July 16, 2014

  • Bandanas

    I keep thinking I am going to post these photos of one of our favorite restaurants;
    and today is the day!  :D
    The pictures are from several visits in different towns in Illinois;
    each one has their own flair with the decor, but the food is always scrumptious!

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    One could spend a lot of money there on a meal if they so desired,
    but most of the meals are quite reasonable.

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    ~ my meal at one of the restaurants ~
    I think their potato salad is especially tasty.

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    We absolutely love their sweet potato fries.

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    ~ lots of barbecue sauces from which to choose ~

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    The waitresses all have bandanas hanging from the back pockets of their jeans
    and some have them tied around their necks.  Cowboy hats are common too.

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    ~ suckers for the kiddos ~

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    ~ Clayton’s meal from another visit ~

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    ~ my barbecued chicken ~ oh, so good! ~
    I can almost smell it from here ~ :)

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    Have any of you ever eaten there?  We highly recommend it.
    ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
    “But godliness with contentment is great gain.  For we brought nothing
    into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.
    And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.”
    I Timothy 6:6-8

June 20, 2014

  • Wonderful Weekend

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    I spent seven days at our oldest son’s home last week ~ helping sew dresses for a granddaughter.
    While there, we spotted deer many times ~ this was my favorite “capture” of the week.
    I took the photo through the door of their family room ~ the deer was down by the creek.

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    Very early one morning, I saw eight at once in the bean field which is alongside their home;
    I was only able to get six of them into one photo.

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    Clayton joined me on Thursday evening ~ our granddaughter, Bronté, was baptized that evening;
    I snapped this photo of her just before leaving to go to the meetinghouse.

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    ~ little boys sitting beside the spring-fed baptismal ~

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    After she changed into dry clothes, I convinced her brother, Burke, to pose with her for a picture.

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    ~ delicious snacks served afterward in church basement ~

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    It was so much fun to sew all week ~ their dining room looked like a clothing factory ~ :)

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    On Friday evening, we attended the hog roast held in their church district.

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    ~ tail end of the well-done hog ~

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    It was quite dressed up ~ very festive.

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    The table stretched on and on and on!

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    The hosts’ home was so beautiful ~ I just loved their patio furniture.

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    ~ gorgeous arrangements ~

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    I thought the bird seed sack used under the centerpiece was so cool ~ what a great idea!  :)

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    ~ luscious food ~

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    Their back lawn was very spacious ~ with stunning flower beds and lots of space for all kinds of activity.

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    The little gray building had a small greenhouse/potting shed on the back.

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    Their garden was inside the white picket fence, with nary a weed in sight.

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    Our granddaughter, Andrea (red shirt), stood on one of the stumps, trying to pull the other girl off her stump;
    I think she won several matches until she ended up with a rope burn on her hand ~ :(

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    ~ lots of volleyball ~
    (granddaugher, Madelyn, on left in white jacket ~ grandson, Burke, in black/white-striped shirt.)

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    In another area of the expansive lawn, the little ones were playing all kinds of games.
    (grandson, Brandon, in white shirt)

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    Several people later sat around the campfire and sang hymns ~ it was a beautiful evening.

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    Then on Saturday evening, Bronté and Andrea helped with announcements at teen camp.
    On Sunday, Father’s Day, we attended services, bid good-bye to family and friends,
    then headed home to catch up again on mail and rest ~ :)
    ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
    “Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.”
    Luke 15:10

June 3, 2014

  • Holmes County Hiatus

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    In the middle of May, we spent a day and a half in Holmes County, Ohio for our anniversary;
    it is one of our favorite destinations when we just want to slow down for a bit.

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    One has no choice but to slow down during a visit there, because around every bend in the road,
    or over the top of every hill, there might be a horse-drawn buggy or farm implement.

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    There are plenty of hills ~ and every single byway seems to be filled with curves and bends in the road.

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    School was out for the year ~ had to wonder why these horses were tied outside one of them ~

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    ~ a bicycle mishap for a couple young Amish girls ~

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    It was planting season in Holmes County ~ we so enjoyed seeing all the activity in the fields.

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    We saw teams pulling sprayers, rakes, harrows, mowers, plows and planters ~ a bustling, busy time for them.

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    Everywhere we went, there was another horse, of course ~ :)

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    We ate lunch at a large restaurant which serves home-cooked meals ~ this was how they divided their rooms.

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    It was really fun to see all the new lambs and colts frolicking about in the green pastures.

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    It was a Monday ~ wash day ~ their clotheslines sometimes stretch to the top of a barn roof.

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    ~ loved the reflections on the road ~

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    On Tuesday morning, even before breakfast, we again headed out through the country to see what we could see.
    We later stopped at a local farmer’s restaurant and feasted on fried mush.

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    I think one of these little guys stuck his tongue out at me ~ :D

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    We had seen this same farmer the day before, in the very same place in his field,
    with his trusty dog seated nearby . . .

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    . . . and the same beautiful horses in the pasture next to his field.

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    Since I tried to be discreet in my picture-taking so as not to offend them,
    I often had photographs with strings of barbed wire cutting through the scene.
    Hubby was fascinated to see a 5-horse team . . .

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    . . . and he was also interested to see this long-horned mother with her baby.

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    I enjoyed seeing this killdeer which stood still and posed for me.

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    All too soon, it was time to eat another wonderful lunch and leave for home;
    we followed this farmer heading back to his fields.  We can’t wait to return another time.
    If you have never been there, we highly recommend a visit ~ just be sure you take a big appetite ~ the food is amazing!
    ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
    “Behold, we put bits in the horses’ mouths, that they may obey us;
    and we turn about their whole body.”
    James 3:3

May 29, 2014

  • Rare Privilege

    On Tuesday evening, as we drove down an Ohio highway, I glanced into a side road and saw
    what I thought was a doe and perhaps her fawn.  I persuaded hubby to turn the car around
    and slowly approach with his window down, so I could aim my camera right through the window.

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    Lo and behold, she had twins!!!  We couldn’t believe she was still there,
    but she just looked at us and stayed put while her little ones very unsteadily walked about a bit.

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    It appeared to us that they may have been just born as they were still pretty wobbly on those spindly legs.

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    They seemed very uncertain what to do and the momma kept nuzzling them with encouragement.

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    We were kind of in a hurry and hubby was getting anxious to move on, but it was hard to leave!

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    The mother stood so still and didn’t seem to mind us much.
    As soon as we coasted forward a bit, though, she walked into the woods.

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    The little fawns seemed a bit disoriented without her, but eventually followed.

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    “As the deer pants for the water brooks, so my soul pants for You, O God.”
    Psalm 42:1 (NASB)

May 21, 2014

  • Traveling Home from Florida ~ Carnton Plantation

    On our way home from Florida, we stopped at the Carnton Plantation in Franklin, Tennessee.

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    We visited the site many years ago, touring the battle site nearby and the cemetery,
    but didn’t have time to tour the mansion itself.  Another time, when we intended to go through it
    with my mother and my aunt, we arrived in the middle of a blizzard and decided not to stop at all.

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    This photo of the back of the home was taken on our first visit in 2008.

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    Now there are shutters and several beautiful rockers on the portico that weren’t there that time ~ restoration of the site continues.

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    ~ front view of the Carnton mansion ~
    Construction began at Carnton in 1815.

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    Carnton is the setting for a Civil War novel written by Robert Hicks ~ “The Widow of the South”,
    which is based on the true story of the mistress of the plantation, Carrie Winder McGavock.

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    A beautiful flower garden sits to one side of the home.

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    In 1909, a tornado ripped the kitchen area off ~ you can still see the outline of it on one side.

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    No photographs were allowed inside ~ the home was used as a Confederate hospital during and after
    the Civil War Battle of Franklin, which occurred on November 30, 1864.
    There are still many bloodstains on the floors upstairs ~ it is difficult to imagine the horrible suffering that happened there.

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    ~ the springhouse ~

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    ~ slave cabin ~
    It was highly unusual for slaves to dwell in a brick structure;
    the guide said it was believed the slaves of Carnton were treated well, comparatively speaking.

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    ~ inside the slave dwelling ~

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    If you enjoy reading Civil War stories, I highly recommend the book ~ I enjoyed it very much.
    And if you are in the area, the tours are fascinating;
    nearly 1,500 Confederate soldiers who died in the battle
    are buried in the cemetery which is on the property.
    To read the 2008 post about the battle, the cemetery and the area, go to this post:


    ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
    “Who is this King of glory?  The LORD strong and mighty, the LORD mighty in battle.”
    Psalm 24:8

May 12, 2014

  • Florida Fun for Five Days ~ Part 4

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    The next morning, we headed just a bit north to this state park ~ I was really hoping to see the masses
    of azaleas and rhododendrons in bloom, but alas, we were just a few days late
    as the drenching downpour of rain on the previous Saturday knocked the majority of blooms off the shrubs ~ :(

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    The water there is so very clear and the pools are an aquamarine color ~ stained from the minerals in the water.

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    You can see clear to the bottom where the little springs litter the floor
    and are constantly bubbling fresh water into the pools ~ so beautiful.

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    The water is 72º there too ~ all year round.

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    The fallen trees and hanging moss make such interesting vistas.

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    Most of the waterfalls in the park are man-made.

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    I just had to photograph these camellias ~ my lovely Mother’s favorite flower.
    Happy Mother’s Day, Mom! (just one day late online) :)

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    ~ a few remnant flowers ~
    I had to really search to find blossoms which were protected enough not to have been shattered from the rain.

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    I could only imagine how extraordinarily beautiful the park must have been a few days earlier with all the blooming shrubs.

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    This catbird sat within a couple feet of me and my camera ~ posing quite nicely ~ :)

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    After leaving the park, we drove out to the gulf via a different route.

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    Egrets were fishing in the shallows.

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    ~ white ibis ~

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    This picture almost makes me itch!  Several of us were waiting on the dock before boarding the pontoon for a river tour;
    the ride took us clear to the gulf, weaving through the salt marsh grass which lined the shoreline.
    As we waited, we were all attacked by a horde of sand fleas ~ I ended up with 40-50 bites on my feet and ankles,
    despite my ridiculous dancing around ~ with my hands trying to wave them away.
    I suffered mightily from those horrible bites for the next 2-3 weeks!  It took a doctor visit
    and 2 kinds of medication to end the torment ~ apparently, I am highly allergic to the despicable little things ~ ugh! :(

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    We didn’t even see much on the tour ~ a couple osprey and this juvenile bald eagle.
    At least the fleas didn’t bother us while we were on the boat.

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    On our return, we spotted this stunning peacock along the road on the way to the restaurant where we ate supper.

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    We wanted to eat on the deck of the restaurant, but soon learned we couldn’t,
    because those pesky insects had invaded that space too!

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    We quickly moved inside and I thoroughly enjoyed more fried oysters and shrimp.

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    On the way back to our motel, I saw a belted kingfisher;
    such a strikingly beautiful bird sighting to end the day ~ :)
    ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
    “There will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and pestilences.
    And there will be terrors and great signs from heaven.”
    Luke 21:11 (ESV)

May 5, 2014

  • Breaking for Spring

    I’ve decided to take a brief break from our Florida pictures and just splurge with spring for a bit;
    it’s been so long in coming after the long winter ~ I simply want to savor it ~

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    Bradford pear trees in full bloom line the driveway at the home of our oldest son and his family during our recent visit.

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    The blossoms are so delicate ~ the bees love them.

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    Their creek was running freely this spring after lots of rain;
    one of my favorite things in springtime are the tiny, green leaves popping out on the trees.

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    A blue jay serenaded the morning for me while I photographed the creek.

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    ~ flowers of spring at their home ~

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    ~ grape hyacinths ~ 

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    My very favorite spring flowers are the bluebells ~ they grow wild in our son’s woods ~ along the creek.

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    ~ photo taken from beneath the bluebells ~ looking to the skies ~

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    I picked a tiny bouquet of them for our daughter-in-love.

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    ~ prairie trillium ~ 

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    ~ white trillium ~

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    ~ red-winged blackbird ~
    This bird is a sure sign of spring around our parts ~ it is unusual to see one at our feeders like this, though.

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    We have a confused goldfinch which has been perching on the sill of our office window . . .

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    . . . singing to us ~ peering inside, then flinging itself repeatedly at the window ~

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    The sound of its beating upon the window could be annoying, but so far, it is just amusing ~ :)

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    Part of the time, it goes round the corner and perches on the other office window ~ not sure what it thinks is in here;
    sometimes birds do this when they see their reflection in the windows, thinking its a rival.

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    So we just enjoy its antics in the meantime, until it figures out the truth ~ :)
    ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
    ” . . . ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”
    John 8:32


April 25, 2014

  • Florida Fun for Five Days ~ Part 3

    The third day of our time in Florida was the best day of all ~ we drove early just a bit south
    to visit the Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park.
    We first had to take a 20-minute pontoon ride through the early Florida morning to reach the wildlife.

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    Our guide said we were gliding through “what Florida used to look like”.
    The park is not exactly a zoo, as many of the birds can come and go as they please;
    it is more like a controlled refuge, we were told, because
    much of the wildlife living there can no longer survive in the wild, due to injury, etc.

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    It was so still and peaceful ~ we were the first on the river that morning.

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    The mirror-like surface of the water was so glassy and smooth,
    it was sometimes a bit difficult to see where the trees stopped and the reflections began.

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    ~ wood duck nest ~

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    ~ wood duck ~

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    ~ double-crested cormorant ~

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    When we first reached the wildlife habitat, the first thing I noticed were the great blue heron rookeries above our heads.

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    ~ anhinga ~

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    All the wildlife in the park is native to Florida ~ except Lu(cifer), the hippo;
    he was “grandfathered in” by popular demand
    after the former collection of animals at this location was dispersed.
    Lu was legally declared a “Florida resident” so he could stay ~ :)
    Lots of black vultures were hanging around Lu most of the time.

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    Seriously?  No swimming?!!

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    ~ white ibis (above pic is a juvenile) ~

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    ~ black swan ~

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    ~ bobcat ~

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    ~ wood stork ~

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    ~ American flamingos ~

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    ~ white pelicans ~
    We learned the bumps only appear on their beaks during breeding season.

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    ~ brown pelicans ~

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    ~ wood duck, black-bellied whistling duck, mallard ~

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    The wood duck was so difficult to photograph against the multi-colored water.

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    ~ great blue herons ~

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    ~ great egret ~

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    ~ yellow-crowned night heron ~
    This heron and the following birds were in a large outdoor aviary.

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    ~ a yellow-crowned night heron rearranging its eggs~
    I caught this shot just after the heron lit onto the nest.

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    ~ roseate spoonbill ~
    I thought it was funny that it posed atop its nameplate for me.

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    ~ little blue heron and green herons ~

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    ~ black-necked stilt ~
    I don’t understand why they didn’t name it a red-legged stilt ~ :)

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    ~ osprey ~

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    ~ juvenile black-crowned night heron ~

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    (top) barred owls; (center) great-horned owl ; (bottom) barn owls

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    One of the barred owls winked at me ~ ;)

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    ~ red-tailed hawk ~

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    ~ crested caracaras ~

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    ~ bald eagles ~
    Three of these are at the refuge ~ all have broken wings from being hit by cars or being shot ~ :(

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    ~ whooping cranes ~
    It was the first time we had ever seen these beautiful birds.

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    ~ royal tern ~

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    ~ river otters ~

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    ~ gray fox ~

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    ~ red wolf ~

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    The biggest attraction at the park are the manatees which are drawn to the refuge in the winter
    by the huge, natural spring which shoots 2-3 million gallons of freshwater into the river,
    every hour of every day, keeping it at a year-round temperature of 72º.
    Many manatees are sheltered there year-round because, for various reasons, they are no longer able to survive in the wild

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    We saw dozens of these beautiful, air-breathing creatures;
    they surfaced every 3-5 minutes for air, except when sleeping ~ they then only breathe about every 20 minutes.

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    After leaving the refuge, we drove to a condominium complex called “Plantation” and took a boat tour of the Crystal River.

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    Our guide told us this is John Travolta’s latest place.

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    We saw many more wild manatees in the river and bay, which has around a thousand of those springs,
    keeping the water at that constant 72º temperature.
    The vegetarian manatees eat sea grass and seaweed 8-10 hours a day and keep the river very clean;
    we were told that without them, the river would be un-navigable in 3-5 years.
    They grow to weigh a few thousand pounds ~ kind of scary to think they can get that big by eating vegetables!

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    ~ manatee cow and her calf ~
    The babies stay with their mothers for 2-3 years.

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    Lots of manatees lolling around one of the springs.
    Manatees are protected world-wide ~ there are only about 4 or 5 thousand left,
    but this is the only area in the world where it is still legal to swim with them.

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    That evening, we again ate by the water ~ I took this shot of the harbor area and later saw I had “captured” a manatee!

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    ~ fried oyster supper ~

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    To end the day perfectly, we spotted an osprey as we left the restaurant.
    ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
    “But these are they of which ye shall not eat:  the eagle, and ossifrage, and the ospray.”  (KJV)
    Deuteronomy 14:12

April 8, 2014

  • Florida Fun for Five Days ~ Part 2

    The second day of our stay in Florida, it rained, it poured, it rained cats and dogs ~ most of the day;
    so, we went shopping in the rain at the little Citrus Avenue shops ~ didn’t buy a thing!

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    The downpour finally abated in early evening, so we ventured out to see
    if we could walk someplace that wasn’t under water.

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    Someone told us to check out the Churchhouse Hammock Trail ~ and so we did ~ it was beautiful.

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    Little squirrels scampering through the trees kept raindrops falling onto our heads from the water-soaked branches.

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    A red-bellied woodpecker was pecking away on a dead tree, high above our heads.

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    The beautiful, peaceful hammock (southern hardwood forest) was full of saw palmetto palms.

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    At the end of the boardwalk, we started down a more primitive path, even though it
    made me a bit nervous ~ was hoping we wouldn’t encounter any snakes!

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    ~ beautiful moss, but ugly poison ivy ~ ;)

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    After leaving that place, we drove to the Crystal River Archaeological State Park.

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    Along the way, Clayton spotted this juvenile red-shouldered hawk, sunning itself atop a dead snag.

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    He truly has a more keen eye than I do when it comes to spotting wildlife ~ and I so appreciate it!  :)

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    I was the one to spot this yellow-crowned night heron though.

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    It was creeping stealthily towards the water ~ had its eye on some kind of prey.

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    Right after I snapped this photo, it struck the water again and grabbed something ~ perhaps a frog ~ I missed the shot.  :(

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    The archaeological park is where Native Americans lived until around 500 years ago.
    Burial mounds are at two separate locations on the grounds.

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    ~ one of the temple mounds ~

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    ~ view of Crystal River from atop the temple mound ~

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    ~ one of the burial areas ~

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    ~ second temple mound ~

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    ~ another first sighting for me ~ palm warbler (western) ~

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    ~ yellow-crowned night heron ~

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    Back at the motel, we laughed at this ball hitch topper ~ when the driver applied his brakes, the fish flopped back and forth ~ :D

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    We ate on the back deck of the Cracker’s Restaurant, near the water ~ Clayton had grouper and I chose shrimp.

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    ~ brown pelican ~ 
    Even though the day started out quite wet and soggy, it ended in a lovely way.
    ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
    “He heweth him down cedars, and taketh the cypress and the oak,
    which he strengtheneth for himself among the trees of the forest:
    he planteth an ash, and the rain doth nourish it.”
    Isaiah 44:14

April 4, 2014

  • Florida Fun for Five Days ~ Part 1

    Since hubby needed to drive to Florida for a short job, I felt like I just really needed to ride along;
    the winter has been long in Indiana, folks, and a few days of sunshine and warmth was too good to pass up ~ :)

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    On the second day of driving, we stopped in Marietta, Georgia for lunch;
    we were looking for a diner that we had enjoyed on another trip.
    We couldn’t remember the name of it and didn’t find it right off, so we
    just settled for eating at a KFC which sported this very tall sign in front.
    After lunch, we drove a different way to re-enter the interstate, and sure enough,
    we passed the diner just down the street ~ about a block away ~ sigh ~

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    We stopped just before the Florida line for the night ~ there were azaleas, roses
    and rhododendrons blooming profusely ~ we had seen redbud and Bradford pear trees
    in full bloom in Tennessee ~ nearly made me weep ~ another clue that our winter was brutal. :D

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    After breakfast in Florida the next day, I just had to photograph the requisite palm tree ~ :)

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    The very first bird I was able to photograph was a loggerhead shrike ~ a new one for my life list;
    that is always a thrill for me ~ to be able to write down a new bird sighting ~

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    As we traveled on underneath the sunshine-filled blue sky, Spanish moss draped down
    from giant oaks which arched over the highway, swaying in the breeze.

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    The roadsides were strewn with wildflowers ~ oh, spring in Indiana, where are you???

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    For lunch, we had barbecue at this local restaurant ~ antique pickup trucks sat beneath their sign out front.

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    After checking into our motel at our destination in Crystal River,
    we drove about 10 miles out to the Gulf of Mexico.
    The whole area is called the Nature Coast ~ not many beaches to
    be found ~ lots of salt marsh grass and small islands.

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    Three little sandpipers were playing at the edge of the inlet by one of the piers;
    I wish I knew for sure what kind they were, but I don’t ~ do you?

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    Crystal River is widely known for the manatees that winter there in the spring-fed inlets and bay;
    we had no idea about that until we arrived ~ will write more about them in a later post.

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    ~ a lady crabber ~

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    A fisherman was wading in the shallow inlet ~ Clayton walked around the marsh path to ask him how the fishing was.
    He replied that he wasn’t catching much that day, but had caught many varieties at that spot before.

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    As we drove back to the motel, I spotted a row of forlorn shrimp boats, waiting for the next adventure.
    ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
    “And their south border was from the shore of the salt sea,
    from the bay that looketh southward:”
    Joshua 15:2