Today was a day for sky happenings. This morning when I went out, there was a large ring-shaped cloud low in the northern sky. Tyndall Air Force Base is about 60 miles west of where we are staying in Carrabelle. We hear low flying jets a couple times a week and I had heard some about an hour before I went out. It is possible this cloud is from a fighter jet contrail, but it was much thicker and wider than a regular contrail so I am not sure this is the reason for it. This photo is a panorama stitched together from two photos because I couldn’t get the entire cloud in one photo.
Last week we had our eyes checked at an optometrist in Crawfordville which is nearly an hour’s drive from us. We ordered new glasses because our prescriptions had changed. This afternoon we went and picked them up and on the way back, as we came around a corner just outside Carrabelle we could see that the horizon was filled with a cloud of smoke. This likely came from a controlled burn in either Tate’s Hell State Forest or Apalachicola National Forest that are nearby. It has been very dry in northern Florida and they have been performing controlled burns of the underbrush. We have seen small clouds of smoke from these burns occasionally. About a month ago the wind was towards us from one and the air was filled with smoke and small floating pieces of ash. Today the smoke clouds were large and foreboding and I don’t think this photo does them justice.
Carrabelle Beach is across the street from our campground. It stretches about a half a mile to our west and about a mile and a half to our east. For the most part it is a simple beach of very white sand with little in the way of driftwood or shells. Weather permitting I usually take a long walk on it several times a week. Over time I have come to see that the beach has a number of small peculiarities that give it some quiet character.
First, at the west end of the beach is the ghost forest. The ghost forest is a stand of tree stumps rooted in the sand. None is more than two feet high and all have been pounded and weathered by the surf. The sand they are on us underwater at high tide. This area has to have been further inland sometime in the past. Nearby there are pine trees that grow within about 25 yards of the ocean, but no closer, so the water line has advanced at least that far since the time the trees grew here.
After my mother, MaryJane, passed away a year and a half ago I took all of the family photos, slides and negatives. This filled 11 boxes that I mailed to myself, with one additional box that my brother, Kevin, and his wife, Karen, mailed to me later. I scanned all of the photos in the fall of 2010, finishing early in 2011 long before we sold our house and hit the road. I had tried to scan the slides and negatives but the scanner I had gotten (Ion Slides2PC) never worked right. It was abysmally slow, taking almost two minutes to scan a single photo and when it was done the quality was poor, so I very quickly gave up on it.
2011 was a busy and eventful year for us and I never had the time to replace the scanner and finish what I had started. I ended up bringing 3 boxes of slides and negatives with us when we left Ashland. After we settled into our campsite here in Carrabelle about a month ago I finally got a new slide/negative scanner (Mustek F35) and it is everything the old one wasn’t – exceptionally fast with good quality scans. I scanned the slides first and have spent the last several weeks scanning the negatives. Today I reached into the last box for another envelope of negatives and was surprised to find there weren’t any left.
We took a scenic tour of the area today and ended up at Bald Point State Park which is about 20 miles east of Carrabelle. The park is for day use only and has several nice beaches and picnic areas. I can see that this would be a lovely place to come during the summer and a good place to bring a picnic lunch. We found two paved and elevated walkways, one to a beach and one over the marsh which was meant for bird watching. Both were in very good condition and we had no trouble traversing them with Susan and her wheelchair. The trees and vegetation are stunted because of a salt breeze and looked more than a bit eerie in spots. Good places to film a zombie movie.
I ran across this bed of moss or lichen that was almost like it had been gardened.
We would like to come back to the park for a picnic lunch before we leave this part of Florida. The park was well kept up and we give it an A- for its handicap accessibility. The walkways were easy to maneuver and the bathrooms were among the easiest for Susan to get in and out that we’ve encountered. Our only quibble would be that the walkway to the beach ended in a short set of stairs rather than a ramp.
We went to Wakulla Springs state park today which is near Tallahassee and about 50 miles from where we are wintering in Carrabelle. Wakulla springs itself is one of the world’s largest freshwater springs and is the headwater of the Wakulla river. The park has been a wildlife sanctuary since the 1930’s but does features a lodge built in 1937 with a restaurant on the first floor and rooms for about two dozen overnight guests. Wakulla Springs has been used in several movies, most notably “The Creature from the Black Lagoon” as well as a couple Tarzan movies.
The park offers one-hour tours of the springs and river on boats with electric motors. We bought tickets for the tour and were able to get Susan on board with very little trouble. The tour was a bird watcher’s dream. A short distance down the river, it was like we were in a different world. There were cypress trees laden with Spanish moss and you couldn’t see more than a short distance into the underbrush on the riverbanks. Both the number of different bird species and the sheer number of birds was amazing. The trees, riverbanks and river were full of birds. The bird calls sounded like something from a jungle movie soundtrack.
We visited the Tallahassee Museum today. Museum is a misnomer because it really about one-third zoo and nature exhibits, one-third exhibits of “Old Florida” such as the turn of the century buildings from Big Bend Farm, and one-third science and education classes. When we arrived there was a stream of mothers either dropping off or picking up their children from the museum’s pre-school classes.
We went on the nature exhibit side first. Fortunately there were elevated plank walkway around and through most of the exhibits which made it easy to get Susan and her wheelchair pretty much everywhere. The animals were primarily Florida icons such as buzzards, eagles, alligators, bears and panthers. While we were going through the nature exhibits it felt like we were going downhill most of the way and I kept thinking that getting back up to the entrance was going to be difficult but towards the end we came upon Jim Gary’s dinosaur sculptures. This critter tried to sneak up on Susan:
And then we found ourselves almost at the entrance and I never felt I had to push Susan uphill all that much.
We visited several of the “Old Florida” buildings. Some were more accessible than others, and Susan was particularly pleased that next to a train caboose, which she could not get into, there was a 3-ring binder of photos of the exhibits inside. The Big Bend Farm buildings were the hardest to get near. The ground there was soft and Susan’s wheelchair kept getting stuck. There was another section, Bellevue Plantation, that we didn’t even attempt as the path was soft and it was a ways from the rest of the Museum.
We ended at the Phipps gallery which had a number of large black and white photographs of Florida swamps and beaches. Several of the photographs had spectacular views of clouds in juxtaposition to trees and swamp that were very striking.
Overall we think it was worth the one-hour drive we made to visit the Tallahassee Museum. We’d give them a C+ for handicap accessibility. Susan gives the bathrooms a C- because they were difficult for her to get in and out of.