Green Swamp Wilderness Preserve protects 560,000 acres that serve as the headwaters of four major central Florida rivers and replenishes the Florida aquifer, which rises close to the surface in this area. Hiking trails crisscross the preserve. The place is large and not as developed as many of the springs, which permits a solitude that is rare to find in a two hour drive from Tampa.
We stopped at two places, Withlacoochee River Park, and Colt Creek State Park. The latter was well suited for horses, and not so much for people, but the former was just perfect for us. We ended up on a trail that wasn’t listed on the park map, which caused some confusion as I tried to match us to intersections that we never reached. I’ve started looking at handheld GPSs again.
Up until this trip, we’d seen more frogs in Washington than Florida, but tiny frogs were everywhere at Withlacoochee River Park. They must have just come out of the river. We had to walk carefully to try to avoid them as they haphazardly hopped away, making it much more difficult to observe the scenery.
This was also the first time that we saw sandhill cranes. They are larger than herons, and were unperturbed by the traffic going by as they stood along the side of the road. This pair in the park seemed more cautious.
Common tickseed, waving to the Native American flute music wafting across the entire park. Miles away from our car, we could still hear it.
Some butterflies land more often than others. Zebra swallowtail are on the flitty side, although not as bad as the yellow butterflies. But then on the way back, this old one stopped on the path for us.
You start the Florida trail at the canoe launch.
Leaving the river, there are some marshy spots marked by the cypress trees, but we were never in mud. The main path was well cleared and marked by orange blazes on the tree trunks, often on beautiful arching oaks.
And then you round one bend or another, and you find palm, or prairie, or grassy open pine lands.
And then we passed by a clearing that bordered a smelly chicken farm, and guessed (correctly) that we were out of the park boundaries, although still on public land encompassed in Green Swamp. Giving up on the idea of the loop trail, we backtracked back to the flute music and the canoe launch.
Estimated odds of being struck by lightning in a given year: somewhere around 1:280,000 to 1:500,000 (Only about 10% of people who are struck by lightning are killed, though I still wouldn’t recommend going boating in a storm)
Odds of winning the Florida Powerball jackpot: 1:195,249,054
Odds of winning a share in the pool of Powerball tickets at my work: about 1:7,810,000
“About one out of every three people in the United States think that winning the lottery is the only way to become financially secure in their life.” That could be either because people just don’t get large numbers, or, as a commenter later states, that people feel that their career has no future. I would be mildly interested to see how this aligns with the group that thinks that the government shouldn’t be providing any social services.
We’re getting a bit out of order again. These were taken at the end of April.
A dike topped by a very pleasant mowed path circles around Alligator Lake, accessible from Alligator Lake Park off of SE Country Club Road. As the only land surrounded by alligator infested waters, wildlife concentrates along this path.
We walked along until the second bridge. Getting hungry and not knowing how far we’d gone, we decided to turn around. It turns out we were about 2/3 around the dike, so it would have been shorter to keep walking.
Best picture of several I tried taking of a cedar waxwing:
Gar fish (actually two, the second is deeper at the bottom of the picture)
Male common pondhawks. Mike has been taming dragonflies lately. Perhaps because he saved one from a spider web.
Viceroy (note the inner black circle on the lower wings, and no light orange on the upper wings):
While most of the turtles we walked by slipped into the water with a small splish (as opposed to the larger crash the alligators make) before we caught sight of them, this one was up on the path, and seemed not terribly concerned by us. It might be a cooter. All of the yellow striped turtles look pretty much the same to me.
This is what I envisioned when moving here. Dropping by the beach after work and watching the sun sink. Tonight an offshore storm hid the colors, but we watched the dolphins and pelicans hunting.
There was a picturesque woman beach combing, leaning on ski poles as she examined what the surf brought in. I have decided her car was the Celica with the Coexist bumper sticker because that seems like a nice beachy combination.
The yellow summer squash, from a different seed packet than the ones that were failing before, is blooming. The leaves have white along the veins, which we’re guessing is bad, but on the whole they have perhaps some hope.
There are a lots of fruits on the peppers and tomatoes, although all are still fairly small, compact plants. There is a stealthy bug eating our tomatoes when they first start turning from dark green.
The basil is doing well enough to only look a bit thin after collecting two cups for pesto. One of our thymes is flowering, and so are the chives.
Update: A few days old now (May 7), but this Bloomberg story (via Ritholtz) has more information than most stories I’ve read.
All of the fisher-people, tourist industries and environmentalists, and everyone else who lives around the Gulf, are watching anxiously. “An estimated 5,000 barrels (over 200,000 gallons) of crude oil is pouring into the Gulf of Mexico every day” (6) “Eight robotic submarines were working around the clock to fix the well’s blowout preventer — a “fail safe” that nonetheless was unable to prevent the spill” (3) “The best-case scenario is that oil will continue gushing into the Gulf of Mexico for another week. British oil company BP is working to deploy a system that would siphon away crude from the blown-out well a mile underwater, but it will take six to eight days to get it in place.” (2) ‘Such an operation, he [BP CEO Tony Hayward] said, had “never been done at 5,000 feet.”‘ (3)
Maps from NOAA tracking the oil slick are here.
‘”I’ve been in Pensacola and I am very, very concerned about this filth in the Gulf of Mexico,” Florida Gov. Charlie Crist said at a weekend fundraiser for his U.S. Senate campaign.’ (2) I’m just struck by calling it filth when Crist has apparently gone back and forth on drilling. In 2008, “Florida’s once-solid bipartisan opposition to drilling in the Gulf of Mexico shattered Tuesday when Gov. Charlie Crist reversed course and said the state may have to allow drilling to help lower gasoline prices.” (5) Back in the present and on the other coast, “California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger reversed Monday his position on expanding drilling off of California’s coast in the wake of the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.” (1)
“The spill now covers thousands of square miles and is getting close to the Loop Current, which speeds south through the Gulf and into the Florida Keys. It then hits the Gulf Stream, which could then drive the oil north along Florida’s Atlantic Coast.” (4)
“Over the weekend, Alabama Attorney General Troy King said he had told BP representatives to stop circulating settlement agreements among coastal residents that reportedly offered payments of up to $5,000 in exchange for not suing the company.” (3) “A law passed in response to the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska makes BP responsible for cleanup costs. But the law sets a $75 million limit on other kinds of damages.” (7)
‘”Would it be possible to just go out there and bomb the hell out of it?” said Kenny Wilder, 67, of Navarre, just east of Pensacola. A man behind him yelled, “Napalm it.”‘ (4)
1. NPR, 2. NPR, 3. NPR, 4. MSNBC”, 5. Palm Beach Post, 6. Boston Globe Big Picture, 7. AP