Miami

One week in Miami, in search of iguanas, orchids and alligators.  I found iguanas at the amazing Fairchild Tropical Botanic Gardens, along with gorgeous lily ponds and an orchid garden! The informative docents offer an excellent tram ride around the gardens, explaining the history of the place and pointing out interesting plant facts. Start with the tour, then walk to the butterfly garden for lunch with the butterflies (the food is very good and the cafe overlooks the conservatory).  You will find huge iguanas around Center Lake, hidden among the mangroves, and many beautiful birds along the ponds.

In the heart of busy Miami Beach, there is a smaller botanical garden called  Miami Beach Botanical Garden. It can only be described as an oasis in the city with its quiet paths, a lily pond (where I enjoyed chasing dragonflies) and a lovely Japanese Garden, complete with red bridge. While there, I had a nice chat with one of the staff who explained that Hurricane Irma had done a lot of damage to the various gardens in the area and that hundreds of volunteers helped with cleanup. Just around the corner from this garden is the Holocaust Memorial.  If you have a chance, please stop and visit this beautiful, unforgettable tribute to those who lost their lives in the Holocaust.

Alligators were on the agenda for a day trip to Big Cypress Preserve. My husband and I drove east on HWY 41, to Big Cypress Welcome Center, taking our time along the way to stop at the various roadside parks (this is where you will find gators). My favorite stop was at Kirby Storter Roadside Park which has a lovely boardwalk meandering over  pinewood flatlands and a lovely cypress swamp. It’s fun to do a little research on swamp wildflowers, spiders and birds before you go, come up with a list and check them off as a kind of treasure hunt. I suggest you bring a picnic lunch (not many places to eat), extra water and bug spray. Heading back to Miami, we took the Scenic Loop Road, which I highly recommend, if  it is open.  At the moment, it is closed due to high waters, so check the website before you visit. It is a one-lane road through the “wilds” of the Everglades. I found it hauntingly beautiful and a great place to see wildlife. One of my favorite photos from the trip is of an “Audubon-like” scene of a Great Blue Heron hiding among the cypresses.

Other highlights from my week in Miami were: walking along Miami Beach boardwalk, eating lunch on Ocean Drive  (people watching is amazing there) and hanging out on Lincoln Street, a lovely pedestrian shopping area with great restaurants, well-known stores and a very cool bookstore called Books & Books. I saw several movies at the theater there, including Loving Vincent. I was so excited to see that it was playing and bought tickets before I arrived.  Very special.

A quick trip to Little Havana was very fun. I enjoyed taking photos of the colorful buildings, walked through the famous Maximo Gomez Park  and enjoyed yummy Cuban food (and probably the best mojito I’ve ever had), at La Esquina de la Fama.  I didn’t have time for Viscaya Museum and Gardens this time, but is an awesome place to visit, as is Biscayne National Park with its beautiful beach and lighthouse. So many things to do and see in Miami. One week is not enough time to see it all, but it is just enough time to have a lovely vacation.

To see my Miami photos, for sale on Pixels, click HERE.

 

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Beach Theme

My husband and I visited St Petersburg, Florida last weekend.  We are not your typical tourists.  While others are basking in the sunshine or frolicking in the surf, we go in search of nature – seashells, birds and shade.  We found respite and red dragonflies along the quiet ponds of Bradenton’s Botanical Park, got up-close-and-personal with owls, pelicans and herons at the famed Seabird Sanctuary, stopped for some yummy seafood at Crabby Bill’s and enjoyed the hijinks of egrets on Pass-a-Grille Pier.  All-in-all, a lovely trip. The Gulf waters were especially pretty, with bright blue sky and wispy clouds lending a lovely background to my pictures.

We were being “watched” at the botanical gardens.

To check out my Coastal artwork, click HERE.

To check out all the wonderful beach art on Pixels.com, click HERE

Check out my Beach Theme Board on Pinterest.

Red Dragonfly on Reed

Richland Sandhill Cranes

So many Sandhills

Sandhill Cranes are highly entertaining birds.  They are sociable, noisy and have a bit of an attitude, which is exactly why I like photographing them. Recently, hundreds of migrating sandhills dropped into a field near Richland, Washington, and I was lucky enough to be there to observe them (thanks to my birding friend, Lynn, for the tip-off).  Oh, it seemed as if they had found the perfect location: a recently harvested farmer’s field with plenty of yummy grain, a lovely shallow pond for resting and all of this tucked into a secluded area, far from busy roads and people.  On this day, chaos abounded as birds flew in left and right, some were landing gracefully, others not so much.  Most meandered around the pond and fields with a sort of lackadaisical, no-rush rhythm. You wouldn’t have guessed they still had places to go and more migrating to do.  There was so much to see, over such a large area that at first I wasn’t sure where to focus.  But after a while, I honed in on a gang of “tough guys” – the ones making the most raucous.  I thought to myself, this is where the real story is – ruffians trying to make their way in the world.  It was just like a scene out of West Side Story and it was simply amazing to watch. Their songs weren’t accompanied by clicking fingers, and frankly weren’t all that melodious, but the drama was the same.  Their songs were more racket and cacophony.  Still, music to my ears.

Check out my YouTube Video: Richland Sandhill Cranes

Sandhill Tough Guys

Check out my photos on Pixels.com:  Sandhill Cranes Collection

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Congregating Sandhill Cranes bSandhill Cranes Quartet

Sandhill Cranes with Natural Vignetteblog flyblog

Check out the calls of the Sandhill Cranes in my video: Noisy, Flying Sandhill Cranes

Thank you for stopping by!