.All Trips / Florida / North America

(Still Another) Gallery of Gators

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Several years ago I did a blog post on alligators, which featured photos of some fine specimens I’d encountered in the Everglades, as well as a brief discussion of their life history.  I’ve not a lot to add to that, but I did learn something interesting during my recent trip to the River of Grass.  Alligator mothers protect their young hatchlings for up to 2 years.  I had no idea that the maternal instinct was so strong in these reptiles.  It makes sense for the survival of the species, because baby alligators are at the bottom of the food chain.  The photo of a mother and her hatchlings below prove it.

Mother and baby alligators, Shark Valley

Mother and baby alligators, Shark Valley

You won’t see alligators at every stop in the Everglades, but …

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.All Trips / Florida / North America / Southeastern USA

A Moving Visit to the Holocaust Memorial of Miami Beach

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As with most visits to sites dedicated to remembrance of willfully destroyed human lives, a stop at the Miami Beach Holocaust memorial will likely leave you somewhat moved, disturbed and drained.  I guess that’s the point of it.  For example, my first reaction when I saw the memorial’s  imposing arm reaching up to the sky was that it was a sign of defiance and victory — the spirit of the Jewish people couldn’t be defeated by the Nazis.  Instead, I was saddened to learn the arm was symbolic of millions of tattooed arms that were grasping for help in their despair as they were dying, and there was no relief to be found.

It may seem a little odd that there …

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“Pic of the Week”, November 8, 2019: Hiding in plain sight, Everglades National Park

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My brother and I were traveling down a remote road in Everglades National Park one evening.  We’d stopped frequently to enjoy views and take photos of the River of Grass and Cypress groves.  During our last stop, in the fading light, we noted this alligator nearby, well camouflaged by the low light and reflections of the cypress trees.  There was something primitive and primal about the scene that caused the hair on my neck to stand on end.

(Click on thumbnails to enlarge, right arrow to advance slideshow)

 

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“Pic of the Week”, November 1, 2019: An uncommon mailbox, Fort Lauderdale

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We came across this unusual mailbox outside the Fort Lauderdale Antique Car Museum.  It seemed such an appropriate customization for a car museum — complete with wheel rims and spark plugs!  

(Click on thumbnails to enlarge, right arrow to advance slideshow)

 

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.All Trips / Florida / North America / Southeastern USA

Visiting an Ancient Spanish Monastery — in Florida??

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How could an old Spanish Monastery be located in North Miami Beach?  Herein lies the interesting background of this story.  

This Monastery was built between 1133 – 1141 A.D. near Segovia, in Northern Spain.  It became known as the Monastery of St. Bernard de Clairvaux. — St. Bernard was a Cistercian monk and influential church leader, and the founder and abbot of the Abbey of Clairvaux.  Cistercian monks lived in this Monastery for nearly 700 years.  After a social upheaval in the 1830’s, the Monastery‚Äôs Cloisters were seized and converted into a granary and stable.

 Ancient Spanish Monastery, North Miami Beach

Ancient Spanish Monastery, North Miami Beach

Enter legendary American publisher, William Randolph Hearst (of California’s Hearst Castle fame).  In 1925, Hearst purchased the Cloisters and the Monastery’s outbuildings (the church was not part …

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“Pic of the Week”, October 18, 2019: A Swirl of Color

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I walked past this scarlet macaw preening itself, and had to stop and enjoy a display of nature’s palette.  Scarlet macaws are amazingly beautiful birds!  In the act of cleaning itself, the bird’s multicolored feathers were moving and beautifully displayed.  I tried to capture some of this brilliance in these images — hopefully with at least an element of success.

(Click on thumbnails to enlarge photos, right arrows to advance)

 

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“Pic of the Week”, October 4, 2019: White Ibis, Florida

01 White Ibis

I’d never seen White Ibis before visiting Florida years ago.  It’s a rather common bird in the Gulf Coast region, extending from the Mid-Atlantic coast to Mexico.  The white ibis prefers living around marshy and swampy ground.  It’s obviously a white bird, with pale facial skin and pink beak and legs.  Apparently the legs turn scarlet during mating season.  Males are larger and have longer bills than females. 

Their diet consists primarily of small aquatic insects and fish, including crayfish, although these freeloaders were enjoying a meal provided by Flamingo Gardens.

(Click on thumbnails to enlarge, right arrow to advance slideshow)

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.All Trips / Florida / North America / Southeastern USA

Space View Park, Titusville, Florida

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Situated on Florida’s east coast, 15 miles from the Cape Canaveral launch pads, is the small town of Titusville.  Titusville sits on the Indian River and has a lovely park on its waterfront called “Space View Park”, wherein we stopped while making our way to the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge for some bird-watching.  The park is a lovely shaded spot with some wonderful views towards the Kennedy Space Center and, to our delight, had a great monument to the earliest American astronauts, the Project Mercury team. 

I was a schoolboy during the great era of space travel that President Kennedy’s challenge spawned in the 1960s.  “We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do other things not

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