Saturday, December 28, 2019

What Does Manatee Breath Smell Like?

Fun Facts About Manatees

Fun Fact 1: Manatees are adorable!
Fun Fact 2: Manatees are most closely related to elephants

Fun Fact 3: When you take a photo of a manatee, you mostly get a reflection of sky and the surrounding area and you have to take the photographer’s word that there actually is a manatee in the photo
Fun Fact 4: Manatees can weigh up to 3,000 lbs

Not So Fun Fact 5: Manatees don’t have any natural predators, but many are badly hurt or killed by boats. You almost always see long white scars on a manatee’s back from propeller injuries
Fun Fact 6: When you take a photo of a manatee below the surface of the water with your waterproof camera from a canoe or kayak, you do not get a reflection of the sky, but since you cannot see through the viewfinder while you are taking the picture, you get lots of pictures of blobs  
Or nothing  
But sometimes you get lucky…

Fun Fact 7: Gestation period for manatees is about 13 months

Fun Fact 8:  We have been privileged to see manatees on 9 separate occasions (so far!)

1. From a tour boat at Wakulla Springs State Park, Thanksgiving 
 2.  Canoeing on the Wakulla River, December 4th  
3. Lots, kayaking on the Crystal River with GetUpAndGoKayaking, December 24th
4. Lots, Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park
This place has 3 resident manatees who could not survive in the wild. They prefer iceberg lettuce but also like romaine.

In addition, wild manatees come to vacation here in the winter. The fish are not eating the manatee or vice versa; I guess they just like hanging out together

5. Several, canoeing on the Chassahowitzka River.
You are not supposed to bother or get too close to a manatee, but this one swam up to me when I was trailing my hand in the water

Fun Fact 9 : Manatee’s breath smells fishy. Even though they are vegetarians.
More on their breath - In a single breath, manatees can exchange about 90% of the air that is in their lungs (compared to about 10% for humans).  They also only breathe through their nostrils, so when they breathe in your face a blast of air hits you and you can clearly smell their breath (see above photo) 

Fun Fact 10: There are lots more fun facts about manatees but I won’t bore you with them

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

3rd Night of Chanukah - We One-Up Chabad

On the 3rd night of Chanukah, we drive around the campground with our candles burning in our travel menorah. 

Location - Crystal River, FL 

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Happy Chanukah!

First, we get together with the kids while they light the menorah. It is still dusk where we are.
Note all the reflections!

When it gets dark, we take out our traveling menorah and assemble it
 My Pi lights
A few views from outside

Saturday, December 21, 2019

Chanukah Holiday Lights - Thanks for Trying!

In order to show sensitivity to other beliefs,  Dorothy B Oven Park, City of Tallahassee, acknowledged Chanukah and Kwanza with this holiday lights display:  

When it got darker, the display was quite dramatic.

How many things are wrong with this picture? 
It reminded me of the card we once got wishing us "A Merry Chanukah". 
Don't know how people who celebrate Kwanza feel about the Kwanza display.

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

We Ignore the Elephants in the Room. But Not the Saber Tooth Tiger.

Tuesday, Dec 17

The Florida Museum of Natural History has an awesome interactive display on the wall of the main atrium.  

It’s a projection of whomever is standing around the atrium, and superimposed in front, an animation of elephants, followed by a saber tooth tiger, then an alligator.  

We ignore the elephants in the room

But not the saber tooth tiger

We stop ignoring the elephants in the room

Where Do We Sleep/Camp On our Trip?

There is not a simple answer. 

Really great values are National Park campgrounds. They are reasonably priced with million-dollar views and locations. With a “Senior Pass” (age 62 and older), you get free admission to the parks as well as camping at half the regular rate!
 Shenandoah National Park, VA, a short distance from our campsite

At the other end of the spectrum, there are the upscale privately owned “Resort” Campgrounds. These are the most expensive, have the least charm, and you are crammed in like sardines in a parking lot between mansion sized motor homes. These RV Parks generally offer in addition to basic water and electric, Cable TV, Sewer Connections, Rec Rooms, Camp Store on Site, Pools with Water Slides (seasonal) and sometimes even, “Silver Sneaker Exercise” programs Tues and Thurs morning in the “Barn”.  

Tallahassee, FL

In between these two extremes are State Park Campgrounds, COE (Corps of Engineers) campgrounds, more modest private campgrounds with fewer “amenities”, and best value of all – free Boondocking!  

“Boondocking” is defined as “a term used by RVers to describe RVing without being connected to water, electric, or sewer.”   

Many places allow free overnight parking for RVs. As I mentioned in a previous post, some Walmarts. Also some Costcos, Bass Pro Shops, Cracker Barrels, Truck Stops, Highway Rest Stops, and Casinos. Also, for us, because our RV is so small, we can fly under the radar and do overnight street parking in towns.  No water or electricity hookups are provided, but who cares? (Actually, those who care, stay in the Resort Campgrounds.)

Walmart boondocking is such a “thing” that it merits a special name: WallyDocking.  MoochDocking is parking in a friend’s driveway. There is also something we use called Harvest Hosts, available for an annual fee.

There are multiple apps that help you locate campgrounds and places to boondock. We mostly use Campendium and RvParky.  

Some campgrounds from this trip: 
Larry and Ina’s house, Silver Spring, MD. Not technically Moochdocking because we slept inside.

 Misty Mountain Camp Resort, Greenwood, VA

Walmart, Staunton, VA

Golden Grove Farm and Brewery, Greenville, SC. Harvest Hosts

Stone Mountain State Park Campground, Atlanta, GA

Congregation Beth Jacob, Atlanta, GA

Florence Marina State Park, GA 

White Oak Creek Campground, AL, COE

 Indian Pass Campground, Port St Joe, FL, privately owned   

Sopchoppy City Park, Sopchoppy, FL

Osceola National Forest, Ocean Pond Campground, FL, view from Our V window

Ginny Springs Campground, High Springs, FL, privately owned 

Tumble Farm, Worthington Springs, FL , Harvest Host 

Monday, December 16, 2019

Billions of Birds!

Those who know me, or have ever been in my home, know that I get very interested in specific categories of nature. For example, geology or botany. 

I am now well on my way to getting obsessed with ornithology. 

Which Bob is happy about, because I am not collecting birds. 

Today was a very good day for the birds.

 All dressed up for the holidays at Kanapaha Botanical Gardens, Gainesville, FL

The rest of these photos were taken at Sweetwater Wetlands Park, Gainesville. 

Which of these bird names do you think are real and which ones do you think I made up? Which sound like I made them up even though I didn't?

Feel free to provide correct names or better made up ones. 
 Female Anhinga

Purple Gallinule 

 American Coot

Common Moorhen

 Wood Stork!


Yellow Bellied Black Masked
Note added 1/6/2020-  A made up name. Expert birder, my cousin Robin, correctly identified the above bird:
"..Mystery warbler could be a Palm Warbler.  Winter plumage has streaking on sides, yellow under tail, facial markings similar to your photo."
Thanks, Robin! I'm very impressed!


 Great Blue Heron

 Black Bellied Whistling Ducks


More Wood Storks

Snowy Egret

Just wanted to see if you were
paying attention