Critters on the sidewalk

The small town of Safety Harbor was having a sidewalk chalk festival in late March. I didn’t make it to the day of the festival but was able to go on a walk down Main Street the next day. It was a beautiful late afternoon and I headed out with only my phone to take pictures.

These were some of my favorite chalk drawings. There were so many great ones. It’s amazing how creative and talented people are. I was glad I didn’t wait too late and was able to see them before people were walking on them (or the rain hit).

The flags on the street had been changed out in support of Ukraine.

SkyWatch Friday

Out on the water

I went for a long walk around by the Dunedin marina on a cool morning in late February (this was one of those perfect Florida winter days, sunny and 58 degrees). I had left my camera in the car and was walking along the front of the marina and saw all of the sailboats out in the water.I snapped the above with my phone and then hiked back to my car to get my camera.

There was some sort of sailing class or group out in the water. It looked like fun. It got me thinking I might need to take some sailing lessons.

I drove over to Weaver Park, just north of the Dunedin marina. From that long pier you can see most of Clearwater Beach.

Of course as I’m standing on the fishing  pier I had to snap pictures of the anhinga watching me and the osprey cruising by. I’m glad I had left my camera in the car. I wasn’t planning on taking any pictures this morning but you never know what you’ll see out there.

My Corner of the World

Around town

My sister from St. Louis came to visit for a week in February. We did a lot of tourist things and one of them was visiting Sunken Gardens in St. Pete. The botanical gardens, located near downtown, is over 100 years old. I think it had been at least 30 years since my sister had been and a few years for me. There’s a lot of old tall trees here including that beautiful rainbow eucalyptus tree in the bottom shot.

Watching the small flock of flamingos.

I only saw a few butterflies since it was still a little chilly.

One of the small moss covered waterfalls (I took this with my phone).

The bougainvillea bush wall was in full bloom and it was a beautiful to see how it had been growing for years.

Some of the miniature ponds.

The next day were in downtown Tampa for lunch and found these cool statues. I think this was once a forgotten industrial area and is now a booming area with new apartments and restaurants.

Walking in the Greek fog.

I got up early and was headed to see some eagles north of Tarpon Springs. It was only barely foggy at my house with the sun peaking out but as I drove north the fog got so thick I could barely see. I was thinking the eagles would be tough to shoot in the fog so I decided to stop for a long walk (I was going to walk after the eagles anyway). I parked along the main strip in Tarpon Springs where the sponge docks were and was one of only a few out that early. It was weird to walk around in the fog here. I’m usually here at lunch on the weekends with all of the other tourists.

A few of the sights along the strip.

At the far end of the strip away from the restaurants and shops, I found some local fish markets. I made a note to get back up here for some seafood to take home.

The water was quiet and I could barely see some pelicans still sleeping in the mangrove bushes across the way.

I thought this was a cool old building, off the beaten path. I’m sure there’s some great history here.

After my walk I finally made it to the eagles nest.  There were two babies in the nest but I could only see one of them sitting up. They were fully grown at this point but hadn’t left the nest yet. An adult was sitting in a snag close by, looking all magestic even in the fog.

SkyWatch FridayFriendship Friday

Reflections

It was a beautiful cool morning when I went out for a walk at the Dunedin marina. You could still see the blue sky through the blanket of clouds.

The clouds made a great reflection on the water.

Reflections in the marina.

I stopped at close by Weaver Park to walk on the fishing pier on the way home. The sun was trying to come out. I realize now I miss those cold mornings. Now that it’s warmed up the park and marina are packed with people. Even early on a weekday morning, parking is a challage now.

SkyWatch Friday 

Friendship Friday

Foggy morning at the piers

At the end of December I woke up and peeked out the window. It was really foggy so I got ready quickly and headed out the door. I love it when it’s foggy. I stopped by the nearby fishing pier early that morning and could not see across the bay. I could barely make out the end of the pier.

I noticed these strands of oyster shells hanging under the pier and looked them up when I got back home. These are VOG’s (vertical oyster gardens). The water around the shore of Safety Harbor and Oldsmar (which is Old Tampa Bay) was found to be the least healthy in all of the Tampa Bay. Not surprised. There’s a new Save Our Bay program and the easiest thing to start with was using oysters to filter out the water. One oyster can filter out 50 gallons of water a day. There were a lot of these on the dock and they are encouraging people who live on the water to hang these on their docks as well. It will take several months for the oysters to start to grow on these so I’ll keep an eye out.

Next I headed to the Safety Harbor fishing pier since I was close by running errands. It was foggy here as well but that didn’t stop those kayakers from being out.

I saw several manatees coming up for air right next to the dock and was bummed I didn’t have my camera with me but these phone shots turned out okay.

I think the sun was trying to peek out by the time I left.

SkyWatch Friday

Friendship Friday

First visit to Wall Springs Park

After all of these years saying that I’m going to Wall Springs Park, I finally made it there at the end of December. It was a beautiful cold day and I went out for a long walk with just my phone. The focal point of the park is the natural spring. The original owner of the springs was Charles Wall who bought the land in the late 1800s. It had several owners after that until it was bought by Pinellas County in 1988. Back in the 20’s through the 50’s people came here to go swimming. The mineral waters was rumored to have healing powers. Now you can’t swim in it, although it’s so tempting to dip a toe in.

Looking back from the boardwalk, the sun was just coming up over the trees.

It was peaceful and quiet and only a few other people there.

The observation tower (that looks out on the gulf) was huge. At 3 stories high it had stairs as well as a ramp.

The tide was super low this morning. Lots of muck in the lagoon.

Not sure what was going on with these posts. Was it going to be a covered walkway and they just never put the roof on?

The benches were really cool. There were all different designs.

This was a really fun park and there were several different trails to take. I’ll be coming back here again. There wasn’t many birds here but that was expected. It was cold and late December.

SkyWatch Friday

Friendship Friday

The Epiphany in Tarpon Springs

After living in the Tampa Bay area for almost 20 years, I finally made it to an Epiphany in Tarpon Springs. The Epiphany, which is always celebrated on January 6, has 2 different meanings. One is the celebration of Three Kings Day, when the wise men visited Jesus. The other is the celebration of the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan river. Tarpon Springs celebrates the baptism of Jesus with young men diving into the bayou for a blessed cross. The one who retrieves the cross from the bottom is considered blessed for the year. This year was the 116th annual event. I got there an hour early and found a good spot along the wall to wait for the event.

Small boats were tied up together around the bayou. The guys will get in the boats before diving into the water for the cross.

There were several manatees in the bayou and it was funny to watch their snouts coming up for air as we waited for the event to start.

Coming from the nearby greek church, the guys all jumped in the water and then climbed into22 the boats. All of them are high school age. I had heard there were 65 guys diving for the cross this year.

Many prayers are said as they bless the cross. Then the Archbishop walks over to the water and casually throws the cross in the water.

Then all you see is splashing as the guys jump in the water.

More splashing.

Seconds later a hand goes up with the cross. He retrieved the cross and will be blessed for the year (it looks like there’s a trophy involved as well).

Some of the attendees were dressed in greek attire.

It was a sunny beautiful morning out and the crowds weren’t too crazy. I had to park pretty far away and had a 20 minute walk to the bayou but I was prepared. I will try and go again next year. And as always when you are near Tarpon Springs, you have to pick up some great greek food and baklava to take home (they even have chocolate covered baklava here!).

Fun in the drizzle

I found this park close to were I now live. It’s mostly a ball field but it does have some trails and boardwalks and it sits along the Lake Tarpon canal. I found this cool painting on the sidewalk as you walk into the park.

It was a cold drizzly morning so I had the place almost all to myself. I don’t mind mornings like this once in a while, especially if I don’t have anything special to do that was planned outdoors. It was nice to bundle up and get out and I was breaking in my new hiking boots before our trip to Utah.

The boardwalk winds forever through the mangroves and then there’s a paved trail along the canal. The sun was trying to peak out on my way back.

Part of the trail was lined with these trees that had these big black seed pods on them and all over the ground. After searching the web, I still can’t figure out what these are.

This is a brazilian pepper bush. They were all over the park (and all over central Florida) and are an invasive bush. You would think they would be good food for migrating birds but I’ve only seen mockingbird and blue jays eating them.

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Walking in the drizzle

It was cold and drizzly right after Christmas but I was determined to get out for a walk. I headed to the Safety Harbor fishing pier as the rain was slowing down. It was barely a drizzle when I got there. There were a few other people out, joggers and dog walkers, as well. I left my camera at home and only had my phone so I was traveling light.

People have started putting locks on the fairly new boardwalk nearby. I guess they are copying the Love Locks bridge in Paris where people write their names and loved ones on the lock, lock it on the bridge (to lock in your love) and throw away the key. There were over one million locks in bridges around Paris and it was starting to do damage to some of them. All of the locks were taken down and now it’s illegal to do so. I’m assuming these will eventually get taken down as well. Many were starting to rust.

The sites around the spa and downtown Safety Harbor.

A great blue heron walking along the dock at the marina and a night heron were a few of the birds hanging around the marina.

My Corner of the World