Tag Archives: travel

Guided night hike through grassy waters preserve

This weekend we participated in a guided night hike through the Grassy Waters Nature Preserve in western Palm Beach County. WOW, that was cool and only costs $10 per person! Because our guide is a herpetologist, we managed to find lots of frogs, lizards, and snakes.

Not to mention a few white tail deer, lightning bugs (aka fire flies), a shooting star, cool silhouettes of the sunset through the swamp, birds coming in to roost for the evening a variety of other tracks. There are only a few opportunities left to participate, so call up the nature center at Grassy Waters and book your spot soon!

Note: bring PLENTY of bug spray, a good flashlight, and some sturdy boots that you don’t mind getting a little dirty and come ready for some night hiking adventure! Pics below.

Cuban Tree Frog Hanging out in the reeds
Cuban Tree Frog Hanging out in the reeds

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leopard frog
leopard frog
Guide Josh showing a native black racer
Guide Josh showing a native black racer
invasive Cuban Tree Frog
invasive Cuban Tree Frog
pig frog
pig frog
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string lillies

All you can eat shrimp…just go get them!

Fall in North Florida brings a special gift near and dear to my heart (and stomach), the annual shrimp migration into the St. Johns River!

What you need is a cast net, cooler, a little patience, and a full moon doesn’t hurt either! Many folks have different recipes for bait, but my go to is a combination of the cheapest nastiest canned catfood you can get for $1, rock salt, flour, and water. Dump ingredients into an old bowl and kneed by hand or old tablespoon into a funky dough. Find a public dock with a little elbow room and toss a few pinches of your bait dough about 10-20 feet up current, wait a few minutes and toss the castnet over to see who’s hanging out down there. Sometimes it’s a bust, and sometimes it’s an endless buffet! More tips, tricks, and recipes to follow. For up to date info, check out the regional fishing reports Floridasportsman.com

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Explore a gangster’s secret hideout on Deerfield Island

Tucked away amongst the hustle and bustle of modern day southeast Florida is a hidden island that most people zip by. Now owned and operated by Broward County Parks & Recreation Department, Deerfield Island had its biggest claim to fame as the secret hideout for the feared gangster Al Capone (some still call it “Capone Island”). Tucked away in the intracoastal waterway just a few hundred yards north of Hilsboro BLVD in Deerfield Beach, FL the island is only accessible by boat. What’s that? You don’t have a boat? Not to worry, because the county offers free shuttles to and from the island on the hour during the weekends. The island is pretty much uninhabited with the exception of a ranger station and a small clan of raccoon and protected gopher tortoises. Plenty of birds stop by for some peace and quiet as well. There are clean restrooms, picnic pavilions and even a few sand volleyball courts available for your enjoyment. We enjoy visiting the island on a lazy sunday afternoon for hiking, photography, and it’s one of the few places in southeast FL where you can truly get away from it all without having to venture hours outside the city limits.

Did I mention that the island is free?

To learn more, check out the park website at:

http://www.broward.org/parks/DeerfieldIslandPark/Pages/Default.aspx

Tranquil Path on Deerfield Island
Tranquil Path on Deerfield Island

Catch a Gulf Sunset!

So if you’re looking for something amazing to do and don’t want to spend a lot of money, catch a Gulf sunset!

No Matter where you are in Florida, you’re never more than a few hours away from the Gulf of Mexico. Sometimes we’ll watch the sunrise over the Atlantic Ocean, goof off some during the day, head over to the west coast of Florida and catch an AMAZING light show over dinner or a casual stroll down the beach picking up shells. Oh, did I mention that the beach combing is fantastic on the Gulf Coast of Florida? I have plenty of great spots to tell you about in future posts with great facilities and interesting treasures to find and where to find them. But enough of me blabbing about it, let’s see some pics!

So here are a few of my favorite Gulf sunset pics…

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Despite the rain…

We still managed to squeeze in some outdoor time! It didn’t rain 24/7 as I feared, but we still got some heavy downpours scattered throughout the weekend. During some of the sunny times we made a break for the beach on Sunday morning to find glassy seas and perfect water temperature for floating around on a fun noodle. My wife has a permanent back injury and “bobbing” is one of her favorite forms of relief! After a few minutes of “bobbing” we received a few visitors, a small school of bait fish thought we made excellent shelter and kept close to us for the remainder of our swim. Some of them would swim between us and we’d brush our fingers over them. Lots of fun with silly little stuff like that. After a few hours the tide changed and it was time for lunch. All in all a nice mid-September day at the beach!

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Rainy weekend ahead

So a previously lovely and normal weekend forecast has taken a turn for the soggy as a massive system is rolling in from the Gulf of Mexico with intentions of drowning half the state with 3 to 6 inches of rain. What to do??

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Actual weather map for Friday @ 5pm

Well, there’s the movies (plan to drop some serious money to sit in a super crowded theater). You could go to the mall (gag). The popular museums will be PACKED with bored families that can’t think of anything else to do (yaay). IKEA should be nice and congested on a rainy Saturday. There’s Walmart…(ummm…nope…). What to do? What to do??

If you have a creative bug, there are several events going on for folks that enjoy making art!

First off, this weekend is the Florida Watercolor Society’s annual convention which is being held this year at the Hilton Garden in off I-95 in Deerfield Beach.

http://www.floridawatercolor.org/

Then there’s the grand opening of Blick Art supplies in Fort Lauderdale. Should be LOTS of freebies, promotional deals, AND…FREE classes and demonstrations by professional artists ALL WEEK LONG!

http://www.dickblick.com/stores/florida/fortlauderdale/

If your still in the mood for some nature, I recently tried something really interesting that embraced the rain. I was driving through the Everglades and pulled off down a side road, and pulled up to a small shelter. I got out and stood under the shelter and just listened to the rain. The longer I listened the more I heard. Most people “see” the Everglades, but don’t really “hear” them. The birds, frogs, grasses, raindrops, and occasional thunder sound like a wild symphony. So I decided to record a little bit of the magic using my phone’s voice recorder app. After the fact I listen to the sound clip whenever I need to unwind a little and it takes me to a special place where all there is to think about is the rain.

Heavy afternoon storm rolling in over the Everglades
Heavy afternoon storm rolling in over the Everglades

Finding horses a forever home

I was inspired to post this today by a conversation with colleague of mine who was asking me about stuff to do in the Gainesville area while visiting some of the springs. Knowing that she is an animal lover I recommended one of our favorite places to visit animals; the retirement home for horses in Alachua Florida.

Curious retirees at the Mill Creek Farm
Curious retirees at the Mill Creek Farm

If you have never been to or seen or heard of the retirement home for horses, you are really in for something special. Also known as The Mill Creek Farm, the retirement home for horses accepts animals from all over the country from mounted police horses to performing circus horses to rescues from the Humane Society etc. The horses that come here stay here for the rest of their lives. When their time is up, they’re buried in a special “memorial” field and a tree is planted in their name.

I was hesitant at first because I thought I was going to see some very sad creatures, but in fact it was quite the opposite. I’ve never seen happier creatures before my life. The horses were very appreciative of the spacious paddocks in green pastures and once we even got to see a horse touch grass for the first time (he had lived in confined stalls his whole life).

rescued horse feeling grass for the first time in his life! (everyone was in tears)
rescued horse feeling grass for the first time in his life! (everyone was in tears)
New rescue being accepted into his new family, with lots of galloping
New rescue being accepted into his new family, with lots of galloping

The Mill Creek Farm is open to the public on Saturdays at 10 a.m. , the price of amission is two carrots, though I recommend bringing two bags… very big bags (they go pretty quickly). Also, you might want to bring a few milk bones because there are a couple retired dogs there that like a treat too. So much so that we’ve even seen them eat some of the carrots brought for the horses so that they wouldn’t feel left out. For more information about the retirement home for horses, their upcoming events or visiting information you can check them out at their website http://millcreekfarm.org

retired dogs still love to go!
retired dogs still love to go!

Happy adventures!