Posted on June 30, 2020
I have to confess that being stuck at home makes it hard to come up with new blogs each month. However, this month I happened to read about the Saharan Sand Storm that was moving across the Atlantic ocean towards the USA. Who would believe that a sandstorm would cross 5000 miles of ocean to affect another continent. The storm is predicted to impact Florida and Texas, and then head up even as far as Canada. One of the positives of the sandstorm is apparently sunsets, so I headed out to the Everglades National Park to catch the sunset.
Of course, I was not alone. There were plenty of folk out watching the sunset. This seems to have become the go to place just lately. I have been there on evenings when I am one of 5, and the place is really creepy and lonely, and when it get’s dark it really gets dark.
I guess every photographer had the same idea, lets see what we can get from the Sandstorm. And for each one of us, the evening definitely showed up. There were also just folk around watching the sunset. My struggle is how to social distance in this situation where there are too many people in a small area. I was able to walk away from the crowd to some extent. Added to that Palm Beach County mandated masks in public places and half the crowd had a face covering missing. Given that Florida’s Corona Virus numbers are spiking daily (3 days ago it was approximately 5000, 2 days ago in the upper 8000’s, yesterday was 9585 and today we are at 8530 and it is not even 2 pm), I am all for people wearing a mask. I have a few medical friends who have clearly stated that you do not want to be intubated. It is not fun.
I still don’t have a new zoom lens, so get in close to the sunset is still not happening, but I keep looking. Now that we are not traveling overseas, I may use my savings to get one. Simba needs to get his infected tooth out first (which is happening this week). Taking a cat to have a tooth removed, is like having a crown put on a human. Yikes. Hopefully I will be able to get both done soon.
I loved the layers of cloud, and I hope that some of this was contributed by the sand storm.
So what causes a Saharan dust storm. It does appear that the evaporation of water, along with the earth warming causes a shelf of sand between the dessert in the north and the savannah in the south causes dust to form. Smaller storms cause downdrafts, resulting in dust storms developing. Large amounts of dust are lifted into the atmosphere. The African Easterly Jet, a strong wind, was weak this June, and this allowed for more dust to accumulate on the west coast of Africa. When the wind picks up again, it then transports a very dense mass of dust.
What we are seeing now is the results of the storm across the southern states of the USA. Added to that, there appears to be another one coming through within the week. This one is set to affect south Florida more densely, so the scientists say.
Whether I saw some effects of the Saharan Sand Storm or not, I loved the effects of the clouds.
There are definitely some pro’s to the sand storm. Apparently sand storms love dry air. Hurricanes hate dry air. So while we are seeing sand storms, we are less likely to see hurricanes. I hope that is true because I am anticipating an active hurricane season. Temperatures in South Florida are high, and the air is oppressive. When it does rain, it may cool things down briefly, but then the humidity level escalates, and I am back to feeling miserable again. Richard, who loves the heat, has mentioned a few times that the air conditioning is a welcome relief just lately.
Another positive of these sand storms is that apparently, is that these dust storms bring much needed soil and nutrients to Florida and to the islands around us. The Amazon Rain Forest also receives their nutrients from these dust storms.
Apparently the sand storms also bring nutrients to the ocean in the form of phosphorus, which is a vital nutrient for growth. Who would believe it, but it is said that alga loves dust. The negative is that red tide apparently loves dust as well. We know what red tide does and we do not necessarily want that in Florida. That is a swimmers nightmare. Although that would be one way to keep people away from the beaches in this Covid-19 period.
A big positive for me is the beauty the dust causes to the sunset. Dust particles scatter the sun rays and leave us with an awesome sunrises and sunsets. Milky skies and the colors seen, will be dark oranges and reds..
There are a number of down sides to the dust storm as well. Microorganisms harmful to humans and plant life may get caught up in the dust storms. Fungal spores and bacteria may also be carried in the dust storms, which may cause harm to coral reefs.
Another negative affects people with respiratory issues, allergies, etc. Have you ever been off road riding where you are causing dust as a result of some crazy driving. I have, and my allergies kill me. Sometimes those dust particles in the storm don’t stay in the upper levels, and drop down and affect us. If you are not wearing a mask for Covid-19, you may want to reconsider the mask for the dust storms coming through. You do not want to land up in hospital with breathing issues, especially with Covid-19 spiking in a lot of areas that the dust storm will affect.
Unlike the dust storm, Alligators are native to Florida and a trip to the Everglades would be a bust if you did not see one. Of course it does help is there is someone fishing. The gator is curious and interested in what is being caught, it’s probably interested in the fisherman as well to be honest.
This particular evening was pleasant, even wearing a mask. Right now I have a handful of surgical masks. They are great except that they are supposed to be worn in freezing cold temperatures during surgery. That makes them extremely hot to wear. But if I can protect myself, and protect my family, while protecting you, I am willing to do it. It just makes sense for me.
Of course if you have the opportunity to share the sunset with a loved one, or a friend, this would be the perfect place to visit. The skies this evening were a splendor for the eyes. Ironically when I left home, I was not sure that I was going to get much.
We did the same as these folks a month or so ago. Richard gets antsy and needs to do something. We took our chairs, our mugs of wine, and we headed out to go and watch the beauty of God’s creation.
The night is done, I have packed up and am walking back to my car, when I take one last look. Yes there are still some photographers, hanging on, waiting to get the last shot, or just catching up with one another. This is the beauty of meeting other photographers at places like the Everglades National Park. We all love creation and the magnificence of it.
Thank you for joining me this month as we spend time sharing another day in our lives. This is a circle blog. Take some time to view what the other artists have for you this month. My friend Beth from Beth’s Photoblog is up next and I can’t wait to read what she has to share
Posted on December 31, 2019
We were back on the road again in December. This year has been one of travel. I loved every minute of it. In March we were in Orlando, April in San Antonio, May in Bahia Honda, June I was in Rochester NY, July we traveled to New York City, October we headed to Cumberland Island, and in December we traveled to St Petersburg one weekend and Orlando again the next weekend.
St Petersburg, Florida, has been on the bucket list for a while. One of those quick lets head out of town kind of visits. We only went over night but both agreed that a two day trip would have been better. When packing, I packed a few lens, my zoom 70-300mm which I am having a few issues with and may need to replace, my 24-70mm, my new 17-40mm and my lensbaby sweet 35.
St Petersburg is about a 4.5 hour trip for us from the East Coast of Florida to the West Coast. When you cross the Sunshine Skyway, you know that you are heading into St Petersburg. Since this was a first for us so high up the coast line, I wanted to to take in everything.
I had seen some photos taken recently of the Sunshine Skyway, and wanted to to check out a pull off at the little island on the side of the road so that I could look back and see what kind of image I would get later in the day. Below is the beautiful Sunshine Skyway from that point. If you are looking to take a photo, pull off at the North Skyway area and look back.
Some years ago we were camping in the Collier Seminole State Park and met a couple in the site next door to us. They mentioned that the Fort de Soto Municipal park had great camp grounds. So that was our next stop. We wanted to check it out.
For a $5 entry fee, you get to spend the entire day at this beautiful beach park. Added to that you can leave and go back in the same day, which is what we did. There are some concession stores inside the park which will provide you with food, drinks and a few other things you may need. The park is huge. There is a great view of the Skyway from the one end of the park, there are some fishing piers and a ferry dock. We came across this brown Pelican at one of the docks.
Added to that there is actually a fort on the grounds. It almost appeared to look like a bunker fort. There was sand all along the wall and you could actually walk along the top of the fort. However, the canons were below the high wall so my thoughts are that the sand and roof walk were added later. Of all the forts I have been to this was the smallest and probably the least interesting. However, the view from the top of amazing,
We walked through the fort area. There was not a lot to see except empty rooms. Sadly the smells coming out of some of those rooms were not great. Moving back out into fresh air we spotted the canons. Somehow seeing these old pieces of history makes me want to edit in black and white.
Moving on from the fort we headed to the end of the park and out onto the beach where the sand is like powder and white and so soft. The seagulls are big and quite tame and we had no sooner sat down and they had moved closer. Obviously looking for handouts.
Leaving the Fort we headed towards the Beachcomber Hotel where we had booked to stay. However, it was early so I suggested we head to John’s Pass Boardwalk and walk around there for a while and perhaps grab a beer and pass some time. John’s Pass Boardwalk is a series of restaurants, shops and fishing charters that are interesting to meander through.
These pelicans below were being thrown scraps of fish from a table where the catch was being gutted and filleted.
As is with most of these coastal towns of interest, there is a pirate ship for hire.
Sculley’s was a seafood restaurant that certainly had some great smells coming out of it.
I happened to look up and spotted this cormorant flying towards me. Look at the wingspan and the number of feathers that make up the wings of this beautiful bird.
This boat, however, was probably the most interesting ship I have ever seen. The one end is shaped like a shark. We found a place right next door to it to sit down and grab a beer. Mmm, I keep thinking Jaws and hear that crazy music just as the shark was about to attack.
The Beachcomber Hotel was very nice. Nothing overly fancy but we were not paying out big bucks either. I appears that the owners purchased two older hotels adjacent to each other, rebuilt the front facade and created a green space in-between that became the hotel grounds. At the end of the hotel complex were two swimming pools, a restaurant called Johnny B’s and the beach. Really that is all you need if rest and relaxation are what you are looking for. Richard wanted rest and relaxation and I wanted to explore. Oh well, it was only a weekend.
One of the things that I love to do when at the beach is the sunset. We had lunch and then headed back to Fort de Soto municipal park to settle in for the sunset. A number of other folk had chosen to do the same.
For the next 3 images below I played around with my new 17-40mm lens.
Then I switched out to my Lensbaby sweet 35.
Then back to the 24-70mm and the 70-300mm. Richard waded down to the water and while he was there I grabbed some silhouettes of him standing in the water.
Slowly the sun begins to set. I played around with different settings as the sun was setting.
What was nice to see, was all of the seagulls that were lined up along the edge of the beach. They suddenly took off in mass and then fly back in and settle back down again.
Last stop of the night before heading back to the hotel, was to that little pull off point I made Richard stop at when we first came over the bridge. Why did I make him stop? For the night shots of course. I had seen recently that the Sunshine Skyway is now lit up at night. I wanted the night shot. I have to say it looks really neat and added to that the colors change. So if you are looking for a good night shot, this could definitely be one of the places to stop.
Once the nights shots were done, we headed back to the hotel and settled down at Johhny B’s for a light dinner and music. There was a live band playing while we were eating. They stopped before we had finished and started packing up. As they stopped playing the beach bar at the hotel next door started up. Do we go or do we stay, well of course we go. What a good choice!. Blues, Mowtown, Funk and Pop, 3’s Company was a great band to listen to. They definitely had me smiling with their rendition of “Killing me softly with his song” Took me back to my days of hanging out at a local joint in my 20’s. If you are in or visiting St Petersburg, Florida, and like that type of music definitely check out where they are playing and go and hang out a bit. They will have your feet tapping very quickly.
All good things come to an end, and after breakfast we were back on the road and crossing the Sunshine Skyway heading home, via Naples. We both agreed that we would definitely head back to St Petersburg again, this time for a longer stay.
In just one more day we see the close out of a very hectic 2019, and welcome in 2020. I wish you all a very Happy New Year. I hope that this will be a fantastic year for all of you, that you will be surrounded with family and friends, old and new. That you will experiences memorable moments of love, joy, laughter, and good times. That you plan escapes and get out on the road and see a bit more of the world.
This year will see us on the road a lot less I am sure. We are planning a bit trip in August to meet our new son-in-laws family. We will be heading to Macedonia for a “wedding” reception for Daniel’s family. I am excited about meeting his family, although I cannot speak Macedonian. We also plan to travel a bit in Macedonia and the Balkans. I can’t wait.
The only other big trip we have talked about this coming year is to possibly head up to New Orleans. This is definitely on my bucket list and I would love to check it out soon.
Thank you for joining me this month as we spend time sharing another day in our lives. This is a circle blog. Take some time to view what the other artists have for you this month. My friend Kim from Kim Sidwell Photography is up next and I can’t wait to read what she has to share.