Gamble Rogers Memorial State Recreation Area @ Flagler Beach, Florida

Off highway A1A in Florida, I had pulled into Gamble Rogers Memorial State Recreation Area at Flagler Beach. Parking on the side of the road going northbound, I had hobbled out my vehicle on an aggravated right knee. Coming down the boardwalk for beach access, the orange sands had contrasted with the rich green colors of the turbulent Atlantic Ocean. After making a quick entry into the surf, I had noticed a significant undercurrent; however, unlike Canaveral National Shores in Titusville, this turbulence had decreased with the drop off in depth. With the sunshine providing different colored hues of the seafloor, my mind had kept mistaking shadows and sand for a seafaring predator like a shark.

Moving back onto the beach, the sand was cool, soft and firm. Thankfully, it had lacked the stone washed rocks of the shallow shores of Honeymoon Island, Florida. Near the sand dunes, sea oats had moved casually around in the light breeze. Nearing the base of the sea oats, numerous ghost crab holes had lined the sandy slopes up and down the shoreline. At the threshold of dunes had appeared a large depression. Approaching closer, this hole had seemed the size of large turtle, perhaps a nest? Examining tiny track markings, I had wondered, baby turtles or scavenging crabs?

Turning my back to the dunes, I had gazed upon my friend swimming against the dark waves. A slight bit of fear had entered my mind. Should a swimming emergency arise, what kind of strength and courage had I housed? What if I had lacked the potential for handling such an event? Years ago, a local musician had attempted a rescue of drowning man on this very beach. He had done this despite age and an advanced arthritic condition. In the end, both men had perished in the rough seas. What had survived? The story of a selfless act for a fellow man, which posthumously had earned Gamble Roger recognition as the area’s namesake. On this day, this stretch of beach had provided entertainment but, also a piece of ironic introspection.

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See More:
Gamble Rogers Memorial State Recreation Area at Flagler Beach, Florida (Florida State Park)

Gamble Rogers (Wikipedia)

Silver River State Park – Silver Springs, Florida

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Traveling across Florida, voyaging to one part or another, the destination had sometimes started as a random act of pointing on a map or triangulating a position and time. This past Sunday, after wrapping up a trip to Honey Moon Island beaches, Silver River State Park that had fallen closer than the next possible hop of White Springs. Generally known as Silver Springs, this park had gone through various management in recent years, hoping to become a financially viable operation; however, this last attempt had left the property back in the hands of the state.

Having drove past this location before, I had thought, ”What a good way to cool out in 90 degree weather.” After some misdirection from Google maps, I had driven around the perimeter of this property to the enormous sign for the entrance. After making it through the front gate, I had noticed the parking lot eerily vacate for a warm Sunday afternoon. At first, I had written this off to recent changes. The opening facade over a wooden boardwalk had looked impressive with towering oak trees for a backdrop.

Walking into the promenade, concessions had continued operating. Walking over to the glass bottom boat river launch, we had asked an employee where to go for a dip. A gentleman there had mentioned somewhere further down the river. Walking down the concrete sidewalks next to the river, I had seen an old fenced-in area, perhaps for a giraffe or other exotic animal. In the far distance, I had noticed a two-story plantation style house. The house lawn had apparently provided a setting for a concert or two. Walking down the far end of the sidewalk, I had noticed something remarkably non-existent. I had seen no means of descending into the crystal blue waters of the Silver River. Turning around, I had decided to walk back to find a park employee for further inquiry. Upon returning to the promenade, we had approached another employee. We had asked where to go for a swim. The polite lady had responded ”I don’t know, I just started working here a few days ago.” Then we had approached a small nest of workers inside the last door in the plaza. The cordial ladies had answered the question regarding swimming, ”Maybe in the future.” I thought to myself, “You got to be kidding, a fresh water spring park, no swimming?” No wonder this venue had lost money. With Juniper Springs recreation area a few miles away, that had been one big reason for the lack of visitors. As Paul Harvey had stated eloquently many times,” That’s the rest of the story.”

Read More:

Silver River State Park – Silver Springs, Florida (Wikipedia)
Silver Springs goes back to basics as state park (Orlando Sentinel)

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Cape Canaveral Seashore National Park – New Smyrna Beach, Florida

A lot of people say Florida hadn’t a lot of elevation or culture. One experience Florida had consistently delivered in 2013, moments in the sun.

This past weekend, I had the opportunity to ride out to the north side of Canaveral National Seashore by way of New Smyrna. Traveling a few times this summer to the south side of the park in Titusville, I had wanted a fresh perspective, literally and figuratively. The drive down 46 A to New Smyrna had gone by a lot quicker by at least an hour. The shoreline view had definitely been a show case of residential living down State Road A1A. Arriving to pay admission at this federal park, the park ranger had asked “What had you come here for?” I had thought,” Sand, surf and the waning warmer weather.” With this week’s pending US government shutdown, national parks had hit the list for early casualties of a looming political fiasco.

Proceeding down the road, thick scrub brush had dominated to the left and to the right. Down a few miles on the right, the bay had lapped the inner shore quieting with some folks casting rods for fishing. On the left, the scrub brush had given way to turbulent waves coming ashore. Unfamiliar with the number of parking areas, I had stopped in at Site 4 and Site 5. Luckily, before wasting any more day, I had found an empty spot at Site 5. Underwater, the visibility had been almost zero due to the rough surf. The current had been strong, moving southward. Periodically, I had adjusted location by swimming or walking northbound. For reference, I had trended water a few times unexpectedly. An old lady had lost her swimming goggles during her venture into the water. The rough seas had reminded me of the well-known riptide and sharks past the whitecaps. New Smyrna for reference had made itself the shark attack capital of world over the years. Now of course, I had liked to think my leg or toes tastier than the next. The reality, these waters had been great for fishing as well. Seeing those fisherman, I had steered clear as best possible for cohabitation. Figuring I had not wanted to confuse any shark with man bait. As far as shark attacks this year, New Smyrna had experienced the first pair on Saturday, September 28th.

For those that had been interested in checking out the north side of Canaveral Seashore National Park, call ahead (386) 428-3384. Address: 7600 S Atlantic Ave, New Smyrna Beach, FL 32169.

Read More:
New Smyrna Beach has first official shark bite of the year (SharkYearMagazine)
10 Most Dangerous Places for Shark Attacks (Discovery)
Canaveral National Seashore (U.S. National Park Service)

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Ichetucknee Springs State Park – Fort White, Florida

Just south of Lake City and northwest of Gainesville, Ichetucknee Springs State Park had been a quick interlude off U.S. 27. A friend of mine from college had made the suggestion of taking a peak at the cool blue waters. She had talked up the accompanying river and tubing. After traveling quite a distance on I-75, I had thought this would be ideal for cool break on a hot day. Upon arriving, parking had been immediately accessible once past the gate. Right before going to either spring area or the run, a concession stand had been available for a bite to eat. Taking a left onto a boardwalk, I had walked about 10-15 minutes to spring area near the river in the back. At the end, a few people had started diving from a wooden platform. This had invoked the ire of park rangers. Of my many park outings, this had been the most active interaction from park staff. For a moment, I had thought “lock-down.” After departing this crowd, I had taken some shots of a side stream. I had been truly astounded by the pristine blue clarity of even a stream. After walking back across the boardwalk, I had changed into some swimwear. Overheating a bit from the Florida sun, the waters had sent a chill through my leg muscles. This had been the second coldest spring waters in the state. After a quick swim, I had decided to dry out and take a few more pictures. One thing I had not tried, the river based tubing. After Labor Day, the long portion of the run had closed until next summer. That said, it had been an endeavor worthy of your exploration.

Read more:
Ichetucknee Springs (floridastateparks.org)
Ichetucknee Springs State Park (Wikipedia.org)

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Vogel State Park – Blairsville, Georgia: Part 2 – Vogel Overlook and Bear Hair Gap Trail

Before leaving the park office, I had received a detailed trail map for the extended area. Returning from Falls Bottom on the one mile Trahlyta trail loopback, I had recalled the other options in the area. What I had noticed that the Appalachian Trail being under 10 miles away. This had been one of the goals for my Labor Day weekend. Walking past the on premises cabins, another sign had pointed up toward Bear Hair Gap Trail. This 4 mile plus trail had seemed like a great place to start toward that journey. The varied physical features of the woods had been quite remarkable. The tree covered mountain side had its share of surprises. Park services had made a posting for no hang-gliding. After recent outing in Groveland, Florida, the trees, even without leaves, had been too dense to make flight of five feet. Across the ascent, we had crossed over creeks, streams and huge boulders. Florida had sand, Georgia boulders! Now on the trail, the terrain had composed of rocks and roots requiring attention care in passing over. The steep inclines up the mountain side had been challenging for my friend and me; however after about 2 hours we had arrived at Vogel Overlook. This view had peered down on Trahlyta Lake and most of Vogel State Park. At the summit, there had been a campsite of sorts with a log in the middle. With foliage still hearty, it had obstructed part of the sight. I had only imagined the grand scope of this view in fall or winter time. Then again the average temperature around those times had averaged around 30 F.

After coming down from Vogel Overlook, we had moved further up Blood Mountain toward the A.T. Though, the weather had started to change to thunder and an overcast sky with a potential of a downpour. We had been unprepared for this weather or an overnight trek. After some disappointment, we had decided to make the right choice, the smart choice and turn back. That choice had left open another chapter for an adventure solely pursuing the beginnings of the Appalachian Trail. During 2013, Vogel State Park and all its various options had provided one of the memorable interactions with nature. As managed lands, it had provided first hand testimony to natural beauty and majesty right around the corner in the southern United States.

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Read More:

vogeltrails

Vogel Trail Map (gastateparks.org)
Vogel State Park Hiking Trail (gastateparks.org)
Blood Mountain  (Wikipedia)

Appalachian Trail(Wikipedia)
Vogel State Park – Georgia State Parks and Historic Sites (gastateparks.org)
Vogel State Park (Wikipedia)

Alexander Springs – Ocala National Forest – Florida

Driving back through Ocala National Forest a few times this year, my eyes had fallen onto a sign for Alexander Springs. After a hitting few other springs this past weekend, I had decided to try following this sign onto a dirt road. After redirecting myself back onto a highway, I had found the entrance to Alexander Springs Recreation Area traveling down on  County Road 445. After arriving, I had scoped out the park taking a brief swim in the springs waters. What had intrigued me, the hiking options. Going onto the Timucuan Trail, the loop had gone into woods behind the main creek area. Some portions of the trail had been saturated with rain water coverting the dirt into thick mud. Mud aside, the only excitement had come from a few mosquitoes and seeing the tail end of a fleeing rattlesnake. Towards the end of this loop, the ground had been replaced by a wooden boardwalk. The boardwalk had provided riverside access with two overlooks for the creek. Another reason for the pit stop had been to get a feel for the location for possible scuba lessons. One item that had caught my eye, the proximity to the Florida trail. The Florida Trail had pretty much run into Alexander Springs recreation area. The park had seemed like a good detour, if hiking thru.

Though carrying Florida State Park’s annual pass holder, this federally run park had still wanted their cut of my money! Be sure that you had stored an extra $10 somewhere for admission. Additionally, you had an option to buy a Ocala National Park annual pass for $60 at the gate. For reference that pass had covered Juniper Springs, Salt Springs, Silver Glen Springs, and Salt Springs to start. If you had been considering hiking in central Florida, might be worth a stop to swim.

Read More:
Alexander Springs (www.floridasprings.org)
Ocala National Forest – Alexander Springs – USDA Forest Service (www.fs.usda.gov)
Florida Trail (Wikipedia)
Timucuan Trail (www.fs.usda.gov)

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Joe Satriani with Steve Morse @ Hard Rock Live in Orlando, Florida – Friday, September 13th, 2013

If you had cleared your mind of want, things return to you.

About a decade ago, I had purchased a pair of $70 tickets to see Joe Satriani at the House of Blues in Orlando, Florida. The bill for that night had been King’s X, Dream Theater and “Satch.” Unfortunately, due to circumstances beyond my control, I had to leave 10 minutes into Satriani’s set. On Friday, September 13, 2013, a lifelong friend had righted that wrong, by providing tickets to Satriani at the Hard Rock Live in Orlando, Florida.

For this show, one of the key differences had been the opening act, Steve Morse. Like King’s X, Steve Morse had employed a three piece band. His sound had more in common with the musical style of Satriani, than the over indulgent Dream Theater. At age 59, Morse had been impressive with fluid guitar movements up and down his fret board. The bass player and drummer had completed their sound with deep driving grooves. With impromptu bass solos, great drum fills, and syncopation, Steve Morse had been an unexpected surprise for an opening act.

Not to be out done, at age 57, Satriani had promptly started at 9 PM with his two hour set. To Satriani’s credit, he had knocked out, almost uninterruptedly, his high energy performances. For a novelty act, amazingly the audience had a broad range of people. The faces had run from tween to the seasoned rock fans, plus a fair share of women. For a while, I had listened to few numbers on the first floor. Despite consuming two sodas worth of caffeine and sugar, waking up at 3 am had started to catch up with my night. What I had luckily discovered, the building’s unique acoustics. Moving to the John Lennon room, I had been able to clearly hear all the action below, while comfortably sitting on a huge white curved couch. Hanging out with some friends, I had alternated locations, with full on concert on level 1 and relaxing chill on level 2. Toward the end of the evening, I had wandered out on the second floor balcony. With my eyes drifting to the sky’s half moon and Satriani in the background, I had thought,”Not bad at all!”

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Videos had been courtesy of my iPhone 3GS, iMovie, Macbook and my fingers.

Read more:

Joe Satriani – Flying In A Blue Dream (Satriani LIVE!) (YouTube)

Joe Satriani (Facebook)

Joe Satriani (Wikipedia)

Steve Morse (Wikipedia)

Hard Rock Live, Orlando, Florida

Ponce De Leon Springs State Park – Ponce De Leon Springs, Florida

Last week, I had traveled to five different fresh water springs over five days in the State of Florida. The first had been at a Ponce De Leon Springs State Park in west Florida. Somewhere between Tallahassee and Pensacola, I had decided to take a detour off my preordained trajectory from Interstate 10. Within a short amount of time, I had walked into the park’s main area. With the springs in view, I had walked past the adjacent picnic areas.  Walking down a paved slope into the area around the spring area, I had seen a hiking trail. To take full advantage of the stop, I hoped to go for walk and then a jump into the springs. Upon going into the shade of the forest, I had experienced the second worst insect encounter of this year. Despite the heavily populated area of visitors in the springs, the mosquitoes had waited for me under the shadow of the trail.

Conceding a bit of fatigue and a tad of defeat to mother nature, I had buckled down with a change into swimming attire and a coating of bug spray. Still a bit overheated, I had looked eagerly at entering the pristine clear blue waters of Ponce De Leon Springs. After locating a far off corner of the springs, I had started descending down some concrete steps. Upon breaking the water’s surface, I had known this would be an exhilarating dip. Thinking out loud, I had pouted how frigging cold the water. Being a natural Floridian, perhaps some men had thought lesser of me or perhaps thought over-exaggeration; However, in tow, I had brought a friend familiar with colder northern weather. His reaction had temporarily stopped him just below waist deep. Finally pushing forward, we had both submerged ourselves into fresh waters of the spring. Without question, this had been the biggest temperature differential experience in quite a few years. After  cooling off my core body temperature, I had decided to pull up anchor, heading out to the next destination.

If you had found your way out to west Florida, perhaps to see the fighting Seminoles or Crimsom Tide, take a pit stop. This had been worth the effort for the refreshing dip! 😛

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Read more:

Ponce de Leon Springs (Florida State Parks)

Juan Ponce de León (Wikipedia)

Florida’s Highest Elevation Point: Britton Hill – Lakewood, Florida

At 345 feet of elevation, Britton Hill had been somewhat unremarkable in height; However, it had been good testimony to Florida’s greenery and back country. The park had no admission fee, decent bathroom facilities with an open layout. If traveling in South Alabama or West Florida, I had thought the locale ideal for a family picnic. On that note, make sure to have closed shoes. Despite the average elevation, the ants there had been very active. Six of them had wasted no time climbing up my leg from a nearby ant hill. Luckily for me, these had been the milder version of fire ants, of which I am allergic.  Along the way, there had been quite a few mom and pop businesses selling farm raised goodies and more. If on Interstate 10 West, it had taken about 30 minutes to arrive at this destination from Defuniak Springs Park, FL. If within south Alabama, it had been few minutes travel from Florala State Park, AL.

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Panorama shots courtesy of renegade399 (click them for larger rendering)

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More Information:

Britton Hill, Florida (wikipedia)

Defuniak Springs, Florida Official Website

Florala State Park, Alabama

What is inside you? Labor Day 2013: Got to believe!

This past 2013 Labor Day holiday, I had traveled across the South East of United States for five days. In driving over 1,500 miles, I had pondered the potential around every Interstate exit, on each hiking trail, with each cold water spring, and every friendly conversation. I had been looking for something that already had been there, self.

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Recalling my youth in Andros Island, Bahamas, I had asked my father, what lay beyond an exposed coral reef. For five seasons of diving trips, my father had answered,” We’ll stop there on the way back.” Those adventures had never ended gazing down a 500 foot dropoff into the Tongue of the Ocean. In retrospect, my father had been wise in avoiding the potential dangers of the dark waters of the Atlantic. What had remained, a curiosity of the unknown.

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For quite a few years, journeying around had lost a certain appeal, perhaps all those years of relocation in a Navy family. In limiting my horizons, I had found ways to limit liability and experiences with responsibilities (i.e, work, friends, family, time); However, what had been life’s worth without facing some fear and some danger.

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Early on in this trip, I had been confronted with the challenge of marching through a flooded hiking trail. What unforeseen danger had been waiting to attack around the next corner. In the end, the theme of man versus nature had affirmed a choice, a belief to press on. This precedent, built on curiosity, had characterized other decisions regarding this journey. One of those had been missing a tour of the Florida Caverns in West Florida. The other had been a failed fuel pump on my red 1996 Ford Explorer. Both of these events had fueled a greater determination to make it to the mountains surrounding Brasstown Bald. Without these setbacks, I had wondered if I bother traveling to the highest point in Georgia.

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Periodically, life had shaken my faith in friendships, God and self-worth, but, the question had been about pressing on. Some state coincidence that all these events had occurred with convenience and rhythm. I had chosen to entertain a belief beyond self, a will beyond my own. This will had been forged long ago in a foreign land, to keep trying, to keep reaching. The question of this adventure had I done it all alone? Believe!

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More information:

Tongue of the Ocean (Wikipedia)

Andros Island, Bahamas (Wikipedia)

Brasstown Bald (Wikipedia)

Florida Caverns (Florida State Parks)

Little Manatee River State Park Hiking Trail – Wimauma, FL

Little Manatee River State Park’s hiking trailhead had been north of the main park entrance. With a left off a dirt road, you could easily had missed it on north 301. During this trek, rain had saturated portions of the ground. The pathways had still been manageable. For a hike over 6 miles, it had provided a diverse range of greenery, waterways, and life forms.

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The first 2 miles of the trail had been marked by pine trees, sand and palms. About 2.5 miles in, the dry trail had given way to flooding. If you had been trying to keep your shoes clean and dry, good luck! Getting beyond 3 miles, a considerable portion of the trail had been underwater. Logs and branches had been the primary means to circumnavigate sinking further into muddy waters. Animals had been extremely active in digging up dirt everywhere. I had thought armadillos or forest rangers, until viewing a paw print, wild hogs. Grunting 30 feet away, one pig had startled me to the point of taking my breath away. In total, I had seen three wild hogs moving through the forest. The last 2 miles, the trail had run as close as 4 feet parallel to the river. With the afternoon rain, I had been extremely concerned about snakes being flushed from hiding. Combining this with the overgrown brush and a deluge, a sense of vulnerability had been present.

Close to the end, I had lowered my guard for a moment clearing the path with a walking stick. Almost immediately I had inadvertently run into a spider web. The web’s banana spider had then fallen onto my shoulder. At that point, I had thought, “I’m fraked!” Fortunately, I had instantly flung the insect back onto the ground while moving along in the rain. Some say these golden silk orb-weavers had been harmless; however, with a second major run in with a banana spider, I had queried and posted their toxicity courtesy of Wikipedia.

“The venom of the golden silk orb-weaver is potent but, not lethal to humans. It has a neurotoxic effect similar to that of the black widow spider; however, its venom is not nearly as powerful. The bite causes local pain, redness, and blisters that normally disappear within a 24-hour interval. In rare cases, it might trigger allergic reactions and result in respiratory troubles (in asthmatics) or fast-acting involuntary muscle cramps. As the genus possesses relatively strong chelicerae, the bite could leave a scar on hard tissue (such as fingers).”

For this excursion, I had suggested procuring convertible pants from Bass Pro Fishing shop ($30), a hat, a walking stick, bug repellant, and waterproof case for any electronic device. With respect to primitive camp site, it had some benches, a fire ring and a good clearing. For this portion of the Florida trail, I had recommended to any experienced hiker. It had made for a fun and challenging afternoon.

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More Information:

Little Manatee River State Park Hiking Trail (www.floridahikes.com)

golden silk orb-weaver aka banana spider (www.wikipedia.org)

Little Manatee River State Park – Wimauma, FL (www.garzafx.com)

Frak (www.wikipedia.org)

Little Manatee River State Park – Wimauma, FL

With 2,433-acres, Little Manatee River State Park had offered many recreational options, including the periodic chance to see a manatee. With so much square area, park facilities (i.e. restrooms, boat launch, playground, etc…) had been adequately spaced out. In all my visits to Florida State Parks, their picnic areas had been the only ones with screened in areas for avoiding bugs and other small creatures. The only compliant of this trip had been the lack of signage for getting onto the Little Manatee River State trail. For a good half hour looking for a way forward, I had walked around another trail parallel to the river. Recreational options that had attracted my attention; primitive camping, canoe rental, and a family seasonal pass. Primitive camping sites had only cost $20 but, check for availability. For a four-hour canoe rental, seating two people, this had been $15. The annual Florida State Park pass for $120 had been my favorite. My friend and I had purchased this option for the scope of covering parking fees, admission and one guest’s admission across any of the Florida State run parks. Big thank you to Linn, the park ranger that had described the above options with real enthusiasm and sincerity. Despite overcast weather and a little misdirection, I had enjoyed this excursion into Wimauma, Florida.

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More information:

Little Manatee River State Park’s 1ST ANNUAL BACK 40 MUSIC FESTIVAL (Saturday, October 12th,2013)

Little Manatee River State Park

215 Lightfoot Rd, Wimauma, FL 33598

Phone: (813) 671-5005

Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament – Kissimmee, FL

In the thirteen years of being in the greater Orlando area, I had yet to visit this entertainment event. I had little interest in until hearing about a great discount. With a friend receiving coupon for 50% off (i.e. buy one, get the second ticket free.), I had figured worth the meal alone. The Medieval Times website had other another Labor Day special but, not as good as this proposition. With e-ticket ready to go, I had headed off to an evening to explore this blend of theater, live action and dinner.

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Upon checking in at the facility, each guest had had been segregated into different factions, representating their House (i.e. Yellow, Green, Red, etc..). Each house had their respective champion, like mine, the Yellow Knight. Post the introductions for each group and some back story, each champion had competed in various games of skill. Then these Knights had challenged each other for the right to  fight  the “bad guy.” The highlight of the action had been the splintering joust sticks on the opposing Knight’s shield. The best summary for the experience from a guy’s point of view, had been akin to the joy of watching professional wrestling.

With respect to the accompanying meal, it had been a lot better than my expectations. For the evening, everyone had received the following:

  1. Tomato bisque
  2. A piece of bread
  3. Half an oven roasted chicken
  4. A BBQ rib
  5. Half a potatoe
  6. Apple turnover

Just a heads up, the food had been served by design without utensils. The only thing I hadn’t finished, the weird tasting potatoe. Alcohol and any gratuity had been extra. There had been a lot of fathers and sons soaking up this family affair. If you had a little girl or boy, this had seemed like a perfect distraction to Friday or Saturday night.

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Address: 4510 W Vine St, Kissimmee, FL 34746

Phone: (888) 935-6878

Ticket: Prices vary, check their site for specials!

More information: medievaltimes.com

Review: Mile … Mile and A Half

Review:  For any naturist, worth $10 and drive to Deland, FL

The Florida Trail Association had sponsored a screening of  the The Muir Project’s new film, “Mile … Mile & A Half” at Athens Theater.  This film had followed a group of hikers’ 30 day experience through California’s John Muir Trail.  The great thing about this production, nature had been the star backdrop from Yosemite to Mount Whitney. The documentary explored the physical challenges of the terrain, supplying, endurance and recording on the participants. Despite the hardships on the team,  the bond of survival had brought them a greater reverence for life and the environment.  During the question and answer session, the producers had mentioned their previous longest trek being 4 days.  Another aspect of the movie had been the impromptu moments of humor and music.  The story put forth had been nothing less than inspirational when thinking about your next summer vacation. The documentary had a limited run, so your best bet will be the DVD release.

More Information:

The Muir Project

Mile…Mile & a Half Trailer 1

Mile…Mile & a Half Trailer 2

Athens Theatre

Florida Trail Association

Scrub Brush Bird Trail @ Titusville Florida

Traveling to different parts of Florida for the 2013 season, insects had been sparse due to an unseasonably cool spring or just by chance. A chance decision had brought me to Scrub Brush Bird Trail in Titusville.  Already on an afternoon excursion, I had concluded “Why not?” After reading the trail map, I had noticed the importance of brush fires for this habitat’s life cycle. Hopefully brush fires had reduced this area of some bugs.  Exiting the information post, I had rotated directly into view of a Banana Spider.  Another step, my head would had been caught in the center of the web. This monstrosity’s body had a length of  two inches.  Toss in the legs for another estimated two inches, it had a total of four inches of killing power. Circumventing the spider’s golden net, I had quickly moved onto the trail. Considering the proximity to all the open and stagnating water, I had been surprised no swarming vermin yet. The only activity I had seen so far, a small turtle crossing the path.  About 10 minutes up the way, I had picked up a beetle. After toying  around with the beetle for juvenile photo ops, I had released it unharmed. Right after, as if on cue by mother nature, horseflies had started attacking from multiple directions. After quickly crushing one attack, another pack of 3-4 flies had closed in. This had continued with couple more rounds forcing  a walk into a jog.  At the first major turn, half-way through trail, all I had seen going forward, overgrown scrubs.  With brisk winds blowing now, I had decided to double back. The problem had been the  pursuit of horseflies plus mosquitoes. Picking up the pace to a jog had been ineffective in alluding the horseflies.  The jog had now turned into full out running. I had kept that speed until clearing the surrounding greenery.  Once off the trail, I had hopped into my car, flipped the ignition and sped away. This adventure had affirmed the reputation of the voracious insects around Merritt Island Wildlife Refuge. The irony for such a short trek, it had seemed like forever. One final note on the birding trail, never saw Scrub Brush Bird. Maybe something had not approved of those beetle photo ops.

Directions: Take I-95 South until exit 215. At exit 215 go East on Highway 50 until US1. Go left northbound on US1. At US1 and Max Brewer Memorial Parkway go right.   At Max Brewer Memorial Parkway and  Kennedy Parkway North go left. Go about 1 mile on your right, Scrub Brush Bird Trail.

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Kennedy Space Center with Atlantis Shuttle Exhibit – Titusville, FL

Few years ago I had visited Kennedy Space Center in Titusville. The general reaction to the park had been a fun, positive outing at K.S.C. Though like an automated manufacturing process, the exhibits had completed their tasks of presenting historical media and other facts with an unemotional dated precision. For any Floridian, we had already seen visual spectacle with Universal Studios, Islands of Adventures and Disney. On the other hand, Seaworld and Busch Gardens, had tapped into raw emotional connection between animals and people.  With Atlantis Shuttle Exhibit, K.S.C. had changed their game with inspiring visuals, grandeur and even a slight of hand trick.

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The first presentation of the Atlantis Shuttle Exhibit had been a dramatization following the twelve year creative process to bring the shuttle program to flight. How many of us had worked on anything outside of kids and marriage that long? Once this film ended, people had moved to another auditorium. Projected on the unique multi portion screen had been the lush greenery around K.S.C. with the first orbiter in the backdrop. The thundering launch kicks off a montage of various Nasa history and animated rendering that had been blended through the various screens. Periodically, I had to twist my body left-right, back and forth to keep up with all the moving space born objects. By the end of the movie, I had deeper appreciation for the size of these vehicles and monumental tasks of moving them to a live launch. Don’t get emotional much, but definitely it had plucked my heart string on the nationalistic tip.  This movie had complimented the size of shuttle with its supped up exhibit hall. This side of KSC had been worth seeing again. To that end, it had been time well spent on a Saturday noon.

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More information:

Kennedy Space Center

Atlantis Shuttle Exhibit

Titusville, FL (wikipedia)

Perseids 2013: Meteor shower at Mullet Park Sanford, FL – Tuesday, August 13th, 2013, 4:30AM Eastern

At 4:30 AM Tuesday, August 13th, 2013, 4:30 AM Eastern, I had parked my red Ford explorer under the lights of Mullet Park. After missing out two previous nights to travel to Deltona, FL and New Symnra, FL, I had arrived to witness the peak of this astronomical event. A few nights before, I had been inspired by Derek Deter , Director of the Planetarium at Seminole State College to get out to view my first meteor shower. Walking away from the two park lights, the uncoordinated chorus of frogs had filled the humid still air. Open 24/7, the location had seemed peaceful and away from civilized “light pollution.”

As I gazed unto the clear open sky, one after another had shot on during my hour there. A dozen or so streaks of various brightness had filled my field of vision. Nature had been subtle in delivery as I struggled to search turn to the night above.
Perhaps, people had wondered, why I had not taken more pictures of the park or the sky above. One technical limitations of my glorious iPhone3GS. Secondly, if I had been wasting my time toying with my phone. I would had not been able to focus on adjusting for the different courses of the lights above. Remarkable, sometimes, one doesn’t need to record events, just live them.

To that end, when the next meteor shower had rolled around. Stop, take stock of were you are in your life and the galaxy, look up.

There had been the exception a shooting murder about a year ago. The only thing, I had heard or seen, were the meteors

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Some people wake to the mundane nature of a day. But how much time do you have. Are you the hungry insects that had swarmed to consume my blood at the edge of dawn. A mosquito has limited shelf life..much like the passing meteors.

Silence marked by the unsychronized sounds of frogs. Time is an illusion that no way can hold. Only the reflection of emotion fills the humid air.

There an hour in, I had filled my quota for blood to the vernom and nature filled my eyes with the wake of streaks across the sky. God I cant wait until colder weather washs down upon FLA

Glad I didn’t know that to start with, maybe I would have skipped on the trek to Geneva, FL

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More Information: Mullet Park, Sanford, FL
Hours and Contact Information
Open daily 24 hours
LEISURE SERVICES DEPARTMENT
Greenways and Natural Lands Division
845 Lake Markham Rd, Sanford, Fl 32771
Phone: 407-665-2001

 

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Planetarium at Seminole State College in Sanford, FL

This past weekend, the Planetarium at Seminole State College, had put on two shows, “Stories of the Night Sky” Episode 4: “Summer Skies” and ” Luna.” Both interactive, live presentations had been led by Derek Demeter, Planetarium Director. Demeter’s enthusiastic, engaging narration had provided an appropriate compliment to the visual spectacle. Like any good speaker, Mr. Demeter had probed the audience for answers relating to mythology and astronomy. He had recommended several locations around the I-4 area to view the night sky without light pollution (i.e. Geneva, Mullet Park, New Smyrna). The modest venue had provided a humble intimacy, unlike any other evening science event in Central Florida. The cozy environment had  furnished ambiance, cool ac and plush rows of chairs.

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1. “Stories of the Night Sky” Episode 4: “Summer Skies”

During this presentation, Derek had explored Greek mythology and their relation to various constellations. He specifically detailed the stories of Artemis killing Orion and Orpheus’s descent into the underworld. He also provided guidance to finding Lyra, Cygnus, Sagittarius, and Scorpius in the evening sky.

2. ” Luna”

In exploring the history of the moon, he had covered three possible origin theories. Mr. Demeter had continued outlining the different areas across the moon’s aged surface. He also covered the Russian and American explorations of this “lonely” satellite. Much to my chagrin, he had also dispelled the dark side of the moon myth (i.e. Pink Floyd). He had detailed other interesting facts like indigenous temperatures, mineral resources, and gravitational effects on tides.

In summary, the value of ticket had been worth the commute and accessible to the curiosity of any age!

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Shows have normally been performed Friday and Saturday nights. Doors had opened at 8:00 PM, showtime 8:30 PM and hour long run time. Couple of important details I had recalled, limited seating, no reservations, no retry policy and cash admission only.

Here are the Planetarium Ticket Prices:

Adults: $6
Seniors (55 and up): $4
Students (grades K-12): $4
Non-Seminole State College Students (with ID): $4
Preschoolers and Seminole State students, faculty and staff: Free!

For more information:
Planetarium at Seminole State College in Sanford, FL

Planetarium Biography: Derek Demeter

Planetarium Calendar of Events

Review: National Geographics’s America’s Wild Spaces: Appalachian Trail (2009)

Rating: Worth 57 minutes for any nature buff (Available on Netflix)

Summary: National Geographic’s Wild Spaces: Appalachian Trail had provided different perspectives of the 2,000 mile trail in the United States. The documentary had opened with a network administrator moving through first leg of the A.T.  The film had underscored the challenges at the onset for many travelers. Many hikers had packed too much food or gear (i.e. bear spray, books, etc.) , weighing down their daily 12 hour haul. Another revelation, many hikers that had attempted a hike through of the trail, gave up after four days. Then the focus had shifted describing  ecological pollution on bird and fish wildlife with Acid Rain. The documentary had continued with history of the Appalachian Trail, the organic experience of 4-6 month pilgrimage and climaxing with the end of the A.T. in Maine.

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If lacking a Netflix subscription, I had found individual excerpts of this inspiring look  off the Nat Geo website. This had definitely peaked my sense of adventure away from technology, hoping it can do the same for you!

1.  The Not So Lonesome Trail

2.  Acid Rain: Invisible Menace

3.  This Trail’s for the Bird

4. An American Pilgrimage

5. The Final Summit

More information:

National Geographics’s America’s Wild Spaces: Appalachian Trail

Tandem Hang-Gliding Flight, Groveland, FL at Quest Air Soaring Center

Looking out the porthole of plane windows throughout my life, I had daydreamed of a better view of the waters and land below. This year, I had finally realized that experience with Tandem Hang-Gliding Flight in Groveland, FL at Quest Air. The air field had been an hour’s drive from Orlando, FL on highway 50 west, just past Clermont. The flights had lasted approximately 20 minutes. Rather than towing behind a plane throughout, the glider had been decoupled at 3000 feet. The yellow Dragonfly had multiple break points in case of emergency on ascent. At Air Florida Helicopter Charters, “Plan B” had been death. Pulling the glider into the air, the Dragonfly had towed us just above “idle out” speed.

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On the glider itself, the pilot had a parachute in case of some sort of unforeseen event. Despite the spotty weather, rain and wind, the ride had been extremely fluid. The only fear that had crossed my mind, wind shear and inability to steer smoothly. The Quest Air pilot, Spencer, had been very giving. If I had wanted off, the landing would commence immediately. The entire staff had been extremely patient, waiting for breaks in the weather. Without question, this had been one of the best adventures for 2013. Even if without the $105 Groupon discount, at full price, this would had been a great value.

1. The Dragonfly plane

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2. The Gilder

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For more information:
Mark Fruitger, Manager and Pilot
Quest Air, 6548 Airport Road, Groveland, FL 34736
Phone: 352-429-0213
Email: info@questionairhanggliding.com

Silver Glen Springs, Ocala National Forest, FL

Of the many stops in Florida parks this year, Silver Springs had provided a balance with space for recreation and relaxing for people, on the water and on land. The waters even at the edge had been cold to the touch, despite the hot weather. From the birds to  random roaming turtle, the wildlife had managed to navigate around all the foot traffic. The onshore springs have their own character despite being small in area. The posted park hours had been  8 am – 8 pm and stayed open despite the afternoon thunderstorms. Once parked, access to the grounds had taken about 5 minutes to reach anything you wanted to see. Like the first image below, the striking characteristic of the park had been the wide open space. Regardless of the beauty, this park like others have a share of nature that requires a healthy respect.  An Altamonte Springs, Florida man had recently drowned there, yet, being frequent visitor and a seasoned free diver.

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For more information:

Silver Glen Springs, FL

23-Year old Altamonte Springs had died while diving in Silver Glen Springs.