Friday, February 3, 2017

#21 - Friday, 3 February 2017 | Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park, Florida

It is Friday morning. I woke before dawn and decided to make a cup of coffee and take a sunrise stroll. The birds were singing and coaxing me to join them for the break of daylight. Deer were everywhere. I walked along and they didn’t seem too bothered by this early-rising primate, but would bound into surrounding cover if my approach was too close. I had one camera. I also had my iPhone. I must learn to live fully off the grid and not be so dependent on it, but there was a message I wanted to send so I hoped I would acquire signal at some point. I saw a raccoon walk across the crushed shell and sand main road of Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park. The post cold front skies had been clear all week, but some morning clouds today aided me in capturing a few beautiful sunrise images. I saw more and more white-tailed deer. When I got to the park office I sat at one of the picnic tables and checked my cell signal and was able to send a couple important direct messages and also answer a few emails. I sat finishing my coffee and three young deer approached. One got within ten feet of me before finally spooking and trotting off a bit.

Yesterday I went to breakfast at Cowpoke’s Cafe, which is maybe ten miles from my campsite. You drive several miles to exit the park and then follow the paved roads towards the main road. The cafe is remote and I wondered about the locals that were inside. After an omelette, toast, juice and coffee, I drove back to camp and along the park road stopped for six snakes that were sunning in the road. Three were Florida garter snakes and three were related ribbon snakes. The largest was no more than two and a half feet long, and most drivers would have just thought they were twigs or other debris. When I arrived at the park office on the first day I saw a graphic that explained that 80% of the animals found dead-on-road (DOR), victims of vehicles, are snakes. Certainly these small snakes, which were motionless and sunning and not moving across the road, would be overlooked by most drivers and accidentally killed. However, the sad fact is that some drivers that recognize snakes on the road go out of their way to crush them beneath their wheels. Humans can suck. I photographed a couple of the snakes and released all in the roadside grass. I’m sure they went right back out onto the road, but at least the traffic I saw during the rest of my drive wouldn’t kill them.

I parked back at my campsite and decided to hike towards the slough that runs through the park where I was certain to find alligators and wading birds. As I walked down the path running parallel to the wetland I came upon an alligator sunning in the trailside grass. It was a six-footer and didn’t even move as I stopped to photograph it. Farther along I saw many alligators ranging from six to ten feet or more. Great blue herons, great egrets, wood storks and other birds took to flight at my disturbance. The area is close to the park road and allows access for those less adventurous than me. There is a bench on one side of the path and a picnic table a bit farther up on the other side. I spent a couple hours at the site with my long lens on a tripod and another camera in my hand. I watched both great blue and little blue herons, cormorants, egrets, ibis, wood storks and, of course, alligators. Fish were constantly jumping in the marsh and I saw some large fish in the shallows. It was a serene spot to spend the late morning. I was by myself except for a couple that road up on mountain bikes. I recognized them quickly as my campsite next-door neighbors. Their arrival sent the birds to flight, but I waited for many to return.

Tonight is my last night here. Tomorrow morning I will drive two and a half hours north to Ocala where I will be storing the Wheelhouse while I am in Borneo and Malaysia. Hopefully I will be done by midday and then I will continue north to Macon, Georgia for the night. I intend to make it back to my bonus dad (stepdad) Joel’s house on Monday. On Tuesday I will get ready for my overseas trip and have lunch with my sister Lisa. I fly out of Chicago’s O’Hare airport Wednesday evening arriving in Dubai on Thursday evening, Kuala Lumpur Friday morning and then Kuching, Borneo on Friday afternoon. My friends will join me in Kuching on Saturday.

Today after I have everything packed I am going to make the campsite and RV tour video I never got to yesterday and I also am going to buy some firewood so I can have a campfire on my final night and enjoy the big can of Foster’s lager I bought the other day.

Due to the lack of wifi and almost no cell signal I am way behind on posting images to Instagram. Tomorrow night when I reach my Macon hotel I will bomb Insta will loads of pix. I'm sending this from town, but have no wifi and am using my cell data plan. Images will have to wait until the weekend. Enjoy yours!

All the best, M

No comments:

Post a Comment