"Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime"-MARK TWAIN

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Home Again




After our tour of the crane refuge on Saturday, we made our way to Madisonville, LA and Fairview-Riverside State Park.  This is one our favorite campgrounds near home.  Easy access and close to lots of restaurants and shopping areas.

We called up some close friends that lived in the area and they came out to visit for a while.  Brought a truckload of firewood with them for us to burn Saturday night.  We decided to go out together for an early dinner, then return to the CG for a fire.

Had five pounds of boiled crawfish for supper.  First of the season.  They were kind of small, but still delicious.  Had to order an additional pound for dessert.


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  The weather was perfect for a fire.  Just enough chill in the air to make a it fun to sit around and visit.




They said their goodbyes around 9 PM and we were in bed by 10.  Hooked up early Sunday morning and hit the local CafĂ© De Monde for coffee and beignets.


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From there it was a short stop at Academy Sports as Wanda wanted some new walking shoes.  I perused the kayak section while she shopped.  Really want to get myself one of those.

Home around noon and trailer unloaded and parked by 2PM.

Monday found me Working on the new house my brother and I are constructing.  Third one in three years.  Got to do something in the Winter, right?

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Mississippi Sandhill Crane NWF

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The sun was just beginning to peek in and around the pines of Mississippi Sandhill Crane NWF near Gautier, MS on Saturday morning.
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A light fog shadowed the lower elevations as we got ready for our refuge tour.  As Judy went about the business of getting a vehicle for us, we wandered around the visitor center.  A very nice place to learn a lot of things about the birds and their plight.  Beautiful diorama’s and lots of displays.
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But nothing beats having a great personal guide.  Talk about someone with the gifts to do a job and the willingness to do it joyfully.  Judy loves her work, and it shows.  And talk about “eyes like an eagle”! She has them.  She constantly was the first to see everything.  Hawk, here; Coot, there; See that Harrier?
It wasn’t long before we found our first pair.  We took a number of pictures, but it was only after reading Judy’s post that I realized we were watching the unique Crossbill.
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We drove up on a group of juvenile's, which took wing immediately.
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Aerial ballet.
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Overall, we saw 19 of the 130, or so, Mississippi Sandhill Cranes on the face of the Earth.  Pretty good percentage.  It is hard to comprehend that these are all there are.  In the 1970’s, only around 30 still lived.  It’s great to see the numbers slowly increasing.
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Prime Crane habitat. Kept that way with controlled burns and timber management.
We also saw this active Bald Eagle nest.  Mom, or Pop, was watching over things from a nearby tree.
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We had a fantastic time.  All the information on the refuge and the birds themselves was really eye opening.  It was made all the more better by Judy.
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If you have the opportunity to visit the refuge, do it.  And, if you have the opportunity to visit any refuge Judy and Emma  are volunteering at, you are in for a special treat…….jc
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Saturday, January 28, 2012

A Visit over BBQ


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Made it back into Mississippi Today.  Snagged a spot in Davis Bayou campground.  Part of the Gulf Islands National Seashore and a place to use the geezer card. 8 bucks for water and electric, paved backin sites with some nice scenery around.  Pretty good deal.

Our main reason for stopping by again on the way home was to meet Judy again. The famous Judy who travels with Emma.

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We met for just a short time back in the Fall as she was traveling Through MS toward Texas.  As we knew she was presently volunteering near Ocean Springs, we made contact to arrange a visit.  We met for lunch at the famous Shed BBQ.  A really unusual place that has been on many food shows on TV.

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Someone even left a bill in Emma’s honor.

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We had a wonderful lunch with Judy as she shared many of her adventures.  We look forward to spending more time with her tomorrow as we take a tour of the refuge with her.

The scenery here in the campground is pretty nice.  A few hiking trails around marsh and woodland.

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Sally stumbled upon a whole (flock, gaggle, murder, herd??) of squirrels.  They spooked her as much as she did them.

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Unusual patterns on old log.

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Gator pond. Can you see him?

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Well hidden in the brush on far side.  Looked to about 10 feet long.

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More tomorrow………..jc

Friday, January 27, 2012

Travel Day

After saying goodbye to new friends, we departed Cedar Key yesterday around 9.  Traveled all day through sun and rain.  Made it all the way to Spanish Fort, AL.  Spent the night in AL state park just north of the interstate.  Nice for an overnight, but never quiet from traffic noise as it it sandwiched between I-10 and Hwy 90.  Moving on East today for a date with another new friend.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

In Search of Mermaids

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The story goes something like this.  Some sailors of old, after being on a small sailing ship for months, saw a beautiful sea creature resembling a shapely lady and named them mermaids. Probably, after a few months on a ship everything resembled a woman. More facts seem to support that they were seeing manatees.
We left the rv park around Nine AM, headed South toward Crystal River. We had a map from the park that took us to a river crossing where sightings were probable. It was a good map.  They were everywhere, traveling up and down the channel between springs and the bay.
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Looking up the canal, there were canoe’rs, kayaker’s, crab boats, tour boats, everything.
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The manatee’s didn’t seem to mind.  They just gracefully swam along looking as if they didn’t have a care in the world.
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Mother and calf.
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I don’t think the kayaker even knew one was near.
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They were constantly going up and down the channel.  Shadowy shapes breaking the surface every now and then for a breath.
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There was a research team from U of F there capturing, analyzing, and tagging them.  They had a spotter on the bridge and as they spotted one headed back out to the bay they would attempt a capture.  Here they have one near shore and are putting out the net.
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They slowly pull the net in with the manatee.
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Before long, you can see it nearing shore.
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The research leader, a young lady that looked way too young to be a college professor, was acting as the spotter on the bridge.  She shared lots of information about the animals. She said they keep the manatee out of the water for about an hour. They measure, weigh, and tag each one. Their closest relative is the elephant, and they are primarily vegetarians.  There are approximately 5000 in the Florida waters and their biggest enemy is the power boat.
We moved on and did a little shopping after leaving the bridge, then headed back to the trailer. As we arrived back at the park, the local guy was sunbathing.
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Later this afternoon as I was walking Sally down the road near the rv park, I noticed a bee tree.
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A hive of wild honey bees have moved into this hollow tree.  These used to be common in our part of the country, but no more.  Whatever pest that is decimating the bee population has been working overtime around home. Can’t remember the last time I saw a honey bee in the garden.
I only had my pocket camera, and thinking they may possibly have some killer bee genetics, I didn’t get very close.  As the temps were in the eighties today, they were working overtime.
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Manatees and bees, a good day. And running into the researchers made it even better.
Moving on tomorrow, so there might not be a post……….jc