Monday, March 18, 2013

Florida: March 9-18, 2013

Our bad luck with weather followed us into Florida where it was abnormally cool.  Our first visit was to Uncle Phil and Aunt Ruth who live on one of the many canals of Homosossa Springs.  The first day Phil and Ruth took us out on their boat to see more canals and manatees.





Seeing manatees was a first for both Dan and me.  We've seen them on TV, of course, but never been so close to real manatees.


Phil has a good eye for spotting manatees and the birds that live near him.  Eventually, we were able to see lots of manatees.  Many of them seemed to be napping and from a distance, they look like logs floating just under the water.  We were lucky and soon a group of manatees glided past us like silent submarines.  Manatees need water temperatures above 68˚F (like Dan) and the lack of sun didn't help the manatees.

 A manatee with scrapes and nicks sustained from boat propellers

Great Blue Heron

After too short of a visit, we continued on down the coast to Sanibel Island.  Sanibel is connected to mainland Florida by a bridge.  

Looking from Sanibel Island toward Ft Meyers, FL

I'd never heard of Sanibel Island until my friend Maia Tsinamdzgvrishvili told me in 2011 that she would be showing her work there in 2013. I promised her then that I would see her in Florida. Maia is a textile artist who lives in Tbilisi, Georgia, and I love her art.

 Maia, in her Tbilisi apartment, painting a design on silk

 The reception at Big Arts on Sanibel Island

Maia's one-month show was very successful.  She sold most of the pieces that she had on display.  She gave a master class on Sanibel and at the end of her time in the US, she gave another master class in Maine.  She also invited Dan and me for lunch one day and made us a fabulous khachapuri.

Dan and I did lots of wildlife sightseeing.  Sanibel Island's  J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge is home to several types of birds.  While we were there we saw Great Blue Herons, Great Egrets, White Ibis ....... 

Tri-colored Heron

      
 Little Blue Heron                                                   Yellow-crowned Night Heron
Sandpipers
Royal Terns
and more.  The beach was just a few yards from our rustic little room at Tropical Winds Motel and Cottages.  The last day we were on Sanibel, it was warm enough to lie on the beach for a few hours.  


The day after Maia's reception, we drove through Big Cypress Basin Park on our way to one night at the Hotel Redland in Homestead.   Just a little distance into the park, we saw alligators--lots of them just laying in the sun next to the road.  They gave me the heevy-jeevies each time I saw them.


Alligators have darker skin and their snouts are wider and more gradually rounded than crocodiles.  We also saw lots of birdlife feeding amongst the cypresses.

Great Egret                                                               Heron

Ibis feeding in the Cypresses

After our night in economically-depressed Homestead, we drove to Everglades National Park.  Everglades National Park was nothing like I imagined.  I expected swamps everywhere.  Luckily for us it was dry season, and there were lots of animals and birds residing within the park's boundaries.  When it is dry season, it is easier to see the animals because they are near the receding water holes.  Again, we saw alligators--lots of them.  They were snoozing along the walkways--surely there is a liability issue with allowing people to be so close to man/woman/child eaters.  I walked those paths very carefully and yielding to sleeping gators.


 Anhingas sunning themselves

 White Ibis (foreground), Wood Storks (tree), Spoonbill (flying)

Alligator resting on top of a turtle--imagine the turtle's surprise...

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