Archive for category: Misc

Florida Alligator in the Ocean? Yep.

03 Jul
July 3, 2021
Sharks, jellyfish, and now one more thing to look out for in Florida’s oceans…

Only in Florida … Yes, gators like to go to the beach, too!

My daughter, Kaelyn, and I had considered paddling out to catch a few waves on this day (6/30/21), but the tide was dead low and swell fading after work, so we bailed and I decided to go for a run on the beach, instead. It was probably a good thing we skipped our session because when I got to the beach, someone else was paddling out at our local spot inside the Guana Tolomato Matanzas (GTM) Research Reserve in South Ponte Vedra Beach, between Ponte Vedra Beach and Vilano / St. Augustine – a real-life ripper / shredder!

This was about a half-mile south of the northernmost entrance to the park. I felt conflicted. I wasn’t sure who the real “local” was in this case. I’m a 3rd Gen native of Northeast Florida, but this guy still wins! In all my years here, I have actually seen gators on the beach a couple of times and even a little one in the water. But I’ve never seen one this size (a medium-sized junior) just go waltzing into the ocean like this. If Florida wildlife makes you nervous or you’re planning a beach vacation here, soon, you don’t want to watch this video… but I’m guessing you will anyway, so enjoy!

Kelly Slater Tuberiding | Surfers of Fortune

03 Jul
July 3, 2021

For friends who surf, I thought you might enjoy this clip from Surfers of Fortune, a vintage 29-year old VHS surf film by Brian Bleak. You can no longer buy it. It’s not on DVD. You might be able to find it on YouTube. It featured the Quiksilver crew tooling around Indo. It was one of the films that inspired my own surf travels through the years. Incredible surfing. Great soundtrack. Beautifully, creatively filmed, and edited.

A few years ago, that VHS tape got jammed up in an old player and I let it sit for a long time. I could not get it out. But in my eyes, the tape was more valuable than the player, so I took the machine apart, destroying it in the process to salvage the tape.

Recently, I hooked up another old VHS player to watch it for the first time in many, many years.

I wanted to share this extraordinary clip of a young Kelly Slater because it is still today, the single greatest display of tube riding I’ve ever seen (and I’ve watched a lot of videos). It is complete mastery: entering, exiting, slotting, positioning, sitting, standing, drop knee, even critical drop-ins… switchfoot. Incredibly, 29 years later, at age 49, he’s still performing incredibly, professionally in Tom Bradyesque style. He may not be his 20-year-old-self (shown here), but he’s still remarkably close. But enjoy this! (You may have to turn up your volume. This decades-old VHS was recorded straight from my television set, so not the greatest quality).

The Flying Ham Fam

12 Jun
June 12, 2021

Here’s another fun adventure we enjoyed over this past winter, during Coivd… skydiving. After going parasailing, the girls had mentioned how the “fear-factor” was no biggie, and that they’d like to try skydiving sometime. So, I called them on it and booked a tandem jump at Skydive City in Zephryhills, FL. Coincidentally, about 28 years earlier, it is where Gretchen and I had gone for one of our first dates while students at UCF in Orlando. Back then, on a total whim, we jumped in the car and headed over with a couple of friends. It was such a blast! Although we had not been skydiving again since then, we remembered how awesome Skydive City was! Their safety record is (still) spotless, their facilities fantastic, and their instructors are super cool, highly skilled and very accomplished. Best of all, they take you up higher than most places – over 13,000 feet so that you get to experience over a full minute of freefall at 120 miles per hour. The day that we went this most recent time was in January, and it was bitterly cold by Florida standards (40 degrees?). Not the norm! But it was also sunny, clear and beautiful! Gretchen didn’t go up this time– just Kendall, Kaelyn, and myself. Needless to say, the girls did great, just as they always seem to do whenever I challenge them. They had a blast and I imagine they’ll be headed back with friends, soon! This was an awesome Father/Daughter experience, one I’m sure they’ll never forget. I know I won’t!

Father and daughters after skydiving at Skydive City in Zephyrhills, FL
After the jump… Super proud of these two! Fearless, after all!
Family taking skydiving class, getting ready for a jump
How to jump out of a plane for no good reason: The Ham Fam, gettin’ prepped by the pros at Skydive City in Zephyrhills, FL
Two girls pointing to a "Danger" sign before skydiving at Zephryhills, FL
Yeah, it’s all fun and games BEFORE the jump…
Father with daughters headed up in plane to go skydiving
Going up!!!… Way up… Over 13,000 feet up!!!
Skydiver about to exit airplane on a tandem jump
The moment before the jump: Ready or not!… Don’t be laughing back there- you’re NEXT! See ya’!!!!!
Girl laughing after just exiting the plane on a tandem skydive as plane turns away above the jumpers
Here… We… GO!!!!…..
Skydiving girls falling, as plane above them turn away after exit
Hey, we’re not inside the plane, anymore!
First time jumping from an airplane
You can keep your eyes open and your mouth closed, or your eyes closed and your mouth open. Either way, you can’t beat the feeling!
Girl screaming, falling at 120 miles per hour on a tandem skydive at Skydive City in Zephyrhills, FL
What??! We’re only going 120 miles per hour!!!
Girl about to exit airplane for a skydive, standing at the door looking down
Not so tough, now, are you?!!!
Skydivers free-falling on a tandem jump
Above the clouds, and flying high! In the words of the great Tom Petty: “Now I’m freeee… freefallin’!!!….”
Two women skydivers on a tandem jump in Zephryhills, FL about to deploy their parachute
What goes up must come down… and yanked back up in 3… 2… 1…
Women on a tandem skydive jump at Skydive City in Zephyrhills, FL
Once below the clouds, the ground starts coming up pretty quick, but it’s a nice view…
Tandem skydiving at Skydive City in Zephyrhills, FL
Major G-Forces right here.
Skydiving in Zephryhills, FL
Not having any fun at all…
Freefalling for over a minute - Tandem skydiving at Skydive City in Zephyrhills, FL
Freefalling for over a minute – 0ver 13,000 feet up
Watch with heart monitor quickly rising from 52 to 120 BPM rate
Can you tell when the jump happened?

Crystal River Kayaking with the Manatees

07 Mar
March 7, 2021

Looking for a fun Florida “staycation” getaway? Check out kayaking with the manatees in Crystal River during the winter months when the manatees head into Florida’s springs to keep warm. Super inexpensive adventure and a chance to experience some pretty interesting Florida wildlife up close and personal. You can even jump in and snorkel with the gentle giants if you like (but no touching, of course). We used Get Up & Go Kayaking for the outfitters. They have crystal clear see-through kayaks and great guides who put you right on top of the manatees. Check ’em out!

Manatee Crystal River
Family kayaking
Young people kayaking
Two manatees in Crystal River
Kayaker and manatee
Woman and manatee
Two manatees
Manatee
Manatee

Rock Sliding in Tallulah Gorge

07 Jul
July 7, 2019

So, if you go to Tallulah Gorge State Park and show up early enough in the morning to get one of the 100 daily permits that are issued to go beyond the end of the regular trail all the way to the gorge bottom, and you make that difficult hike, this is your reward. It’s a pretty unique experience and a fun one!

Rock Sliding in Tallulah Gorge State Park

Highlands Aerial Park Adventure

06 Jul
July 6, 2019

Highlands Aerial Park bumps up next to the Nantahala National Forest. The property has some beautiful scenic nature trails, worth exploring if you happen to go! Here are a few pics from our day there.

Suspension Bridge in Highlands Aerial Park
Girls walking across beautiful field with rolling hills at Highlands Aerial Park in North Carolina.
Beautiful Forest at Highlands Aerial Park in North Carolina
Ziplining family at Highlands Aerial Park near Franklin, NC

Guana Reserve State Park

14 Dec
December 14, 2018
Guana-State-Park
Here and below are four beautiful images from the same location (northern entrance) in Guana Tolomato Matanzas Research Reserve in Guana State Park in Ponte Vedra Beach, FL. The views are from the (top to bottom, in order) east, west, north and south.
Guana-State-Park-Marshside
Beach-Boardwalk-in-Guana-State-Park
The Florida Coastline from inside Guana State Park in Northeast Florida

Bobcat Out Back

14 Dec
December 14, 2018
Bobcat behind home in residential neighborhood
Here Kitty, Kitty! My wife photographed this beautiful bobcat behind our home from inside the safety of our screened porch. The bobcat came and sat on our outdoor porch and pergola next to the grill. Guess my burgers must be pretty good!

Up the River with a Paddle

28 Jul
July 28, 2018

Guana River Kayaking

Even on overcast days, the beauty of the Guana River Research Reserve inside Guana River State Park is evident.

Sidewinding

23 Apr
April 23, 2018

 

 

My daughter Kendall and I came across this fellow while hiking in Payne’s Prairie in Gainesville, FL recently. Ironically, I had literally just finished telling her seconds before, about how the area reminded me of other places in North Florida I’d explore as a child, and that we’d occasionally find rattlesnakes living in abandoned gopher tortoise holes. Then lo and behold, as soon as I finished that sentence, we came upon this good-sized rattler splayed out right across the trail. Great experience! You don’t see these guys as often as you used to.

Hazy Shade of Winter

27 Dec
December 27, 2017

A old dock on a lake in the early morning in Tavares, FL

A chilly late December morning in Tavares, Fl.

‘Merica

27 Dec
December 27, 2017

corn silos on a farm in Hartsville, South Carolina

Golden afternoon in the cornfields of Hartsville, South Carolina

Maple Leaf / Fall Colors

27 Dec
December 27, 2017

Red Maple Tree

Bright fall colors in Hartsville, SC. Beautiful Red Maples at Thanksgiving.

 

Green grass and red Maple trees

They’re just good ol’ boys…

27 Dec
December 27, 2017

Nope, this isn’t the General Lee from the Dukes of Hazard. That was a ’69 Dodge Challenger. This is bigger and better – a ’67 Plymouth Road Runner. As muscle cars go, it’s the real king of the hill (err… cornfield!). And this one is real, sitting on a farm up in South Carolina. What a beauty!

A 1967 red and black Plymouth Road Runner

Willy Wonka’s Cane Sugar Syrup Factory in Middendorf, SC

27 Dec
December 27, 2017

The Blizzard Branch Syrup company in Middendorf, South Carolina makes pure cane sugar syrup using fresh cut sugar cane and a hand press. Sugar cane goes in. Sweet stuff comes out. Then it’s off to be strained boiled and strained again. Willy Wonka has nothing on these guys! I’m pretty sure this is where they recorded the sound effects for that movie, anyway. This is a great example of sustainable farming and agritourism. Interesting stuff! We had a good time romping around up there while visiting family in Hartsville, SC over the Thanksgiving holidays.

Windmill

27 Dec
December 27, 2017

windmill-south carolina

A windmill sitting high above the land in farm country in Middendorf, SC

Gimme Some Sugar

27 Dec
December 27, 2017

fresh cut sugar cane

Fresh cut sugar cane just before it is fed into a press on its way to becoming syrup.

Pure

27 Dec
December 27, 2017

Blizzard Branch Syrup Company SC

The Blizzard Branch Syrup Company in Middendorf, SC makes pure cane sugar syrup by hand.

One of a few shots from our family’s annual trek up to Hartsville, South Carolina at Thanksgiving. This is from the nearby Blizzard Branch farm where they make pure cane sugar syrup, yellow corn grits and blueberry wine by traditional methods. Fascinating, beautiful and delicious.!

Fun with Fire

27 Dec
December 27, 2016

Fun with Fire

Thanksgiving Bonfire

27 Dec
December 27, 2016

bonfire

Nothing’s better than a good bonfire! Just ask these kids!

A peek at the fun from our recent annual trip up to farm country in Hartsville, SC at Thanksgiving! Roasting hot dogs on a stick and making s’mores is always on the agenda here. Good times!

Smoky Mountain Stream

27 Dec
December 27, 2016

Smoky-Mountain-Stream

Gotta love the serene beauty of a Smoky Mountain stream…

A River Runs Through It

03 Sep
September 3, 2016

Pfeifer Big Sur State Park

Big Sur is big country. Everything is just… big. This shot of the river bed in Pfeifer State Park provides some scale.

Instalove from Radimus Platypus

05 Jun
June 5, 2016

Radimus Platypus Instagram

A shout-out from the Radimus Platypus Instagram Channel for the recent book review I wrote on their behalf, for The Inertia. The article detailing author Mikey Bondoc’s inspiring story and killer book series earned over 430 Facebook likes!

Freshie

05 Jun
June 5, 2016

Whisnant Surf Design

My current ride… a beautiful new 6’1″ Whisnant Surf Tri/Quad combo, ultralite with single layer 4oz glass on top/bottom. Thanks Mike!

The Ice Plant, St. Augustine

01 Jun
June 1, 2016

The Ice Plant, St. Augustine Beach, FL

The Ice Plant in St. Augustine, FL is an excellent example of reclaimed architecture. The former working ice plant is now a restaurant. Cool spot! Nom Nom.

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