Saturday, April 1, 2017

#42 - Saturday, 1 April 2017 - Holt, Florida

Good morning from River’s Edge RV Campground near Holt, Florida. Yesterday morning I left Kissimmee Prairie and drove a little over 500 miles over the course of 10 hours. I will miss that state park. As I left I was treated to glimpses of the park’s two most noticeable raptors. I paused to photograph a Red-shouldered Hawk on the ground among palmetto scrub. As I neared the spot near the park entrance where one or two Crested Caracaras were often sighted, I slowed to watch one perched high on a post and then noticed another on the ground on the opposite side of the road. I came to a stop and realized that there were two on the ground roadside in addition to the one perched high above. They are wary and didn’t give me a chance to aim a lens at them. I hadn’t seen three caracaras together before, nor had a red-shouldered hawk fly right alongside my truck as I cruised down the road. It was as if the best had been saved for last. Later when the Florida Turnpike ended at I-75 north I saw my first bald eagle of the trip hovering just above the road. When I started west on I-10 toward Tallahassee and the Florida Panhandle I began to see some dead-on-road (DOR) armadillos and turtles.

Although I photograph what wildlife I can, I’ve written before how I’d rather just enjoy the animals and nature instead of being distracted by capturing the moment for others to see. Additionally, there is so much to see that I can’t capture images of. I have photographed herons, egrets and raptors because I love them, but also because they are larger birds. Aside from a mockingbird photograph from the Everglades and another odd small bird here and there, I am really not a bird photographer. I couldn’t be even if I wanted to be. My longest lens is a second hand 300 mm f4 I bought from Chad Campbell along with a 1.4x teleconverter that extends its range to 420 mm. Bird photographers use faster glass and longer prime lenses. 600 mm fast prime lenses are standard with those with deep pockets using an 800 mm behemoth. These lenses start at about $12,000 and fast 800 mm to 20-25K or more. I’ll stick to spiders and snakes.

Wildlife I saw in the Everglades, but either did not photograph or capture satisfactory images of include Roseate Spoonbills, Wood Storks, Black-necked Stilts, White-tailed Kites, Swallow-tailed Kites, Brown Pelicans, etc. At Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park I saw but did not capture with camera include American Kestrel, Northern Bobwhite, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Eastern Meadowlark, Black Racers, Eastern Glass Lizard, Blue-sided Garter Snakes, Ribbon Snakes, raccoons, fox, kites, Eastern and Florida Grasshopper Sparrows, etc.

I had thought about getting completely out of Florida yesterday, but after ten hours on the road had had enough. If I went farther into sunset and the dark beyond I would have just crashed in a truck stop or something. I decided to look for an inexpensive RV park where I’d have water and electricity and be able to rest comfortably. As its name declares, River’s Edge RV Campground sits along the Yellow River and has a boat launch that I’ll explore after I post this for waterfowl and such. Holt is off Interstate 10 east of Blackwater Bay and where highway 110 drops south to Pensacola and the Gulf of Mexico. Just northwest of here is Blackwater River State Park. My campsite is about 40 miles from downtown Pensacola. After drinking my coffee, eating an egg bagel and breaking camp, I’ll continue west on I-10 past Pensacola and into Alabama. I’m less than 90 miles from Mobile, which sits on the Gulf’s Mobile Bay. From there the Mississippi border is not much farther and I-10 continues along the southern coast to Biloxi and onward. I’ll see where the wind blows me, but I expect to spend tonight in Louisiana or Texas.

Shortly after this morning’s drive begins I will hit 10,000 miles on a truck I got a week or two into January! My truck also records how many miles each trailer is connected and I believe the Wheelhouse now has around 2600 miles on it. It has served me well and is a cozy home for a gypsy. I admit I do ogle other rigs and consider what I might have had. My gas mileage is poor so I think about the smaller RV I was going to originally go with. I also see the advantage of a self-contained small motorhome. However, one factor in choosing my rig was the fact that I have a parrot along for the ride. A small bird takes up a lot of space!

Mentioning Jesse reminds me of something … Yesterday I posted story pics and video of her riding shotgun, which in her case means sitting on my right shoulder as I cruise down the highway. My last blog entry was a compendium of LINKS. I mentioned Snapchat and my fondness for sharing my travels other than wildlife photographs using it. What I neglected to mention is that Instagram copied Snapchat and added a story feature. Those are those circles at the top of your feed if you are using the app. Since I know that both my bonus dad Joel and my sister Lisa use Instagram regularly, I realized I should just post my road pix to both Snap and the Insta story. This means that they don’t have to screw with Snapchat. For those of you who only view my Instagram photos via your web browser, this gives you a reason to download the free app for iOS (or android) and view my Instagram on your iPhone, iPad or other handheld device. You don’t have to use it for other things. Just make a quick account so you can like and comment on my photos and then click on my story circle at the top to see my miscellaneous snapshots from my journey. It’s really easy and a quick YouTube video “Instagram for Beginners” will set you straight. Just sayin’.

Cheers, MJ

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