Defuniak Springs, a once thriving town situated in the panhandle of north Florida off of I- 10 has sadly seen better days. We spent a couple of nights just north of here on the first leg of our 2018 cross country trip and one night we ventured into town to see what we could see. The town unfortunately is like so many that we have traveled through, with the downtown almost completely deserted, boarded up and only a few hardy businesses surviving enough to make a living. There are perhaps hundreds of gorgeous Victorian houses in various states of decay surrounding a lake in the center of town. We did find the one restaurant in town, Bogeys, that seemed to be getting all the business and had a lovely meal out on the balcony overlooking town. When we were leaving we drove around some side streets and to our amazement we discovered not one but 5 Tesla charging stations. Unbelievable, like something from Back to the Future. There were empty buildings all around and a large crumbled parking lot nearby and a proud sign proclaiming “Where the past meets the future”. I can only hope Elon Musk has plans for this town.
In the vicinity are Falling Waters State Park, Ponce De Leon Springs State Park and Morrison Spring. All worth exploring.
Ponce De Leon Springs State Park
Falling Waters SP, Florida’s highest waterfall. It falls 75 feet down into a sinkhole.
The funny little Cattle Egret with all his beautiful colors.
I’ve lived in Central Florida almost 30 years now and am just now discovering some of the fabulous locations we have for bird photography. Gatorland, a small family owned theme park near Kissimmee, is one of those perfect places to go in the spring months when the rookery located over the alligator swamp is filled with breeding birds. The rookeries are a photographers paradise as the birds display vivid breeding colors. The lore (the skin around their eyes) become vibrant and they acquire long, elegant feathers. So I set off with a couple of other photography enthusiasts and we set out to practice our skills. What a lot a fun, I will definitely be back. Continue reading
The beautiful courtship display of the Great Egret.
We visited the St Augustine Alligator Farm which is one of the oldest zoos in America, having been founded in 1893. This is a fun little attraction at any time, but in the spring it becomes spectacular when the rookery comes alive with thousands of mating birds. Native herons, egrets, ibis, spoonbills and woodstorks seek the security of the alligator swamp to roost and raise their young because the alligators swimming below keep the tree climbing predators at bay. Continue reading
Mormon barn in Grand Teton NP
After spending almost a month camping in Grand Teton NP with almost no cell phone coverage or wi-fi we have finally emerged and reconnected with the world, thus this late blog entry. We initially dry camped for 2 weeks at Gros Ventre Campground at the south end of Grand Teton NP. This is high desert and we had a wonderful site overlooking the mountains and sagebrush. Nearby are the unbelievably picturesque Mormon barns built by early settlers to the area. These barns are some of the most photographed in the world and early birds are rewarded with golden light hitting the barns and lighting up the mountains. We went twice and it was very chilly (low 40’s) but fun talking with the other small group of photographers that had gathered. Continue reading
We’re just finishing a two-week stay in the very small town of Dubois, WY situated at an elevation of 7200 ft on the Wind River east of Grand Teton NP. Dubois, with a population of only 900, most of whom are ranchers, has yet to be discovered by the masses and is sometimes referred to as an ’embryonic’ Jackson (that tourist mecca just outside Grand Teton NP). The high desert climate has the most ideal weather we have encountered on our trip, high’s in the low 80’s and low’s down into the 40’s at night with an occassional afternoon thunderstorm. Continue reading
Cody, WY, that quintessential western town. Home of Buffalo Bill and Annie Oakley and stomping grounds of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Where else can you still see cowboys riding horses down main street? From the veranda of the historic Irma Hotel, built by Buffalo Bill for his daughter Irma, we watched a shoot-out in the street, we also attended the famous Cody Stampede, did our usual back country exploring and then met up with our good friends Will and Allie, now living in Australia.
We spent our last few days in Red Lodge exploring some nearby towns and some of the 4 wheel drive roads up into the mountains. Here are a few photos of some of the sights along the way. Continue reading