Monday, February 24, 2020

2/22 Venice & Snook Haven

I ended up having to do a bunch of last-minute rearranging of my schedule when my uncle ended up in critical care in the local hospital.  I had been planning on spending some time way over in the Everglades, while my uncle was hospitalized on the southern Gulf coast, but I have medical responsibility for him, which meant I did not feel comfortable being so far away.

Luckily, I was able to get a few nights here and there in the area, and my cousin and his wife were kind enough to let me camp next to their driveway--with a 30 amp hookup, no less!  This is driveway camping luxury!!  And it was great to catch up with him and compare family stories. 

So, on Saturday, we went out to lunch and drove around Venice a bit.  Lunch was at a unique place called Snook Haven.  Snook is a kind of fish and this place had been everything from a southern bootlegger camp to a bordello.  It is on the Myakka River, parts of which has been designated a wild river. 

This photo shows looking down the river towards the restaurant dock. Unfortunately, the tour boat shown is out of commission because of low water levels, but I will keep it in mind for another time.

Hard to see because of all the trees, but this is just part of the restaurant.  You can eat in or out on the patio. 

The next couple of photos are a mysterious blue.  I tried to adjust the color, but it did not help much.  Somehow, I must have pushed a button and reset the color.

Way in the back, you can almost see the live band playing.  They have live music almost every day here.

Same place, but a few minutes later, and my photos are turning out normal colors!  I have no idea what I did wrong or right. 

Heading back to the truck after a very good meal!  

Sunday, February 23, 2020

2/16 Ding Darling National Wildlife Reserve on Sanibel Island

I have been here several times, but you can always see something new.  There is a one-way road you take through the reverse that you can drive on or ride a bike.  There are also some tram tours, but I prefer to drive or bike so I can go at my own speed.  

There is also a visitor center with lots of nice volunteers who can answer your bird questions.

This is one of the outside walls where someone has painted a large mural.  The restrooms are the pale blue doors. 

Some white pelicans--very large birds!!

And a small sandbar with a lot of pelicans and other birds. 

Need to look these guys up, but they are some sort of terns. 

This is a reddish egret, which I have never seen before.  The bird books say he is in breeding plumage because his head and neck are dark.

Very busy fishing.  One thing interesting about this bird is that he will use his wings to shade the water so he can see fish better.  I saw him do this but could not get a picture of him doing this.

Same bird next to a snowy egret.  You can identify a snowy egret by the black beak and black legs.  His feet are pink, but they are in the water. 

Sanibel Island prides itself in not having stop lights.  Instead, it has traffic directors at all major intersections.  Wouldn't traffic lights be more efficient?

By the way, if you are ever on Sanibel Island in the busy season, make sure you leave by no later than 3:30 pm or it will take you an hour to drive the three miles just to get on the bridge!  I got off on time this trip, but one other, I got stuck in the late afternoon traffic jam, so I know this from experience.


Wednesday, February 12, 2020

2/11 Ortona South Campground Critters

One of the nice things about this campground are the birds and other animals living here.  First, the big, navigable river, the Caloosahatchee Canal, attracts birds and alligators.  There is also a side stream that cuts through the campground from the ranches nearby and empties into the river.  There has been adequate rain lately, so the river is pretty full.

The Corps of Engineers has reinforced the banks of this little creek by piling up big and little rocks there.  The result is that as the creek goes through the campground, it becomes a babbling brook, which the birds really like.

This is the creek, looking upstream into the ranch areas. The parent otters have had a home up here for several years.  

The above photo was taken from the campground roadway as it crosses the creek.  The photo below is looking the other direction, towards the footbridge and the big river.  There must be fish in this creek because the birds are always fishing here.

A bit fuzzy, but here is one of the otters looking for a fish. 

And he got one!!  If you want to see the full video, click here

Based on its bill, I think this is a limpkin.

Little blue heron.

This shows where the creek opens into the river.  The otter den is in the rocks to the left, just past this palm tree, which has barely survived their digging and rolling in the dirt to dry off.

The fishing pier is downstream from the dam.  My campsite is past the dam, on the right. 

Good picture of the Ortona Dam.  Lock is to the left.

And down by my campsite, but across the river, are these two American eagles. I've got a problem with dirt on the inside of my camera lens but have no idea where to get it fixed.

This floating black thing in front of the boat might look like a log, but it has teeth!!  It floated around for most of a day.

It saw me taking a photo and turned to look at me.  Might have thought I was fishing off the bank.  Alligators like to steal fish from lines. 

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

2/5 Ortona Lock & Dam Campground

Wherever the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers builds a dam or lock, they also build a campground.  There are two campgrounds west of Lake Okeechoobee and one east of the lake.   I will be in all three this winter, but for now I am in the middle one--Ortona South Lake and Dam.

This is the view of my motorhome towards the dam and the lock beyond it.

Boats have to wait until they get permission to move closer to the  lock. 

So, off I go, over the dam and towards the lock in the distance. 

A couple of people on jet skiis are waiting in the lock for the water to rise. 

And away they go!

Now the big boats can come in.  There are four identical catamarans and two sailboats.  

Heading down!

And they wait for the gates to open.

My motorhome on the other side of the river.

A bit crowded but well taken care of and some greenery that provides some privacy.

My camping site, and more boats lined up behind me.