Archive for category: Nature

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!

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

Picken’s Nose

07 Jul
July 7, 2019

Here are a few pictures of Picken’s Nose in North Carolina. This was a fairly challenging, spectacular hike through a bear sanctuary. There weren’t many people there and the quiet hike through a truly enchanted-feeling forest was really something special. Eventually, you pop out into an area where there are some dramatic rock outcroppings with incredible views of the area. This place was great!

Family on a mountaintop rock outcropping at Picken's Nose
Sign points the way to the Picken's Nose trailhead
Sign on tree on Picken's Nose trail warns of bear sanctuary
A footpath leads through a quiet green mountain trail at Picken's Nose
A interesting, dramatic path through a tunnel of thickets on the Picken's Nose trail in North Carolina
The beautiful forest trail through a bear sanctuary at Picken's Nose in North Carolina.
Two women hiking along the forest trail at Picken's Nose.
Beautiful yellow flowers along the thickly wooded path through the woods at Picken's Nose.
Father and daughters on the trail at Picken's Nose
Mountain vista at the top of Picken's Nose
Dramatic view of green mountain range in summer at the top of Picken's Nose in North Carolina

Up, Up, Up…

07 Jul
July 7, 2019

On our trip to Franklin, NC, we visited a place called Picken’s Nose, which is a demanding hike through a bear sanctuary, but also one of the most beautiful places in North Carolina. One thing we didn’t realize before we went was that the entrance to the trailhead required an 8-mile drive up a winding, narrow gravel road, which would be fine in my Jeep, but not in my wife’s car, an Azera with a low-set base, which is the one we took on the trip. It was well worth it, but be aware should you ever decide to go.

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

Hiking Tallulah Gorge

06 Jul
July 6, 2019

On our trip to Franklin, NC, we ventured down into northern Georgia for a very special adventure – hiking Tallulah Gorge. This is a 3.4-mile hike down into the very steep 1,000-foot gorge. This was a serious hike, extremely difficult in parts, with a lot of boulder climbing. There’s a regular (fairly easy) trail that ends at a suspension bridge, but if you get a special permit (they only issue 100 per day, so you have to arrive early), then you can proceed off-trail and continue all the way on down to the gorge bottom, navigating along unmarked rock walls and trails along the river. Eventually, you come to a big sliding rock formation that dumps into a refreshing pool of water at the very bottom! You have to climb back up a ridiculously steep boulder trail to get back to the top, but it’s well worth it! My daughters, Kendall and Kaelyn led the way for our crew! Here are a few pics from the hike. I’ll post a video of the rock slide, next.

Warning signs about hiking in Tallulah Gorge in north Georgia.
Tallulah Gorge with waterfalls between steep large canyon walls
Heading down the stairs into Tallulah Gorge
Suspension Bridge inside Tallulah Gorge
Family standing on the suspension bridge in Tallulah Gorge in north Georgia
People walking across suspension bridge over Tallulah Gorge
Watering Hole at the bottom of Tallulah Gorge
Hiking up the steep trail in Tallulah Gorge
Hiking bear crawl-style up to the top of Tallulah Gorge
Top of trail looking down through forest in Tallulah Gorge
Couple - selfie in Tallulah Gorge
View from top of Tallulah Gorge looking straight down into rivier and boulders and rushing water.

Little Cabin in the Woods | Franklin, NC

06 Jul
July 6, 2019

We recently took a fun trip up to Franklin, N.C. and had a great time hiking, zip-lining and enjoying Mother Nature’s beauty. Here are a couple of pictures of the cabin where we stayed. The next few posts will document some of our adventures.

Mountain view from the deck of a cabin in Franklin, NC
Cabin in Franklin, NC
View through the forest to the mountains from the deck of a cabin in Franklin, NC

Backyard Bobcat – Twenty Mile in Nocatee

06 Jul
July 6, 2019

Check out this great video! Not long ago, Gretchen saw a large bobcat in our backyard and got a pic of it from inside our screened porch. Not long ago, we saw another one. This one was a little smaller (perhaps a female or a junior?) but really beautiful! I walked outside to video it, about 15 yards away. It saw me and stopped and looked right at me. It wasn’t a bit scared! I, on the other hand, had one hand on my phone and the other feeling back behind me towards Gretchen, making sure she was holding the door open in case this thing decided to spring! 😅 Fortunately, it relaxed. This is in The Crossing at Twenty Mile in Nocatee. Apologies for the shaky start! I was tiptoeing!

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