Saturday, November 18, 2017

Thonotosassa (Tampa), FL

Our last stop was a campground in Thonotosassa, a suburb of Tampa.  It got us just outside the craziness of the area.  Too big city for us!!  But we were there to visit friends and had a great time doing so.  Fortunately, Thonotosassa is beautiful, swamp wilderness area and there are several trails.  We were able to stay within 5 miles of our campground and get plenty of hiking in.

The two main areas there are the Wilderness Park and Hillsboro State Park.  Not just hiking but biking as well.  Here are some pics from the area:

First day there on our way into the
Wilderness Park we saw sandhill
cranes!  Although we heard them
a few times after that day, we did
not see any more.

a male anhinga across the pond

Hillsboro State Park boasts a very nice suspension bridge

a little ringed snake, they don't get longer than 15 inches

the stripes on this zebra longwing should be yellow but the camera will not pick that up!

downy woodpecker

lots of woodpeckers around
we also saw pileated
golden silk spider

at Hillsboro there is a good river for kayaking

oaks and palmettos at Wilderness Park

Wilderness Park had plenty
of wildlife as you can see
from these pics.

That includes gators, however,
we only got to see one
of those while there.
juvenile ibis

wood stork

a flock of ibis

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Jacksonville,FL, Okefenokee Swamp

Right outside Jacksonville we visited Fort Caroline National Memorial.  A recreation of the original fort, it was built in 1564 by the French to protect the French settlement from the Spanish who already had a nice foothold in the new land and the French wanted some of it;)  The fort is part of the Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve.  In addition to visiting the fort we enjoyed a nice hike out on the preserve.

While on the preserve, we watched an osprey land and devour a fresh catch!

We also saw the largest diamond back rattlesnake I have ever seen!  He was just a few feet from us on the trail under a palmetto and he was very unhappy with our approach!
diamond back rattlesnake 

After the preserve, we took a
ferry across the St Johns River

always fun, we saw dolphins as well!
 Then we drove to the Kingsley Plantation, all still part of the Timucuan Preserve, to visit the oldest  plantation in Florida.  You can step into a couple of  rooms for a look back in history and walk the grounds to visit the remains of the slave quarters.  It was a cotton plantation.

Kingsley Plantation

The slave quarters were the homes for
60-80 enslaved men, women and

The homes were built with a material
called "tabby", sand mixed with
shells to make cement.
remains of the slave quarters circle half the plantation

 From our campground just outside of Jacksonville, we were actually closer to the Okefenokee Swamp than we had been this time last year when in GA.  So we had to go back of course!  This time, instead of taking a tour, we rented a canoe for the day and explored on our own.  What a great day!

This banded water snake
was trying to warm up
right next to our canoe

I have never seen so many
green herons in one
area and probably
will not again!

yep, a little fall color!

the green heron has a longer neck than you would think!!

after the canoe outing I had to tackle this gator who tried to go after Mike;)

just a baby! about 15 inches

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Savannah, GA

We spent the last few days near Savannah, GA.  We had to check out the historic area of Savannah as we had heard many good things about it.  It is a city with a lot of history and the building styles reflect that history.  I enjoy the architecture.  The historic district has many small beautifully shaded parks with statues, monuments and/or fountains. It was a pleasure to stroll around that area.  We just followed a suggested walking tour and throughly enjoyed ourselves.

We drove back up into South Carolina across the Savannah River to check out the Savannah National Wildlife Refuge and that was very nice.  Saw a couple of gators and lots of birds flying around but not much that I could take pics of.

We had a nice surprise at our campground, a KOA, never my favorite camp ground but this place had a large lake with about 50 swans and local wildlife fowl and that was really cool!

cattle egret

Old Savannah was very pleasant to walk around this time of year;)

Johnson Plaza

Wright Plaza

Chippewa Plaza

Colonial Park Cemetery houses some
very notable and interesting folks.
It would have been easy to spend a
couple of hours here!

St Johns Cathedral

Forsyth Park

Could have spent
a lot more time
looking at

Had dinner at Treylor Park (owners name is Trey) on Bay Street, yummy food!
 I had a crab, shrimp and sausage flatbread with a crab cake on top!!

These are some of the pics I took at our campground!

anhinga drying it's feathers

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...