The other day I was at Myakka River State Park to try out some experimental gear. I didn't have a plan other than to line up a few landscape shots. As I sat on a bench working with the apparatus, a mama and baby Limpkin strolled by.
They were eating snails and clams. The snails were easy enough to catch and eat. The clams they would batter with their beaks to break open the shells. I was no more than six feet away and what I found surprising was that, as long as I remained still, they tolerated my presence.
There's nothing better than to observe wild animals in their natural habitat. The baby Limkin was more wary of me, but the mother seemed to decide that it was more important to eat than worry about me. Or maybe she did both. Whatever the case, it was a rare privilege I'll not soon forget.
On our summer road trip, we stopped to visit friends in Wisconsin. It turns out they live only a few minutes from Wisconsin Dells, or The Dells as its known colloquially. I never knew of such a place existed, but here it is. Despite the heat of summer, it was cool and dark in this mini canyon, so I balanced the camera on the wooden railing to get a longer exposure.
The Dells are sandstone gorge formed by glaciers. There are tributaries like this that run into the river. Below the boardwalk ran a cool creek that ended at the river. This walkway strategically ends up in a snack bar about a quarter mile up from the river. Nevertheless, the photo opportunities are endless.
In some sense, the area reminds me a little of Niagra Falls where there is a natural wonder that spawned a local tourism industry. There are indoor (for the winters), and outdoor water parks, wax museums, and lumberjack shows every hour. It bills itself as the water park capital of the world. Who knew? But for me, by far the best experience was taking a boat up the Wisconsin River to see the Dells.
A few years ago I took an all-night drive down the Pacific Coast Highway. The only rule was that I had to be back at the San Jose airport by eight in the morning. So I gassed up the rental, picked up a couple of Red Bulls, and started driving.
By day, it's one of the most scenic highways. By night, it feels like another world. Once you get below Carmel, there is no light pollution, and the stars are big and bright. As it happened, the moon illuminated the road, and my eyes got used to it, was more comfortable than daytime driving. I would stop at pullouts overlooking the coast and take long exposure images like this one at ten seconds.
Also, the lighthouses are fun to look at as they cast their rotating beams in the fog and low clouds. The one in the distance is Point Sur Lightstation. I made it down to San Simeon and turned the car around. It was a long drive back, but the sense of adventure (and Red Bull) kept me going. I made it back in time to grab my bags from the hotel and catch my flight home. And lucky for me, it was the pilot's turn to drive, so I slept all the way back to Florida.