November 23, 2015 – Crane Point

Our first outing of the day was to the dentist to get our cleanings.  I have had some terrible sensitivity for the past few months and Dr. Kiefer found a crack in a tooth.  He says I need a crown.  It could turn into a root canal too. Really, it hurts the purse more than the mouth.

I spent the rest of the morning studying Extended Warranties for the motorhome.  Here’s the thing: reading insurance-type documents makes my eyes snap shut. And the price of the policy is enough to take my breath away. Andy took me out of my misery by suggesting we go to Sombrero Beach to eat our lunch and then Crane Point for our walk.  He didn’t have to ask me twice.

After several weeks of rain, heat, and high humidity, today was spectacular. We got our favorite picnic table at the beach.

b Our Picnic Pavilion

I spotted this Great White Egret as we were walking back to the car after we ate.  It was at the same spot as the Little Blue Heron the other day.

b Great White Egret

Since I was on the pier in Sister Creek, I turned and took a picture aimed out at the ocean. That’s our favorite picnic pavilion on the left.

b Sister's Creek

Crane Point Museum and Nature Center is a 63-acre preserve and one of my favorite places to walk.

b Crane Point Museum

We walked out Crane Road to Crane Point.

b Crane Road

I love the Florida Thatch Palm leaves and take more pictures of them than anything else when we walk around Crane Point. The leaves are a couple feet across.

b Florida Thatch Palm

And, I always get a close up.

b Florida Thatch Palm Closeup

The trees were loaded.  I’m pretty sure these are Pigeon Plums although they don’t match all the pictures on Google Images. They are closely related to Sea Grapes and the fruit is an important source of food for migrating birds.

b Pigeon Plums

Porous limestone is what is under our feet in much of the Florida keys.  Treacherous.

b Limestone

b Orange Flower

b Orange Flowers

Crane Point is named for Francis and Mary Crane who built this house in 1949. It is in poor condition and not open to visitors.

b Crane House

I found these mangrove blossoms out at Crane Point. They are very small and you have to look for them.

b Mangrove Blossoms

We stopped in the Wild Bird Center, for injured birds.  Some are healed and released and a good many of them are permanent residents, like this tiny  burrowing owl.  I don’t know how it is possible, but they can burrow tunnels through that limestone.

b Burrowing Owl

There is always a pelican sitting just like this on this perch.  I think it is the same one.

b Sleeping Pelican

Here is a bird that I don’t recall seeing before. It looks as though his eye is in his beak. I can’t find it in my bird books or on line. Anybody know what it is?

b Herring Gull

This is the Adderly House, the oldest house in the keys, outside of Key West. Built in 1903 by Bahamian George Adderly, the house is crumbling.  The woman in the picture is doing some preservation on the tabby.

b Adderly House Touch Up

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October 16, 2015 – Cedar Key, Florida

It was a delightful layover day.  With the hospital appointments done and the RV shop appointment not scheduled until Monday, we used today for a leisurely outing to Cedar Key, Florida. It is a fairly long drive through the northwestern Florida countryside.  It is on the west coast of Florida, on the Gulf of Mexico, which in this case means no beaches to speak of.  The water here in the armpit of Florida is extremely shallow so there is no surf to create a beach. There is plenty of low land and marsh on the way out to a cluster of islands, Cedar Key being the farthest reachable by road.  We visited Cedar Key during the cancer treatment in 2012.

We had lunch at Steamer’s Clam Bar & Grill on the waterfront. The food was nothing special, but the table was perfect. Here is our view.

b01 Lunch View

Here, I looked over to the next table to our right. Our table is just the same, that is, hanging out over the water. That is the city fishing pier in the background.

b02 The Next Table

This is what it looks like, looking down over the far edge of the table.

b18 Looking Over Table

While waiting for the food and after I finished eating, I amused myself by taking pictures of the most magnificent and acrobatic of the bird world, the pelicans.  Andy laughed at me because I am always trying to get the “great” pelican shot, but mostly get pelican butts.  I got a few nice ones today though.

b03 Pelican Wing

b04 Pelican

I won’t lie; most of my pelican pictures turn out like this:

b05 Missed Pelican

or this

b06 Half Pelican

Today, I didn’t zoom in as much and just cropped the picture with Photoshop when I got it on the computer. I also set the camera to “burst” mode to take shots as long as I held the button down.  That made a big difference too.

We also saw two dolphins, but this was the best picture I got of them.

b07 Two Dolphins

When we finished eating, we walked to the fishing pier and I took a picture of the restaurant from the water side.  We sat at the right green umbrella.

b08 Steamers Clam Bar & Grill

Then I took more pelican pictures.

b09 Pelican Hop

b10 Pelican Second Hop

b11 Pelican

b12 Pelican

b13 Pelican

b14 Pelican

b15 Pelican

b16 Pelican

b17 Pelican

You may have noticed that all my pictures are of pelicans either taking off or landing.  That is because I am still hopelessly inept at finding them through the viewfinder when they are flying.

I made a new plant discovery today.  We were walking around the marina when I saw these large bushes that looked like mangroves next to the water, except that they had nuts or some kind of fruit on them.

b17 Avicennia marina or Gray Mangrove

Sure enough, I was able to find it with Google Images and it is a mangrove.  It is:

“Avicennia marina, commonly known as grey mangrove or white mangrove”

Thank you again Wikipedia.  Their article calls them grey mangroves. We have white mangroves in the keys, but I don’t ever recall seeing fruits on them.

Walk on Bahia Honda Beach

Low tide was at 0925 today so we took a morning walk on the beach at Bahia Honda State Park. This was my first beach walk since the spider bite.  There were only a few scattered souls on the beach when we got there.

f Andy Walking Onto Beach

We followed a little flock of birds up the beach for a while before they decided to fly.

f Birds Walking Ahead of Us

This cloud moved in front of the sun.  There might have been a little rain falling from the right edge of it.

f Cloud

We went as far north/east as we could and turned around.  Here Andy is brushing the sand off a shell he found.

f Andy Found a Shell

I always take a picture of these palm trees leaning over the beach.

f Palm Tree on Beach

There were dozens and dozens of little crab holes along the beach.  Some times we would see one skittering into the hole up ahead of us.  Three times, though, the crab sat still and posed for me. The first one had brown eyes.

f Crab with Brown Eyes

The second one was brown with black eyes.

f Brown Crab

f Crab with Dark Eyes

This little flock of birds stood by the water as we passed.

f Birds on Shore

We came across a shoe sole with barnacles on it.  Andy said there was a guy buried upside down in the sand.

f Shoe Sole with Barnacles

There were still only a few people when we walked back past the parking area. We practically had the place to ourselves.

f Empty Beach

Another brave crab was standing its ground down at the southern/western end of the beach. That one was yellow and white with brown eyes.

f White and Yellow Crab

f White and Yellow Crab Front

After I took the two pictures, the crab skittered a couple yards and disappeared into its hole. This pelican was sitting by itself on a sandbar  in the cove at the south/west end of the beach.

f Pelican on Sandbar

A lot of sand has been washed out at that end of the beach. We turned around and headed back into a great breeze. In fact, there was so much wind today that we actually had a little bit of surf. I mean waves you can hear break.

f Grass Sand Water

This beach always has sponges washed ashore scattered on it. This one looked nice with the sun shining through it. It is common to see someone, usually a woman, carrying one to take home.  I have considered it on occasion, but always decide that they are too sandy and I could buy a clean one in Key West. I haven’t done that either. These are as big as a person’s head.

f Sun Through Sponge

At one spot, people have been turning them into heads and lining them up along the grass. This is half of them and there are more than twenty in this picture.

f Long Row of Sponge Heads

Here is a closer look.

f Row of Sponge Heads

And here are two that I especially liked.  I think this one is a deer

f Sponge Deer

and I just call this one “hair do”.

f Sponge Hair

This beach is usually almost pristine.  However, trash does drift in from the sea.  Today, there were plastic bottles, shoe soles and this earphone with barnacles on it. I’m sure the park employees or volunteers will be out there today picking it up.

f Earphone with Barnacles

A good number of beachgoers had arrived when we got back to the parking lot.  Two fathers were giving their kids rides on paddle boards.  It was right into the sun so I got a silhouette.

f Dad w Two Children on Board

Crane Point Nature Center

It was another beautiful day in paradise. We ate breakfast outside, in our screen room.  We had our annual checkups at noon with Dr. O’Connor. Then we took a real walk in the Crane Point Nature Center. Our first stop was the room with the orientation film to see how nice the room looks with the huge turtle shells mounted on the wall. The walls behind the screen have been painted with leaves.

Then we went to the cracker house to see the new/old shell exhibit.  Neighbors Sue and Mac have been working on it for months.  I’m not sure of the actual division of labor, but think Sue cleaned up the shells in the old exhibit and made new labels. There are a lot of shells in the collection and she looked them up to verify that they were all labeled correctly.  Maybe Mac built the new shadow boxes.  Sue also arranged some of the shells on sand in a jewelry case. In addition to the shells, she made an exhibit of sea beans that may have been her own collection.

We are so impressed with the job they did! It was a lot of work and they did a beautiful job. Here is most of the exhibit. A local artist painted the underwater scene on the front of the case. I love the waves in the back of the case behind the sand. I remember Sue and Mac talking about the job of putting the lights in the case.  They look great.

Sumac Shell Display

Here is a slightly close look of the case and the shells.

Shell Case Closer Up

I did not get a single picture of a shadow box of shells that doesn’t have reflections on it.  Maybe this one will give you an idea of how cool it is.

Sumac Shadow Box

And, here is Sue’s sea bean collection mounted on a fabric map of the world.  Where did she get that map?  She is so clever and artistic.  So is Mac.

Sumac Sea Bean Display

After ooo-ing and ahh-ing over the display, we took our usual walk around Crane Point.  We were delighted to see the Prickly Pear Cactus in bloom.

s Cactus Blooms

 

s Prickly Pear Cactus Bloom

I took a few pictures of the Crane House, which was started in 1954.  It is rather run down and not open to visitors.

s Crane House Back

We walked around to the water side where there is a picture of that side of the house. It had open water views on both sides. The pool is sea water that comes in a narrow opening.

s Crane House

But, now the pool is being taken over by mangroves and the house is obscured.

s Swimming Pool

There were plenty of spiders hanging about.  This is the first one we encountered.  She is a beautiful Golden Orb Weaver.

s Golden Orb Weaver

We saw some kayakers out at the point.  They paddled under the bridge and on east across wide water.

s Kayaks

We stopped at the wild bird hospital.  A few years ago, boating buddies Martin and Betsy bought a picture of a cormorant.  The striking feature was the eye.  I’ve been trying ever since to get a picture of one too.  This cormorant was sitting right next to front of the cage, at my camera height.  I didn’t get the picture I was going for, but I did get a good eye. Isn’t it amazing?

s Cormorant

I was inspired by my eye picture and took a few more in the bird hospital.

s Hawk Eye

s Merlin

s Pelican Eye

 

s Red Shouldered Hawk

We headed back toward the museum and passed the osprey nest atop a tall pole.  As we approached, one of the adults took flight, hovering and squawking.  The one left on the nest glared at us.

s Osprey Watching Me

This road back to the museum is a tunnel through the trees.  There are plenty of spider webs and spiders along there.
s Tunnel Through Trees