Final Days in Florida

The first thing I have to say about Florida is… well, I was going to say it rains a lot here, but upon reflection what I really need to say is that I will be back. It did storm a lot during the weeks I spent in Florida, but now that I’m in Georgia (where it’s been storming as well) it’s not the rain I think about when I reflect on my time there. What comes to mind is the diverse beauty of this state, the old friends I was able to spend time with, and the many new friends I met along the way. This journey is about just that… savoring the blessings. It’s about nurturing a sense of peacefulness in my heart and mind that allows me to SEE the blessings for what they are, and to truly appreciate them. To those many friends… old and new… who have been a part of my journey, I thank you. You should all know that you are like precious gems to me, and I am glad to have you to carry along in my memories as I move in silence down the highways. Actually, sometimes I’m “rockin’ out”, but the memories are there regardless! ๐Ÿ™‚

I entered Florida along the Gulf Coast, and other than my delightful little side trip inland to Ichetucknee Springs, I’ve stayed pretty near the coast all along the way. Fort Myers to the Everglades, down through the Keys and back up the East Coast. (The links lead to my blog posts about these areas) My first destination as I left the Keys was West Palm Beach. I taught a multi day workshop here a few years ago and really enjoyed what little I saw of the area. In addition, I have several friends in the vicinity, a few of whom I haven’t seen in years.

With no real urgency to get up the road, I decided to sit tight for a week. One reason behind that decision was that most, if not all, campgrounds offer a better rate by the week than by the day. I made a conscious decision awhile back to sit still more frequently for a few reasons… 1) better camping rates, 2) I’m not burning gas when I’m not moving, 3) allows me more time to get my work done. And despite what many of you think, I am working out here! Funny that I bring up all these good reasons to sit still more frequently and move at a slower pace, while at this very moment I’m preparing to literally race back across the country to Colorado to work on a book.

Anyway… I found a great county park just south of West Palm… John Prince Park, right on Lake Worth. I could not have asked for a more spacious and peaceful setting.

Our first morning there started just right. No storms! And with a fresh cup of coffee and the girls by my side we stood just outside the RV watching the sunrise and enjoying the stillness. I was JUST contemplating putting my kayak in the water for a sunrise cruise when an Alligator slowly swam by twenty feet off shore from where we stood. It didn’t completely freak me out. I was more interested in grabbing my camera than anything, but I did think better of stepping off the shore when there was not another soul around (or awake anyway).ย 

Later that day, and several other times during the week, I did indeed kayak on the lake. I never saw another Alligator, but as expected, I did see some birds! By now it’s probably obvious that I am very intrigued by Heron and Egret. All birds for that matter, but especially the ones that are unique to me as so many in the southeast are.

John Prince Park from the water

Great Blue Heron

White Ibis cruising through the campground

I spotted this guy from quite a distance… wings spread in what looked like some sort of mating ritual, but it seemed late in the season for that, so I did a little research. What I discovered is that Anhinga (also known as Snakebird) often swim with their body submerged, with only head and neck visible above the water, giving it the appearance of a snake. Like Cormorant, Anhinga lack the oil glands that many water foul use to preen. They have to perch for long periods of time like this in order to dry their wings. Interestingly, they stab their prey with their long serrated beak, flip it into the air and gulp it down headfirst.

Anhinga

Anhinga swimming

Anhinga, also known as Snakebird for obvious reasons

Female Anhinga

The Tern family still have me a bit baffled. If this is a Common Tern why does he have an orange beak? If a Forster’s Tern, why the black legs? The other Terns seem to have black caps as opposed to the little patch. If anyone has knowledge of these birds I’m all ears.ย 

While in the West Palm area I was finally able to go out scuba diving for the first time in several years. I had hoped to go while in the Keys, but the storms prevented it. I did find a great dive shop at Jupiter Beach. The boat was a bit crowded, and the visibility was marginal, but it was a treat to reach 75′ for a drift dive along the reef. It’s an amazingly different world down there! If I felt I’d have more opportunity to dive I’d most definitely get set up with a housing and lights so I could feed my fix underwater as well. ๐Ÿ™‚

I was grateful for the pockets of sunshine throughout the week, and especially happy to see the skies clearing my last morning on Lake Worth. All the better because my friend Gregg was joining me for one last paddle before packing up and heading north. Since I travel alone my kayak forays are almost exclusively solo, so it’s a nice treat for me to have someone along to enjoy the adventure with me, and in this case I came away with a few pics of ME on the adventure! (Thanks Gregg!)

Sunrise on Lake Worth

My friend and fellow adventurer, Gregg

photo by Gregg Dyess

photo by Gregg Dyess

Male Anhinga

 

Limpkin

Birds are often hard to identify, especially when they are not fully matured. While on the lake I spotted this Heron, which at first glance I thought was a young Great Blue but with a bit of research discovered it to be a Juvenile Little Blue Heron. They are born white, and on the way to adulthood take on a “piebald” coloring before maturing to a slate blue with maroon neck. Regardless, he was fun to follow.

Juvenile Little Blue Heron

As was this Great Egret…

Tri-colored Heron

After a fun morning on the water I packed up and moved north to a little campground right on Flagler Beach. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again… I LOVE the sound of the ocean!

Although they had to be on leash, Jazzy and Sadie were happy to have their toes in the sand again. I took them for a long walk down the beach as soon as we got settled. Not without my camera of course!

White-rumped Sandpiper

I thoroughly enjoyed watching large groups of Brown Pelican gliding up and down the coast… until I got back to my RV an hour later to find it COVERED in Pelican Pooh!!! Actually, I still enjoyed watching them. What I didn’t enjoy was washing their droppings off my RV. Price of admission I guess. ๐Ÿ™‚

Brown Pelican

I have to share one last story that I posted on Facebook. My last night in Florida I’m having dinner with Greggย at a little place overlooking the ocean at Flagler Beach and my eyes are drawn to this lovely young gal walking in the surf. I didn’t have my camera with me, but Gregg handed me his tiny little point n’ shoot and hollered “Have fun!” as I trotted down the stairs, across the street and down the beach. I wonder how differently it would have come across if I’d been a man saying “Hi. I’m a photographer (standing there with a camera no bigger than my hand mind you) and I’ve been watching you from across the street.” ๐Ÿ™‚ This is Paige and she was kind enough to indulge me in a few quick spontaneous shots. We are hoping to get together for a REAL photo shoot when I return to Florida in the winter.
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7 thoughts on “Final Days in Florida

  1. What a special day for me to have spent the early morning hours kayaking at John Prince Park with you, you are truly gifted. The same can be said about Flagler Beach that evening.

  2. Hi Fran,
    Love, love, love your Florida experience. I miss the heavy air, big huge rain drops, and the roll of thunder followed by the sharp clap of lightening. I know, crazy. I also miss the waterways and all those beautiful birds. Thank you for giving me a fix.
    Hey, that beautiful girl looks like Elissa from the back! No wonder she caught your eye.
    Oh, if you have a little extra time, and are traveling up I-24 between Chattanooga and Nashville, veer off and visit Sewanee. It’s about an hour up from Chattanooga and 2 hours down from Nashville. I lived there in the 70’s and it’s a very special place.
    Can’t wait to see where you are next. Love to you and the waggers!

    • I love a good rainstorm as much as anyone Kathleen, and these were just the kind of storms you described, but they did get old when I couldn’t go out and play for days on end. My RV never seemed so small!

      Thank you for the heads-up on Sewanee! I’m leaving Atlanta on Monday morning and picking Elissa up at the Kansas City airport on Wednesday. My route will take me right through there, so I’ll be sure to check it out!!! I remember you talking about the area.

      Sending love back to you and the family!

  3. Well what more can I say. We love you and miss you already. Having you here with us in Atlanta was just the best. We will definitely find you again on the road, only this time, we will come and join you on part of your Journey. You bring such joy into the lives of others and are such an Inspiration. I’m so happy for you that this experience is everything you hoped it would be and more. Not knowing what’s next is a wonderful and challenging way to live. You go girl:-)….. Just know we are here if you need a place to land, (and upload your images) Ben was just here doing the same thing. Much love…

  4. Thanks so much Judy and Eddie! It was a special treat seeing the two of you on my journey, and I do hope that you will find the time to come out and join me for a bit. We (me and the girls) greatly appreciate your wonderful hospitality while in Atlanta! I send love, they send wet kisses! ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. Pingback: Photographer Fran Reisner | Trip Sideways.com | Travel Videos and Best Places to Travel,

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