Blue Skies above Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park @ Homosassa, Florida

“Blue skies smilin’ at me / Nothin’ but blue skies do I see..”Irving Berlin

Under a mix of rain and rolling grey clouds, I had hit the Florida highway toward Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park. With elements in flux, I had questioned the wisdom of following through on a Wednesday’s morning impromptu road trip; however, after finishing the commute into their parking lot, the weather cleared into postcard Florida sunshine and blue skies.

Waters of Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park @ garzafx.com

While absent opportunities for swimming or canoeing, this excursion had provided in person viewing of Florida’s indigenous wildlife like the panther, bobcat, fox, and more. Of the many on-premise animals, very few, I had seen in the outdoors except gators, otters and manatees. Another hallmark of the park was “The Underwater Observatory”, a.k.a. “Fish Bowl.” This submerged area had permitted visitors an alternate perspective in watching fish and the playful manatees.

Blue Skies above Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park 2 Fish @ Garzafx.com

After clearing the “Fish Bowl,” I had wandered down the Wildlife Walk boardwalk. Here, the bulk of the park’s creatures were concentrated concurrently from flamingos to the Florida Panther to the reptile pavilion. The highlight for myself was hearing electrifying calls of bald eagle.

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Toward the end of loop on the boardwalk, past the reptile exhibit, I had caught glimpse of resting alligators. Across from the gators was the only non-indiginous creature on display, a 50 plus year old hippo. Turning the corner around its holding area, I had noticed a sign with an image of the backside of  a hippo with tail swinging side to side. According to park ranger earlier in the day, the sign had served as warning of the hippo’s playful spraying behavior.  A behavior, which had offered as motivation for clearing the area after seeing this hippo heading to the dry embankment.

Blue Skies above Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park 3 Gator @ Garzafx.com

Initially, I had held a certain apprehension about visiting a park without options for water bound activities; however, the charm of seeing so many indigenous Floridian animals had won me over.  The big takeaway was seeing kids and other adults being equally enamored by showcased wildlife. Of the many state parks, this one was worth the travel even under threatening skies.

Manatee Programs: 11:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m.

Alligator/Hippopotamus Program at 12:30 p.m.



Address: 
4150 South Suncoast Boulevard, Homosassa, FL 34448

Hours: 9 AM – 5:30 PM, 365 days a year.

Admission: Adults, $13.00, Children 6-12 $5.00, Florida State Park Pass Holders, Free.

Note, The last tickets are sold at 4:45 p.m.

Read More:
Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park (Florida State Parks)
Blue Skies (1926 song) (Wikipedia)

The Life of Lake Lily Park @ Maitland, Florida

For years now, I had pulled into the parking lot at Lake Lily for a range of different experiences. Sometimes, it was checking out the Sunday morning farmer’s market. Other times, it was hanging out with a good friend or date for conversation. Yet others, it was repeatedly lapping the half mile loop for exercise.

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Despite being off I-4 and state road 1792, I was still able to find quiet moments in thought. Stringing all these moments together was nature. Somehow, the park’s charm was the ability in subverting urban civilization.

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Perhaps, it was the gratifying connection of feeding the ducks, squirrels or turtles. This action had always brought adults and children degrees of satisfaction.

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In passing, a fellow co-worker had mentioned this being one of his favorite spots in Orlando. With sun shimmering on the lake and the animals congregating about, I had continued to understand why.

 

Lake Lily Park is located at 701 Lake Lily Drive, Maitland, Florida 32751.

Hours: 8:00 AM – 10:00 PM (daily)

Admission: Open to the public

Read More:

Maitland’s Farmer’s Market (itsmymaitland.com)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rock Springs in Kelly Park on a Sunday Afternoon @ Apopka, Florida

My first fall living in the Greater Orlando area, a friend had drove me out to Kelly Park in Apopka, Florida. Unsure of the distance, the commute had seemed to take an eternity in the passenger seat from downtown. This weekend, I had decided to “Pay it forward” by inviting out another friend for a drift down the clear waters of Rock Springs.

Before hitting the road on this Sunday afternoon, I had called the front gate verifying park capacity. Luckily, even with a late start around noontime, foot traffic was light because of morning temperatures starting in the 60s. During the last two miles of the drive, we had pulled into a road side vendor renting inter-tubes. After picking up two for $3 cash a piece, we had headed for the park entrance.

After parking, my friend and I had walked about the perimeter of the springs and accompanying run. Entering at the spring head, I had started swimming against the current, raising my body temperature preparing for our trek. After a few minutes of swimming in place, I had hoisted myself above a split in the limestone overhang.

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On re-entry, I had sat atop the inter-tube quickly passing under the first wooden boardwalk. Turning right into the first bend, the current was moving at a brisk pace. During this moment, the shade had gave way to the warming sunshine. An inch long, metallic looking, blue dragon fly had landed on my knee. Then, it had hovered, landed and flown away.

Passing the bulk of human activity on the second bend, we had reached the final stretch of water. At the third and final bend, the sounds of  lapping water and crickets had communicated a calm serenity. Another dispersion of dragon flies had passed above the water.  Now, that long drive years ago was small penance on this picturesque Florida day.

 

Kelly Park is located at:
400 E Kelly Park Road, Apopka, Florida 32712

Hours:
Summer: 8 a.m.- 8 p.m.;
Winter: 8 a.m.- 6 p.m.;
Monday – Sunday

Phone:
(407) 254-1902
Admission:
$3 per vehicle for 1-2 people; $5 per vehicle for 3-8 people

Read More:

Kelly Park/Rock Springs (Orange County)

Prelude to the Fall in Gemini Springs Park @ DeBary, Florida

Today had marked my second visit to Gemini Springs in the past few years. The last time out, I was visiting some friends playing flag football in the open green spaces of this park. On this October afternoon, I had searched for solitary moments for recording video and stills; however, human activity had reached a fever pitch filling the air with sounds of conversation and horse play.

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Making my way to the lake and spring boil, I had run into stray squirrels going up and down the various bridges. Despite all the surrounding water and soft mud on the water’s edge, noticeably absent were mosquitoes from my previous week’s journey to Green Springs, just a few miles away.

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Circling the lake, I had looked about for a slithering reptile or two. No such activity had existed to satisfy my curiosity. The only water borne creatures that had swam about, mullet and a turtle. With soft yet firm cool breezes pushing through trees and across the water’s surface, I had focused on some red and purple flowers. These blooms I had concluded wouldn’t be around much longer.

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Last time leaving this park, a thunderstorm was rolling in a with palpable change of weather. With an overcast morning giving way to sunshine and blue skies, a transformation had begun.This tangible sense of nature had resurfaced with a prelude to the fall.

Gemini Springs Park is located at: 37 Dirksen Drive, DeBary

Hours: Sunrise to sunset

Admission: Free

Read More:

Gemini Springs Park (volusia.org)

Lot 1, Canaveral National Seashore @ Titusville, Florida

Driving a new route into National Canaveral Seashore park, I was reminded of the expansive acreage encompassing the area. On the left, I had viewed many charred trunks of palms from controlled burns. On the right shoulder, I had seen the most butterflies since being in elementary school. Before my final turn into the park gate, a solitary turtle had struggled to cross the center of the road. Fortunately, the lack of traffic had allowed me to swerve slightly into the median avoiding a possible road kill, buzz-kill moment.

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Arriving at the gate, I had thought out loud,”How many times have I been here over the past year? Maybe I should just get a pass?” At that moment, the ranger had waved us past the guard house. The reason was National Public Lands Day, meaning free admission to any national park. I was ecstatic at the surprise of saving $5. Perhaps, it was good karma for showing mercy upon the tiny turtle earlier on?

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Eventually parking at Lot 1, a few ladies were headed to their vehicle. They had commented out-loud on the rough surf. With that thought in mind, I had carefully waded into the seas wondering,”How rough?” After few moments of swimming and trending water, the undertow seductively had pulled me out beyond my comfort level. After this realization, I had swam back to shallows enjoying the forceful nature of the waves while swimming in place. It had served as an extra round of exercise over the heated gym pool earlier in the morning.

After wrapping up for the afternoon, I had headed toward the boardwalk. Right next to the wooden steps, a fish head had captured my attention. Not too far away was a small cluster of pink flowers blooming. The Canaveral National Seashore had always served as reminder of the duality of nature. Sometimes showcasing life, other moments, it had offered testament to death with an empty shells or carcasses. The reason for my affinity for the park was this dichotomy.

flowers ccss

If you hadn’t visited this park, the next day for free admission was November 11, Veterans Day. The vast acreage had offered opportunities for fishing, swimming, hiking and primitive camping. For more information visit,  Canaveral National Seashore (National Park Service)

Read More:

Free Entrance Days in the National Parks (National Park Service)

Top 5 Sci-Fi Summer Movies of 2014

With September in the rear view mirror, I had thought time for reflecting on my favorite summer Sci-Fi films with some of them finally transitioning to DVD and Pay-Per-View. Along the way, I had watched The Amazing Spiderman 2GodzillaInto the Storm, Transformers: Age of Extinction and a few other non-genre films. Of the those aforementioned titles, adjectives like overindulgent, slow and derivative had come to mind. Then, there were movies worthy of paying full price of admission on opening weekend. These five movies had encapsulated great elements of Sci-Fi with sophisticated special effects, highly choreographed action sequences, exploring mature themes of “What does it mean to be human?”, humor, drama, and more.

5. X-Men: Days Of Future Past

After X-Men 3: The Last Stand and Wolverine films, this franchise had started heading into a downward spiral toward mediocrity; however, building on the First Class prequel, Days of Future Past had placed the X-Men brand back in the proper light. This film had continued exploring the conflict of interests and relationships between Magneto, Charles Xavier and Mystique. These characters had provided the centerpiece for which action flows. The three big takeaways were Quicksilver’s scene stealing moments, the end, and post credits teaser for X-Men: Apocalypse (2016).

4. Guardians of the Galaxy

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This colorful entry was nimble at shifting tone from the sublime to serious and back. With characters like Rocket Raccoon emulating a cat, Groot grooving, and Drax the Destroyer’s literal nature, I hadn’t remembered a Sci-Fi picture working so hard in commanding my attention with humor and action. With an antagonist like Ronan The Destroyer, a movie watcher wasn’t required to know a lot about comics, just knowing the difference between good vs. evil would suffice. The movie was also strong closer with a final musical number. Though, the post-credit scene had left me with a “What the frack?” moment but, smiling all the way out the theater.

3. Captain America 2: The Winter Soldier

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Action, action, and more action had epitomized this sequel. With the theme of conspiracy, the story had changed the rules for victory. During first half of the film, Captain America had articulated,”This isn’t freedom. This is fear!” This social commentary on government encroaching on personal privacy had elevated the story into contemporary pop culture, recalling recent stories of the NSA. With an equally matched bad guy in the Winter Soldier, Cap’s victory was hard fought leaving open questions for a Captain America 3.

2. Rise of Planet of the Apes

“Rise” had invoked a primal response by blending acting and special effects. Emotionally investing into Caesar’s survival was easy when forgetting the line between real and fantasy. The opening and closing shots on Caesar’s eyes had sealed the deal for #2. Putting aside how guns undercut a natural order, the story had depicted the story of two leaders, one human and one ape. Both, despite their best attempts had tragically failed at avoiding a broadening conflict between species. With two great plot twists and CGI hair, I had learned to “Like apes, more than humans.”

1. Edge Of Tomorrow

With Tom Cruise playing against his action hero archetype, I had found this movie a pleasant surprise. With an alien invasion and a time loop, this film had delivered a flurry of action sequences. With an ending leaving my head bent, this story had explored different elements of this genre exceedingly well. A surprise why? I hadn’t believed possible such a satisfying Sci-Fi film with Tom Cruise cast despite his other films like Minority Report or Oblivion. Hmm, maybe it was the joy of watching Cruise’s numerous death scenes or the futuristic combat gear?

Read More:

X-Men: Days Of Future Past (rottentomates)

Guardians of the Galaxy (rottentomatoes)

Captain America 2: The Winter Solder (rottentomates)

Dawn of Planet of the Apes (rottentomates)

Edge Of Tomorrow (rottentomates)

CENTOS 6.5 VMWare Guest VM’s network no longer works, “destination unreachable”

In the course of supporting a CENTOS 6.5 VM guest under VSphere 5.5, I had experienced three different scenarios of losing network connectivity. These scenarios had included a P2V conversion, network driver update (E1000 > VMXNET3), and full VM restore. In each instance, I had begun my adventure typing ping at command prompt interrogating the gateway, ultimately receiving the error “destination unreachable.” With each instance, I had gained a little bit more experience as Windows guy on UNIX. I had hoped summarizing those collective experiences in the steps below.

With respect to CENTOS 6.5 P2V conversion support by VMWare, this was officially untested as of July 2014. For more information on “Using VMware vCenter Converter Standalone to convert physical or virtual CentOS 5.x machines to vSphere 5.1 environments” go to SpiceWorks click here. The scope of these steps had expected an administrator already verifying VM Guest adapter being “enabled” and available. Additionally, I had thought to iterate having the proper VLANs configured in VMWare guest settings and any attached network equipment. So, if you had received “destination unreachable” when pinging your gateway begin with the below:

A. REVIEWING NETWORK INTERFACES

1. Login as root

2. Review active OS network connections, run the command, ip a

Example:

# ip a

1: lo: <LOOPBACK,UP,LOWER_UP> mtu 16436 qdisc noqueue state UNKNOWN

link/loopback 00:00:00:00:00:00 brd 00:00:00:00:00:00

inet 127.0.0.1/8 scope host lo

inet6 ::1/128 scope host

valid_lft forever preferred_lft forever

2: eth0: <BROADCAST,MULTICAST,UP,LOWER_UP> mtu 1500 qdisc mq state UP qlen 1000

link/ether 00:50:56:b7:79:ef brd ff:ff:ff:ff:ff:ff

inet 192.24.1.10/24 brd 172.26.253.255 scope global eth0

inet6 fe80::250:56ff:feb7:79ef/64 scope link

valid_lft forever preferred_lft forever

 

3. Review network adapter IP configuration, go to /etc/sysconfig/network-scripts/

 

4. List files in the directory with ls command. The listed interface files should match up with the results of #2.

Example:

ifcfg-eth0

ifcfg-lo

 

5. If an extra or odd numbered interface exist, say ifcfg-eth1, I had recommended making a copy of the file (i.e. cp ifcfg-eth0 backup.ifcfg-eth0).

6. Review the network interface configuration in VI with the command (i.e. vi ifcfg-eth1, vi ifcfg-eth0, etc).

Example of output:

DEVICE=eth0

ONBOOT=yes

BOOTPROTO=static

NM_CONTROLLED=no

IPADDR=172.26.253.10

NETMASK=255.255.255.0

 

7. To save the file without changes, type :q

 

8. To make changes, I had recommended going to CSU Basic vi Commands Page to learn the following commands:

for insert

:wq
for save

9. A  file that requires changes, focus on two things;

a. the filename (i.e. cp ifcfg-eth6 ifcfg-eth0).

b. Ensure the value DEVICE= matches the necessary interface (i.e. eth0 vs. eth6)

10. After making the necessary changes, restart network server, service network restart.

B. REVIEW DEFAULT GATEWAY CONFIGURATION

11. If you were still unable to ping the gateway, perform route print, route

Example A:
Destination             Gateway    GenMask  Iface default
192.24.10.1             0.0.0.0         UG             eth0

Example B:
Destination             Gateway   GenMask   Iface default
192.24.10.1             0.0.0.0      UG              eth6

In Example B, the wrong interface is configured. To correct, run the following snippet from/sbin/ route add -net 0.0.0.0 gw 192.24.10.1 eth0

 

C. IS NETWORK MANAGER STARTED?

12. If ping had continued to fail to gateway, verify Network Manager service status.

13. Verifying Network Manager running on any interfaces, #chkconfig –list Network Manager

 

Example of output: NetworkManager 0:off   1:off   2:off   3:off   4:off   5:off   6:off

a. To stop NetworkManager service, service NetworkManager sto

b. To disable NetworkManager from running, chkconfig NetworkManageroff

 

D. DELETING 70-persistent-net.rules file

14. If network interface and default gateway configuration look good, go to etc/udev/rules.d

 

15. Locate the 70-persistent-net.rules file, this file contains adapter mac addresses and aliases

Example of content:

# This file was automatically generated by the /lib/udev/write_net_rules

# program, run by the persistent-net-generator.rules rules file.

#

# You can modify it, as long as you keep each rule on a single

# line, and change only the value of the NAME= key.

# PCI device 0x8086:0x100f (e1000)

SUBSYSTEM==”net”, ACTION==”add”, DRIVERS==”?*”, ATTR{address}==”00:50:56:b7:79:ef”, ATTR{type}==”1″, KERNEL==”eth*”, NAME=”eth0″

# PCI device 0x15ad:0x07b0 (vmxnet3)

SUBSYSTEM==”net”, ACTION==”add”, DRIVERS==”?*”, ATTR{address}==”00:50:56:b7:48:89″, ATTR{type}==”1″, KERNEL==”eth*”, NAME=”eth1″

 

16. Delete this file, when prompted type, Y for YES.

Example:

rm-70-persistent-net.rules.

17. Run reboot command. The file will be recreated after restart (i.e. reboot command).

18. After restart repeat sections A and B to ensure network configuration file and route were properly updated.

Read More:

CentOS 6.3 Device eth0 does not seem to be present (Minimal non-cloned setup) (unix.stackexchange.com)

Disabling Network Manager (redhat.com)

Using VMware vCenter Converter Standalone to convert physical or virtual CentOS 5.x machines to vSphere 5.1 (spiceworks.com)

Basic vi Commands (cs.colostate.edu)

 

vmware