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  • Archive for January, 2010

    After going through the rest of my photos of Dinner Island I realized I didn’t have enough macro shots to warrant a separate post. Alas, you’ll get a mix of macro and sunset. I love looking at the little details…

    fence

    skull

    lichen
    Lichen holding on…

    fence 2
    I think this is one of my favorite shots. It can be difficult to get light coming in like this, but I love it!

    fence 3

    fence 4

    fence 5

    dinner island sunset 4
    Probably my favorite sunset shot out of the set.

    dinner island sunset 3

    dinner island sunset 21

    dinner island sunset 1
    I didn’t think this one was going to turn out that great when I looked at it in the camera, but I think I like it!

    A few things:
    -Does anyone else have horrible spam comment issues with WordPress? I NEVER had this problem with Haloscan (which is now closing its doors, so go download all of your comments now!), but I get at least one a day if not more and it is usually on the same post. I don’t want to moderate every comment but this is getting ridiculous!

    -We now have a Trail Journal page. It has an RSS button as well. I am planning on copying and pasting on each. I did three posts, repeats of what was on here in order to get the journal listed on TJ, and you can do HTML so it will be easy to c&p. But, TJ has a gear section and we are slowly adding our gear to it. I will let you know when we’ve got it finished and you can have a gander at it.

    -We went to Little Slough today to check on the ghost orchids and make it a farewell trip. The ghosts did much better than we thought. A few were already on their way out from a dry spring last year, but only a few had some yellowing on their roots. One even already has a spike! So, things are good there. I’ll bring photos of those later this week. It was a bit bittersweet leaving it, but we have some friends who will keep a good eye on it.

    I think our Ylang Ylang tree is going to be hard to sell. It was grown from seed and is now 10′ tall in a container. It is in the blooming stage already.

    If you are in South Florida and want to come by and take a look at it, drop me an email at oceanicwilderness at gmail dot com. Our price is $75 at the moment, but it is worth more than that.

    Heck, I have MORE plants so, send me an email.

    I could blame Eliana. After all it was practically this time last year when we went to Payne’s Prairie and met up with them after their epic adventure across North America.

    She gave me a few magazines to read on the way home and one of them was Backpacker. I didn’t read it until a few days later, but inside was an article on the Appalachian Trail. It took all of finishing the article for me to develop a plan. When Chris got home from work I brought up my great idea: Thru-Hiking the Appalachian Trail. He looked at me with a quizzical brow (ok, it was more like, whaatttt?) but we went to dinner and decided it was do-able. The biggest thing was coming up with the money to do it.

    We took a few days to sit down and read about it. A magazine article wasn’t going to cut it. We scoured the Appalachian Trail Conservancy website, read Trail Journals and came up with a game plan: save a bunch of money and start doing a lot of hiking. We broke the news to our parents the following weekend and I think they were pretty much stunned. I think they thought we were insane.

    Sure, we were giving up jobs that we’d gotten comfortable in. But, he’s 30, I’m going to turn 30 on the trail, we have no real responsibilities other than the cats (which are joining their cousins at my parents house for a few months), no mortgage, no children. We finally reached a point where we had some ability to use our money instead of scrimping and saving and paying off bills. It was now or waiting until we were 60 and our kids went to college. Sure, there are the brave souls who travel the world with their children and take them hiking on all sorts of adventures, but I don’t think I have the money or the patience for that.

    Throughout the summer we slowly bought new and better gear. We couldn’t walk in our hand-me-down Kelty external frame pack—well, we could, but the name of the game is light-weight. We tested out different things, and slowly bought everything we would need. We won’t be the lightest pair on the trail, but we’ll be doing 25-30lbs starting out of town each time. Summer time should get us down to 20-25 lbs possibly. The ultra-light hikers do 10-15lbs and sometimes even less than that! But, we choose some comforts over ultra light packing.

    So, where does that leave us at present? Well, packing. And selling our plants and a lot of our furniture. We had a plant sale back in November and are having another one tomorrow. It is hard to be getting rid of a lot of them, but I know we can start over again later, especially when we have a house that they can go in the ground. Part of my emotional week from hell last week (the week Ashleigh was born) was also because I gave my boss my four week notice. After nearly six years on the job it was difficult to part ways. That is another post later on, a post about our time in Florida.

    We’ve quit our jobs and we have two weeks until we hit the road west to Texas. We’ll stay in Texas for three weeks or so and start probably the second week of March on the AT. We’re bouncing back and forth between my parents and Chris’ mom’s house and trying to get some hiking in while we are there. Texas actually has some hills so that will be good training as opposed to flat Florida.

    Where we will end up after the trail is up in the air at the moment, but it will be more than likely Texas. But, like South Texas or somewhere like that. Not Houston. Been there, done that. And we’ll find jobs again, or maybe we’ll actually do something with our photography and try to get something off the ground in that aspect. Who knows? The trail is going to help us out a bit on that part.

    As for the trail, here is a brief run-down of what to expect here on the blog:

    -I’ll be posting when I get to town, at libraries or hostels, but that will be every 3-5 days and then who really knows if I’ll have the time or not. We’ve decided not to carry an iphone or Blackberry, so we’ll be free from the ‘net a bit.

    -When I do post I’ll try to break it down into several posts so that you are entertained. Photos, lots of photos. And videos.

    -We are sleeping in a tent. For six months. There are shelters every 8-12 miles, but especially at the beginning they tend to get very crowded. And there are mice. And they run over your face. The tent sounds nicer, now, right?

    -It’s going to be hard. There will be up and down days, just like in real life. The trail is a lot of physical work, but it is mostly mental. It rains a lot, it’ll snow, there will be bears. Things will get to you. You just have to let it go and take it one day at a time. You can’t hike 2,178 miles in a day. You do 10 miles to start and work your way up to 20 mile days in Virginia and the more flat states and go from there.

    -I’m going to smell. WOO! I’m trying to convince Chris to grow a beard out. Maybe get some shaggy hair going. I wonder if I can grow my leg hair out long enough to braid? haha, I will be taking a razor.

    -Food…whatever is light and packs the most calories. This isn’t a time for dieting. We’ll be eating a lot and sometimes we’ll be running a deficit, no matter how much junk we can pack in at town. This is great…I need to lose 20 lbs! We’ll be supplementing with dehydrated meals that we’ve bought online, Mountain House is one of the brands, but we’ll also be eating a lot of sealed chicken and salmon with those Lipton/Knorr rice and noodle packs. And ramen noodles. Dried fruits…that sort of thing.

    -We adopt trail names on the trail. Gone are Misti and Chris. I’m going to be Ridley, I think…Chris hasn’t decided yet. Most people let someone on the trail pick the name.

    -Really, I can’t cover it all here, but if you have questions, post them and I’ll do a FAQ post.

    -Some of my favorite blogs that I’ve read: Postcard (a 2010 hiker), All Right and Half Left (another 2010 hikers and from Florida), Wags (2009 hiker and excellent journal), Ben & Lauren’s 2007 Journal (loved this one because it was a couple.), Joe Liles 2009 journal.

    appalachian-trail-map
    2,178 long miles up the Eastern seaboard….

    2007_0128KPSP0188
    It all started at Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park in January 2007!

    Ashleigh Ryon
    Photo courtesy of my Curtis and Stephanie Whitlock

    In trying to understand just how tiny Ashleigh is, this really brings it home. Yes, that is my brother’s wedding band on her arm. Her little rib cage makes me want to tickle her ribs, just like my dad liked to do with us, and say “goochy, goochy, goo!” Ah, that will have to wait a few months.

    Somewhere in the mess of the past week my brother found time to post a blog chronicling the saga up until her birth. Hopefully he will be able to etch out more time for other thoughts, but I suspect that things will be busy for awhile.

    When I am home for my visit in two weeks I know I will be put to work…I think he has a shed that needs to be built. Oh and a spring garden to get planted.

    What else I am loving this Thursday:
    Meghan had some recent luck during to have someone interested in buying photos she took of their pet dog. Score! I’m also insanely jealous. This is me lighting a fire under my arse—–>fire lit—->getting a move on with putting photos up.

    But she also created a super cool portable portfolio that has been featured on the blog of the brand of album she used. Such a cool idea!. I’m totally going to um, borrow that idea…yeah. Borrow. 😉

    -The weather. It’s beautiful.

    -Seeing several bald eagles on the west coast (of Florida) yesterday. Not to mention the enormous flocks of wading birds right now. Insane, people, insane. The only downside is the roadkill on U.S. 41 from the birds nesting so close to the road. Dead wood storks aren’t a good sight to see.

    -Oh, and the fact my husband is coming home tomorrow after three weeks in the Bahamas. Yeah…three weeks. WOOHOO! Officially the longest we’ve been away from each other since we were married. The first week—kinda nice. I mean, it’s good to have your own time. The second week—well, last week was an emotional week from hell. Would’ve been nice to have him around. This week—will be good to have him here! Though, I do like the leg room in the bed! hah!

    dinner island 1

    I found Dinner Island WMA while on Google Earth one day. I am always looking for new places to explore, parks to see and find the little out of the way places no one goes to. Well, this is one of those places, especially when it isn’t hunting season. A long road winds its way through the property, and you can get out and hike through any of the hammocks any time. Cattle ranching is also done on the land so cows are very prominent as are deer and hogs. The last two you’ll see more in during the non-hunting times. Oh, turkey, too. If you’re lucky maybe a bobcat or panther and probably bear live there, too.

    We went a few weekends ago with our friends Kathy and Randy for a long day of photography and relaxing in the very cool weather that had come through.

    dinner island 15
    Chris sneaking back over the fence after trying to chase down an otter. The canal the otter was in was full of water hyacinth and provided perfect cover for the otter.

    dinner island 13
    We found a few horses that were friendly and asked for a nice head rub….

    dinner island 12
    and one apparently developed a fondness for Kathy!

    dinner island 11
    One thing I love about Florida is being able to walk in the wilderness and run into citrus trees of all sorts. Usually they are sour oranges, ones you want to cook with and not eat straight, or grapefruit. When the Spanish came to explore Florida they brought citrus with them and thus after many years of colonization, settlers planted citrus near their homes and even Florida’s Natives utilized the fruit in their hammocks and tree islands. It’s a real treat to find some citrus after a hike, but on this day, it was even more awesome to find lemons!

    dinner island 10
    Really, really, good tangerines!

    Grapefruit Belly
    Kathy developed a grapefruit belly!

    dinner island 9

    dinner island 6

    dinner island 5

    dinner island 4
    This trio of bandits eluded us for a bit. They had scampered across the road, catching Chris’ eye and we thought they were maybe otters. After walking for a bit down the road, poking our noses in little openings in the bushes we got flushed them out and they trotted down the road.

    dinner island 3
    Well, you’d hope people wouldn’t litter!

    Rascals
    We found three baby raccoons running down the side of the road and Chris got the better photos since he was on that side, but I snapped what I could. They were so cute!

    Stay tuned for Parts II and III! Macro and sunset shots…!

    Ashleigh update: After having a collapsed lung on Saturday, it has since reinflated and everything seems to be going as well as possible with her blood work and x-rays, etc. Her kidneys are functioning and now I think they are working on the other end of things—check out how tiny her diapers are! That’s a tiny little behind! One day at a time…

    It is fairly quiet in the garden these days. After the cold snap, everything took a hit. I like this time of year because it isn’t so overwhelming. The grass doesn’t grow 10′ in a day and the vines aren’t trying to suffocate each other. It’s more relaxing.

    A little bit more reverse lens technique for some closeups:

    loquat fly
    A fly buzzing the loquat flowers

    banana
    Plantain flowers

    hgrandidieri
    Hibiscus grandideri about to bloom

    hibiscus
    A less mature H. grandidieri blossom

    chalice vine
    Chalice vine

    rose

    vanilla
    Variegated vanilla

    fern
    A little fern, a little recruit…

    I’ve been enjoying these garden blogs lately:
    Chiot’s Run
    The Inadvertent Farmer
    Fennel and Fern: they have a blog but it appears their site is down at the moment.

    A little weeding did me good this afternoon. A turn in the garden is what I need to do more often.

    Going through my old scrapbooks the other day I realized that blogging has become my scrapbook. I abandoned the hardcore scrapbooking phase I went through a few years ago and it seems that it has been reflected here on my blog instead.

    amber bluestem

    It has changed for me over time, blogging. I remember the days of blogger and live journal and it was quite a different era. There weren’t any pro-bloggers, people who made money writing. These days it seems there are people making money at writing on their site, giving their opinions, and while all of that sounds great, I’m glad to just be here writing for myself.

    cypress reflection

    I think the future of my scrapbooking will be writing here, sharing my photos—because I thought the other day that sharing photos is one of the reasons to blog. I love taking photos. Then, what happens when I download them and then they sit on my computer or hard drive and languish? Gone are the days of photo albums and sharing photos in that manner.
    For Christmas we made books for our parents and my brother and SIL. It was nice to see them in print, some sort of validation if you will.

    shadow
    The other day, on the deadline date for the Stranger Photo Challenge, I rushed to a nearby park hoping to gather up my guts and ask someone to take their photo. It’s one thing to casually take photos, but to ask someone to take their photo—it was painfully difficult for me. And I couldn’t do it. I had many opportunities, but I just couldn’t. It seems so ridiculous to even say that. I think the part about it is that it is a bit weird, you know? Going up to someone and asking to take their photo. Meghan did it great, I think. At least she has a good excuse, she’s starting a photography business, something which I haven’t begun to even think about.

    I much prefer taking photos of animals and landscapes, they don’t look at you strange.

    CNN had an article the other day about Twitter, here. It really summed up how I felt about Twitter. I keep resisting the talk in the blogosphere about getting on Twitter and how it helps businesses and getting more readers, this and that. But, what about next year? MySpace was the rage, Facebook, now Twitter. I want people to come here to read, not read on Twitter. And I don’t want to be that connected to posting.

    For people who do use Twitter, what do you think? I just found Posterous today, via another blog, but I wonder about it, too. Again, it’s taking you away from the main site of a persons blog. It’s great for people who don’t have their own blog or their own space, but what about everyone else?

    Now my brain hurts from all of this thinking….

    Have a relaxing Sunday.

    I’m a little lonely today. It’s cloudy outside, the sun hasn’t peaked out and said hello, the cats are curled up, and everyone is out somewhere, doing something and I’m not.

    Reviewing the rest of the Cayo Costa photos make me a little depressed. Call it two weekends of not getting outside, that’s probably my problem.

    So, I’m savoring the washed up fauna that found its way onto the shore…

    sea star

    crab 3

    shell 2

    oyster catchers
    Oystercatchers…the first time I’ve seen these birds.

    bubbles

    gannett 2
    A gannett…not sure if it was injured or feigning injury, but it was nice to see the bird up close.

    gannett

    horseshoe crab 2
    An ancient animal, horseshoe crab…

    crab hand

    shell

    crab 2

    crab

    horseshoecrab

    washed up
    Even the man-made objects get washed up…

    All I’ve done is keep staring at the photos of Ashleigh. It’s surreal to call my mom up and hear Zoe talking and carrying on in the background. And then there’s 10 and 3/4″ long Ashleigh. The whole thing is magical in a way. She’s here, she’s alive and as tiny as she may be, she’s already a fighter. I already envision her sitting in her room with her big sis, playing dress up or house and then getting into some sort of mischief.

    I get to meet Ashleigh in about three weeks for an already planned visit at home. Until then I am looking at photos and calling in throughout the day. I’ve been going through some nicknames for her, two-ton tiny, Smurfette, little giant….I haven’t found a good fit yet. And with her name being Ashleigh I keep putting on a Scarlett O’Hara voice and saying it how she did–maybe her nickname should be Belle (as in Southern Belle). Belle also means beautiful—and that she is.

    And now—video!! You can bet I’ll be reloading these in the days to come.

    Regularly scheduled blogging will return soon, sprinkled with Ashleigh updates.

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