A greater roadrunner (Geococcyx californianus) in the 'Great Southwest' exhibit at Hersheypark's ZooAmerica.
201 Park Avenue, Hershey, Pennsylvania: 01 July 2014
part of the Hersheypark album
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.
Control boost, oil cooler flaps, electrical generators, fire suppression system and other controls on the cockpit overhead panel.
Captain and first officer's seats, control columns, instrument panels and the cockpit pedestal.
Primary control column and instrument panel from the captain's seat.
Pedestal and instrument panel from the captain's seat.
Oxygen regulator and radio controls, oxygen mask, lower window and tiller wheel from the captain's seat.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.