I am rounding up some of my excursions as time has passed quickly and I’ll be on my way soon. Here are some highlights from past trips that were all worth a visit.
St. Mark’s National Wildlife Refuge
I’ve been here twice and might go back again because there is a lot going on here. Critters: pelicans, herons, egrets, alligators, ducks, Fiddler crabs (look like big bugs).
Sunsets are gorgeous even without clouds. The lighthouse is working and the light blinks instead of turning around 360′ like it does in St. Augustine. There’s also a large boat ramp that will take you into the bay and the gulf. Night photos were challenging trying to find the right spot to take photos of the Milky Way and the lighthouse. Too many bugs and gators splashing around near the road! Had to wear my mosquito net again to keep the sand fleas and noseeums off my face. Once I heard a loud splash and that ended my photo session. I went there twice to catch the light at different times of the day. There is a small but nice beach here on the Gulf coast and pelicans hung out on one of the sand bars early in the morning.
Night photography was disappointing because it was hard to find the right location that wasn’t in the water. I did take some photos, but they were not exactly what I’d envisioned. I also met photographer Bob Thompson from Crawfordville who suggested a couple of sites near Panacea and I hope to check that out before I leave.
Cypress Landing Astronomical Park, Tallahassee
Believe it or not, there is small observatory with an open area for star gazing and picnicking at this tiny park. There is small boat landing on Lake Miccosukee where you can fish and watch the birds on the water. I saw black ducks with white beaks, though I don’t know their name. This one caught a fish right in front of me! Look for cypress trees with spooky trunks in the water. There is no information about Cypress Landing on Google, so I would call the park for program information.
Edward Ball Wakulla Springs State Park
This was one of my favorite places. Not only is the spring fed river beautiful, but there is a lot of history here as well. The Lodge is old and beautiful! You can either swim, dive or take a boat tour in the natural river, but people are not allowed to build or walk around in, so the river is “wild” and untouched by humans. That being said, there are a LOT of critters in and along the river. I took the boat tour and learned a lot about this place. Movies like Creatures from the Black Lagoon and Tarzan shows were filmed here. There is a question about why the black water is that way and researchers continue to dive to make more discoveries. There’s a deep cave that goes to the Lodge and a (2 story) diving tower that can take you down 180 ft. if you dare. Our captain was fun and engaging, and she offered her own stories about the springs.
Birds were everywhere and the vultures like to hang out there, too. I saw mostly alligators of different shapes and sizes. The manatees were there, but started to move south on the rivers as the weather warmed up. I would definitely go back!