Thursday, April 24, 2014

Quote - on nature

"In every walk with nature, one receives far more than he seeks."
-John Muir

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Sunset in Cedar Key, FL - 4/22/14

We took a drive out to the (very small) airport in Cedar Key to catch the sunset over the Gulf.  It's a great location to see the sunset.

Checking out our new camera, here is a series of photos of the sunset (using the scenic setting).

It was gorgeous!

Fun Dinner at Big Deck Raw Bar - 4/22/14

We had a fun dinner at dog-friendly, Big Deck Raw Bar, on Dock Street in Cedar Key tonight.  Along with the good food (clam chowder, steamed clams, friend shrimp) and drinks, we enjoyed the company of two interesting couples.

One couple was from Daytona and were on vacation in their RV (with their pet cat). As Harley owners, they enjoy the biker events there (as do their friends that stay with them during them!) We exchanged general information about ourselves and agreed to stay in touch.

The second couple we met are long time annual visitors to Cedar Key and live in VA outside of DC.  As we were discussing how much we were enjoying the wildlife refuge, we learned how knowledgeable they are about the area and birds in particular. We received a signed copy of David's book.

How cool is that?

Retired after a 40-year period of teaching ornithology and conducting research and serving on various national wildlife foundations, he continues his interest in historical ornithology.  His wife is an illustrator. We really enjoyed chatting with her. And Sadie enjoyed meeting their little dog, Samantha (aka Sammy).

Monday, April 21, 2014


We ARE NOT enjoying the ticks here in Cedar Key. There is an unusual number of these evil blood-sucking bugs here due to the heavy flooding of the Suwannee. We've used plenty of insect repellent and even wore jeans and long-sleeved shirts when we last went hiking...but that did not keep them away. The "no-see-ums" are not much fun, but I will take them over the ticks. But, of course, the fire ants are still the worst from my perspective.

Oh well, just another part of the travel experience.

We are ready to begin our journey to San Antonio (scheduled to depart Saturday, 4/26 and arrive 5/01).  Trip is approximately 1,000 miles almost entirely along I-10.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Quote - on Easter

"On Easter Day, the veil between time and eternity thins to gossamer."
-Douglas Horton

Friday, April 18, 2014

Fanning Springs State Park - 4/17/2014

Fanning Springs is a clear water spring located on the east bank of the Suwannee River.  The springs produce 40-60 million gallons of water daily. Swimming and snorkeling in the spring is very popular and there is a nice playground for kids, volley ball court, picnic areas with grills and large open areas for other sporting activities.

The swimming area was closed the day we were there due to the flooding of the Suwannee right now.

These turtles were chilling on a floating log in the area.

There's a boardwalk from the springs to a gazebo on the river.

View of the Suwannee from the gazebo.

We also explored a trail through a hardwood hammock. Check out this amphibious critter we saw in a tree.

Manatees sometimes visit the springs in the winter months, but we did not see any (unfortunately!)
We enjoyed the nature scenes here.

Link to website:

Views en route to Cedar Key - 4/16/2014

Driving into and out of Cedar Key on rte 24 provides so many photo opportunities!  We pulled over onto the shoulder and captured these.

Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge - 4/15/2014

Continuing to explore the Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge that comprises 53,000 acres, we checked out the Triangle Loop Road and the River Trail.

Triangle Loop Road:  One of my very favorite features of this refuge was a large pond literally filled with water lilies. It was breathtaking! The last time I saw lilies this beautiful was at Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, PA.

As we continued on the internal park road, we encountered a puddle so large that we decided to turnaround (as we did not relish the thought of getting stuck in our Mini Cooper where there is no cell coverage). The flooding of the Suwannee has closed many of the internal roads.

Below is a beautiful Scarlett Tanager that caught my eye on the drive out.

River Trail: This was a beautiful hiking trail that included a boardwalk over the swampy sections of the area.

Sadie and I on the boardwalk ... wearing my new Cedar Key hoodie!

Sadie loves looking for critters along the trail.

View of the Suwannee from the observation deck at the end of the boardwalk. There were lilies growing here as well.

Cypress and other hardwoods:

Bat house near the headquarters of the refuge. That bathouse can house 100,000 bats! Hope to catch a photo of them swooping out at dusk to feed on insects.

I DO NOT like these fire ants. Captured a photo of some on a large anthill.  Then I ran away before they could start crawling up my legs!!

Link to website:

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge - 4/13/2014

Today we explored the Fishbone Creek, Shired Creek, and Shired Island area of this 53,000 acre refuge. To reach this area of the refuge from Cedar Key, you have to travel northwest to Cross City, FL, and take CR 357 south (so about 40 miles) as there are no roads east to west through the refuge. It was worth the trip!

Taking Fishbone Creek Road to the small observation deck where we encountered several fishermen. It was a beautiful view of the creek that flows directly in to the Gulf. We saw fish jumping out of the water (unfortunately I failed to capture any on film).

The second site we visited was the boat launch area of Shired Creek. Many fishermen in this area from the pier, shore, and by boat. Again, this creek flows into the Gulf.

Check out this airboat. I've never been on one but it looked like so much fun!

Shired Island. There is a beautiful, white-sand beach, with palm trees along the shore and a pier for fishing directly on the Gulf coast.

  • This area permits tent ($7 for FL residents/$10 for non per night) and RV camping ($10 for residents/$20 for non). There are several 30 amp hook-ups, bathrooms, a dump station, pavilion for family gatherings, and grills for public use. 
  • No pets! And no alcoholic beverages.
  • Many families were there enjoying the beautiful weather and swimming/playing in the water.

On our drive out of the Wildlife Refuge a large Barred Owl swooped across the (unpaved) road and landed in a tree nearby. Using our new camera (Nikon COOLPIX) that we just purchased, I was able to get a good photo of him using the telephoto lens!

Be sure to check out this wildlife refuge if you are in this part of the country. After today's visit, we are already making plans for a couple more before we depart for TX on April 26.

Link to website:

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Cedar Key Arts Festival - 4/12/14

What a wonderful day we had at the 50th Anniversary Arts Festival in Cedar Key, FL. There were many very fine artists with their works on display along 2nd Street. Seriously, we were enthralled with many of the items on display, including paintings, photographs, sculptures, unique apparel, musical instruments, wind chimes, etc.

(I just read a book about photography after purchasing a new camera so this is a new attempt at being "artistic." Not something that comes naturally to me - as you can tell by this photo. Let's hope the photography gets better from here...)

Amazing glass sculptures.

John bought me a beautiful bracelet from Jason Stoddard Designs -  And a lovely copper creation that we will hang from our awning (Shooting Star; 605-571-2661).

The community hosted food and drink booths where we feasted on clams (farmed locally), clam fritters, shrimp, drinks, and other assorted delicacies. Cedar Key has a lovely beach area with picnic tables where we enjoyed our food.

If you ever attend this event, check out the carriage ride (horse-drawn and Sadie got to ride along with us) that was a historical tour of Cedar Key - very informative and fun.

We walked out to the hurricane-proof pier (that residents believe is hideous in comparison to the beautiful wooden ones that preceded it). There are always many fisherman there and beautiful views of Cedar Key.

If you are traveling with a dog, you may want to stop in at the Big Deck on Dock Street. We ended the afternoon there with drinks and a fried shrimp appetizer that was delicious. Our doggie, Sadie,  enjoyed meeting three new friends there! Great service, too, including water for the dogs.

This is a really nice event that you should attend if you are ever in this part of Florida in April.