Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Lake Mead National Recreation Monument.

             The landscape around Lake Mead is surreal in some spots. Since we still have doctors visits lined up to the middle of January, might as well make the best of it and look around.

     Gypsum Canyon is one my favorite canyons to photograph, within a short hike.

 From the photograph above you would think there might be an earthquake fault just 20 feet in front of me, but depending on whether it is morning, noon or sunset, the view constantly changes.

At times we have seen Bighorn Sheep in this wash, sadly not today.       

Some sunsets are beautiful,

some are dry and clear,

and this moonrise produced a huge moisture ring...and yes, it rained for two days starting that night.  (Jupiter is at 7:30)

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Last day in Florida

While I always try to squeeze as much in the day as possible this blog actually has a couple days combined.  Duane's family and I took a Sunday trip to Tarpon Springs. There on the sponge dock we were filled with information about the Greek sponge divers.

Our tour guide claims to be the last diver on the famous "Tarpon Springs" sponge boat. The cajun host gave us the history of the sponge industry. Tarpon Springs was the sponge capital of the world until a blight in the '50's decimated the sponge beds. 25 years later they were back in business pulling the animal skeletons off the ocean floor. 

Frank, our demonstrator, is of greek and Italian heritage and wore the old style divers suit. The suit and helmet, with a mandatory shoulder weight set, added 172 pounds extra to whatever Frank weighed.

It was explained to us that there are more than 3600 types of sponges in the world but out of all those only 5 sponges are harvested. Frank said that he can cut the skeleton off correctly and go back two years later to harvest another one just like it.

 Frank goes down to the depths of the ocean looking for sponges. Well, actually we only went out 1/2 mile and Frank was probably in 10 or 15 foot of water...but it looked good anyway.

Early the next morning, my last, I drove by the old Yulee Sugar Mill ruins. Sugar was milled here with the use of slaves until 1864.

This part of Florida was perfect for growing the sugar cane. The cane was cut and run through the steam powered rollers above to extract the cane juices. The other process of heating and drying were also done on the property.

I got all excited when I saw this signage because they also described it as 
birding trail. 

Apparently I am the only person in Florida who gets excited about either
 birding or trails?

Nothing instills confidence, like a garage built in the stomach of a 

The clouds or fog come in an out of the beach area very rapidly.

Go down the coast a mile or two and it clears up...for a while anyhow.

Sitting here at an airport tavern thinking to myself that there should be a glass of white wine right next to this wife drinks white.:-)

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Florida party time.

Florida is notorious for it's party atmosphere and while Duane and I have tried in the past to fit in, this time we were a bit more subtle and well... older.

The draft handles are almost becoming as important as the liquid that comes out. I had to try this one because of the handle and also my wife likes blueberry beer. handle was great, not so the beer.

The waterfront bars in old Homoassa were awesome. Kid friendly, dog friendly, friendly prices and great food. Duane bought dinner so I started on the first round of drinks. Two drafts and one wine = $6...what? Got to love it.

Most of the bars like Leon Neon, The Freezer, Monkey Bar and High Octane have lots of open areas because of the weather and some shelter when needed.

Some have been built around the trees, as this one in Tarpon Springs, called The LagerheadZ Bar and Grill.

Besides the chilled, large and 50 cents each oyster you can get a $5.00 pitcher of Yuengling Beer, the oldest brewery in America...

you might also want to try some of the Freezer's half snow crab and slaw for $10.

Well I did say we tried to fit in and here Duane is trying very hard. Although he protests that he is not a tequila drinker, he "doth protest too much". 

We closed one bar and out lasted the band at another before calling it a night and then got up 5 hours later to play golf!

I'm pretty sure that by the end of the night we did make a monkey of ourselves, but had a blast doing it...till next time.:-) 

Friday, December 7, 2012

Florida in December

I took a week off from the "ole ball and chain" (just joking dear) to visit my best friend who moved back from Thailand with his family a few months ago. Crystal River is home to quite a few manatees which have become a favorite of mine along side coyotes and wolves.

Since it's almost Christmas I will start out with a Ruditee. This larger than life manatee is posing as Rudolf the Reindeer at the Homosassa Springs Wildlife Park

The Kings Bay bridge, a very small residential bridge, is one of the best places to watch the manatees go from their springs...which is a constant 72 the gulf. When they swim under you it looks like a thousand pound torpedo, silently gliding by.

A mother and calf heading out to the gulf for some delicious water grass to feed on. The calf will stay very close to his mother up to two years.

Tiara (EP) and Jed (WHAT) join me at the bridge to photograph some of the manatees. Tiara counted 21 going under us in the 40 minutes we were there.
Tiara and Jed are Tas and Duane's children.

It is common to see the snorkel and pontoon viewing boats at the mouth of  Crystal River and the gulf delta. I believe the manatees are a real American treasure and Florida has taken steps to insure the species safety and survival.

Out west I can't seem to get very close the Great Egrets but here in Florida they are so common that this one, at the end of a fast food drive thru, is trying to collect the necessary $3.99 for lunch.

Sandhill Cranes use Florida as a winter haven, much like the Canadian snowbirds do in their trailer and motor-homes.

Great Blue Heron are a regular visitor on the golf courses because they all have ponds, canals or small lakes that are abundant with fish.

This is the Florida Double-Crested Cormorant and an unknown (to me) gentleman in 1832 wrote a great personal reflection about the bird here. I believe it may of been Charles Darwin but could not find any such facts that would attribute it to the article. I have a very good friend named Nona who might research it for me...this is her expertise. 

There were many more birds and even some monkeys that I photographed but the picture were not up to my "National Geographic" quality. :-) Maybe next time I'll bring a camera other than my phone.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Callville Bay on Lake Mead, Nevada

After Death Valley we stopped in Las Vegas at the Oasis Luxury RV Park, what a mistake. Besides them having water problem that required excavating and turning off the water at times, it smelled! We needed to stay in the Vegas are for doctors visits and catching up with friends.

We soon moved to Callville Bay campground some 25 miles from town...what a difference. Although there were no hook ups, we have solar and a generator so no problem there, it was perfectly quiet, sparse of visitors and the weather kicked butt! $5 a day gets you a huge site with showers and flush toilets.

Just outside the campground are a series of hikes, some of which take you up a hill overlooking the lake.

My morning walk always included a strenuous 1/4 mile hike up the boat ramp. On this morning I knew they were going to pull a houseboat out for the season so I boogied back to the camp site for my camera.

Quite impressive to watch them pull the 50,000 pound houseboat from the lake up the 19 degree ramp. We have in the past rented a houseboat but now a days they are way too expensive for my blood.

Few things, while camping, are as relaxing as a nice campfire.

What can I each their own.

Literally just minutes from Callville are some of the most outstanding landscapes in the west.

There are a number of 4x4 roads that when they say 4x4...they mean it.

Here is the "world famous" Las Vegas River. Wild trout, catch and release and I am surprised I don't see fishermen in float tubes on the water. (na, its the Vegas Wash, all the street runoff going into the lake)

A view of the Las Vegas Strip some 17 miles away through the trees of the bankrupt Lake Las Vegas resort.

Enjoying lunch overlooking the lake, did someone say "treat".

From the lake road we can see the entrance for the $1,000,000,000
intake tunnel project under Lake Mead that was prompted because of the falling water levels of the last 10 years.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Titus Canyon in Death Valley

This I believe was the first time I had been to Titus Canyon and it will be the last of our Death Valley blog. My brother Jack wanted to test his Jeep on this 24.1 mile dirt road so off we go.

Just a about two miles from the Titus Canyon turn off is Rhyolite, the ghost town.

Rhyolite started in 1904, became a huge gold boomtown (why was it called Rhyolite is anyones guess) and the lights were turned out by 1916. It's funny that Charles M Schwab (no relationship to the banker) a protégé of Andrew Carnegie, bought the biggest mine for 2 million or more in 1906.

After about ten miles we stopped for a break and looked back behind us...what a beautiful valley we drove through without even noticing it till now.

At about mile 13 we are getting near the top of the pass that leads down to the canyon.

Partway down the pass we came to this cut in the hill. All the rock was heavily polished which leads us to believe that, because of the angle on the hill, it must be an ice fall. We could see where no sun hits it for a good part of the year.

My brother was giving me some good real estate advice about buying here in Leadfield. Seems it was quite a con job getting folks to buy into this town that went from boom to bust in one year.

Not sure if Leadfield has a zip code, but I know people who could fix and flip this tin shed.

This photo may not clearly show that the alluvial fan coming out of this small canyon was carrying uniformly sized and uniformly, the same purple color rock...not something that I see everyday.

Within the deepest part of the canyon you are virtually an arms length on either side of the vehicle.

By looking at the wall you could almost feel the amount of energy and pressure it took to break, fold and flip the sediments and rock. As a side note...not sure at this point how much more of Jacks "gayest imitation" of Huell Howser's California travel narrative I can take...people do have their limits!

After 24 miles, we only have 1/10th of a mile left of the beautiful Titus Canyon. The canyon suddenly opens up to the north end of Death Valley floor, a welcome sight.

Upon exiting the canyon, Jack and I were greeted to one of Death Valley's violent, but rare fall storms.
This pretty well sums up our visit to Death Valley, a stop that will most certainly be added to our future travels.