You are currently viewing archive for January 2017

2017/01/31: Miami, Here We Come

Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
Our time in the keys is up and it's time to start moving north towards home. Luckily the first stop isn't far. We've rented a house in Little Havana, Miami for a week.

On the way out of the keys we stopped at the big lobster.

This was one big lobster. The lobster was a good way to get tourists to stop and visit the shops.

On Sunday Ed and I found the "African Queen" while we were goecaching. We stopped today so we could show the African Queen to John and Carol.

We timed our stop perfectly. The African Queen was about to go out. The steam engine was running.

The African Queen motoring it's way out of the habour.

Saw this little bird in a parking lot. I tried unsuccessfully to identify him using a Florida bird book. Margaret, thanks for looking the bird up for me. Turns out this is probably a Common Myna. From a website: "The Common Myna is native to southeastern Asia but has been introduced onto almost every tropical or subtropical oceanic island and Australia, where it is mostly found in open country and human environments. In Florida, populations remain small and widely scattered and tend to prefer shopping mall parking lots."
Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
Today is our last day in Marathon and Ed and I have resigned ourselves to the fact that we won't see a Manatee. Boy, were we wrong.

Yesterday while Ed and I were out, John and Carol saw manatees in the canal behind the house. This morning, John went out back to see if any manatees had returned and there was one.

Manatees are large, fully aquatic, mostly herbivorous marine mammals sometimes known as sea cows. When the ocean get's cooler the manatees move to warmer water, in our case the canals.

The only part of the manatee that goes above water is the nose when comes up for a breath of fresh air.

Carol and I went out for lunch as Ed and John went to the airport for a "Airplane Dog and Pony Show". The Sunset Grill was our choice for lunch. It's the same restaurant we went to the other night to see the sunset.

The restaurant has a pool and a great view of the 7-mile bridge.

Even the birds enjoy relaxing on the lounge chairs at the restaurant.

The "dog and pony show" consisted of 4 old war birds.

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B-25 Mitchell

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B-24 Liberator

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B-17 Flying Fortress

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Belly Gun on the B-17

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The B017's cockpit.
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2017/01/29: Geocaching North

Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
The first thing I heard when I awoke this morning was wind and rain hitting the house. Can't really complain as we've had some pretty amazing weather over the past two weeks.

It stopped raining so we decided to drive north (or is it east) towards Key Largo

Even the pelicans were hunkered down.

One of the many gnarly trees we saw today.

This monument was erected to remember the hundreds of American veterans and local civilians who lost their lives on September 2nd, 1935 when Islamorada was hit with a powerful hurricane.

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The African Queen, made famous by the 1951 movie called African Queen staring Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn, is in a harbour in the keys. Boat rides are available.

I liked the look of San Pedro, a Catholic Church.

As usual, geocaching took us to some interesting spots and we managed to find 17 of them today.

2017/01/28: Key West

Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
Today is our day to explore Key West. We parked the car near the harbour and started walking.

There were lots and lots of boats in the harbour.

There were 2 cruise ships in the harbour ---- the very large Holland American Line Oosterdam and the much smaller ship from the Disney Cruise Line. It's the little ship on the left side of the photo.

Roosters and chickens roam the streets of Key West. In the 1950's many Cubans fled Cuba and came to Key West. The current wild fowl are descendants of hens and roosters that the fleeing Cubans brought with them.

We picked up a walking tour of Key West and saw a lot of interesting buildings.

Built circa 1829, the home of Captain Francis Watlington, his wife and 9 daughters is the oldest house in South Florida.

In the back garden of the oldest house is the only surviving Cook Home in South Florida.

This house was built in the 1890s and is often referred to as "Octagon House". It is actually a rectangular structure incorporating a multi-side front. The house was restored in the 1970s and sold to Calvin Klein in the 1980s for a record price at the time of nearly $1 million.

Built in 1885, this home incorporates Victorian fashion of the time with classic Bahamian design. Samuel Filer, who build the house for himself, was a lumber merchant apparently wanting to display extravagant use of wood embellishments known locally as "gingerbread". Notice the etched cranberry transom window.

The graveyard in Key West looks similar to the ones in New Orleans.

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A pretty back alley and my street!

Sunset was a dud but at least there were lots of boats to watch.

Eventually there was a bit of colour. Mallory Square has a sunset party every evening. There are musicians, buskers and vendors all around the square.

2017/01/27: Mango Groves

Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
The other day Ed and I saw a group of people heading out on a kayaking tour of the mangroves off Sombrero Beach. Watching them paddle out made us long to go kayaking, so we found a place that rents kayaks and today we are going on our own kayaking adventure.

When we said we kayak at home, we were given that "st-on-top" kayaks that were a little less stable but more maneuverable.

Starting down a mangrove channel. The mangrove channels were very narrow in spots with low hanging branches and high roots making it almost impossible to paddle.

A couple from Wisconsin were also out kayaking. We met up with them in the mangrove channel. Between their map and our GPS we were able to get through the channel and find a geocache.

Yup, Ed found a geocache. The people we rented the kayaks from were impressed that we found our way to cache.

We saw a number of egrets, ibis and little herons as well as fish and jellyfish like this one. The woman from Wisconsin had a manatee surface a couple of feet from her kayak.

Cormorants were sunning near the dock.

Katie enjoyed sitting outside with Ed.
Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
I knew Ed had been feeling a little off for the past few days but at 3am when he announced he needed to go to a doctor in the morning I knew he was feeling pretty bad. Given the number of trips we've taken over the years, I guess it's about time to test our travel insurance. After googling walk-in clinics we called the insurance company. With his authorization number in hand we drove to the walk-in clinic. A five page questionnaire and less than an hour wait and Ed was in. The first person to look at Ed was a paramedic --- he waved a stick over Ed's head and when asked if it was a thermometer answered he got it from "a Star Trek convention --- just kidding". A test and chat with a nurse practitioner resulted in a diagnosis and a prescription called into a local pharmacy. From the time we left the rental house till the time we were in a restaurant eating breakfast, doctor visit done and drugs in hand about 2 1/2 hours had passed. Didn't think that was too bad at all.

Back at the rental I sat outside and enjoyed the dock area.

The back of the house. On the right hand side of the photo you can just see the edge of the canal.

This little guy was enjoying the dock area too.

The antibiotics kicked in pretty quick. After a nap, Ed was ready to go geocaching.

A small bridge from the original railway has been converted to a fishing bridge.

The pelicans are funny. They fly off the railing when you start getting close to them. Then fly a loop and return to almost the same spot once you are past.

We decided that we needed to see a sunset while we are in the keys and what better place to see the sun set than at the Sunset Grill.

The pool is part of the restaurant.

The view was beautiful, the atmosphere nice and the food excellent.

Ed has an infection and is starting to feeling much better already thanks to the miracle of not so little pills.

2017/01/25: Key Deer

Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
This morning we are in search of Key Deer. When we arrived at Big Pine Key we stopped at the information center for the National Key Deer Refuge and were told that key deer had been spotted on No Name Key. So, off to No Name Key we went and sure enough we found a herd of five females or juveniles.

The Key deer is an endangered deer that lives only in the Florida Keys. It is a subspecies of the white-tailed deer. It is the smallest North American deer. In the photo the deer looks normal size,

then you see them in a photo with Ed. Now they look small.

The oldest looking deer is wearing a radio transmitter.

A little later we saw this buck.

Sitting in the middle Big Pine Key — of one of the largest islands in the chain — an abandoned rock quarry forms a freshwater lake now known as the Blue Hole.

We saw the two resident alligators,

a few turtles,

and an iguana. A park volunteer told us that the iguanas we've been seeing are not indigenous to Florida and in fact are nuisances as the there are no natural predators.

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In 2005, Hurricane Wilma caused the salt water level to rise, killing some of the pine trees. A drought the subsequent year made matters worse. There are still a lot of dead trees but mother nature is working hard to restore the pine forest.

2017/01/24: Around Marathon

Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
Ed decided that he needed a geocaching day and I agreed but only if we went to some of the places I wanted to go to.

One stop was Sombrero Beach, a public beach on Boot Key, one of the several keys that make up Marathon.

Sombrero Beach is a beautiful beach and it's dog friendly. It was fun to watch dogs playing in the water.

The Seven Mile Bridge is a famous bridge in the Florida Keys. Old Seven Mile Bridge is not only spectacularly scenic, it also brings you as close as you can to experiencing Henry Flagler’s historic “railroad that went to sea.” The bridge, an engineering marvel of its day, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. One comment I read was the old bridge was really well built and will outlast the new bridge which was built by the bidder with the lowest price.

Unfortunately, the north end of the bridge is closed for repairs but you can still walk on this part of the south end of the bridge.

The new and the old. The bridge looks like it goes on forever.

Looking at an unmaintained section of the bridge. We could see some weeds growing on the bridge and lots of birds sitting on the railing. Apparently, when the rail bridge was converted to an automobile bridge the rail was used for side railings.

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Not far from the bridge we saw several iguana.

We stopped to eat our picnic lunch at Veterans Memorial Park. Soon after we sat down, a couple of pigeons came over. Then about a half dozen or so Ruddy Turnstones (I think) and an Ibis walked around us and the picnic table in single file. It all seemed odd as we didn't see birds around the other picnicers. Just as we were about to get up to leave a fellow asked if he could join us and sat at our table. Turns out he comes to this table about five days a week and brings bread for the birds. Not only were we sitting at his table but Ed and the fellow looked similar.

The Ruddy Turnstones and

the Ibis.

I don't remember the name of the tree but I thought it looked interesting.

This Ibis was dancing around in front of us, almost as if he wanted to us to take his picture.

Leaving the park we drove a little further down the road to Bahia Honda State Park. Henry Flagler's railroad to Key West turned the remote island of Bahia Honda Key into a tropical destination. Today, the island is home to one of Florida's southernmost state parks, known for beautiful beaches, magnificent sunsets and excellent snorkeling.

Part of the old rail bridge that is in the state park.

People come to the park to fish, to relax on the beach and play in the waves, to snorkel, kayak or paddle on a board. This fellow brings his bubbles. His bubble water consists of blue dawn, corn syrup and a couple of other things. He makes huge bubbles or smaller ones depending on the wind. The photo doesn't show the iridescent colours on the bubble made by the sun light.

A view of the bridge looking west.

The sun was getting low in the sky as we walked the beach. High tide was fast approaching and the beach was quickly disappearing. In one area the surf was hitting against the stairs.

By the way, Ed found 10 geocaches today. Our reward was Key Lime Sherbet, yum.

2017/01/23: Key West

Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
Today is the first day we've had iffy weather on this trip. It's quite windy with chances of showers. We decided that a drive to Key West would work regardless of the weather.

After driving around Key West a bit we decided to visit Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park.

The fort was one of a series built in the mid-1800s to defend the nation’s southeastern coastline. Completed in 1866.

Looking down on the parade ground.

There were over 200 cannons at the fort.


Ed and I had been told that there are a number of iguanas at the fort, but we only managed to find this one.

The beach at the fort is considered the best beach in Key West.

The man at the gate told us our ticket got us into the fort and beach and included as an extra bonus were waves.

Most of the birds we saw were hunkered down trying to stay out of the wind. Gulls, on the other hand, were enjoying gliding on winds.

These frigate birds were enjoying the winds.

Looking down the road at the most southern point in the USA.

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A closer view of the marker and a lighthouse.
Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
Today is moving day. We are leaving Naples and are driving to Marathon. Marathon is a city in the middle of the keys and encompasses several small islands or keys.

The drive took us along alligator alley to the outskirts of Miami. The Florida Turnpike lead us to US 1, the highway that runs through the keys. The traffic was heavier than we expected being a Sunday, but then again maybe it was heavy because it was a Sunday.

We stopped along the way and shot a photo of the water.

The new house is just off the main road and has a canal in the backyard complete with a tie up for a boat. Now, if we only had a boat.
Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
This morning Ed and I walked to the beach and local state park to check out the art show.

We stopped along the way and admired the homes on several canals.

We found this driveway to be interesting --- the fountain must add a few challenges to parking.

The beach was pretty busy today.

This tortoise was taking a walk down the beach.

A Ringed-billed Gull.

Some friends that winter in Naples suggested we visit the town of Ave Maria, about 40 minutes east of Naples. The town was planned with the large Ave Maria Oratory church in the center.

One of the oratory's most distinctive characteristics is its steel structure, much of which is exposed internally and externally. The landmark church received an architectural award from the American Institute of Steel Construction in 2008.




Haven't posted any flowers lately, so here's one.

2017/01/20: Everglades

Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
One of the reasons for visiting the Naples area is to go to the Everglades. Today we finally make the trek. We drive past a number of ponds where storks, egrets, herons and ibis are foraging for food. Kingfishers sit on power lines survey the world. Surprising, we don't stop. Our destination is the National Park Visitor at the west end of the park.

When we arrive at the park we are nabbed by the local tour operator and are told about two tours they offer. We opt for the tour on the large boat that takes us out into the ten thousand islands. The islands are mostly Mangrove islands, full of Mangrove bushes.

The islands continue to grow as the bushes drop dagger like seeds that start new bushes.

I was a little disappointed in the tour as we didn't see as many birds as I had hoped to.

We did see lots of Cormorants, Royal Terns, Sea gulls, Osprey and Pelicans.

Here in the ten thousand islands were man made structures
are non-existent, you'll see Pelicans in the trees.

The dolphins made the trip worthwhile and memorable. The captain found a couple of dolphins feeding. We watched them for a few minutes when the captain said he noticed a change in the dolphin's behaviour --- the dolphins want to play. The captain told us to stand at the back of the boat and what the wake, then he put power on the boat.

After a minute or two the dolphins appeared swimming and jumping in the wake. I got some great video and Ed got some amazing photos.


This is not a dolphin doing contortions, but two dolphins one surfacing and one diving.

Leaving the Everglade City and Everglade National Park we drive into Big Cypress National Preserve. First stop is Big Cypress Swap Welcome Center where Manatees are regularly spotted. Luck is not with us this time as we don't see any Manatees.

The smallest post office in the US is in Ochopee (all that's there is the post office and a house across the road).

This post office was a tool shed in it's previous life, now it has an air conditioner on the back wall, sorting shelves on the side wall, a desk/counter that lifts so the postal work can enter or leave the building and sliding doors patrons open to speak to the worker. Don't be surprised if the post office is closed when you arrive, bathroom breaks require a 3 mile drive.

Next stop is the H.P. Williams Roadside Park where there is a canal and a boardwalk. We see a few aligators and a number of birds including Anhingas.

The Anhinga is also called a Snakebird. It's easy to see how it got it's name. It sits in the water with it's body mostly under the water and just the long neck sticking out.

The last stop of the day was at the Oasis Visitor Center still in the Big Cypress National Preserve. Here we saw lots of fish and alligators.

The water was brackish in colour but still very clear. You could see the fish just beneath the surface. There were at least 4 different varieties of fish.

Ed and I were standing watching fish make bubbles as they came to the surface and alligators sunning. One of the alligators started to swim, so I started videoing it --- a swimming alligator is more exciting than a sunning alligator. All of a sudden there was action.

I don't know if the alligator decided a fish treat was in order or if he just wanted to dive but Ed caught him in mid jump and I caught all the action on video.

Can't forget the turtles. We saw several swimming around coming up for air every now and then.

2017/01/19: Naples

Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
Today is the day to explore the city of Naples. First stop is 5th Avenue --- a downtown shopping district.

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There were many beautiful shops and restaurants along 5th avenue. There were also many whimsical characters.

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The entrance to one alley was accented by this colourful vine. On a lawn, we saw this tree decorated with the roots of vines.

Leaving 5th Avenue we drove along 3rd Avenue, the historical district. There we saw more shops and restaurants along with fountains and statues. Next stop was the beach and Naples Pier.

It is a beautiful day today, sunny and warm. You can tell by the number of umbrellas and people on the beach.

The pier. You don't need a license to fish on this pier as the city has picked up the tab for fishing licenses.

A number of these little guys (I think Ruddy Turnstones) were hanging out on the pier.

Occasionally I need to be in a photo.

Ed caught this dolphin clearing his air hole.

I caught the dolphin at the end of a breach.

The small child really wanted to pet the pelican but the pelican wouldn't have it. He finally flew off.

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Different ways to look at palm trees.

Another to explore is Tin City. More shops and restaurants but this time they are on the river by some big marinas.

This fellow was hanging out at the dock.

We were told that if you want to see mansions you should drive through the Port Royal area. So, we drove through the Port Royal area and saw mansions of many shapes and sizes. Some of the homes were older and more modest while some of the new homes were huge and ostentatious and then there were lots that were in between. Definitely, worth the drive.
Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
In 1886 Thomas Alva Edison built a winter home and a laboratory in Fort Myers. In 1906 Edison purchased the building next door and converted it to a guest house. In 1912 Henry Ford and Thomas Edison work together to develop an improved storage battery for the Model T. The men also develop a friendship. In 1916 the Fords purchase "The Mangoes", the home next door to the Edisons. In 1947 Mina Edison deeds the Fort Myers Edison estate to the City of Fort Myers and the estate was opened to the public for tours. In 1988 the adjacent Ford estate was purchase and it was opened to the public in 1990.

The Edison and Ford Winter Estates is a 20 acre property that is home to the Edison and Ford homes, caretaker homes, gardens, pool, Edison's study and laboratory and a museum.

Edison's home. The guest house is built in the same fashion as they were built at the same time.

The dining room in the guest house. The chimes were rung to announce that dinner was ready. Edison installed a "bell system" so the family could contact the staff from different parts of the house. One of the buzzers was installed on the end of the table, so Edison could let the staff know when the family and guests were seated.

Ford's winter home.

This house was built by a entrepreneur named Smith. The interior finish was more elaborate than that in Edison's house.

The remains of the pier. The pier went along way out as the river was shallow.

Of course there were several automobiles on the Ford Estate. The fellow who takes care of the cars started this one for Ed.

The museum was full of photos, memorabilia and items that Edison invented.

Music was played on several of the phonographs.

Edison in partnership with Ford and Goodyear built a laboratory to look for alternate sources of rubber. In 1931 Edison died. The laboratory was shut down with all of the equipment inside.

One view of the laboratory.

Edison had many specimens of potential rubber producing plants brought to and planted at the estate.

This tree was brought from India. Part of the roots are above ground.

A staghorn fern growing on a live oak. I think these are both native to Florida.

Another tree that was brought to Fort Myers is the Banyon tree. In 1927 a small Banyon tree, native to South Asia, was planted. As the long branches of the tree support themselves by producing aerial roots that slowly grow downward into the ground, forming pillar-like roots.

The Banyon tree is so large (3/4 of an acre) it deserves two photos. At one point the tree covered almost an acre but it was pruned back to save the buildings.

Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
The Rev Institute,in Naples, founder Miles Collier was born into an American automotive dynasty. Both his father and uncle, Miles and Sam, respectively, are credited with introducing sports car racing to the United States during the 1930’s. Mr. Collier, also spent the better part of a decade racing in an E-Production Porsche Speedster as well as behind the wheel of other vintage automobiles.

In 1986, Mr. Collier acquired the Cunningham Museum collection of longtime family friend Briggs Swift Cunningham, which included the first Ferrari racing car ever sold in the United States and one of six Bugatti Royales ever produced. During the late 1980s and 1990s what is now known today as the Collier Collection began to take shape. In 2009 the Rev Institute was founded to serve as a center of scholarly study. For more information see the Revs Institute web stie.

The Rev Institute is not your run of the mill museum. It is only open on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Docent led tours are availble with a maximum of ten people on a tour. Tours need to be booked ahead of time as they sell out quickly. You can also wander about on your own but even the number of people allowed in is limited and require tickets to be purchased in advance.

This is mostly Ed's blog as cars are more his thing than mine.


Mercedes-Benz 1929 Sport Model SSK

Mors 1902 Type Z

McLaren 1995 F1

Fiat Abarth 1970 TC-R 1000 Berlina Corsa

Ferrari 1948 166 Spyder Corsa

Alfa Romeo 1938 Tipo 8C 2900B Berlinetta, Touring

Delahaye 1937 Type 135 MS Special Roadster

Austin 1964 Mini Cooper S

Panhard & Levassor 1896 Wagonette

Rolls-Royce 1914 Silver Ghost Colonial, Kelliner

Porsche 1956 550A Spyder

Porsche 1969 908 LH

Carol and I were "car"ed out by time the tour ended. We opted to depart leaving John and Ed to revisit the institute for the duration of the afternoon. When we were back at the house I decided to enjoy the afternoon by going for a walk.

There are a number of canals giving many beautiful homes water access.

I found the beach.

2017/01/16: More Birds

Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
The good news is after today there will be a slight break from birds, the bad news today there's lots and lots of birds.

Ed read an article about good birding spots near Naples. One of them was J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel Island. So, in his quest of bird photos we set off to "Ding" Darling. Ed forgot it is Martin Luther King Day so the roads and the park were busier than expected. The good part was the park was free as it is a national holiday.

It was fun to watch the different birds interacting. I think the different methods of feeding complemented each other.

Peek-a-boo I see you.

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Not sure what family this juvenile belongs to, but he's cute.

A flock of pelicans hanging out on the beach.

Here we come!!!

Almost down.

Mottled Ducks.

Little Blue Heron looking for lunch.

Yellow Legs, not sure if it's Lesser or Greater.

Even Snowy Egrets have a "bad hair day".

We drove to the end of Sanibel Island and walk out to have a look at the beach.

2017/01/15: Drive to Naples

Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
This summer John, Carol, Ed and I decided that we wanted to explore several areas in Florida, so instead of renting a house for a month we opted to rent three houses for about a week each. The first house is in Naples. It's not a large house but it's clean and comfortable and it's in a reasonable neighbourhood.

Along the way we stopped at rest stop near the Sunshine Skyway Bridge.

All the girls are wearing sun glasses.

The Sunshine Skyway Bridge.

After we unload our vehicles we headed off to load up on supplies. First time I've seen a Cattle Egret sitting on a car in a grocery store parking lot.
Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
Today is Ed's birthday, so that means we have to do what Ed wants, at least to a point.

Before we left home, Ed decided that this is a birding trip --- he wants to use some of the bigger camera lenses he hasn't used for awhile. With that in mind he chose to go to Weedon Island Preserve.

The park has a paved trailed as well as a couple of board walk trails. The first board walk trail took us throw a mangrove swamp to an observation tower.

The view from the observation tower. There were lots of people fishing, from boats, kayaks, paddle boards, piers and some were even standing in the water.

A flock of white pelicans performed an aerial routine for us.

The gopher tortoise, the state tortoise of Florida, is a keystone species because it digs burrows that provide shelter for at least 360 other animal species. The tortoises are threatened by predators and habitat destruction.

We were lucky enough to see two gopher tortoises. One was hanging out by his burrow, the second walked down the trail to the first tortoise's burrow.

We walked past a couple of salt water ponds. At the first pond we saw lots of small fish swimming around. At the second pond we saw two Ibis across the pond and some jumping fish. At the third water area (which I think was an inlet off Tampa Bay) we hit pay dirt. A hundred or more birds were busy having lunch. At first the birds were quite far away but happily the birds moved closer to us as they ate.

The Roseate Spoonbills were beautiful as usual.



There were hundreds of Ibis, at least a dozen Great White Egrets, a number of Little Blue Herons and some Snowy Egrets.

The sun was bright and the water clear so the reflections were interesting.

All of a sudden the Ibis and Roseate Spoonbills rose in unison and flew away. Then we heard the familiar cry of an Osprey as he flew into a tree bordering the water. It was interesting that the herons and egrets were not affected by the arrival of the Osprey.

I stopped to talk to a woman along the boardwalk and she pointed out black spots on the trees. If you made movement toward the spot --- it scampered out of view. The spots were Mangrove Crabs.

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Once you knew the crabs were on the trees, they were easy to spot.

A Great Blue Heron was tired of Ed and John taking photos of it so it decided to leave.

What is a birthday without a birthday dinner. Before we left home, Ed went on trip adviser and found the Harry Seltzer's Steakhouse. Because it was Ed's birthday, the table was given a free bottle of wine and Ed got a free desert. On top of that the food was excellent.


2017/01/13: Beautiful Beach

Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
After checking out the guide books and perusing the local maps we decided to spend the day at to Fort De Soto County Park.

First a couple of beach shots.


It is a beautiful white sand beach and judging by the size of the parking lots it's also a very popular beach. There are a least 6 more beaches north of this one that I would considered to be in St. Petersburg

There were a number of birds.

Brown and white Pelicans.

Lots and lots of Osprey.

Some eating fish.

Some coming in for a landing. This guy must have been working on his/hers nest as he/she kept bring sticks. Do the male birds help build the nest? I should look that up some time. I'm pretty sure that Osprey mate for life.

There was no fighting over the fish. The second bird flew in and watched as the first bird tore at the fish.

Snowy egrets were hanging out on the pier watching and waiting for the fishermen to toss them a treat.



Surprisingly, there was even an old fort.


An old friend of Carol's drove from the Orlando area to visit, so Ed and I decided to check out "downtown" St. Petersburg.

We arrived at quarter to 5 so we just had about an hour of light but it was good light for taking photos.

We're not fans of abstract art, so given the price of admission to the Dali Museum we're going to skip it but the building is worth a visit.


2017/01/12: Made It

Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
Easy day of driving today, just 4 hours from Kingsland, Georgia to St. Petersburg, Florida.


The Red Roof Inn in St. Peterburg has a pool --- so did the one in Kingsland but this one was more inviting. Unfortunately, the water was cold, really cold. So cold that even kids were complaining about the temperature.

Ed and I had finished settling in and were about to head out to wash the car when John and Carol arrived. We helped them carry everything from their car to their room then we all headed out to the car wash. It's funny, just about the first thing you want to do when you get out of the snow and cold is to wash the road salt off the car --- at least John and Ed do.

2017/01/11: Still Driviing South

Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
We had a choice this morning, plan on driving another 11 hours today or split the drive into two days. Ed opted for splitting the drive which was a good thing. Our GPS told us there was a large traffic jam on the highway and gave us an alternate route --- extend our drive by 24 minutes or sit in traffic for 44 minutes. Not sure if there were actually any problems but Ed decided we'd take the senic route.

Driving down highway 26, one of the road signs indicated that it would take greater than 60 minutes to drive 44 miles. I took that to me a traffic tie ---- OK GPS why didn't you tell me about this problem? Turned out the left lane was closed for 5 miles while tree debris was being removed. The traffic was backed up 3 miles before the left lane had to merge. That took a little while to get through.

About 4 pm we arrived in Kingsland, Georgia, the last town of any size before the Florida state line. The Red Roof Inn here is very nice --- they even offer a continental breakfast.

Ed, in his pursuit of "state tokens" given by the Geocache website, managed to find caches in West Virginia, Virgina, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia. Found several right near the motel here in Kingsland. State tokens for 5 states should make him a happy camper at least for a day or two.

2017/01/10: Now We're Really Off

Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
When we picked our departure date the long range forecast had indicated that today would be a good day for driving. Should have know better. A winter storm is forecast for today in southern Ontario arriving in the wee hours. Luckily, Burlington appeared to be on the edge according to radar predictions. I woke up at 6am and there was just a dusting, at 8am when I woke up for the second time there was about a cm on the road. After a quick check looking at road reports and road cameras, we loaded the car and got on the road. The storm was missing the Niagara Penninsula, there was only a little rain. By the way there was very little residual snow from previous storms.

Fastest border crossing ever --- hand over the passports, where are you going "Florida", when are you coming back "February 15", hands the passports back, have a nice trip. Guess there's a lot of grey hairs heading to Florida this week.

The rain was heavier driving through New York State and Pennsyvania and a fair bit of snow on the side of the highway. When we got to West Virginia, the rain stopped and no evidence of snow though it was still hovering around 2 degrees C. Virginia was also dry and snow free, but North Carolina was a different story. It was still dry but there was a reasonable amount of snow on the fields beside the highway. Ed reminded me that a winter storm had dumped snow on North Carolina on the weekend.

A rest stop in West Virginia.

We stopped at a very nice Red Roof Inn in Statesville and had a quick bite to eat (it was after 8 pm when we arrived in Statesville) at a Bojangles fast food restaurant. If you ever find yourself at a Bojangles restaurant try the pulled port bean bowl --- pinto beans in a very nice sauce topped with lots of pulled pork and coleslaw ---- um,um good.

2017/01/09: And We're Off

Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
Does the website look a litte different? These were not planned changes. When a friend checked the web site one day they got a message from their virus checking program that there was a virus on the website. Not really sure if it was actually a virus but Ed updated a few things that cause the websites appearance to change. More changes and it almost looks like it use to. Did I mention we found out about the virus last night?

It seems like we just got back from a vacation (oh, we just did) and we're leaving on our next trip. This time we are going to Florida for five weeks. We're going to some areas we haven't visited in the past but we're also going to so we can have a break from winter.

Today was an easy day --- get up, have breakfast, shovel the snow (luckily there wasn't a lot), finish packing, follow the "close the house in winter before a trip check list" and finally get in the car and start driving south. The destination is Burlington ---- I know that's still in Ontario but it makes a good jumping off poinnt and my mother gets a visit.
Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
Monday was also a beautiful day. Tuesday it was above freezing and it rained a fair bit. Today, well, the temperature dropped and it's been snowing and blowing all day. Good news is the piles of snow we got a few days ago have shrunk so now there's room for the new snow we are getting today. Expect some snow photos tomorrow.
Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
This blog won't let me add an entry dated 2016/12/31 so I'm combining it with 2017/01/01

Could believe my eyes when I woke up this morning, there was more snow. It snowed all day and finally let up around 5 pm. Not sure why but we clean the driveway three times today. I guess I thought it was going to quit snowing anytime as it was just a narrow band of snow. Unfortunately, the band sat still centered over Walkerton.



Hope this is the start of a year of beautiful weather. It was sunny all day and a very comfortable temperature for winter. We took advantage of the good weather and brought in the outdoor Christmas decorations. We're leaving for Florida in about 10 days and don't want to be having to take decorations down we we get back. Ed took a lot of photos today, but none I want to share. When he was cleaning his camera equipment after we returned from Costa Rica he noticed a problem with one of his favourite lenses. He sent it to Canon for repair. The quote to fix the old lens was about half the price of a new better lens. Guess what Ed decided to do. The photos he took today were of lines so he could compare the two lenses. Yes, the new lens did a much better job than the old lens.