I was invited by a good friend to spend some time at his hunting camp this weekend. While I am not generally a hunter, it was an opportunity to spend time with a friend, in the woods, away from civilization, so I was all over it.
What a place! 4,000 acres of pine wood, cypress swamps and palmetto scrub crisscrossed by access roads. What is not to like? Add to that, I met some good people that were friendly and welcoming while we sat by the fire sharing whiskey, stories and a laugh or two.
I have to confess that I was somewhat excited by the possibility of seeing a bear and more so by the chance of getting a picture or two. Sadly, that didn’t happen. but we did see signs that they were in the area.
Oh, and the starry skies. It was a happy coincidence that the trip was on the weekend of the Geminid meteor shower. The stars looked like you could reach up and touch them. All in all, I had a great couple of days. I hope to get an invite back in the future.
Normally I am very safety minded. Ok, well, sort of safety minded, but lately it seems that I have been having some very close encounters with some lizards.
It started about a month ago while exploring Taylor Creek Storm Water Management Area in Okeechobee. As I made my way down one of the roads, I past nine alligators laying along the banks beside the road. They were not huge (4-5′) and not too interested in me, but we were forced to pass 10′ or so from them.
Next was Thanksgiving day. It was cool and on the way out the trail, this gator worked up enough energy to move off and into the water while we past. However, on the trip back, he refused to move. So, I had to pass maybe 6′ in front of this one. I think do to the cool air it was very lazy, but really close.
The most recent encounter was just this weekend. While exploring a trail, I took a photo of this fellow just hanging out.
Before anyone yells at me. I am very aware how dangerous this can be and how fast an alligator is on land. I am not seeking out these close encounters, but there they are. As a very good friend told me “ You’re gonna have to stop wearing dead chickens around your neck when you go hiking.” Hmmm……might be good advice.
In late 1837, Colonel Zachary Taylor lead his commend from Tampa in pursuit of the Seminoles that had been eluding the U.S. Army. Along the way, he established several forts as supply depots. Fort Basinger was one such fort.
After the Civil War, settlers moved into the area and Basinger became a hub of activity with hotels, a school, a general store and post office.
In October of 1908, Edna Pearce Lockett was born on at the site. She would become an officer in the Highlands County and Florida Cattleman’s associations, the third woman elected to the Florida Legislature, a founding member of the Highlands General Hospital and a member of the Florida Agriculture Hall of Fame.
and falling down. The Main house is in bad shape and in need of major renovation. The property is currently owned by the South Florida Water Management District. They have been actively seeking a partner to update the location and open back to the public. Unfortunately, at the time of this posting, they have been unable to find anyone interested and the property may soon go to public auction.
I went out on the Ft. Pierce Jetty last night to see the moon rise. Honestly, it was more spectacular the night before, but I was out west of town and only saw it after it had been up for a while.
I love the ocean. I love the ocean at night. I especially love the moon rise over the ocean. For me, there is something about it that reminds me that all things are fleeting. It comes up a deep orange color, but that only lasts a few minutes as the moon starts to get brighter and brighter until it is the bright sliver white color.
Those dark times only last a few short minutes and then the world becomes a brighter place.
Sometimes in my wanderings I stumble across places that cause my mind to wander back to an earlier time. The Hotel Jacaranda in Avon Park is one of those places. It doesn’t take much imagination to see this magnificent building in it’s heyday. Movie stars, athletes, politicians, bootleggers and the well to do all rubbing shoulders on the terrace or sharing a meal in the dining room.
Opened in 1926, it played host to Babe Ruth, Clark Gable, George Burns, the St. Louis Cardinals and during WWII, pilots in training. It has been in continuous operation since. Purchased in 1988, with the thought of preserving and restoring the hotel, the South Florida State College Foundation purchased the hotel. Now the culinary students prepare meals in the famous kitchen.
When I started this site many years ago, I was fishing 3-5 days a week. Either after work or weekends or holidays or really anytime I could slip away for a few casts. It was relaxing and helped keep the worries of the day at bay for a few hours but also there was the constant thrill of what the next cast would bring.
Well, as it does, life changes and we change. While I always had interests in other things, I didn’t devote a lot of time to them. Now, I find myself spending more and more time chasing those other interests, like history, photography, sight-seeing and generally exploring my world. I find I get the same thrill by looking around the next bend in the road as I do waiting to see what the next cast will bring.
Don’t get me wrong. I will wet a line at the drop of a hat, but I just don’t spend all my free time in the water. That being said, here are a few pictures from fishing this year.
In my wanderings on Thanksgiving Day, I ended up out in Lake Placid. I stumbled across an old roadside fruit stand. The kind that used to be everywhere along Florida’s roadways-you know the ones that sold Florida orange juice, t-shirts and knickknacks with flamingos and alligators on them.
For me, these souvenir stands always make me think of my childhood and family trips to places like Six Gun Territory, Weeki Wachee and Cypress Gardens. Sadly, most of these little roadside pieces of Florida history are gone.
I found this one interesting because while the stand is surrounded by citrus groves, it had a giant pineapple along the road. In case you are unaware, pineapples crops in Florida predate citrus and harken back to the late 1800’s. I could not resist stopping and taking a few shots. Notice the osprey nest in the top of the pineapple.