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{ Category Archives } Florida

Screech owls

About two months ago we bought a nest box designed for Screech Owls. We got it from SCCF, and put it up in a tree in front of the house here on Dinkins Bayou on Sanibel. The first birds to come inspect it were the local woodpeckers, Pileated and Red-bellied, who climbed all over it and drummed […]

January – May 2012

It did produce some spectacular scenes, with the spray from the surf on Lac Léman breaking and freezing on everything in reach along the quais; a car in Versoix ended up coated with 2″ – 3″ of ice. IMG_7236 IMG_7243 We returned to Florida February 21, spent a few days with Ellen, then got back into the swing of our homeless, live-out-of-your-car existence (though in case you’re wondering, we haven’t spent a night IN the car yet…..).

…We’d rented a house for ten days, and discovered it was owned by a young guy who hadn’t the SLIGHTEST idea of how to make a place warm, welcoming or comfortable: it was living in one of those “Model Units” you see advertised outside dreadful housing developments: show-room furniture, inadequate selection of kitchen equipment, and less welcoming than many motel rooms we’ve been in. … Also, it’s spring, and the cypress are beginning to come back into leaf, which is a glorious sight; they are covered with that new pale, luminescent green foliage that trees get, and in the midst of the swamps and marshes, they really stand out.D7K_1397 We saw: Great Crested Flycatchers, many alligators (small and large), Green Herons, Tri-Color Herons, Roseate Spoonbills, Wood Storks.D7K_1471 Together with the Everglades National Park and a series of other areas under varying degrees of protection, the Preserve forms a critical part of the south Florida ecosystem.

…This satellite view from Google Maps shows fairly clearly what an island of preservation this are is, with the Corkscrew Regional Watershed zone just to its north (the Audubon Preserve is immediately south of that in the image, though it isn’t labelled on the map).corkscrew1 This image helps place it in context with all the other protected areas of South Florida (it is flag “A” in the image):southflorida So, that’s it for Florida, for this year folks.

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Milepost 0

South we went over the 7-mile bridge, past Henry Flagler’s magnificent old railroad bridge at Bahia Honda, past state parks and the signs warning of crossing the territory of the tiny and highly endangered key deer, and on to Whitehead Street, past the house where Hemingway lived and wrote between 1931 and 1942, until we reached the Route 1 Mile 0 marker in the heart of Key West IMG_7053 two months and two days after leaving Rt. 1 in Maine on 13 October. Having heard and read so many stories about a rowdy city full of gay bars and kitch, we were quite astonished to find street after street of beautiful, bahamian-style houses and lush, tidy gardens. IMG_7054 We went to the Blue Heaven restaurant because that’s what you do if you don’t actually stand in line at lunch time to visit the Hemingway house; you go to his favorite restaurant instead.

…Despite having just absorbed four or five thousand visitors, the port was a very pleasant place, and we lingered long enough to make a few purchases and check out a few boats in the yacht basin, one of which is the schooner Appledore we had first seen sailing out of Camden Harbor. D7K_1230

…(We were in the car and couldn’t stop, so the photo is a bit blurry.) IMG_7086 We didn’t try to park, but drove on behind a nice beach until we reached a small monument to those who had died of AIDS in the city.

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Dan’s birthday dinner to the final southern stop

At every turn there was something to see: gorgeous, if shy, tri-color herons, glossy ibis, a reddish egret along with several sizes of white ones, white pelicans, wood storks, roseate spoonbills, a marbled godwit, sleeping blue-winged teal, two bald eagles sharing a perch, a kingfisher and, last but not least, three sun-bathing alligators. This is the Florida it is hard not to love. D7K_1112 D7K_1131 D7K_1149 Nightfall found us at Jupiter, where we walked into a small, riverside resort on Rte 1 and were given a huge room with two double beds at a very off-season rate. As we were a bit ahead of where we expected to be on Saturday, we decided to take a detour off 95 and drive into Fort Lauderdale to see why it was a spring break mecca. … It was a relief to find a quiet little resort on Key Largo IMG_7021 IMG_7023 and to know that the following morning would find us a our final southern destination: Kristin’s family condo on Marathon Key. IMG_7030 And here we are most comfortably installed in this pretty apartment by a pool, with the ocean just a few steps beyond the neighboring building not quite two months after we left Sprague Road in Phippsburg, Me.

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South from Savanah

Jekyll Island is across a 6-mile long causeway and when you reach it you have to pay a $ 5 “parking fee” to Jekyll island State Park; the whole place is owned by the State of Georgia as far as we can tell; homeowners lease the land under their houses from the state. … Gorgeous little town, with a railroad running into it, a container port, and the requisite paper/pulp mill; an industrial waterfront lying between the lovely downtown and the river.IMG_6972 Woke Thursday to cold, blowing, grey weather rolling into our beach front lodging, so we bailed out and headed down the A1A. … Turns out Joe Biden was visiting a high school south on Mayport on route A1A, and only a timely warning from the ferry staff and a park staffer at a local park we visited prevented us from driving right smack into a Department of Homeland Security nightmare: can you picture us having to empty the car, with Swiss driving licenses, a Maine car, no visible means of support, binoculars, cameras with long telephotos and coming out of it in less than 48 hours w/o going to jail thanks to the DHS, who are protecting the US of A from terrorists……? … The real charm of it is that they offer you a bag of marshmallows with the room which you can take downstairs and in return for a $10 bill get some graham crackers, chocolate and forks and make smores over a fire out on the terrace overlooking the beach.

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