Saturday, October 16, 2010

Alternate Florida

Well, Carole and I will be heading down to Florida in a few more weeks. Unfortunately it will be for business rather than pleasure. I'll be happy to be on a book tour, but it'll be a bummer to be so close to all of the great state parks and not be able to enjoy them.

Florida has one of the best state park systems I've ever seen. Probably the finest I've witnessed. West Virginia's state park system comes close, but it's still not a fine as the ones in Florida, except that it has probably a slight edge in natural beauty because of the mountainous terrain.

The state of Florida obviously spends a tremendous amount of money on its parks. They have great facilities while at the same time preserving the natural areas in something close to what they originally were. And if you're looking for wildlife, I hold that Florida actually outstrips even the western states for wildlife viewing. You don't see quite as much in the way of large animals in Florida, but you can get lucky and see things like manatees and even bears in the Sunshine State.

For my money, state parks and National Forests don't get much better than the ones in Florida.

Whitetail deer. Probably the most successful large mammal on the North American continent.

Secluded beach on Talbot Island in northeast Florida. We had it to ourselves.

Anhinga above one of the springs of Florida.

Manatee in Manatee Springs.

This black buzzard was at Manatee Springs. He was pulling the ferns at his feet free of the tree limb and dropping them into the spring just to watch them float. He was aware of cause and effect, action and reaction, and he was having fun. Black vultures are one of my favorite animals.

This spectacular pelican was on a dock near Cedar Key.

A young raccoon who was scoping us out and planning to steal from us, the little bastard.

Scrub jay that went into the trap meant for the troublesome raccoon we encountered at Blue Spring State Park. He ate the hot dog bait and left.

The oppossum who was captured in the live trap meant for the asshole raccoon. The ranger came and let it out.

Widdle Marsh rabbit (a type of cottontail) near one of our campsites.

Manatees at Blue Springs State Park. This is the pair that swam up to me while I was swimming in the spring.

Very young alligator in the St. John River.

Beautiful plumage, the Green heron.

Suwannee Painted turtle. This one was huge. About the size of a large platter.

Great egret hunting along the St. John River.


Alligator in Sand Lake near Wekiwa Springs.

Gorgeous clear water at a first magnitude spring.

View at Blue Spring State Park.

Yeah, that's how it's done. Snorkeling and swimming in a first magnitude spring!

This is the Senator. Arguably the largest single tree east of the Mississippi River. Also one of the oldest living things on Earth. No shit.

Stitched photo of insignificant me with the Senator. Yes, this tree is amazing and well worth seeing. Not far from Orlando in Big Tree Park.

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