Spring Bloomers

Spring Bloomers
Spring Bloomers

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Georgia's Little Grand Canyon

Most of my weekends have been rainy for the last few weeks. . But by February 27, I thought the rain and clouds would be gone, if I headed east.  I found Providence State Park which advertised itself as Georgia's Little Grand Canyon.  It sounded fun so I set off very early in the morning, hoping to be at the park for sunrise.  The sun and I were both late and I arrived to find clouds and fog.  I decided I didn't want to hike on the wet trails and thought I'd have time to visit nearby Eufaula National Wildlife Refuge before the sun planned to make an appearance. So I took a few pictures to document spring's progress and headed off. I didn't make it back until mid afternoon when I was in bright sunlight and often shooting into the sun.

The new pine cones are growing

The woods are full of white blooming trees and shrubs

Carolina jasmine was at its peak

Another wild fruit tree in bloom

 Providence Canyon consists of 16 canyons. They are growing wider while the bottoms, made of more stable clay and which  also being colonized by pine trees. are holding steady.  The pinnacles are also eroding and disappearing.

 I ended up hiking around the rim before running out of time, energy, and camera battery.  These canyons are the result of poor farming practices about 150 years ago which caused the soils to erode very rapidly, exposing the geologic record of up to 75 million years.

If you would like to learn more about the soils in this canyon, check out this article.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

My Version of the Winter Walk-Off

March 3, 2018

One of the most fun things in my current lifestyle, is the ways I've met new friends.  I now get to pick from the cream of the crop of people who share many of my values, sense of humor, view of the world, and hobbies, from across the country as I volunteer.  And I've had my blog as long as I've been a resident volunteer and have made several virtual friends  through sharing blogs with them or finding their blogs.

One of my first virtual, than real friends is Les Parks, from Norfolk, Virginia.  He writes TWO blogs, one to document his garden and sometimes his work garden, The Norfolk Botanical Garden or other interesting places involving plants, while the other blog  documents his kayaking trips. Since gardening and paddling are probably my top two passions, I soon was commenting on his blogs and he on mine.  Then, just before I was due to work in the Outer Banks of North Carolina, he described a paddle he had done that left me envious.  I asked him if we could get together and paddle when I got up his way. He responded by inviting me to paddle at Merchant's Millpond State Park.

Of course I agreed and drove on north past my assignment to the park to camp before our planned meet-up.  I was already out taking pictures when a car drove up with a kayak on top and a voice said "Marilyn?"I responded Les? and we continued our conversion as though we had known each other always. For that story, click here.

Les invites bloggers to link to his Winter Walk-Off.  I've never had a blog that could fit that category, when he runs it in March, but this year I actually have a few that could qualify. This will be my entry.

My weekend - actually Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday,  was supposed to be cloudy and rainy.  So I planned to do local stuff. I went to Columbus to check out their botanical garden and spent an enjoyable few hours there.  Then I decided to go down and take a walk on the Riverwalk. This is some of what I enjoyed.

The trail begins by an island and where there is a huge wave train where kayakers come to play. Other people fish along the river.  I walked along the river and then had even more fun walking back through the historical district on a street a few blocks from the river,  where there is a great diversity of home styles and colors.  Come along and enjoy a beautiful spring day.

A long view to the island a a few islands

Kayaker in bottom of wave train

I think this must have been a hammock party up the hill from the trail

I loved this color combination, although it is a little washed out from the strong, late sun

How could anybody be unhappy living here

This house was the pretty blue you see at the end and beautifully landscaped

These owners won the award for most plants in the smallest space

There were a lot of craftsman homes

This was almost small enough to fit me

This tree was amazingly large

There were lots of pretty ladies

I walked a few extra blocks to see the entire church under that beautiful steeple but the rest was pretty blah

Another glorious color combination

I was excited to find a dogwood tree starting to bloom - the blooms were at the top while the buds were lower

Loved the architecture of this house as well as the crisp paint job

As I went down the street, the houses got bigger

Suddenly I was out of the neighborhood and back in the city

Then I reached an area with lots of restaurants, bars, and trendy stores - tulips decorated the medians

I loved the chess players

I appreciated this concept to give cyclists a fighting chance

Although this "bike' was pretty intimidating

This seemed so much like New Orleans that I had to cross the street behind my car to capture it

And even the iron work looked like New Orleans

Although this was a 'winter' walk-off, I didn't find much evidence of winter, except for a few dormant trees.  I'd have to call this a spring walk-on.

To enjoy other winter walks, check out Les's blog and the comments.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Birds and Manatees Up Close

February 19, 2018

My last day in Florida was supposed to involve swimming with manatees. Cindy and I dragged ourselves of bed, at 5:00 A.M., put on swimsuits under our clothes and drove the two miles to the Birds Under Water Dive Center.  The first thing we found out was that the unusual hot weather had caused the manatees to leave for the year, six weeks early and that we would be lucky to see one manatee. We had both been on an earlier tour where we had a fantastic time and where Cindy took underwater pictures,  plus we bought the video taken by the captain while we were in the water with the manatees. To read about that trip, click here.

So when the shop offered to return our money, we took them up on it and went off to find breakfast and coffee. Then we went on south to Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park. This park has birds and mammals, as well as injured manatees that they are rehabilitating or else can't be returned to the wild, and will spend out their years here. So there are lots of opportunities to get up close and personal to the animals. And there is a glass room on top of a warm spring.  This brings in both saltwater fish and manatees during the winter, which of course we were not experiencing. This day, there were only a few fish hanging out.

There were a few manatees getting rehabilitated. I think they had been  cut by boat propellers.

White pelican in breeding plumage -

A pair of white pelicans had this baby - we learned it was born in January

A pair of brown pelicans - they nest in trees when they are available

This pelican was taking a bath

The resident panther is very hard to find

There was at least one river otter swimming madly around its pool

A black-crowned night heron

In another enclosure, we found a black-crowned night heron sitting on eggs

A head shot of a whooping crane

Male wood duck

The bowl of lettuce was in the tire float and these guys are getting hand fed

Ain't he cute?

A wood stork in a tree

A very intense green-backed heron

A roseate spoonbill in breeding plumbage

Giant swallowtail feeding on azaleas

If you get to central Florida, be sure to take the tour with Birds Under Water.  And do visit the state park.

All too soon it was time to have a wonderful sea food lunch back in Crystal Springs, then drive the few hours back to Jacksonville.  After Cindy delivered me to my car, she went on to a motel near the airport and I drove another forty-five to have a very enjoyable visit with friends.  I came home the following day and was back to work the next day.