Thursday, December 22, 2016

Key West and the Dry Tortugas NP, FL

Earlier this month Mike and I drove down to the keys to celebrate his birthday.  He wanted to get in some diving and in doing so reach his 700th dive!  A friend of his flew in to go diving with him as I am unable to and we met some new friends and had a great time in the keys!

We spent a few nights at the Amoray dive resort in Key Largo.  Mike did indeed make his 700th dive!  Then we were off to Key West.
Sunset in Key Largo

Lots of iguanas hang around down here in the keys! You would think they like the weather or something!

Sunset from Mallory Square, Key West

yep, they have a winery down here!

Old and new friends enjoying a lovely meal in Key West!

a dog waits patiently on his owners scooter for his return
checked out a rum distillery

it is like being in New Orleans!

lots of great music in every bar

Christmas tree in Key West! Love the tree topper:)
From Key West, Mike wanted to take a sea plane out to the Dry Tortugas National Park....why not! So we flew out to the park to visit the old fort and do some snorkeling on his actual birthday.

we flew 500 ft over crystal clear waters and it was amazing! Now getting ready to land on the water at the Dry Tortugas!

frigate birds every where, could not get a good pic :(

Mike, the birthday boy, got to sit in the cockpit with the pilot;)

our landing on the water was no worse than some we have experienced on dry land

Fort Jefferson actually has full time park rangers that live out here

our plane will be back to pick us up in 3 hours 

the water was warm and we hoped to have an enjoyable time until we started running into plate sized jelly fish!  We had to get out after about 1/2 hour.  A couple members of our group did, unfortunately, get stung.

Never know about these things!

our ride back approaches the beach

on the return you can clearly see an old wreck below the surface.  we also saw turtles and maybe sharks!

awesome trip in spite of jellyfish!!

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Biscayne Bay NP and Big Cypress National Preserve, FL

In Biscayne Bay National Park we saw our first, but hopefully not last, manatee just before we left on a boat tour across the bay to the Boca Chita Key where we checked out the light house:

our first manatee sighting!!

just a young manatee we were told;)  still, it looked to be 5 to 6 feet long

Boca Chita Lighthouse

chain of keys bordering the east side of Biscayne Bay looking down from the lighthouse
Got some awesome pictures of the usual suspects;) in Big Cypress National Preserve!

off to a really good start at the preserve!!!!

wood stork


lesser white heron

turkey vulture


blue heron

a new heron for me, don't know what it is!

this king fisher actually posed for me!  a first and I was thrilled!  managed to get a few good shots since he was so willing!


green heron

beautiful clear water in the swamp
we hope this guy made it across the road and back into the water!

US Army Corp of Engineers Park, Iowa City, IA

Mike and I love it when we can find a COE park because they are always on water and our last stop at Coralville Lake was no exception.  A bi...