Kayaking in Florida

Mullock Creek Marina in Fort Myers, Florida is one of those places only the locals know about.  My friend who lives in Fort Myers hooked us up and we had a wonderful afternoon kayaking through an estuary (for those of you who don’t know exactly what that means…”An estuary is a partly enclosed coastal body of brackish water with one or more rivers or streams flowing into it, and with a free connection to the open sea”).  It was a steal at $25 for an all day rental.   Partly cloudy skies and light winds made for a perfect afternoon.

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I took my camera in a large Ziploc bag to protect it.  Here are my friends…

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Here’s Wayne catching a large Tarpon fishy…

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Another Day at the Beach

Yesterday, my friends and I headed to Ft. Myers Beach for some fun in the sun.  We went farther South this time and picked a spot that was less populated.  This pelican was diving for fish…

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The ladies taking a nice long walk on the beach…

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More birds…

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First Few Days in Florida

My two girlfriends (who are sisters) and I drove the 16 hours from Ohio to Cape Coral, Florida in two days and arrived on Monday afternoon.  Back in the day, we would’ve driven straight through.  To take advantage of the remaining sunshine, we changed into our bathing suits and headed to the pool.  A friend who is like a relative very generously allows me to stay at her condo which is near Ft. Myers.  There is a small stretch of beach with a fun restaurant bar called Cape Coral Yacht Club about five minutes from the condo.  After relaxing for a bit at the pool, we headed there for a casual dinner and to watch the sunset.

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Tuesday, we couldn’t wait to see the beach…

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Road Trip to Florida

I’ll be heading to the Fort Myers area of Florida this weekend to spend the month of December and I’m so excited!  You may remember when I visited two years ago during my six-week Couchsurfing road trip through the Carolinas, Georgia, and Florida.  I’ll have my Nikon D5100 with me this time, so I hope to capture some amazing sights!  Here are some photos from 2012.  Most of these are from the Rosemary and Seacrest Beach areas on the Gulf…

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This resembles a spine…

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Ash Cave and Cedar Falls

The weather forecast for Day two of our Hocking Hills hiking adventure predicted rain late in the day, so unlike the previous day, we left our rain coats, umbrellas, and waterproof camera bags back at the cabin, because we started out early.  Mistake!  While taking in the amazing scenery at Ash Cave it began to pour rain.  Fortunately for me, I was lagging behind taking photographs, under the shelter of Ash Cave, while my girlfriends were caught in the deluge.  Not a bad place to get stuck for 10 minutes!

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We ran into a photographer who was kind enough to take our photograph before the rain.  Even Evan (the dog) posed for the camera…

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The 1/2 mile trail at Cedar Falls leads to the waterfall….

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The sloped forest hillside afforded beautiful photography opportunities…

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Our cabin’s location (only a few miles from Cedar Falls) made it convenient to head back there for lunch before our afternoon hiking at the stunning Rock House, which I’ll save for tomorrow!

 

Hocking Hills Autumn Splendor

A quick two-day mid-week trip to Hocking Hills State Park for hiking followed by soaking in a hot tub with girlfriends was just what the doctor ordered!  Located in Southeastern Ohio, 2 1/2 hours from Cincinnati, the rugged cliffs, breathtaking gorges, cascading waterfalls, and flourishing forests of Hocking Hills State Park, afford visitors a pristine outdoor wonderland.  Our first hike was to Old Man’s Cave.  The well-marked one mile round trip trail, includes both man-made and natural steps.  The view from inside the mouth of the wide cave looks down onto a small stream and stone bridge…

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Autumn is one of my favorite times of the year to visit this park…

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Travel Diary: Washington, D.C. – Day 7

I had originally planned to go to the US National Arboretum, our last day in Washington, D.C., but after a relative told us not to miss the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, I changed our plans.  After a leisurely morning at our Airbnb, we hopped on a Capital Bikeshare bicycle to explore the Museum.

But first I have to share a photograph from the Sculpture Garden of the National Gallery of Art.  This tree is entitled, “Graft”.  My husband waited on a park bench while I wandered through the Garden.  At 45 feet high by 45 feet wide and weighing 16,000 pounds, this piece by American sculptor Roxy Paine is marvelous!

According to Earl A. Powell III, director of the National Gallery of Art–“Graft presents two fictive but distinct species of trees—one gnarled, twisting, and irregular, the other smooth, elegant, and rhythmic—joined to the same trunk. Among its rich associations, this sculpture evokes the persistent human desire to alter and recombine elements of nature, as well as the ever-present tension between order and chaos.”

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A friendly squirrel, looking for food, stood still long enough for me to snap his portrait…

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Travel Diary: Washington, D.C. – Day 6

Having only two days left of our seven day visit to Washington, D.C., we left our Airbnb bright and early and picked up our Capital Bikeshare bicycles for the 3 mile trek to National Mall.  We didn’t have time to go inside the Lincoln Memorial the day before because of our scheduled tour of the Capitol, so we returned and checked it out.  The view looking towards the Washington Monument was striking…

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A stark and compelling truth is conveyed at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial

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Paved sidewalks lined with trees border the Lincoln Reflection pool and after all of the walking, the park benches appeared quite inviting…

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I was surprised by the number of statues and water features that comprised the Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial.  Spread over 7.5 acres, with four outdoor rooms, one for each of FDR’s terms of office, they represent the challenges he faced as our President, beginning in 1933 and ending in 1945, upon his death.

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Travel Diary: Washington, D.C. – Day 5

Having seen Arlington National Cemetery, Mount Vernon, Adams Morgan & Georgetown neighborhoods, and a couple of the Smithsonian museums within four days of our week-long visit to Washington D.C., it was time for my husband and I to check out some of the monuments at National Mall.  Riding our Capital Bikeshare bicycles over to the National Mall in late morning, the chill long gone, vibrant emerald colors beckoned me for a photo at the Constitution Gardens Pond

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Although there weren’t any reflections in the Reflection Pool looking towards the Lincoln Memorial, the brilliant azure water was spectacular!

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Travel Diary: Washington, D.C. – Day 4

Washington D.C. has a diverse population and my husband and I were fortunate to be in the right place at the right time to join the throng of spectators gathering to watch a Hispanic parade.  We bicycled to the Smithsonian Institute of Natural History to begin our tours of some of the wonderful and free of charge (kinda…taxpayers pay for it) Museums.  As we walked along National Mall, we passed people gathered in groups, putting makeup on and making last minute adjustments to costumes, preparing for the parade along Constitution Avenue.  The mood was festive and the costumes colorful!

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Travel Diary: Washington, D.C. – Day 3 continued

Washington D.C.’s Adams Morgan neighborhood is colorful, vibrant, funky, and fun!  We started our day bicycling from our Airbnb in the Bloomington neighborhood on the East side of D.C. to the quaint neighborhood of Georgetown on the West side and finished in Adams Morgan, having drinks with a former 2 Star Admiral Navy Seal!  After docking our bicycles at the Capital Bikeshare station on 18th Street, we walked down the street in search of an outdoor bar for some afternoon refreshments and met Chuck and his dog, Bravo.  Having been in the military myself for four years, it was fascinating to listen to Chuck’s amazing lifetime experiences as a former high-ranking officer.

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With puffy white clouds, blue sky, and mid-70’s temps, we relaxed for a couple of hours, talking with Chuck and people watching.

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Travel Diary: Washington, D.C. – Day 3

Exploring the quaint neighborhood of Georgetown was a refreshing start to our third day in Washington, D.C.  Filled with shops, bars, restaurants, and interesting architecture, there’s much to see and do.  Georgetown was originally part of Maryland until 1871 when the U.S. Congress created a new government for the District of Columbia.

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My husband and I stopped at a Capital Bikeshare station around the corner from our Airbnb to pick up a bicycle for the 3 mile ride.  It’s a great way to wheel around Washington D.C. above ground and budget friendly.  You can purchase use of a bicycle for 24 hours – $7.00; 3 days – $15.00, or a month – $25.00.  I purchased the month membership because I knew we would use the service for more than 3 days.   I ordered a key for both of us to make it as simple as possible.  Once you’re at one of the 300 stations, you insert your plastic key in the slot of the bicycle you want and then just pull the bike out.  If your trip is 30 minutes or less, there’s no extra charge.  If it’s between 31-60 minutes, there’s an additional $1.50 tacked on; and between 61-90 minutes – $4.50.  You can download their app to your Smart Phone and check to see where a nearby station is to drop your bike that has a dock and/or if bicycles are available.

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Travel Diary: Washington, D.C. – Day 2 continued

George Washington’s former plantation, Mount Vernon, offers a variety of interesting and historical sites for all ages!  After touring the Mansion and gardens, my husband and I stopped at one of the outbuildings on the grounds where a woman portrays Martha Washington and stays in character, answering questions from the crowd.  She was very entertaining and knowledgeable!

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At one point in time, there were 316 slaves living at Mount Vernon.  They were freed after George Washington’s death, which he directed in his Last Will and Testament.

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Travel Diary: Washington, D.C. – Day 2

Bike and Roll has a fun and educational bicycling adventure that begins in Alexandria, Virginia, where you pick up a bike and cycle 9 miles along a scenic path beside the Potomac River, to the historic and beautiful Mount Vernon, George Washington’s former plantation.

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Before touring the Mansion and grounds, we had lunch at the Mount Vernon Inn.

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I recommend the Shrimp and Grits and the Root Beer is pretty darn good!

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