St. Augustine

By Linda

I think I might have a problem sitting still too long, so we recently put our house up for sale.  We plan to travel in the motor home and ultimately settle somewhere in Washington State.  Our son lives there and we’d like to be within driving distance of him so we can visit more often.  We’re not waiting until the house sells to get going.  We can’t sit still long enough to do that!  So, we’re leaving on our trip and hoping it sells by the end of the summer.  If it does, we’ll put our household goods in storage and travel around until we find a place to put some roots in Washington State.  If it doesn’t sell by the end of the summer, we’ll come back and spend the winter in St. Augustine.  Either outcome is workable, so it’s all good.

As a result of this plan, we don’t really know where we’ll be at the end of the summer.  Our Adventure 2018 plan currently terminates the end of August.  At that point, we either head back to St. Augustine or start thinking about where we want to spend the winter.  Because we don’t know how things will work out, we have to pack as though we won’t see our household goods for awhile.  I also have to say good-bye to the wonderful friends I have made since we moved here and visit some of my favorite St. Augustine spots one more time.

While I am running around with my friends and visiting favorite spots,  Regis completes his motor home projects.  More planning is required regarding what to take since we don’t know whether we’ll be living in Florida next winter or somewhere else.  Also, knowing that we could be living in the motor home for over six months has given Regis an excuse to embark upon more projects than you can count regarding the motor home.  He is obsessed with improving this or that and spends more time at the motor home than he does at the house.  Oh, wait, he spends a lot of time at the local hardware store also.  Thank goodness they opened a new hardware store between our house and the lot where the motor home is stored.  It has greatly reduced our fuel consumption!

As I met up with some good friends recently to explore the GTM Research Reserve, they told me about a portion of an old ship that washed up on the beach near the Reserve.  One of the interesting things about living by the ocean is seeing what washes up on the beach.  Lots of times it’s garbage, but can be interesting nevertheless.  Months after hurricane Matthew visited the area, it was possible to see the objects from people’s lives continue to wash up on the beach.  It was very sad and made the ocean a dangerous place to swim.  Sometime we find cool skeletons of now dead creatures.  Having a portion of an old ship wash up was very exciting, so we had to checkc it out.  I took a couple pictures.  Here is a link to one of the many articles about the ship.  Click here. 


I saw this gopher tortoise at the GTM Research Reserve which is one of my favorite places.

Gopher tortoise at GTM Reserve.

I also visited the Alligator Farm in St. Augustine.  This is a favorite place to visit while the birds are nesting in the spring.  The birds are wild but learned that the Alligator Farm is a relatively safe place to raise their young.  The many alligators keep other predators away.  Of course, any chick that falls out of the nest won’t have to worry about hitting the ground.  It will become a tasty snack first.  Those alligators are fast.  The birds are used to people watching them in this area, so you can get some very close views of them.

When I visited the other day, the alligators were restless.  While you are watching the birds, you stand on a boardwalk over the water where there are LOTS of alligators.  When the alligators start bellowing and thrashing around, you hope desperately that the boardwalk is well built!  Click here for a video on our youtube channel of some of the nesting activity and the restless alligators.  The alligator farm is a great place to visit any time of the year.  You can zip line across the alligators.  If you are visiting the area in the spring, it is a must see.  For more information click here for a link for the Alligator Farm. 

Following are some still pictures of the birds.

Feeding time for a baby Great Egret
Great Egret family picture. As usual, the kids are squabbling!
Tri-colored heron nesting pair.
Tri-colored heron scratching an itch while protecting his/her eggs.
Cattle egret.


How to Know When the Gray Tanks are Full

If you have been following our posts, you may recall me whining about how the gauges on the gray and black tanks don’t always work.  Therefore, you never know when they are full.  Regis tells me that I will know when the gray tank is full if I’m taking a shower and the water starts to puddle at my feet and stop going down the drain.

At the Koreshan campground, we have water and electricity but no sewer.  We were only planning to stay 4 nights, so that should not have been a problem.  On our last morning, prior to leaving, I took my shower and lo and behold, the water began to puddle around my feet.  Thank goodness I was almost done.  There was a dump station in the campground, so we didn’t have far to go to dump the tanks.  Jeezy peezy there has to be a better way!

This is our shower. The reason you can’t see the drain is because the shower is full of soapy water that will not drain because the tank is full!
While hanging around the campground, Regis made friends with this little anole.

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Anole in Koreshan State Historic Site.

We spent our last full day here going back to J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge.  I love the place and cannot get enough of it.  Since the tide was in, we didn’t see as many birds.  It is easier for them to fish when the tide is out.  Nevertheless, I got some more video of a Reddish Egret fishing.  Click here.

Here are some more bird pictures.

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Birds at J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge.
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Birds at J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge.

We checked out the Bailey tract at the refuge.  We didn’t see many birds, but we saw this little guy hanging about.

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Alligator at J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge.

Underwater Views

By Linda

Anhinga and alligator on the Silver River in Florida.

On our last day in Silver Springs State Park, we kayaked by the springs and the Fort King Paddle Trail.  We did the loop a couple times.  Being Saturday and a holiday week-end, it was much more congested.  Nevertheless, we still saw a lot of wildlife including a Barred Owl.  If it had not hooted, I would not have seen it.  Much of the wildlife is very close.  If you are not careful, you can bump into a turtle or alligator.  They must be used to the relative safety of the area because most of them are not skittish.

Fort King Paddle Trail in Silver Springs State Park in Florida.

This little loop on the paddle trail and the springs is easily one of my favorite kayak trips.  The wildlife is amazing.  If you find a place to safely anchor yourself, you can sit and watch the wildlife for hours.  I particularly enjoy watching the Anhingas fish.

Anhinga on the Silver River in Florida.
Anhinga on the Silver River in Florida.


Regis was fortunate to get quite a few underwater videos.  Click on the words to see a video of each animal:  Anhinga (close), Anhinga (dive), turtle, and otter.

The otter was particularly difficult to capture as a photo or underwater.  It was very fast as it popped in and out of the water.  It was a joy to see.

We will definitely be back!

River Otter at Silver Springs State Park in Florida.
Common Moorhen on the Silver River in Florida.
Great Blue Heron sunning on the Silver River in Florida.
Immature White Ibis on the Silver River in Florida.
Alligator enjoying the sunshine on the Fort King Paddle Trail in Silver Springs State Park in Florida.

Paynes Prairie

Alligators at Paynes Prairie State Park in Florida.

By Linda

We were not able to sit still in one spot in St. Augustine and wait for our 2017 travel adventure.  We are planning a trip to the Atlantic provinces of Canada this summer.  In the meantime, we decided to take a week and explore part of Florida.

We started by visiting Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park which is next to Gainesville.  Many Northern Sandhill Cranes, from the breeding grounds in Michigan and Wisconsin, come to southern Georgia and Florida to spend the winter.  According to Park literature, about 1500 to 2500 migrants from the eastern population of Sandhill Cranes stay through the winter at Paynes Prairie.  There are about 25 to 30 breeding pairs of Florida Sandhill Cranes that are non-migratory and raise their young at Paynes Prairie.

Sandhill Cranes in Paynes Prairie State Park in Florida.

We walked on the La Chua trail to see the Cranes and could hear them long before we could see them.  On the way to observe the Cranes we saw numerous alligators basking in the sun.  We have never seen that many alligators in the wild.  Some of the alligators were wearing a variety of vegetation.  Very interesting.   There were numerous signs warning about the dangerous wildlife, so it is important to be very careful that you don’t wind up becoming a meal on this trail.

Alligator in Paynes Prairie State Park in Florida.
Alligator in Paynes Prairie State Park in Florida. Is that an alligator hat?

There is an observation platform at the end of the trail that allows for a great view of the prairie.  At this point we could see thousands of the sandy-colored Sandhill Cranes everywhere.  But, most exciting, was the one white endangered Whooping Crane in the midst of all those Sandhills.  What a sight to see.  I didn’t think I would ever see a Whooper in the wild.  According to Wikepedia there were 603 Whooping Cranes in February 2015 including 161 captive cranes.  Perhaps this Whooping Crane was raised by Sandhill Cranes and thinks it’s one of them.   During a visit to the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in the past, I learned that biologists attempted to have Sandhill Cranes raise Whooping Cranes as part of the effort to rescue them from extinction.  Most Cranes lay two eggs but often only one of the young makes it.  To increase the whoopers chances of success, the biologists would take one of the eggs and swap it out for a Sandhill Crane egg.  The Whooping Cranes grew up thinking they were Sandhill Cranes and would not mate with their own kind.

The white bird is a Whooping Crane among Sandhill Cranes at Paynes Prairie State Park in Florida.


There was a small group of White Pelicans in the middle of the Sandhills.  When we were in North Dakota and Montana in 2015, we saw White Pelicans.  The ones we saw here in Paynes Prairie probably came from there.

White Pelicans and Sandhill Cranes at Paynes Prairie State Park in Florida.

We also saw some feral horses.  These horses were left from when the Spanish arrived.

Although we couldn’t see them well, there are also bison here.  Bison originally inhabited this area but were wiped out after the Europeans arrived.   Bison were reintroduced and there is a herd that is resident on this Prairie.  They were too distant for us to get a good look but it is comforting to know they are back.

Sandhill Cranes at Paynes Prairie State Park in Florida.
Sandhill Cranes at Paynes Prairie State Park in Florida.
Great Blue Heron with a fish at Paynes Prairie State Park in Florida.
Great Blue Heron and Alligator at Paynes Prairie State Park in Florida.