. I could even see the turtles in the water as we went across.

Picture from the zipthecanyon.com website showing the position for the zip line.
Picture from the zipthecanyon.com website showing the position for the zip line.

 

Platform for landing on at the end of the super zip.
Platform for landing on at the end of the super zip.

 

The total zip across probably took about 20 seconds but it was a great ride and accomplishing one of my bucket items was even more exciting. Thanks to Sharon and John for helping me cross off a bucket list item. After the ride was over, Sharon presented me with an ornament exclaiming “I Did It.”

Cheryl displaying her "I Did It" ornament
Cheryl displaying her “I Did It!” ornament.

 

Now that I crossed off one item on my bucket list, guess I need to add something new. Not sure yet what that will be.

Lake Louisa State Park and Corvettes

posted in: Florida | 12

This week brought us to Lake Louisa State Park for a short hike. This park has 4,500 acres with six lakes and two streams. We saw a couple fishing and there was an alligator close by. John asked if they had problems with the alligator taking their fish. They weren’t real talkative and just said, “no”. So that ended that conversation. We walked around the usual flat trails and got a chance to drive around the campground as well. It looked like a nice place to camp although nothing compared to the campgrounds in Maine.

Dixie Lake
Dixie Lake

 

Alligator just cruising around Dixie Lake
Alligator just cruising around Dixie Lake

 

Love Birds aka Love Vultures
Love Birds aka Love Vultures

 

The big event for Friday night was Cruise Night with the Corvettes. There were corvettes of all years. My favorite was the one with the tigers on the car. Every night at the three main villages is happy hour from 5-6. All drinks are 2 for 1 and there is a band playing as well. Tonight was a 70’s band playing while we strolled around looking at the corvettes. Of course instead of a drink, I opted for a Haagen-Dazs cookie dough ice cream Definitely a good choice.

 

Corvettes on display
Corvettes on display
One of John's favorites
One of John’s favorites

corvetteIMG_6203 corvetteIMG_6202

 

Corvette Golf Cart
Corvette Golf Cart

 

Springer not interested in the corvette show
Springer not interested in the corvette show

Boat Races

posted in: Florida | 1

We went down to see the boat races on a sunny morning. These are radio controlled boats and are fun to watch. There were boats of all sorts including tug boats, sailboats, racing boats and more. When one of the boats flips over, there is a spotter (boat retriever) in a small boat that goes out to flip them back upright or bring them in if they have run out of power. I tried using my sports mode on my camera for some of these pictures to see if I could capture them without too much blur. Some came out better than others.

Boat retriever
Boat retriever
Speedboat with a big wake
Speedboat with a big wake
Speedboat
Speedboat
Tug boat
Tug boat
Sailboat
Sailboat

 

Near where the  boat races were going on there were a few white ibis. So here’s a question–what is the plural of ibis? Is it ibis or ibises? I had to look it up and it can be either. Anyway they are beautiful birds. As I was taking pictures of them on the ground, I turned around and John was pointing up in the tree right above me. There I saw many more just sitting in the tree. John was hoping I wouldn’t get “plopped” upon. Luckily they missed me as I took some pictures.

 

White ibis
White ibis

 

White ibis in a tree
White ibis in a tree

 

Out next trip was to Whispering Oaks winery. This winery made only blueberry wines. We sampled eight different kinds. Our favorite was the port which was $40 a bottle. We didn’t like it that much to buy a bottle. We did buy a couple bottles of a dry variety, but found that still we prefer the Maine blueberry wines. On the grounds of the winery they had goats that I needed to take pictures of.

 

Just one of the kids
Bearded goat
Bearded goat

 

The flowers in The Villages are just beautiful. Every place you go there are more flowers. The end of our street the flowers were great and I kept wanting to take pictures of them. Before I could get down to get a picture, the maintenance crew had dug up all the beautiful flowers and then planted different ones the next day. Which we could have had some of their throwaways.

Flowers are plentiful here.
Flowers are plentiful here.

Wekiwa Springs and Flying Eagle Preserve

posted in: Florida | 8

Our next travels brought us to Wekiwa Springs State Park. This was about 1-1/2 hours away and not one of our favorite hikes. At the beginning there is a beautiful spring that looks much like a swimming pool. Although it was a cool day (only 55 degrees) there were many people enjoying swimming in the spring.

WekiwaIMG_6078

The first part of the hike was through a forest where they were doing a controlled burn. We walked through burned forests for about a 1/2 hour or more. Some places we could see smoke and small fires that were still burning. Not a fun or scenic walk.

 

Some of the burned section.
Some of the burned section.

 

We followed the trail to Sandy Lake. I should have taken a picture so you could see this “lake” that was really a swampy puddle.The second half of the trail was better because it wasn’t burned but there was really nothing to see. We ended up walking for 3 hours and not seeing much. But it is still nice getting out and walking.

 

This is what the second half of the walk looked like.
This is what the second half of the walk looked like.

 

On Wednesday we found Flying Eagle Preserve in Inverness. This was 2 miles down a dirt road. We have seen many signs throughout the country warning there may be bears, mountain lions, and other animals on the hike. This was the first time we saw signs warning against Wild Hogs. I am happy to announce we did not see any hogs on this trip.

 

Be-Aware of Wild Hogs
Be-Aware of Wild Hogs

 

This hike was another walk in the woods with an occasional swamp thrown in. On our way back, Shelby started pulling John towards the water. We heard all kinds of splashing and then I saw a baby alligator. I think you can pick him out in this picture.

 

Baby alligator.
Baby alligator.

 

Other than a couple hawks and one egret, the wildlife was a little scarce on the hike. We thought we might see some turtles in the swamp, but it wasn’t until we were leaving when John spotted a turtle out in the open field. I got one picture before went it behind a little sand hill and disappeared.

Turtle in the field.
Turtle in the field.

 

The good thing about these hikes is that Shelby is totally exhausted by the time he gets home.

Upon arriving at home, we saw just as much wildlife as on our hikes. The first was a beautiful heron on the rooftop next door to us. He stayed for quite a while allowing me to get out my larger camera lens for a close up picture.

 

Heron on the rooftop
Heron on the rooftop

 

More pictures of the heron. I loved the one where he stuck out his tongue and also in the next picture turned his neck.

heronIMG_6113

 

A little while later while sitting on the lanai, we spotted a beautiful cardinal. We have a male and female cardinal that come into the yard on occasion.

CardinalIMG_6120

 

Later on in the day, Sharon got out her golf cart and Shelby jumped right in and was ready for a ride.

 

John and Cheryl with Shelby expecting to go for a ride.
John and Cheryl with Shelby expecting to go for a ride.

 

Sharon and John were going to go golfing but it was too late in the day when they goy there as they didn’t have reservations. But don’t they look happy riding in the cart?

John and Sharon off to play golf.
John and Sharon off to play golf.

Cruisin’ In

posted in: Florida | 5

There are three town squares in The Villages. Each night there is different outdoor entertainment. Saturday night we went to Spanish Springs to view the Cruisin’ In night. This consisted of cars from 1980 and older.

 

Spanish Springs Town Square
Spanish Springs Town Square

There were tons of people so it was difficult to get the pictures of the cars without a lot of distraction. The front grills of the cars all have their own unique styling.

CruisinIMG_6062
CruisinIMG_6064 CruisinIMG_6065
We found one car that described our motto in traveling.

CruisinIMG_6063

Sharon found her favorite car and John found the 6.0 hemi intriquing.

CruisinIMG_6070

6.0 Hemi
6.0 Hemi

Here’s just a sampling of a few more of the cars we viewed. Notice the crowds in all the pictures.

CruisinIMG_6055 CruisinIMG_6058 CruiisinIMG_6061

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