October 26, 2015 – Cross Florida Greenway

We are waiting for parts so Sao did not go into the shop today. After lunch, we went on another exploration. This is something that I wanted to see for a long time.  Not because it is anything particularly spectacular to see, I was just curious.

When you drive on Interstate 75 near Ocala, Florida, you go under an overpass with trees on it. I thought it might be part of the corridor system for wildlife movement.  Florida has a number of corridors, greenways, and preserves. Well you just don’t see that many highway overpasses with trees growing on them. We looked it up and it is part of the  Marjorie Harris Carr Cross Florida Greenway, a 110-mile long band of green across the middle of Florida from Palatka, near the east coast, to the Gulf of Mexico. It is about a mile wide in most places. The land is part of an unfinished barge canal to link the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic ocean proposed by King Phillip II of Spain in 1567.  Yes, 1567. Andy found the trail head that would take us to the overpass, called the Land Bridge. And we were off on an adventure.

We had not even reached the trail head from the parking lot when we were awed by a Live Oak tree.  Just LOOK at those branches!

b01

I asked my scale model Andy to stay where he was while I walked closer to the tree to take a picture of him by the three long branches. They are amazing.

b02

We headed on into the forest and saw more Live Oak trees. It was a surreal environment.

b03 Live Oak Limbs

Andy suddenly veered off the trail.

b04 Andy Under Limbs

I soon realized that he had found a good place to sit down and re-tie his shoes.

b05 Andy Tying Shoe on Limb

The next odd sight we came to was a tree on the ground. It looked like a giant wooden octopus ready to grab us.

b06 Splayed Tree

After passing under some branches and getting to the other side, we realized that a huge tree had been split in half.  The half on the right was dead.

b07 Tree Broken in Two

The half on the left, that we had just passed under, was alive and well and had grown a little forest.  What were once branches are now upright trees.

b08 Forest Growing on Downed Tree

The effect of those huge trees hanging over the trail was beautiful.

b09 Trail Under Trees

We came to an area that was clear of underbrush.  Andy figured it was low lying land and is wet some of the time.

b10 No Undergrowth

Here is something else I have never seen before.  Two separate trails were running alongside each other.  There are three trails leaving the parking area and going to the land bridge.  One is for hikers, one for bicycles, and one for horses.  The hiking trail goes the shortest distance, pretty much straight, well a very curvy straight.  The other two trails meander back and forth and cross the hiking trail four or five times. There is also a service road. At this point, the trails were along some private property.

b11 Parallel Trails

Another strange place in the woods was deep in pine straw.  I love pine straw, but this area was just a bit creepy.

b12 Pine Needles Cover Forest Floor

The trail is only 1.1 miles long from the parking lot to the land bridge.  We could hear the traffic on I-75 well before we got to it. I was surprised to see stone walls leading to it. They are the planters for the trees and shrubs. This is the bridge, a one-lane dirt road.

b13 Land Bridge

I widens into a courtyard at the center of the interstate and there are overlooks.  They must be for people, not the animals.

b14 Courtyard on Land Bridge

I-75 was busy as usual.

b15 Overlook on I-75

I noticed two cameras mounted on a post at the beginning of the land bridge and bent over to take a picture of them.

b16 Cameras at Land Bridge

When I stood up and turned around, Andy was posed with his walking stick like a golf club aimed at my behind. He figured that when the wildlife people see a picture of me bent over taking a picture of the camera, they will get a good laugh. That man has a strange sense of humor.

There was a bush loaded with Beauty Berries near the land bridge too.  I was just reading recently that although they are edible, the birds and other animals don’t like them. They don’t eat them unless there is nothing else available.

b17 Beauty Berries

This was a photo op.  The horse trail was crossing our trail  right in front of two big trees.

b18 Horses Crossing Trail

This was a group of five or six trees splayed out over the trail.  We had to climb over them at the base.

b19 Splayed Trees

That was a great walk.

Someone had posted a link to a web site showing how to make rose shaped apple treats made with a can of crescent rolls.  I bought the rolls and an apple and decided to make them tonight.  That’s when I realized that I don’t have any cupcake tins.  I thought I did, but can’t find them.  They are probably under the futon couch under other stuff.  So, I decided to roll them up.

I didn’t follow a recipe; I just put in slices of apple, brown sugar, butter, cinnamon, nutmeg, and toasted pecans. They were super easy and a right tasty. Here they are when I took them out of the oven.

b20 Apple Crescents

Here is one on a plate because that’s the way those food blogs and magazines show their food. I just didn’t have a fancy plate or utensil or table cloth for drama.

b21 Apple Crescent

Advertisements

October 11, 2015 – Alligator Lake Park, Lake City, Florida

We had a wonderful walk today.  One of the nicest ever. Alligator Lake Park is a county park right in Lake City. It is part of the Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail. We chose the three-mile Montgomery Trail, which is on a dike around and through the lake.  The lake had been diked and drained in the 1950s for agriculture.

I have tried to keep my photos in the order taken. I took about 235 pictures today, so this is just a small sample of the park experience. This is the beginning of the trail, just past the trail head sign.

b01 Beginning of Montgomery Trail

This is my first glimpse of the water from the trail.  It looks like Monet took the picture.  The photo did not turn our weird, that is exactly how it looks.

b02 Water Scene

As the trail rounded a curve, it became a grassy lawn. It was grassy most of the three miles.

b03 Path on Dike

There was water on both sides, but it took me a while to realize that we were walking on a dike. My turtle picture did not turn out too sharp.  A lot of the pictures were a bit fuzzy today.  I think the camera had trouble focusing, because the background was always so busy. I am a snapshooter and don’t mess with the camera settings, but I really should learn to use the manual focus. He is a big guy.

b04 Turtle

This is a snowy egret, a bit out of focus as well.

b05

It was a pretty day, but mostly cloudy. Here, we wee approaching a bridge.

b06 Bridge

The landscape was full of these tiny Morning Glories.  They were only about and inch or two across.

b07 Tiny Morning Glories

Here are a couple views of the open water/marsh.

b08 Lake View

I think I took this one from that bridge.

b09 Lake from Bridge

Butterflies were everywhere, fluttering all around us. This one is a Gulf Fritillary.

b10 Orange and Black Butterfly

We got a laugh out of this Tiger Swallowtail inside a blossom.

b11 Butterfly in Flower

I don’t think I have seen one of these before.  Google Images tells me it is a Cloudless Sulphur.

b12 Cloudless Sulphur Butterfly

Zebra Wings always flitter around so fast that I have a hard time getting a picture of one. This one cooperated for me. I had never noticed the red dots along the body on the underside of the wing before.

b13 Zebra Wing Butterfly

I thought this was a moth, but found it with Google Images.  It is a Buckeye Butterfly.  I suppose it is from Ohio.

b14 Buckeye Butterfly

Here is another Snowy Egret standing on a clump of grass out in the water.

b15 Snowy Egret

 

We are a long way from the Everglades, so I was surprised to see Anhingas here.  This is a female.  You can tell by the brown neck and head; males are all black and with white marking on the back.

b16 Anhinga Female

I liked this little island of small cypress trees.  Notice all the water lillies in front of them.

b17 Cypress Trees and Water Lillies

We were walking along and minding our own business when suddenly this huge Great Blue Heron flapped and squawked out of the tree next to us.  It landed just a few yards away, up to its belly in the water.  I said we were just as startled my the heron as it was by us.  Andy thought that knowledge would be of little comfort to the heron.

b18 Startled Great Blue Heron

There were thousands of water lillies on the lake, but I did not get a single picture in sharp focus.  This may be one of the best.

b18 Water Lillies

We came across another Great Blue Heron a bit farther along.  This one was not bothered by us. I just love those red thighs.

b19 Great Blue Heron

Here is another snap of the trail.

b20 Trail

We came to a second bridge.

b21 Arched Bridge

Here is an Ibis sitting in a cypress tree.

b22 Ibis in Cypress Tree

A bit past that bridge, we saw a genuine swamp on the right side.

b23 Swamp

It is beautiful, in a swampy kind of way.

b24 Swamp 2

One more Snowy Egret with the yellow feet showing.

b25 Snowy Egret

After the swamp, we left the water’s edge and walked through a bit of marshy forest.  Before long, we got back to the playground and pavilion where we had parked the car.  The parking lot was full and there were several picnics in progress.  The playground was covered in children. There is also a large, screened in pavilion.

b26 Screened Pavilion

Despite the name of Alligator Lake, we did not see a single alligator today.