Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Black & White Wednesday

My boat is waiting patiently...
I usually carry the boat down to the water first and then return for the rest of my gear. This day was no exception. I can carry everything down in one trip but two is much easier. When the water is this dark you get the nice reflections. The tannins in the water made it the darkest I have seen water in a while. I saw my share of dark water when I used to clean boat bottoms. I would dive somedays and would have zero visibility. Some days I could hold my dive light out at arms reach and not be able to see it shining at my face. Days like that are great for reflections but bad for working under water. 

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Juniper Prairie

After cruising downstream through the jungle. The creek opens up a bit and you are greeted by a bit of Florida type Prairie. I spotted this palm tree and took a few pictures as the current swept me by. 

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Black and White Wednesday, Juniper Creek

These are more pictures of Juniper Creek. These have been converted to Black and White. They have the feel of old time Florida. If you can overlook the kevlar canoe and imagine an old wood and canvas canoe. The scene would look the same.

We actually had to paddle under that log. Laura is approaching the log and getting ready to duck under. It was pretty close for her. I can't imagine what I looked like going through in my canoe.
We passed by this old tree. I was thinking this would be a perfect place for an Osprey or a hawk to hang out and watch for fish and stuff passing by. Then the bird could swoop down out of the tree and catch lunch.

I hope you have enjoyed todays pictures.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Juvenile Ibis

Juniper creek is a challenging creek to paddle. I spotted some raccoons and turtles and even aligators. I was able to pull over and take a few pictures of this Ibis hanging out on the shoreline. I like how the sun makes his bill kind of translucent. I also liked how the feathers on his neck are still his baby feathers. 

I enjoyed paddling the creek. We didn't see a lot of wildlife however there is a lot of greenery blocking the shoreline so most of the time you can only see the water. I may have to try it again after it cools off and some of the trees loose some of their leaves. 

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Juniper Creek

Today I went to Juniper Creek with my friend Laura. This is always a challenging place to paddle. The creek has some current that pushes you along nicely. The creek makes many twists and turns. It is also very overgrown. There are lots of trees and branches both across the water and in the water. I can't even guess how many times I had to duck down into the canoe to pass under something. I only ended up with one scratch on my arm from a branch. I went through my share of overhanging branches. At one point I was going along pretty good and my hat got caught on a branch and almost pulled me from the boat. While I was recovering from that I drove straight into a Cyprus tree. I was going about 3 kts. And then I was at a full stop.
This is Laura smiling for the camera. Laura was pretty fast in her boat. This was the first time we had paddled together. We used to teach sailing together years ago. And we have both paddled for a while, today was our first trip paddling. We took turns leading, usually one of us would get hung up on something and the other would pass trying to stay clear. Once you knew which way not to go it was much easier to get through an obstacle. 
I don't get many pictures of myself paddling. The good part about having the only camera was Laura didn't take any pictures of me crashing into trees and then getting caught across the creek as my boat was swept sideways into both shorelines. Sometimes the only way through an obstacle was backwards. It made for an interesting day.
I just liked this picture. I can imagine this is what Florida looked like in the old days. Check out the clouds reflected on the waters surface. The tress come right out over the water. Even though it was in the 80's today the spring fed water kept things cool. 
The Park people said the creek had been closed for the last 2 weeks while they waited for the water levels to go down and then they had to clear some of the deadfall. They just clear the bear minimum. I still find it hard to believe as many people use this creek. I would think it would be cleared slightly more. There are a few signs of other people floating the creek but they are pretty minimal. I would suggest to any one  thinking about doing this creek to make sure your boat handling skills are good, because they will be put to the test. 

Stay tuned more to come,

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Red Dragon Fly

I have liked Dragon Flies for as long as I can remember. In the past I would just marvel at how well they fly. Plus I like the buzzing sound they make. I saw at least 3 different (Colors) kinds of Dragon Flies on this day. This was the only one willing to have his picture taken. Which was a good thing because I don't think I have ever seen a red Dragon Fly before.
I spotted this Red Dragon Fly sitting on this branch. I lifted my camera up to take a picture and off he flew. I set there for a minute looking around and he came back and landed on the same branch. I was able to take a few pictures before he flew off again. 

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

My Ride is waiting

Black and White Wednesday
My canoe is patiently waiting for me to carry the rest of my gear down to the dock and get in the boat. The water was very dark. I could not see below the surface at all. There was a ton of run off coming from the woods. The current is running from the left to the right in the picture. 

This is a view looking up stream. I usually go either upstream or upwind first. That way if there are any problems you can drift back towards where you started from. Also the second half of your trip is easier. The only hard thing is timing your trip. Paddling upstream takes a lot longer then paddling and drifting back. 
As I stated earlier I can't wait to try this creek again. I will wait till the weather is cooler. I think it will be a nice day trip. 

Stay tuned....

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Thomas Creek , Jacksonville

Today I thought I thought I would try out a new place. I have been looking for some places that are closer to my house. That aren't lined with houses on both banks and actually have some wildlife to see. I heard about this creek and thought I would give it a try. It amazes me that you can drive for 30 minutes on I-95 with no traffic and still be in the city. This is a city park located off Lem Turner out by the airport.  There is a boat ramp and a small dock. The water was pretty high and still flowing out of the woods. This is rain we got from Hannah last week. I could tell the water was at least 3 feet higher because of all the trash caught up in the trees. I also had to paddle through 3 trees that had fallen down into the water.  
I usually don't take pictures with the car in them but the view is very nice. I picked a nice shady place to park the car. It was worth carrying my canoe and stuff the extra 10 feet to get back and still have the car parked in the shade.
I spent most of the trip chasing the birds down the creek. I don't think the birds are used to seeing boats, or people. As soon as I would come around a bend the birds would spot me and fly a little further upstream. The other thing working against me was the water levels are still very high so the birds and other wildlife is able to stay further back in the woods making it harder to spot them. There were 4 Ibis in this tree. They were up high enough so they felt safe and stayed put.
King of the world.
After paddling over a tree that was spanning the creek I spotted this lizard on the front of my boat. He rode for a few minutes until I paddled over close enough to the shore line. Were he abandoned ship. He did look back and smile at me before jumping ship.

Thomas creek was a nice paddle. It is only about 45 minutes from my house. I can't wait to try it out this fall when the water level goes back down to normal levels and some of the foliage dies off. I imagine there will be a lot more to see.