Moon River Brewing Company, Savannah, Ga.

I have always been fascinated by the strange and unusual, so when I was recently in Savannah, I had to make a visit to the Moon River Brewing Company. Reportedly, Savannah’s most haunted location.

Originally built in 1821 after the great fire that destroyed much of Savannahn as a hotel, it has seen murders and death. According to our guide, it even served as a makeshift hospital during one of the cities fever epidemics.

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My daughter and I, sat for a while enjoying a cool beverage and some snacks. I, then asked our waitress to tell me a ghost story. Then I told a story of places we had been and so it went for a while. Finally, she asked if we wanted to see the upstairs. Well–YEAH!

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We did not get to the 3rd floor though because it is blocked and unsafe. Then we worked our way down to the basement.

I don’t know if the upstairs tour is a normal thing or not, but in my mind it was special treatment that I really appreciate. I highly recommend a visit if you are in Savannah. The beer was cold and tasty on a hot day and the service was great.

As far as ghosts go, I did not see any, but the history in this building is palpable. It would not surprise me if someone from the past is still roaming the old halls.

Rusty Wheels and Warm Memories.

I used to really enjoy listening to Paul Harvey. The reason was simple-he always told you “the rest of the story”. That is the story of my life. Anytime I see an old house, abandoned building or, well, just about anything else, I want to know the story behind it. Most call it being nosy, but I prefer to think of it as curious.

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So you can imagine how my mind raced when I drove through a part of town that I rarely get to and saw an old,old car in the yard. It was rusted and broken with weeds and bushes growing through it. I immediately wanted to know the story of the car, but I was hesitant to just pull in the drive way, knock on the door and start asking questions. I promised myself I would do some leg work and come back.

Well, as often happens, life interfered with my plans and the old car fell off my radar. That is until Saturday afternoon. While driving by again, I saw a lady in the yard and decided this was my chance. I did a little fancy driving and whipped around to pull up along the road.

I got out and asked the lady if that was her car. She politely smiled and said, “Yes but my husband does not want to sell it.” I chuckled a little and told her that I did not want to buy it, I wanted to photograph it. Without any hesitation, she said “Ok, pull in the driveway and I’ll meet you over there.”

While I wandered in circles taking photos from different angles, the lady told me about all the times people had tried to buy this car from her husband. Relatives and strangers had attempted to sway his mind with money. Once someone even stole a piece off the car, but there the car still sat.

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Several times, she said she just didn’t know why he wouldn’t sell it. It was just rusting away. Finally, she told me he that this was the car he was driving when they started dating.

I wrapped up quickly to not inconvenience the folks and wear out my welcome. I thanked her profusely and drove away. As I headed down the road, I thought-“Hmmm…..I think I know why he still held on to the car!” No amount of money can replace the memories he gets each day when he sees that old broken down car outside.

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Fisheating Creek Wildlife Management Area

I visited the Fisheating Creek Outpost in Palmdale, Fl a few months ago. It was beautiful, clean and inviting, but there were also a lot of people around. After doing some reading, I realized that there are two different locations. One is the outpost and campgrounds, while the other is the WMA near Lake Okeechobee. This is the one I was interested in.

The location is home to an ancient native settlement, Seminole War forts and large quantities of wildlife. History, animals and seclusion? That is right up my alley. I decided to take advantage of the unusually cool weather this weekend and set out on a trek. I was up long before the sun and on the road with the goal of being there at sunrise. Hopefully, I would catch some of the wild residence out and about for breakfast.

I did arrive with the sun and my expectations were high as I stopped at the restroom and startled three deer, but that would be the last moment of quiet for the next two miles.
As I went in the gate, the dog at the FWC station started barking and ran to the fence to let me know he saw me. Then as I got past him, I ran into a cattle blockade of the road. The cattle were very nervous and making a lot of noise. At first, I thought it was because of me, but after I got past them, it could still hear some nervous cows in the distance.

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Once I past the dogs and threaded the beef gauntlet, I then acquired my own personal squawk box. This crow followed me for about a half mile. Screeching and squawking the whole way. Finally he lost interest in whatever I did to upset him and went away.

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Between barking dogs, nervous cows and squawking crows, I figured that any self respecting animal in the county had long since decided to run far, far away. Then I looked up and crossing the road ahead of me was a deer totally unconcerned with me and the world in general. My hope was restored.

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As I got close to the hammock, I started entering into the historic areas and archeological sites.

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Archeologist estimate that the Native Americans know as the Belle Glade People inhabited the area for nearly 2500 years prior to Columbus. They dug ponds and ditches, possible grew corn and constructed mounds and structures. I wandered through looking at some of the information signs and trying to imagine the area 2000 years ago.

The photo on the left is from the top of a mound looking down at the info sign on the right which shows aerial photos and how the land is changing through agriculture and the creek.

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On the left, is the info marker for what was once a hand dug burial pond and on the right is an over view of the area.

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Before I got to the burial pond site, it had to wade through some of the locals. They didn’t want to share the space, but I sweet talked my way in.

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The last marker I came to was along the banks of Fisheating Creek. What an amazing view and so peaceful.

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After walking the 2 1/5 miles of the trail and passing all the markers, I thought I had seen all the place had to offer, but I was so mistaken. I came through some trees and was greeted with one of the most amazing vistas I have seen in a very long time. To make it more perfect, there were picnic tables under and oak tree just ahead.

DSCF1681DSCF1679 DSCF1699I sat in that place for a long time feeling the cool breeze, listening to the bees in the wildflowers and trying to decide if I was ever going to go home or if I was going to just live on the banks of that creek forever. Then I caught movement out of the corner of my eye-a lone turkey was wandering through the field. Again, it did not seem to be really worried about me and went about it’s business of breakfast.

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I wandered up and down the creek bed trying to get pictures or video to show what it looked like there. Ultimately, I failed to capture the way it looked and felt. I shot a few little videos-no edits, just joined them all together.

I finally talked myself into getting back on the trail and to explore the hammock trail a little. I had read that there had been panther sightings in the area, but I was very very happy to find tracks along the trail. Although, it did make me a bit more cautious wandering under the low branches while on the trail.

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While on the trail, I saw the back end of dozens of deer. None of which wanted to posse to get there picture taken.

So here is the practical information. If you go, the main “trail” is actually a road and in really good condition. It is about 2 1/5 miles from the parking area to the last marker (#8), so that makes it a 5 mile round trip(6 miles if you do the hammock trail). It is wide open and unprotected for about a mile and a half or more before you get to the hammock and the Fort Center sites. There are 3 little shelters along the road to sit and relax, but once it is hot, I am sure that stretch of the trail will be brutal. Also, skeeters. Lots of the area is flood plain and marsh-remember to bring the spray. You will want it no matter the time of day. There is a FWC yard near the parking area, but I am sure they do not want to go get you, so plan ahead.

Follow this link for more information on the history and wildlife at Fisheating Creek WMA

Here are some random pics from the day.

Letting Go of the Wheel

Very often I get in the car and just drive. No destination and no objective-just to see what I can find. I can’t tell you how many times I have come to an intersection and thought “Hmmm…..I wonder what is down here?”, and turned down the road. Often I stumble across some amazing stuff.

Well, that is what happened with an old house(built in 1931) in Okeechobee a few weeks ago. I randomly turned and at the end of the street was an old house that had obviously seen a better day.

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I took a few pics and discovered that the house was badly damaged due to a fire. Since there were Christmas decorations around and a spot on the wall that looked like where a tree had been, I surmised it was a Christmas tree fire.

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I spent some time taking pictures because, regardless of the “FOR SALE” sign in the yard, I knew that the building was not salvageable.

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My first visit was March 7th. On March 19th, I was out that way again and the house was gone. The bulldozers had done there work and all they left was the “FOR SALE” sign.

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I am glad that I followed the steering wheel that day and got to take the last photos of what was once a home.

 

Everybody needs a little time away

I just realized that it has been a couple of weeks since I posted an update. So what have I been up to?

I was asked to contribute to a project. I have kept my head down doing research and writing trying to be responsible(I know out of character, lol) and get stuff done by my deadline. Well, I finished my part, now I can get back to goofing off.

I sent my camera back to the manufacturer for some warranty work. Happily, it has been fixed and on it’s way home. I have been borrowing a camera for a few weeks and I am grateful to have it, but I will be happy to have mine again.

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Lastly, my daughter was home for Spring Break. I loved getting to see her. Dinner at Crawdaddy’s. Crawfish, oysters and muscles. And lunch at Archie’s for burgers all round.

IMG_8620 Photo-0245 Now time to get back to the regularly scheduled program for me. You know, swamp wandering and wildlife chasing.

Eagle Family Feud.

I was driving home yesterday and passed a pair of eagles on a pole. It wasn’t until I got home and looked through the pictures and noticed that it looks like someone is in trouble.

Perhaps he forgot to take out the eagle trash, or was paying a little too much attention to the sparrow next door or stayed out too late with Harry Hawk and Fred Falcon. Whatever it was, I bet he won’t do it again.

IMG_8302IMG_8309IMG_8308IMG_8310Maybe it is just my imagination,or maybe I am a little off, but I am just laughing and laughing. Someone certainly is not sleeping in the nest tonight. Looks like a long night on a branch ahead.

The Pitfalls of Life Through the View Finder

Does anyone remember the old Atari game “Pitfall”? You know, the one where the intrepid adventurer(Pitfall Harry) swings over alligator pits on vines, dodges quick sand, explores caves and hurdles snakes in an effort to reach the treasure chest in the end and avoid the pitfalls. That is sometimes how I feel. Sadly, I am much less graceful than ole Harry.

I have always had an interest in photography, but put it aside for a long time. In the last couple of years, I have picked up a camera again and taken it along as I explore my world. Not so much from the artistic side, but more to show people the way I see my home state and why I love it.

In an effort to get closer and better pictures of animals, places and buildings, I realized that I have been playing my own version of the game. Here are a few examples.

As I was trying to get closer to this osprey, I was so focused on him, that I nearly walked off a 6′ seawall. That would have been a great video, but a long ride home crumpled and bleeding.

Chance of Death Scale:Eh

Chance of Broken and Bruised Scale: Most definitely

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Now, that was a close call, but I have developed a special bond with the large reptiles of South Florida. Well, I don’t know if “bond” is the word-more like I keep trying to get closer and they try to decide if I would taste better with ketchup or hot sauce (everything is better  with hot sauce).

Chance of Death Scale: Moderate to Very Possible

Chance of Wetting Shorts: Very High to Likely

DSCF0248 DSCF0250I am a history geek and love old buildings. The smell of old wood and the lives of the people that have past through them provide an irresistible draw for me. However, often there is a reason and old building is abandoned and condemned. Neglect and nature can quickly take a toll. Collapsed ceilings, weak floors, mold, sketchy paint flakes and the likelihood of the random homeless encounter add to the possibility that I will be staring in my own “Mayhem” commercial.

Chance of Death: Little to none

Chance of Falling through the Floor: Probable

Chance of Inhaling Mutant Mold Spores: Extreme

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So, let’s see. I covered falling off stuff, alligators and dark abandoned places. What am I forgetting? Oh yeah, SNAKES! Rest assured that I am not out hurdling vipers, but I will grab a picture or two if they sit still long enough.  Most of the time, they are harmless. For instance, this little guy was cold and wanted us to just leave him alone. He got his picture taken and was left to be on his way. However, I am always on the lookout for his larger, grumpier relatives.

Chance of Death: NAH!

Chance of a Cool Medivac Helicopter Ride if I get Bitten: Without a doubt.

Chance of Crying like a Small Child after being Bitten: 100%

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It makes me sad to say, I have yet to find a gold bar or diamond ring or even a bag of money for that matter. What I have found is a few good stories, seen some amazing scenery and made some new friends. Maybe one day I will find a pot of gold, but with my luck it will be on an alligator’s back in an abandoned barn buried deep in some snake infested swamp. I think I can hear the theme from “Raiders of the Lost Ark” playing in my head—I gotta go!

Doing a little catching up.

I’ve had some irons in the fire lately and have been trying to focus, so my wandering has been a little limited. However, I have done a little so here is an update.

I went to the Battle of Okeechobee Re-enactment a couple of weeks ago. I try to go every year because, well, I like history and the food is good. The battle itself, which was fought on December 25th, 1837, was the largest of the 2nd Seminole War. You can read a post I did on the battle here:

The Battle of Okeechobee

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My camera is at the manufacturer getting a little repair work, or as I call it some spa time. So when I was out wandering last weekend, I came across an old house that I thought was just in need of some love, but when I got closer I discovered that there had been a fire. Probably from the Christmas tree. It was sad wandering around the debris.

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Well, now we are all caught up. More to come!

 

Eagle’s Eye View

I have been having some luck lately stumbling across eagles in various places.

Maybe they were always there and I never noticed, but I don’t remember seeing them anywhere when I was younger. The only time you might have caught a glimpse is on the way to the Keys.

I saw two at McCarty Ranch Preserve on Saturday. They were far away, but they were there.

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Yesterday, on Indian River Dr., I saw another sitting on a nuclear warning siren.

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Saturday, I did a little bass fishing. This is not my best thing. In fact, I’m terrible at it. Needless to say, I did no bass catching. So I took sunset pictures instead. Yep, I’ll be that guy!

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A Little Time for Me!

Well, ok, I take a lot of time for me, but Tuesday I had some stuff to take care of early and decided to spend the rest of the day roaming around town.

Nothing special, but it is nice to just get out and soak in the world around you.twitter coyote-3twitter coyote

I sat on the tower at the Savannas Recreation Area and listened to the wind blow across the grass for about an hour. Then I stopped at another county park to just stretch my legs some. This place has some bamboo growing. When I am there, it makes me feel like I am of in some tropical jungle somewhere. Silly I know, but I still love the bamboo.

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There are some old river beds in this area and even a stream or two.

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After all this excitement, I seized the opportunity to take an afternoon nap. In all, not exciting and no rare animals, but I felt pretty good about it.