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08 September 2007

Back and ready to go again

Hey, y'all! Sorry I didn't post yesterday, but I woke up with a raw, raspy throat and was pretty 'blah' all day. It was a fabulous mini-vacation. DS got sick the night before we left, but refused to back out. We ended up leaving about 5 hours later than planned, but I'd allowed for delays, so we still got there in time for a little sight-seeing before dark. DS dragged a bit the first day and a half, but was glad he went.

We were only an hour late getting out the second morning, which, considering our history, merits a punctuality award. We started a gorgeous day at Fred Howard Park in Tarpon Springs, then zipped over to Tampa and got to Lowry Park around 10.15, just in time for the penguin feeding. The white tiger cubs were too adorable, but the clouded leopard cub was snoozing under a rock and blended in much too well for pics. We made it halfway through the second aviary before the heat did us in. Reluctantly, I fnally admitted defeat. If we'd stayed another 5 minutes, they'd have had to cart both of us off to the stroke ward. No kidding, I've never been so beat by the heat. I'm sure the extra-high humidity in the aviary accelerated my downfall. We'll definitely be going back this winter.

After a nice cold drink and a couple hours in the AC, we decided we were going to live. By that time, we'd taken the scenic route through Tampa, crossed the Courtney Campbell Causeway and found a parking spot surprisingly close to Countryside Mall's entrance. The food court was a bit disappointing, but I was glad to see the ice skating rink is still there.

We decided to double back and check out the other side of Courtney Campbell before taking Memorial Causeway to Clearwater Beach. DS was really glad we did, coz we came across a flock of well over 200 Black Terns basking and bathing on the mostly deserted beach. Halfway across Memorial, we considered visiting the marine aquarium, but agreed to add that to our ever-growing 'next time' list.

Next, we headed back north to Dunedin Causeway. I was scattily snapping shorebirds there when the CARD FULL warning popped up. I don't think I've ever seen that since I got the 1GB card. Well, I could sit there and wade through the 480-some odd shots to see if some could be deleted or I could zip over to WallyWorld and buy a new card. By the time we got out of WM, DS was crashing and we were both getting hungry, so we plotted a circuitous course back to Tarpon Springs. While DS ran into 7-11 for a brownie, I switched memory cards and got frustrated all over again. Now the camera tells me the card can't be used. WHAT?! I splurged on a 60x 2GB memory card and it's no good? Hmmm... new card, old(er) camera... I've outsmarted myself again, haven't I? A quick detour to Ritz Camera confirmed my suspicions. *sigh* OK, so I'll just save this card for my new camera and pick up a 512MB card a t the next WM. Surely I won't take more than 245 pics our last half day, right? (I ended up with 226. LOL!)

By the time we finally got supper at the Kentucky Fried Taco Pizza combo, we were both ready to call it a day. Neither of us had any trouble reaching REM before midnight.

Getting up at 5AM is outrageously out of character for me, but I was first in line when breakfast was served at 6. We were both just as happy to scrap our original schedule and start the day at Wall Springs. A stunningly beautiful park, it was the perfect choice. We'd have spent more than an hour & 45 minutes there if we'd had more time and stamina. But we did want to check out a few more spots before heading home. After Palm Harbor - where we spotted a pair of Black-hooded Parakeets - and Ozona, we drove again around Spring Bayou, then made a quick run by the Anclote River parks. No peacocks or Monk parakeets this time. Up the road, a lone Black Skimmer among the gulls and terns at Pine Island rounded out the bird list right nicely.

Unable to put off the inevitable any longer, we started home. After a quick burger in Chiefland, I was happy to take DS up on his offer to drive the rest of the way. This worked out great, as he usually reclines the seat and snoozes through the endless nothingness of that last leg. About 4-5 miles outside Newport, I noticed something moving way out in the new growth of a recently burned section of forest. Could it be? No way! BEARS! (Thankfully DS is a good driver and being scared witless by my sudden shriek of joy didn't land us in a ditch.) No, just pigs, I reckon... no.. wait.. they ARE bears! A momma and 2 cubs! I've been looking for bears for years. I've seen them in the Smokies, but never in Flarda. We finally found a safe place to turn around without being flattened by the 18-wheeler behind us and went back for a better look. Just time for 2 quick snaps and a quick focus of the bins before more headlights appeared in the rearview. A perfect end to the best mini-vacation ever.

The only really disappointing thing was the quality of my pictures. Some turned out great, but the low light at Lowry made for a lot of mediocre results. It's my one biggest complaint about this otherwise excellent camera. I'll try to sort through and post a few of the better ones later this (Saturday) evening. God bless y'all! 8-]

1 comment:

Floridacracker said...

You had a burger in Chiefland!
That's my stompin' grounds.