Archive | February 2013

My Favorite Florida

A spider web at Dog World, my favorite Florida amusement park, between me and Chris and the dogs. A misty morning.

A spider web at Dog World, my favorite Florida amusement park, between me and Chris and the dogs. A misty morning.

I’ve arrived in Virginia after a delightful sojourn in Florida. When I travel I spend so much more time with people than I do at home. I couldn’t make these trips without my friends along the way, who open their homes and their hearts to my wandering troupe. I’ll be catching up with pictures and thoughts in the next few weeks and hope I’ll bring myself up to date before it’s time to hit the road home. Dog World, where my last three dogs were born, is my favorite amusement park in Florida. When I lived in Florida briefly many years ago, I was even more immersed in the natural world than I am now in Colorado, and when I return to visit I am blessed with many friends who take me out in the wilds of their back yards or their parks or their secret places to experience the wonders of the many ecosystems of their state.

Stellar and Raven love visiting their family at Dog World, and romping on the morning walk.

Stellar and Raven love visiting their family at Dog World, and romping on the morning walk.

Such a sweet little vine, I thought as I shot this, with the pink lichens. I love a good juxtaposition. Only later did I realize what it was.

Such a sweet little vine, I thought as I shot this, with the pink lichens. I love a good juxtaposition. Only later did I realize what it was.

Each morning at Dog World brings a forced march through the field and the forest, down to the stream. The path is rich with big and little beauty.

Each morning at Dog World brings a forced march through the field and the forest, down to the stream. The path is rich with big and little beauty.

Dewdrops on the pines, a sight rarely seen back home.

Dewdrops on the pines, a sight rarely seen back home.

Jack-in-the-pulpit along the woods trail at Dog World.

Jack-in-the-pulpit along the woods trail at Dog World.

An abundance of oranges.

An abundance of oranges.

A gopher tortoise at the top of the driveway scurries away from me.

A gopher tortoise at the top of the driveway scurries away from me.

During Toes-Up Time one afternoon, while we lay on loungers in the shade reading, watching birds, chatting, this yellow rat snake fell from the tangerine tree, coiled in its own surprise for a few minutes while we admired it and kept the dogs off it, then smoothly slid away and under the house.

During Toes-Up Time one afternoon, while we lay on loungers in the shade reading, watching birds, chatting, this yellow rat snake fell from the tangerine tree, coiled in its own surprise for a few minutes while we admired it and kept the dogs off it, then smoothly slid away and under the house.

The tangerine tree

The tangerine tree.

Dining on the deck at the Bayport Inn on the Gulf Coast.

Dining on the deck at the Bayport Inn on the Gulf Coast.

Grouper sandwich, yum, at Bayport.

Grouper sandwich, yum, at Bayport.

The last cabbage of the season harvested at Dog World. I brought this up to Auntie's and she made delicious coleslaw from it, so far. It's so big! We'll get a lot of meals from it.

The last cabbage of the season harvested at Dog World. I brought this up to Auntie’s and she made delicious coleslaw from it, so far. It’s so big! We’ll get a lot of meals from it.

Sheila made this gorgeous birthday cake for Mary.

Sheila made this gorgeous birthday cake for Mary.

Resurrection fern and other epiphytes grow high in the limbs of ancient live-oaks.

Resurrection fern and other epiphytes grow high in the limbs of ancient live-oaks.

Feral planted azaleas surprise and delight throughout the ancient live-oak forest at Weasel World, a secret wonderland in north Florida where I am lucky to be welcomed when I pass through on my travels.

Feral planted azaleas surprise and delight throughout the ancient live-oak forest at Weasel World, a secret wonderland in north Florida where I am lucky to be welcomed when I pass through on my travels.

Wild pinkster azalea at Weasel World

Wild pinkster azalea at Weasel World.

A swamp maple from the levee at Barr Hammock, the new park near Micanopy and Wacahoota. 6000 acres of wet prairie, a few sandhill cranes, crows, and a mudsnake. My new favorite tree, the swamp maple...

A swamp maple from the levee at Barr Hammock, the new park near Micanopy and Wacahoota. 6000 acres of wet prairie, a few sandhill cranes, crows, and a mudsnake. My new favorite tree, the swamp maple…

A black bird in the marsh at Barr Hammock.

A black bird in the marsh at Barr Hammock.

 

Hands Across the Country

cutting the homegrown Meyer lemon in Ajo

cutting the homegrown Meyer lemon in Ajo

I’ve found myself taking pictures of people’s hands on this trip, and here are just a few. These first two of my hands were taken by Jim. I’m wishing I’d gotten a shot of the hand or hands of every friend along the way. Oh well, there are more to come.

mixing sidecars

mixing sidecars

Dawn making nori rolls

Dawn making nori rolls

Jim takes the next to last slice

Jim takes the next to last slice

Dawn sweeps up the last pieces from the windmill puzzle

Dawn sweeps up the last pieces from the windmill puzzle

she sorts pieces of the pepper puzzle

she sorts pieces of the pepper puzzle

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Doug slices the apple tart

Johnny grabs a hank of Mitch's hair

Johnny grabs a hank of Mitch’s hair

Paul reaches for the mud snake on the levee

Paul reaches for the mud snake on the levee

eating pizza at Blue Highways in Micanopy

eating pizza at Blue Highways in Micanopy, taken by Kathy

David cleans a quail

David cleans a quail

Chris minces garlic with the right tool for the job

Chris minces garlic with the right tool for the job

David harvests a green onion

David harvests a green onion

Bruce wraps potatoes for roasting on the fire

Bruce wraps potatoes for roasting on the fire

Dan drinks a beer

Dan drinks a beer

holding a mole cricket that leapt on Paul

holding a mole cricket that leapt on Paul

Kathy pats a warty pig

Kathy pats a warty pig

Kathy shows me the mystery plant

Kathy shows me the mystery plant

On The Road 2

Elephant Feet, northern Arizona. These landmark rock formations provide a good dog walking or breakfast break for an early morning traveler.

Elephant Feet, northern Arizona. These landmark rock formations provide a good dog walking or breakfast break for an early morning traveler.

Continuing on quickly, because once again it is late at night and sleep beckons but I have a good internet connection, a few more photos from the trip east so far.  Though in real time I am now in north Florida at the home of another dear friend, virtual time will take awhile to catch up. So much to think about, so much to say, so little time. I always think that I will have more time to write on a road trip than I ever actually have.

Shooting with the Border Patrol at the Ajo range.

Shooting with the Border Patrol at the Ajo range.

A friendly neighbor of friends in Ajo shows me the proper grip on my pistol. He spends his workdays or work nights on horse patrol in the southern Arizona desert, with all kinds of digital assists mounted on his gun, his helmet, his pony, seeking "stuff" in the desert.

A friendly neighbor of friends in Ajo shows me the proper grip on my pistol. He spends his workdays or work nights on horse patrol in the southern Arizona desert, with all kinds of digital assists mounted on his gun, his helmet, his pony, seeking “stuff” in the desert.

Me shooting a rifle at the range. With the raging gun control debate I felt the need to get a first-hand look at what all the fuss is about.

Me shooting a rifle at the range. With the raging gun control debate I felt the need to get a first-hand look at what all the fuss is about.

The iCat at work late at night, trying to post his pictures online.

The iCat at work late at night, trying to post his pictures online.

Ajo held so much more for me than just the magnificent desert, immeasurable delight in the company of friends, unsurpassed surprises, unsolvable puzzles, and of course the incomparable cholla.

Ajo held so much more for me than just the magnificent desert, immeasurable delight in the company of friends, unsurpassed surprises, unsolvable puzzles, and of course the incomparable cholla.

Ancient ribs of the saguaro cactus.

Ancient ribs of the saguaro cactus.

Raven and Stellar on the trail at Rock Hound State Park, New Mexico.

Raven and Stellar on the trail at Rock Hound State Park, New Mexico.

Small and vicious fishes nibble my feet with their tiny teeth at Balmorhea State Park in west Texas. After a surprising and kind of scary encounter with the Border Patrol east of El Paso, in which all of us, the dogs, the cat, and I had to wait outside the Mothership while a federal dog inspected our hold for "concealed humans or illegal narcotics," it was a relief to settle into our campsite. For me, this is a not-to-be-missed stop any time I'm crossing I-10 through Texas. The "largest spring-fed swimming pool in the world" is a constant 72-75 degrees F, and no matter the ambient air temp provides a blissful swim unfettered by lanes or even other people. Like a little fish myself I splashed and floated and played for only a short while this time, before my core complained of the cold.

Small and vicious fishes nibble my feet with their tiny teeth at Balmorhea State Park in west Texas. After a surprising and kind of scary encounter with the Border Patrol east of El Paso, in which all of us, the dogs, the cat, and I had to wait outside the Mothership while a federal dog inspected our hold for “concealed humans or illegal narcotics,” it was a relief to settle into our campsite. For me, this is a not-to-be-missed stop any time I’m crossing I-10 through Texas. The “largest spring-fed swimming pool in the world” is a constant 72-75 degrees F, and no matter the ambient air temp provides a blissful swim unfettered by lanes or even other people. Like a little fish myself I splashed and floated and played for only a short while this time, before my core complained of the cold.

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Cypress trees cling to the cliffs of the Guadalupe River at the state park of the same name thirty miles north of San Antonio. We pulled into our campsite just in time to run to the river and catch the last light, then enjoyed a campfire and cocktail.

Cypress trees cling to the cliffs of the Guadalupe River at the state park of the same name thirty miles north of San Antonio. We pulled into our campsite just in time to run to the river and catch the last light, then enjoyed a campfire and cocktail.

The Louisiana Welcome Center on I-10 coming from Texas provides a large grassy space with picnic tables along an inviting curved shoreline. We picnicked there on cheese, crackers, and salami, early in a long driving day, aiming for a park on the Mississippi gulf coast.

The Louisiana Welcome Center on I-10 coming from Texas provides a large grassy space with picnic tables along an inviting curved shoreline. We picnicked there on cheese, crackers, and salami, early in a long driving day, aiming for a park on the Mississippi gulf coast.

And the Mississippi Welcome Center had definitely caught the Mardi Gras fever with this gaudy mannequin standing by the information desk.

And the Mississippi Welcome Center had definitely caught the Mardi Gras fever with this gaudy mannequin standing by the information desk.

We camped two nights ago at Buccaneer State Park in Waveland, Mississippi, where reconstruction of buildings, campgrounds, and the beach itself is underway after a hurricane last fall.

We camped two nights ago at Buccaneer State Park in Waveland, Mississippi, where reconstruction of buildings, campgrounds, and the beach itself is underway after a hurricane last fall.

 

Illegal dogs on a white sand beach just after sunrise on a Monday morning.

Illegal dogs on a white sand beach just after sunrise on a Monday morning.

And just because, a beautiful beach scene. If someone bought me a house in Bay St. Louis and told me I had to live there, I'd move in a heartbeat. Imagine that.

And just because, a beautiful beach scene. If someone bought me a house in Bay St. Louis and told me I had to live there, I’d move in a heartbeat. Imagine that.

On The Road, Take 2

A combination of brutal cold, long driving days, sporadic internet access, and simply having too much fun has kept me from keeping myself or anyone else up to date. And now there is so little time before tomorrow, and tonight’s sleep calls urgently. But I am safe and sound in a Houston suburb in the driveway of dear friends, after a wonderful, warm afternoon and evening; warm in so many ways, not the least of which was ambient temperature. At last the cold I’ve been fending off since the first of the year seems to be on its way out of me, after two relatively warm days and today at last a genuinely warm day driving across central Texas, an afternoon in a sunny yard, a night with windows open, and the warmth of old friends.

Here is the trip so far of the Mothership, launched January 21, 2013, destined for the Northern Neck Peninsula of Virginia, via Ajo, AZ, Houston, TX, and various points in Florida.

Sakyong Mipham, the leader of Shambala, counsels that "The discipline of not resisting circumstances is how we drop our concepts and move forward," and that "having an inviting situation is incredibly important because we already have plenty of difficulties and obstacles to overcome. His latest book Ruling Your World gave me great support as I read it during my preparations for this journey, and validated my choices to adapt my plans to circumstances twice so far on this journey, putting me twelve days behind at this point; but keeping my calm, relaxed, in good weather, and enjoying the trip. An auspicious beginning indeed.

Sakyong Mipham, the leader of Shambala, counsels that “The discipline of not resisting circumstances is how we drop our concepts and move forward,” and that “having an inviting situation is incredibly important because we already have plenty of difficulties and obstacles to overcome.” His latest book Ruling Your World gave me great support as I read it during my preparations for this journey, and validated my choices to adapt my plans to circumstances twice so far on this journey, putting me twelve days behind at this point; but keeping my calm, relaxed, in good weather, and enjoying the trip. An auspicious beginning indeed.

Monument Valley in the distance, snowmelt glistening on the road, the first day of travel went well.

Monument Valley in the distance, snowmelt glistening on the road, the first day of travel went well.

From my campsite at Goulding's campground. The first night temperatures dropped into the teens, but a little electric heater kept us all warm in the Mothership. Puma handled the travel well, and came out tentatively from under the bed shortly after we docked.

From my campsite at Goulding’s campground. The first night temperatures dropped into the teens, but a little electric heater kept us all warm in the Mothership. Puma handled the travel well, and came out tentatively from under the bed shortly after we docked.

And the rest of the story will have to wait. I have overloaded the system with my enthusiasm to post too many photos at once, and they have stalled in uploading. It’s too late at night to wait up for them, so I will go with the flow of circumstance and try again later. But at last I’m in the warm and sunny zone I’ve been seeking for weeks, the auspicious beginning has flowed into a comfortable middle, and I can only hope for the best for the rest of the trip.