Mount Sutro: An Electronic Periodical

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The Unrestrained Possibilities for Adventure

by Archived Article (2001–2014) Help

Photo Credit: David July — United States Air Force Reserve 403d Wing 53d Weather Reconnaissance Squadron 'Hurricane Hunters' WC-130J Hercules 75304 taxiing to Tallahassee Regional Airport Runway 36, Tallahassee, Florida: 22 May 2014

United States Air Force Reserve 403d Wing 53d Weather Reconnaissance Squadron 'Hurricane Hunters' WC-130J Hercules 75304 taxiing to Tallahassee Regional Airport Runway 36.

Near 3256 Capital Circle Southwest, Tallahassee, Florida: 22 May 2014

part of the NOAA Hurricane Awareness Tour album


An hour and seventeen minutes before the moment pictured above, I was sitting in the captain's seat of this aircraft doing my best to take some photographs and not push any buttons.

Part of the United States Air Force Reserve 403d Wing 53d Weather Reconnaissance Squadron "Hurricane Hunters" fleet, Lockheed WC-130J Hercules 75304 was one of two storm-penetrating data collection aircraft at Tallahassee Regional Airport for the May 2014 U.S. Gulf Coast Hurricane Awareness Tour.

I have some excellent images as well as a funny story from this event, but for now here is a brief cockpit tour of WC-130J Hercules 75304.

Engine throttle, navigational system input panels and other controls on the cockpit pedestal.

Photo Credit: David July — Engine throttle, navigational system input panels and other controls on the cockpit pedestal aboard United States Air Force Reserve 403d Wing 53d Weather Reconnaissance Squadron 'Hurricane Hunters' WC-130J Hercules 75304, Tallahassee, Florida: 22 May 2014

Control boost, oil cooler flaps, electrical generators, fire suppression system and other controls on the cockpit overhead panel.

Photo Credit: David July — Control boost, oil cooler flaps, electrical generators, fire suppression system and other controls on the cockpit overhead panel aboard United States Air Force Reserve 403d Wing 53d Weather Reconnaissance Squadron 'Hurricane Hunters' WC-130J Hercules 75304, Tallahassee, Florida: 22 May 2014

Captain and first officer's seats, control columns, instrument panels and the cockpit pedestal.

Photo Credit: David July — Captain and first officer's seats, control columns, instrument panels and the pedestal in the cockpit aboard United States Air Force Reserve 403d Wing 53d Weather Reconnaissance Squadron 'Hurricane Hunters' WC-130J Hercules 75304, Tallahassee, Florida: 22 May 2014

Primary control column and instrument panel from the captain's seat.

Photo Credit: David July — Primary control column and instrument panel from the captain's seat in the cockpit aboard United States Air Force Reserve 403d Wing 53d Weather Reconnaissance Squadron 'Hurricane Hunters' WC-130J Hercules 75304, Tallahassee, Florida: 22 May 2014

Pedestal and instrument panel from the captain's seat.

Photo Credit: David July — Pedestal and instrument panel from the captain's seat in the cockpit aboard United States Air Force Reserve 403d Wing 53d Weather Reconnaissance Squadron 'Hurricane Hunters' WC-130J Hercules 75304, Tallahassee, Florida: 22 May 2014

Oxygen regulator and radio controls, oxygen mask, lower window and tiller wheel from the captain's seat.

Photo Credit: David July — Oxygen regulator and radio controls, oxygen mask, lower window and tiller wheel from the captain's seat in the cockpit aboard United States Air Force Reserve 403d Wing 53d Weather Reconnaissance Squadron 'Hurricane Hunters' WC-130J Hercules 75304, Tallahassee, Florida: 22 May 2014

Photo Credit: David July
Photo Credit: David July
Photo Credit: David July
Photo Credit: David July
Photo Credit: David July
Photo Credit: David July
Photo Credit: David July

The Illusions of Perceptual Organization

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Photo Credit: David July — The swinging wooden suspension bridge (1935–1936) reflected in the waters of the Santa Fe River at O'Leno State Park, High Springs, Florida: 29 November 2014

The swinging wooden suspension bridge (1935–1936) reflected in the waters of the Santa Fe River at O'Leno State Park.

Near SE O'Leno Park Road, High Springs, Florida: 29 November 2014

part of the O'Leno State Park Thanksgiving 2014 album


Is the bridge being reflected in water or is the photograph simply upside down?

A Rubin's vase or rabbit–duck illusion it is not, but I am quite pleased with how this image turned out. View it in the gallery to see it larger and get the full effect.

Photo Credit: David July

The More Things Change

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Photo Credit: David July — White-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) mother and fawn foraging in the woods near the parking lot at O'Leno State Park, High Springs, Florida: 15 February 2014

White-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) mother and fawn foraging in the woods near the parking lot at O'Leno State Park.

Near SE O'Leno Park Road, High Springs, Florida: 15 February 2014

part of the O'Leno State Park 2014 album


While I have many things for which to be thankful, I appreciate most my great family and the time that we spend together camping, travelling or just hanging out. Although we try to visit as many state parks as possible, we keep finding ourselves returning to O'Leno State Park in High Springs, Florida.

The former site of the Town of Leno (1840–1896) on the banks of the Santa Fe River, O'Leno is an over 6,000-acre preserve of natural Florida. First settled by Henry Matier and named Keno for a then-popular wagering game, Leno (pronounced lean-oh) was an industrious town with two grist watermills, six cotton gins, a saw mill, general store, hotel, doctor and livery stable.

Photo Credit: David July — Metal grist watermill vertical gear from the Town of Leno (1840–1896) on display in the Grist Mill Pavilion at O'Leno State Park, High Springs, Florida: 15 February 2014

The name change from Keno to Leno took place in 1876 after general store operator Colonel G. M. Whetstone applied to start a post office for the town. His request was denied because of the gambling connection to the name Keno, so he changed the name, reapplied and became postmaster of Leno. Whetstone would run his post office and store until 1890 when he moved three miles north to settle in the town of Mikesville.

Photo Credit: David July — A metal chain on a grist watermill driveshaft from the Town of Leno (1840–1896) on display in the Grist Mill Pavilion at O'Leno State Park, High Springs, Florida: 15 February 2014

The town's prosperity would come to an end in 1894 when the Savannah, Florida and Western Railway was "diverted to pass through Fort White instead of Leno." Within two years Leno was an empty ghost town, though it continued to be visited by locals — who called it Old Leno, later abbreviated to O'Leno — for use as a picnic area and swimming hole.

Photo Credit: David July — Bolts and washers of the attachment connecting one of the main cables to a hanger on the wooden suspension bridge (1935–1936) across the Santa Fe River at O'Leno State Park, High Springs, Florida: 15 February 2014

After the Florida Forest Service acquired the property in the early 1930s, they began development on a training camp for employees and youth groups. Opening in 1938, Camp O'Leno was later transferred in 1940 to the Florida Park Service, a division of the forestry board created in 1935.

Photo Credit: David July — Looking east from the swinging, wooden suspension bridge (1935–1936) across the Santa Fe River at O'Leno State Park, High Springs, Florida: 15 February 2014

It was then that the Works Progress Administration, joined by workers from the Civilian Conservation Corps, began a project to further develop the site. Within two years, they completed most of the project's improvements building roads, trails, the wooden suspension bridge, a dining hall, pavilion and museum/tower building. These structures are all still present today.

For those curious, although Reno, Nevada is presently known as a gambling town, it was not named under similar circumstances. Establishing a station in the growing mining and agricultural center known as Lake's Crossing, Central Pacific Railroad chose the name Reno in 1868 in honor of Jesse Lee Reno (1823–1862), a career Union Army officer who died in the civil war Battle of South Mountain.

Photo Credit: David July
Photo Credit: David July
Photo Credit: David July
Photo Credit: David July
Photo Credit: David July

The Way Down Upon

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Photo Credit: David July — The Suwannee and Withlacoochee River confluence from a lookout in Suwannee River State Park, Live Oak, Florida: 10 November 2012

The Suwannee and Withlacoochee River confluence from a lookout in Suwannee River State Park.

Near River Road, Live Oak, Florida: 10 November 2012

part of the Suwannee River State Park 2012 album


Acquired by the state in 1936, Suwannee River State Park in northwest Suwannee County first opened to visitors in 1951. Originally the site of Columbus, a small town established in 1841, the park's main attraction is the eponymous river and its confluence with the Withlacoochee.

Photo Credit: David July — Fall foliage along the river from the boat ramp at Suwannee River State Park, Live Oak, Florida: 11 November 2012

Winding for about 266 miles from the Okefenokee Swamp in southern Georgia to the Gulf of Mexico at Suwannee in Dixie County, the Suwannee River is a federally designated wild blackwater river featuring fifty-five springs along its path. Once frequented by steamboats in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the Suwannee River today is a tranquil and mostly unspoiled naturalistic setting.

Photo Credit: David July — Bald cypress trees (Taxodium distichum) near the banks of the Suwannee River from a wooden bridge at the beginning of the Suwannee River Trail at Suwannee River State Park, Live Oak, Florida: 11 November 2012

Its flow demarcating a majority of Suwannee County's border, the river separates Suwannee from Hamilton and Madison County in the area of Suwannee River State Park. There are numerous opportunities within the park to see and access the river, including favorites like the boat ramp, Suwannee River Trail, Balanced Rock Trail and an area near the Confederate-built earthworks of 1863.

Photo Credit: David July — Limestone outcropping Balanced Rock over the Suwannee River from along the Balanced Rock Trail at Suwannee River State Park, Live Oak, Florida: 11 November 2012

Nearby, the pedestrian-only Old Hillman Bridge (1926) to Ellaville (1860–1942) that once carried U.S. Route 90 across the river also has great points of view. Running parallel just a bit upstream, a railroad bridge carries what was part of the former Seaboard Air Line Railroad across the river at CSX Milepost SP 728.2.

Photo Credit: David July — Railroad bridge over the Suwannee River at CSX Milepost SP 728.2 near the Suwannee and Withlacoochee River confluence from the now pedestrian-only Old Hillman Bridge (1926) in Ellaville (1860–1942) which once carried U.S. Route 90, Live Oak, Florida: 10 November 2012

Appropriate for the rural setting, the park's campground only has thirty sites situated a short walk from the boat ramp. We have been twice so far and enjoyed each visit, finding the trails and surrounding ghost towns fun to experience and photograph.

The most unusual thing at Suwannee River State Park is the fifty-foot right of way clear-cut through the forest for the South Georgia Natural Gas underground pipeline (1991). It runs next to the campground, is crossed by trails in several places and can be quite surprising to discover along a wooded trail.

Photo Credit: David July — An abrupt break in the canopy on the Balanced Rock Trail along the Suwannee River where a fifty-foot right of way was clear-cut for the South Georgia Natural Gas pipeline (1991) that runs underground through Suwannee River State Park, Live Oak, Florida: 11 November 2012

A contentious matter to locals and environmentalists in the late 1980s, the pipe would be invisible if not for the abrupt clearings. The ecological impacts such as the destruction of red-cockaded woodpecker (Picoides borealis) habitat were originally dismissed, although the state later fined the gas company over $100,000 for damages caused, nearly 100 water quality standards violations and uncontrolled stream sedimentation.

Photo Credit: David July
Photo Credit: David July
Photo Credit: David July Photo Credit: David July Photo Credit: David July Photo Credit: David July