Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Road Trip!

We decided to take a day off today to play. We have been curious about Yee Haw Junction since our musician friends, Karen and Galen visited us. The Junction has a big Blue Grass Music Festival every year but we didn't know when.  Although I can't imagine telling folks back home your Florida Winter Getaway is in Yee Haw Junction, there are a lot of weird names down here.
Well...the place was a crossroads...Stuckys/gas station, little ticket hut (closed), and a "historic" motel / restaurant / bar...historic meaning pretty run down.
We turned right...nothing. Turned around and went back to the crossroads and went West. Oh, there is the big field with the "Music Festival Jan 28-30" sign and after that...nothing. We could go back the way we came (East) but we know there is nothing down that way. One way left...to Okeechobee 30 miles. Ok...and we will have lunch at Lightsey's.
For 30 miles there was never a light or any other reason to stop but it was interesting. Then we saw the sign announcing "McArthur's Cattle Ranch...growing with Florida for 75 years". For the next 3 miles we drove through the middle of an enormous ranch which stretched to the horizon on either side of the highway. As we drove away from the ranch we saw 3 Super-cab trucks full of cowboys each towing a livestock trailer full of horses all saddled and ready to go to work.
I thought about what my friend, Shawn,  told me about the women pulling alongside the road to watch the cowboys working the cattle. Mmmmm...I knew how hard I would be looking on the way home...and I did, but I never saw a working cowboy. Roman didn't know it, but he WOULD have pulled over. Well, we are going again in April for a class reunion at Lightsey's and I will be watching VERY closely.
Okeechobee is a no-nonsense, fisherman's town.  A lot of RV parks, and some not very fancy.  The first time we went to Okeechobee, oh, some 20 years ago, we had a few days to kill with a rental car, and figured we would go visit the next biggest freshwater lake to our beloved Great Lakes.  Well, if you think you are going to gaze at lovely lake scenes forget it. 
The lake is surrounded by a very high dike.  There are a couple of gates through the berm and a system of navigable (and fish-able) canals.
There is a large state park with a lovely marina and a well-known restaurant, Lightsey's.
The specialty of the house is, of course, FISH.  
Seafood Salads, especially, are great.

Everyone has to get a photo taken with this "catch".
Then we drove around the marina looking for a view of the lake.  I rather liked this one.


Monday, February 22, 2010

Lunch Time Entertainment

If you watch closely you can find a lot of drama in Nature.

This afternoon I was with two friends having lunch at Captain Hiram's, looking out at the Intercoastal Waterway otherwise known as The Indian River.  We, along with others enjoying lunch, noticed the telltale fin of a porpoise inside the marina area.   Then as we watched 4 pelicans began following the dark shadow of the porpoise. 
Even when we couldn't see the fin we knew just where the porpoise was.  We guessed  they were just being friendly, keeping an eye on the big Mammal or waiting for meal scraps.
Then it seemed as if they realized he was after THEIR food and they began flapping their wings and driving the lone porpoise back to his pod, outside the harbor.
Saturday, February 20, 2010

Warmth and Birds...at Last


Like Woody Woodpecker, you hear a Piliated Woodpecker before you see him. Besides that, all of our woodpeckers are hide-and-seek masters, moving around the tree trunk keeping the post between themselves and cameras.
A Great Blue Heron swooped in and took up in the tree across the bay...for a bit. As I was concentrating on the Grebe in the lake he dove, came up with a 12 inch fish and flew to the end of the lake. Photo I Missed.

This Grebe was just swimming along when he MAY have heard the click of the camera and off he went!
Just swimming along.
We have been watching this nest for 5 years.  The first two the nest was built and used by a pair of Osprey.
  The third year it was a family of Great Horned Owls who enjoyed the view.  Last year the Osprey were back.  This year there wasn't a stick of the nest that remained after some high winds, but the "Fish Eagle" family rebuilt it better than ever in just 2 days. 

  
Thursday, February 18, 2010

Orchids

Several years ago I tried to grow an orchid in Michigan, but it just died.  Then I took home a pot of "ground orchids" which are quite hardy in Florida...almost a weed.  Nope...didn't make it.

Last year R gave me a nice potted orchid for Valentines Day and I bought a book.  By the time we headed back to Michigan the blooms were fading.  I also took back a pot with some little pieces I found under the bushes at my neighbor's vacent house.  The plants were potted in real orchid pots in good orchid potting mix.  I couldn't find any orchid plant food in Michigan and left my book in Florida but I did remember that they thrive on neglect and need filtered sun and to be watered and drained once a week.  Any Michigan temps below 50 degrees and I brought the orchids into the sun room (S and E exposures).
By the time we returned to Florida two of the orchids were in bloom and I was NOT about to abandon them.  One stalk was broken in the transport, but the other, the collection from under the bushes, was in fine shape.  I think all of the plants, especially the one blooming, are ascocenda.

Since then I have added two more pots.  One is a white phalaenopsis I purchased at a local nursery.  
The other new plant is actually two plants in one pot.  One is white and one is lavender; both are phalaenopsis
Now the original phalaenopsis with the broken stalk is sending up a strong flower stalk from just below the break.  I think I am ready to look for some plants a little different.  Maybe even a cattleya or vanda.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Some Recent Photos

This is where we go almost every evening...or USED to.  It has been so cool this year we haven't sat here but a few times.  We had The Big Freeze right after we arrived.  Some areas are still getting rid of  dead plants and trees and trimming off the damage from that disaster.  Now here we are in another cold snap with a lot of rain.  The northern panhandle of Florida is looking for (shiver) SNOW.

We rose a little after 4 AM for the last ever night launch from Kennedy Space Center.  Actually we got up 2 mornings because of a scrub on the first launch.  I took this shot from the video  but you can only see a flame rising in the black sky.
This was an Atlas Rocket delivering a solar probe into space.  That launched on 02-11-2010 in the late morning.  Not spectacular but we try not to miss any launches.  The Cape is over an hour away by car but the launches are easily visible from the front yard.
Later that same day as I headed to the mall after some fresh furnishings for the newly painted bathroom, I had to come to a dead stop to let this guy cross the highway.  This is the first Sandhill Crane I have seen in 2010.  Last year I learned that one species of Sandhill is the Florida variety which never migrates.
Their babies are hatched here in Florida and if you see little ones those are the Florida guys.  The migratory Sandhill Cranes have their hatchlings in the North late in the spring and don't migrate to Florida until the babies can fly with them.  They do come in families but the babies are big and speckled by then.

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Laura Lou
Michigan/Florida, United States
I am a retired Middle School Science teacher from Michigan spending 4 months each winter in Florida and learning about a whole new world.
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