Track, signaling equipment and the railroad bridge over the Suwannee River near crossing 623389S at CSX Milepost SP 728.12, part of the former Seaboard Air Line Railroad, just outside of Suwannee River State Park.
River Road, Live Oak, Florida: 24 November 2016
part of the Suwannee River State Park 2016 album
Blackberry lily flower (Iris domestica) covered in rainwater droplets at Bok Tower Gardens (1929).
1151 Tower Boulevard, Lake Wales, Florida: 23 May 2015
part of the Bok Tower Gardens 2015 album
A plant of many names, Iris domestica is a herbaceous perennial native to parts of Asia and now found here in several central and eastern states. It is commonly known as blackberry lily — for the seed clusters it produces in late summer — as well as leopard lily and leopard flower. Additional scientific name synonyms include Belamcanda chinensis and Gemmingia chinensis.
This specimen of blackberry lily flower on the grounds of Bok Tower Gardens was freshly covered in rainwater droplets. The showers this day were brief and localized, just enough to sprinkle the gardens but not enough to keep us from exploring.
A white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) buck foraging very closely to us in Hickory Campground Site 65 at Manatee Springs State Park in Chiefland, Florida.
Near NW 115th Street, Chiefland, Florida: 22 October 2016
part of the Manatee Springs State Park 2016 album
After my first camping trip there in October 2014 turned out to be amazing — see "The Creatures of My Dreams" — Manatee Springs State Park in Chiefland, Florida has been atop my list of parks to revisit. Beyond the standard fare enjoyments of a state park along a waterway, Manatee Springs stands out as a favorite because it is absolutely teeming with wildlife.
The white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) that live in the park are very curious and friendly, coming through our campsite several times daily to check us out while foraging. Nine-banded armadillo (Dasypus novemcinctus) and raccoon (Procyon lotor) also make frequent visits and can be found elsewhere in the park. In warmer seasons, several species of snake can be found in the brush or swimming in the waterways.
A follow-up visit in October 2016 proved to be even better than the first. We had more frequent wildlife encounters and amazing photographic opportunities, most of which took place in our campsite. We also enjoyed a fantastic barbeque dinner followed by a boat tour up and down the Suwannee River thanks to concessionaire Anderson's Outdoor Adventures.
I was especially pleased that a white-tailed deer buck with antlers was among our regular visitors on this trip, since I rarely see them while camping. In addition to his visits to our campsite, I also saw this buck foraging alongside the park's main road not far from the Hickory Campground.
If you enjoyed these, you can view all twenty-five photographs featuring the buck in the Manatee Springs State Park 2016 album.
A payphone installed in Lake Talquin and the public dock at The Whip Waterfront Pub and Grub at The Whippoorwill Sportsman's Lodge.
3103 Cooks Landing Road, Quincy, Florida: 15 October 2016
part of the Mobile album
Today I went for a drive heading west, eventually finding myself at the The Whip Waterfront Pub and Grub at The Whippoorwill Sportsman's Lodge. Situated on the shore of Lake Talquin about thirty miles or forty-five minutes west of Tallahassee, The Whip has a covered wooden deck outside with seating for about twenty people and an indoor bar. There is also a bait and tackle shop, boat ramp, campground and cottages.
While overlooking the lake and watching alligators, herons and egrets, I thoroughly enjoyed the "Carolina Rig" BBQ bacon burger with potato salad ($12.50) as well as draft pints of Cigar City Brewing Oktoberfest ($5.00). I found the slogan "great view, good food, lousy service" to be inaccurate as the view, food and service were all quite excellent.
Before leaving, I asked my server Samantha if there was a story behind the payphone in the lake, accessible only by boat. She said that it had originally been in the parking lot. Once it stopped working, the owner thought that it would be funny to move it into the water next to their public dock, where boaters can moor whilst enjoying a meal at the restaurant or purchasing supplies.
On my trip home, I pulled off of Cooks Landing Road not far from The Whip for a hike along the Lines Tract Off-Road Bicycle Trail in the Lake Talquin State Forest managed by the Florida Forest Service. From the small parking lot with a picnic area and toilet, one can hike or bike through the forest on the Talquin Loop Trail (6 miles) and Longleaf Loop Trail (4.5 miles). There is an honor system $2 fee per visitor.
I enjoyed my little day trip today so much that I have already invited a friend to come and join me repeat it in a few weeks. Learning a lesson from today, I will be sure to bring my camera bag with me for that trip. Smartphone cameras may be good enough for many people, but I always find them to be inadequate and regret not having my real camera.
Shady Gulch Trestle (c. 1895–1905) carrying railroad tracks originally part of Southern Pacific Railroad over Shady Gulch and what was Eben Bennett's toll road, but used today by the Santa Cruz, Big Trees and Pacific Railway.
State Route 9, Santa Cruz, California: 27 November 2015
part of the Santa Cruz album
While visiting Santa Cruz during my family Thanksgiving in 2015, we stayed about seven miles north at Smithwoods RV Park on State Route 9 in Felton, California. Nestled in the woods adjacent to Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park, this was an ideal location. The twenty-minute trip from Santa Cruz to Felton is a beautiful one, as the winding two-lane State Route 9 traverses a hilly and forested terrain with several vistas.
I would have several opportunities to travel up and down State Road 9 during my visit. I was too busy navigating on the first trip up to Smithwoods to be taking photographs, but I did spot a wooden railroad trestle that I knew I wanted to capture when driving back to the city shortly thereafter. The photograph above is the result — an imperfect but surprisingly decent image with some well-placed motion blur, shot from the back passenger window as we drove south.
We were not travelling very fast but the trestle passed quickly nonetheless. I did manage to pivot aft and shoot one additional frame six seconds after the first. Most surprisingly, I somehow managed to get the trestle (mostly) in focus. I think that the blur of the plants on the roadside cliff to the left make it look as if we are going to warp.
Thanks to the informative Santa Cruz Trains website by Derek R. Whaley, I was able to pinpoint and identify the structure as the Shady Gulch Trestle (c. 1895–1905) and learn a few things about its history.
An original trestle and railroad bridge was "built around 1875 by the Santa Cruz and Felton Railroad to cross a small ravine." This location was proximate to the California Powder Works manufacturing facility as well as a Rincon paper mill. The original trestle was also built over Eben Bennett's toll road, an early route from Santa Cruz to Felton.
Around the turn of the twentieth century, "the bridge was replaced with a broad-gauged trestle that appeared amazingly similar in style to the earlier trestle." It remains in service today, although crossings are far less frequent than in the past. Santa Cruz, Big Trees and Pacific Railway, offering seasonal round-trip service between Felton and the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, is one example of a train that crosses the Shady Gulch Trestle.
In addition to Whaley's page, I found an awesome 2014 photograph by Elrond Lawrence of the trestle with a train on it and four photographs at Blackstone Falls Rail Photos — one from 1937 including a train and three trestle-only from 2003.
There was one last opportunity for me to photograph the trestle on the final day of my visit. As before, I would have to make due with another in-motion attempt, this time with some forethought. Approaching the trestle from the south, I would only have a few seconds to compose, focus and take the picture.
I readied myself just before we rounded the last corner and the trestle came into view. Considering that I was in the backseat of a moving vehicle and shooting through a windshield, I think that it came out fairly well. However, the next time I find myself in the area, I do hope to have a chance to stop and get a close up and stationary look at the Shady Gulch Trestle.