Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Sarasota Trips and Stops There and Back Again

Civil Rights Memorial

My wife, Linda, and I decided to drive to Sarasota, FL, this year for our annual visit with her mother, giving us a chance to stop here and there as we liked.

I have wanted to visit for years, Wakulla Springs State Park in northeastern Florida for years, ever since my discovery that the Creature from the Black Lagoon's swimming sequences in the movie got filmed in the springs' clear and cool waters.

So, in Nashville instead of taking the freeway on to Atlanta, we kept south until we reached Montgomery, where we spent the night.

We spent a few hours walking in the city, visiting the Civil Rights Memorial and the Baptist Church where Martin Luther King served as pastor and helped organized the marches in support of Rosa Parks--a museum dedicated to her significant actions also sits within walking distance of the state capitol.

And just around the corner from both these icons of the Civil Rights Movement stands the First White House of the Confederacy.

Unfortunately, all my pictures from our stop in Montgomery got destroyed, but I had better luck in Wakulla Springs, where we spent the night in the old lodge at the park, a beautiful structure. Inside the lodge rooms, the air conditioning feels as though jet turbines work to ventilate, which feels wonderful on hot and humid Florida afternoons.

We enjoyed the boat ride, which featured an exciting diversity of bird life, from the Snowy Egret featured to the right--click on the photograph and check out the feet, which look a lot like rubber boots--to the Green Heron on the left after the following image of the "jungle" section of the springs.

My photographs suggest, I hope, some of the diversity and the beauty--not to mention the impressive frequency and size of the gators that populate the area.

Anyone familiar with early Tarzan movies
will recognize the scene, for many of these movies include sequences got filmed here. Just look up the springs on the internet for further information.

I hope to return to the place another time.

Our one-week stay in Sarasota resulted in a few bird shots, including the following three, an Osprey with dinner; a Yellow-crowned Night Heron that visited me while I ate a fish dinner at a small restaurant along the Inter-coastal Waterway; and a Loggerhead Shrike that sits on high wire, also knows as the "Butcher Bird":

I also visited for the first time in years Oscar Sherer State Park near Osprey, south of Sarasota along Highway 41.

Unfortunately, my computer froze as I downloaded images, destroying my pictures of Skinks and the Gopher Turtles that rumble through the park. But I went there in the heat and humidity to see if I could get a photograph of the endangered Florida Scrub Jay.

After three hours of toil in the heat along sandy paths and as I left the park, a beautiful Scrub Jay landed beside me:

November 8 update: Enjoying a quiet birthday, I just happened to discover a recovered pictures folder for iPhoto: it contained the images from Oscar Sherer State Park, including more photographs of the Scrub Jay and the following shots of Gopher Turtle and the Skink.

On the way home, we went the route through Atlanta, one to Nashville, and eventually to Indianapolis and Chicago to home. This time, however, we stopped in three places, two I have wanted to visit for many years.

When in Atlanta, stop in for a few hours to enjoy the wonders the Georgia Aquarium holds, a pretty amazing place.

I could easily watch for hours the Beluga Whales and the Whale Sharks, not to mention the thousands a colorful and small fish that populate the place.

We also spent a few hours at two Civil War Memorial Sites, Andersonville and Chickamauga, one the location of a terrible Confederate Prison Camp and the other the place where a major civil-war battle took place.

As my pictures of the prison camp and the battle site suggest, both place today are beautiful--which is especially true at Chickamauga, which offers an excellent car tour and recordings keyed to cell-phone numbers that discuss the battle.

Andersonville also features the National POW Museum and Memorial, also well worth a visit.

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