Friday, November 20, 2015

November 15, 2015 - Micanopy, FL & Gainesville, FL

Too late!!! Since we got the new shades for the bedroom it is hard to tell if the sun was already up or not.  Edith was planning on getting up an hour and half before the sunrise and drive to the swampland, about 8 miles away to get pictures of the sunrise.  The sun was already up when Edith peeked out the window.  I have 2 more days to do that, she reminded herself. Of course, she went back to bed.

The sky was not so blue, it was more like old Confederate gray.  Not exactly overcast and it was little chilly.

After breakfast we drove to the visitor’s center parking lot, took a walk on Cones Dike Trail again.  The last time we hiked there we did not go all the way. We stopped less than half way and turned back because it was hot and muggy. So, we were hoping we can go all the way today because of the pleasant weather.

Before we got on Cones Dike Trail we went to the observation tower to see if we can spot animals out in the pasture.  Nary a one was seen. :(

It was around 10:30 am when we started hiking on Cones Dike.  Dragonflies were not around because of the chilly weather.  After the first turn there was a Great Blue Heron perching on a branch.  Two guys were walking behind us, maybe 100 feet away.  One of them was shuffling too much and Edith knew that once he got so close to us the bird will fly away, so she hurriedly took pictures.  Sure enough, the bird flew away when the guys arrived to where we were.  They walked past us and continued hiking. 

Red Ant

Maple Leaf

At the second turn the trail is about 2 miles long.  About half way down the trail we spotted the guys standing still and we knew they saw something. We picked up our pace to catch up with them.  Whoa! It was a 7-8 foot alligator basking on the bank of the creek.  The guys did not dare to walk past it and we did not either.  We stayed a while so Edith can get decent pictures.  She was so tempted to walk past it in order to get frontal shots of it, but chickened out. The trail is not wide enough to scramble to a safe place in case of an attack.  Too risky… We stayed and watched it for like 20 minutes before we gave up, turned around and went back.  Mission unaccomplished...

Yes, we had to take a selfie picture!  Crazy???

There were several bison wallows along the bank.  Wild horses and bisons were nowhere to be seen.  Maybe we would see them if we come here very early in the morning before they move to the far end of the pasture, or they may have stayed at the far side.  

Bison Wallow

Back to the first turn there were lots of dragonflies in many colors flying around. The sun was shining all over, so it was warm enough for them to go about. It was hard for Edith to try to capture a shot of one in flight.  Impossible, but she has seen lots of Instagram pictures with dragonflies in flight and the pictures were sharp!  

There was this student in waders walking in the swamp with a small net. Erwin asked him what he was looking for and he replied, "a frog" and said he didn't know what kind it was and was trying to get a picture of it but failed to get a good one. Edith tried and was successful and he asked if she would please send him the picture and he promised to let us know what his teacher identified it as. Sean texted later and said it was a "Southern Cricket Frog" because it's call sounded much like a cricket!  This little frog is only half inch long!  Here endeth the biology lesson!

Southern Cricket Frog
We were already exhausted and we did not even finish the trail. Just imagine how dead tired we would be if we had continued trekking if not for the alligator blocking our path. Thank you Mr. Alligator!

We went to Winn Dixie in Gainesville, picked up $48 worth of groceries. Erwin commented to Edith that he is not used to seeing a lot of shoppers wearing Gator apparel.  Now we have 14 cents Fuel Perks and hope to add more next week.  We will have to buy more food before we arrive Leesburg, FL next Tuesday.

Edith wanted to try and cook BBQ chicken and sweet potatoes on the fire pit grill.  She coated sweet potatoes with coconut oil, wrapped them in foil and placed them on hot coals.  It took about an hour before they were done, then chicken was placed on the top grill.  It is nice to be able to cook outside and there is no mess in the kitchen. 

While Edith was busy cooking Erwin worked on the walking stick. He wanted to add turquoise stones to the walking stick to embellish it!  

What big feet you have!

After supper we went biking to the lake.  The civil colors were beautiful and the lake had nice colorful reflection of the clouds. “Give me IPhone”, Edith signed to Erwin.  Erwin reached for it, but then realized he left it at “home” being charged.  There was a photographer taking pictures of a couple sitting on a blanket.  The pictures are going to be pretty, Edith thought.  It started to get a bit dark so we hurriedly biked back to the campsite.

Edith packed her camera bag, got the flashlight, kissed Erwin bye. She drove to the swampland with hopes of getting pictures of the Milky Way.  The swampland is about 8 miles from the state park.  It used to have water all around, but dried up years ago.  There is a boardwalk and a small parking lot on US 441.  When Edith got there there were few pick-up trucks with people lying in the back of the truck.  Guess they were star watching or necking?  Not much room for her to park, but she managed to find it.  After Edith set up the camera on a tripod she realized that it was going to be hard because of the lights from the oncoming vehicles.  After few tries she packed her stuff up and left.

Not wanting to give up yet, she continued driving to Micanopy town to see if there was something there that will make a nice picture.  The town was so quiet.  She found one, took few pictures and was pleased that she got one of the Milky Way. Very hard to see it with naked eyes, not as noticeable as in Horseshoe Beach, FL.  Edith was tempted to continue, but had to stop after realizing she was gone for two hours.  There is always another night to try, she reminded herself.

It was a good day for us. We were grateful that the weather was cool.

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