Archive for category: Nature
Hurricane Earl Surfing, Ponte Vedra Beach
I was super stoked to finally get a proper hurricane swell about three weeks ago. It had been so long! Too long! I was able to catch parts of 5 of the 8 days of that Hurricanes Earl and Danielle were gifting us and enjoyed a couple of really fun sessions with my buddies Aaron and Ryan inside Guana State Park in Ponte Vedra Beach. I took the GoPro out or “Super Tuesday” during Earl. Here’s a few pics from the morning and the afternoon that day.
The Fountain of Youth, St. Augustine, FL
On Labor Day, my wife, Gretchen, and I got our tourist on in Auggie. I have lived in Northeast Florida all my life and have NEVER been to the Fountain of Youth! 😳 I had heard that there was a pretty cool watch tower overlooking the Intracoastal waterway on the property so we decided to check it out, and to be sure, the views were spectacular! Highly recommended! The property is pretty big and there are a lot of other historical attractions on the site. A few peacocks hanging around, too. As far as the fountain, it’s inside a faux cave chamber. They have cups and let you drink from it. They say it’s from a spring but it definitely was NOT 72-degree spring water, more like 80-degree city water, lol 😂! But hey, we had to try! Also, my appearance did not become any more youthful, but ummm… maybe there’s a delay or something… I’ll keep everyone updated! I’m guessing a good, strong cup of black coffee would probably have a quicker, more immediate youth-restoring impact (maybe get rid of the bags under your eyes!) But don’t let my own cynicism affect your decision to give it a shot. You never know. It is a gorgeous place, and a beautiful sight to see.
Roswell Mill at Old Mill Park, Alpharetta, GA
Here’s another park we hiked while up in Alpharetta, GA, a really cool urban park hidden right in the heart of the city. It seemed like a really great place to just hang out and cool down, in or out of the water. What a wonderful natural amenity for the locals.
Amicolola Falls, North Georgia
The same weekend we went up to Alpharetta, GA to see the Jack Johnson / Ziggy Marley concert, we ran up about an hour north to visit Amicolola Falls for some hiking. We had been here once before and it is such a gorgeous place. This state park features the third tallest cascading waterfall east of the Mississippi River. It’s only about 8 miles from the Appalachian Trail. We were loving the 70-degree temps after a brutally hot summer in Florida! Check this place out if you get a chance! Here are a few shots of the somewhat strenuous hike to the top of the falls. I’ll post some waterfall videos, as well.
Florida Alligator in the Ocean? Yep.
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!
Quick Update: So, it appears my gator video went viral. Shortly after posting it on IG, I started getting DMs asking about reposting it or in some cases, just tagging me. Coastal Republic was first, followed by a slew of others. Within the first week, I could easily see nearly half-a-million views on just the major channels, themselves, and not any of the thousands that mentioned friends to share it with them. Tim Bonython, the acclaimed Australian cinematographer who produces Swell Chasers, made Biggest Wednesday and is currently producing The Big Wave Project, who has captured some of the most amazing big wave footage ever at places like Shipsterns, Chopes and the Right, among others, message me to use it in his IG story. Discover Sharks (over 245,000 views!) posted it, Beach Grit, Reel Life Fishing, Everglades Holiday Park (production home of the tv show, “Gator Boys“), NSB Inlet, Reel Life Fishing, Sustainable St. Augustine, Memol Wildlife, among others. Big shout out to NSB/NCFL ripper and Creative Director/Digital Marketer, Matt Dayton for letting me know what was happening with the video, which was quickly getting reposted without attribution in some places, and speaking up to make sure I was properly credited when he saw it. Appreciate it, Matt!
Crystal River Kayaking with the Manatees
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!
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!
Up, Up, Up…
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
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!
Hiking Tallulah Gorge
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.
Little Cabin in the Woods | Franklin, NC
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.
Backyard Bobcat – Twenty Mile in Nocatee
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!