Thursday, May 29, 2014

Natural Florida

I took Piper for a tour around a local park last week to see some of what natural, unspoiled Florida looks like! I figured it was going to be pretty different from her home in the desert.

The park is right on the edge of Tampa Bay, and is part of the the Tampa Bay Estuary. There's a lot of waterways around for launching canoes and kayaks plus more typical flat oak scrublands as well.

The entrance to the park even has a canoe on the sign!
You can climb up to the observation deck overlooking the water.

And here's the view! This is part of the estuary that feeds into Tampa Bay itself.

Ground level view of the water. You can see all the mangrove "islands." Mangroves grow right out of the water in clusters. There's no actual land beneath the trees. But sea birds nest in them.

Boardwalk over the transition from marsh and waterways to scrublands.
Some of the scrubland trails surrounding the waterways.

Because it's RIGHT on the Bay, there are warning signs 13 feet tall telling you a hurricane can cause a storm surge all the way up to the line on the sign! See how tiny Piper looks?

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Epic Birthday At Disney!

Piper came with me for an epic day at Walt Disney World to celebrate my birthday on May 16th! We hit both Epcot and Magic Kingdom.

Most of my Epcot shots are on a different memory card (I took them with my point-and-shoot) so I still have to download and edit them. This entry will only have a few Epcot shots. I'll post the rest later. But all the Magic Kingdom shots were on my DSLR so I have a TON to share!

We were there until the park closed at midnight so we got to see a ton.

Spaceship Earth is in the background across the lagoon between the Japanese arch.

Flower and Garden Festival was going on so lots of topiaries! This was Lady and the Tramp in Italy.

Foo Dog (Chinese guardian lions) in China

Hanging out with the Viking in Norway.

We got to Magic Kingdom about 5pm and stayed until midnight.

View down Main Street towards Cinderella Castle from the Train Station.

Cinderella Castle! (With the "Partners" statue of Walt and Mickey as well)

In line for the Haunted Mansion.

Another look at the Haunted Mansion.

Watching a log fall down the drop hill of Splash Mountain.

Piper wanted to try on this fun pineapple shirt.

Aloha Isle. Home of Dole Whips in Magic Kingdom!

Hanging out in a cart of blinkie toys in front of Cinderella Castle at Dusk.

Took some time to stop and smell the roses in the Rose Garden near Cinderella Castle.

Riding the WEDWay PeopleMover which circles above Tomorrowland.

I took this without even looking while RIDING Big Thunder Mountain. I'm amazed it came out at all!
(This is my favorite ride! We rode it twice!)

Some of the neon of Tomorrowland at night.

Watching "Wishes" fireworks from New Fantasyland. (Handheld shot so I'm again amazed it came out at all!)

Back side of Cinderella Castle and the Carousel lit up at night.

Minnie was waving to us during the Main Street Electrical Parade!

Midnight. One farewell look back down Main Street to say goodnight.

Such a great day! Piper loved touring around with us and had so much fun.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Around Home

Piper took a walk with me through the apartment complex to get my mail. We stopped along the way to take a couple pics of the neighborhood.

Ubiquitous palm trees!

Checking out the pool area!

Afterwards we came back inside and took some time to meet the three kitty girls!

Mika is the oldest at approximately 14. She was unfazed by her introduction to Piper.

Gracie is the middle kitty at about 10 years old. She was also equally unfazed by Piper.

Ginger is the baby. She just turned 1 in April. She was VERY interested in Piper and wanted to try her patented method of "biting" to say hi. I swooped in before any harm was done. (Ginger likes to use her teeth to say hi to everything - me included! - so Piper was in good company! LOL)

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Brooker Creek - Part 2

Here are some additional photos of today's outing to Brooker Creek Preserve that I had on my DSLR. (Yes, I am nutty and tend to walk around taking photos simultaneously with both my point and shoot and my DSLR! LOL)

And here are a few photos I took in general of the Preserve.

Brooker Creek Preserve

It stopped raining but the temperatures hadn't gone all the way back up, so we decided to take advantage of the clear day and cooler weather and hit a local preserve for a look at Natural Florida. We went to Brooker Creek Preserve which has a neat combination of marshy swamplands and oak forests.

At approximately 8700 acres, Brooker Creek Preserve is the largest natural area in Pinellas County. It consists primarily of forested wetlands and pine flatwoods. Bordered by dense urban development, the Preserve provides both a unique refuge for native flora and fauna as well as an opportunity for citizens to explore the natural beauty of wild Florida.

The Preserve also serves to protect a significant portion of the Brooker Creek Watershed. A complex of hiking and equestrian trails provide visitors an opportunity to explore the Preserve’s many ecosystems.  

This is what the area would look like if it were natural and undeveloped. Of course, what it mostly looks like is subdivisions and shopping centers but it's nice to get a look at Florida in the raw!

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Rainy Day Arrival

Piper arrived amidst a few days of terrible thunderstorms.

I don't think this is what she expected when coming to visit "Sunny" Florida! :)