Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Payne's Prairie, 2018, Gainesville, FL

Hanging out here in Florida for the month we had to go back to Payne's Prairie.  We enjoyed it so much last year, hundreds of alligators and thousands of sandhill cranes......oh how things can change!

This year due to the hurricanes that swept through the area last year, instead of a small muddy lake and lots of muddy marsh where the gators and cranes can hang out it is more like a large lake with no shore area!  This means nowhere for the gators to bask or for the cranes to feed. A whole different beauty and some birds we had not seen last year, we still are having a great time.

We are visiting family in the area and last week had some family out from Las Vegas, so we all went out the the prairie:

 Egrets greet us on the boardwalk

Below, we saw this bird for the first time last year in the Tampa area and now here they are further north! A limpkin!

the rest of my group entering the boardwalk

lots of anhingas this year also

pretty scene

green heron

there were a few snakes
hanging out on a bush in
the water trying to warm

 Above, last year we could walk right off the end of this boardwalk and just to the right for about a mile into the marsh with hundreds of alligators on the left side of a raised berm and sandhill cranes and other birds and bison and wild horses out in the marsh.  As you can see the water is so high the gate is locked and what few gators are coming out of the water are almost to the gate!

this big guy actually
moved a few steps while
we watched

so happy to have a little sun
I'm sure;  Been much colder
here this year as in many
other places in the country
this was a nice day though

a limpkin plucks an apple snail from the water, it's favorite food

cattle egret resting on one leg

a great egret out hunting
another bird I do not remember seeing here last year, a bittern

armadillos are fun to watch but since I found out they carry!
After leaving the prairie, we did come across several sandhill cranes hanging out in a nearby cattle field:

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

More of Panama Canal Cruise!

(Trying to find a different theme for my blog for this year.  Please bear with me till I'm happy with it)

I am barely going to touch on these adventures so please look up these places and museums for further exploration!

Our first port of call after passing through the canal was Manta, Ecuador.  Mike and I had no excursions planned so we took the shuttle into town for a leisurely walk around close to the waterfront and found a rooftop bar where we enjoyed the view and an Ecuadorian beer!  

Manta, Ecuador, lots of fishing boats.  Huge tuna industry!
 Tuna being unloaded from a cooler ship next to us.  Interesting to watch....from our balcony;)

In town we visited a market
and found a place to enjoy
a beer up at a roof bar.
we had a friend who kept popping up at the port

back at the ship at the end of the day, tuna was still being unloaded....from the same cooler ship!!
 Our next port of call was Lima, Peru.  We spent 2 days there.  The first day we took a private tour with another couple and had couple of young Peruvian men take us around the Plaza de Armas in the historic area and then over to a newer, more modern area on the coast, Miraflores.

At Plaza de Armas we watched a very colorful changing of the guard at the governors palace.....

and then we checked out the beautiful cathedral

The main altar

One of the many side altars was all mosaic. The Spanish conquistador, Francisco Pizarro is entombed there

On the other side of Lima in the Miraflores area, Mike and I have our picture taken in the Plaza de Amor
a view of Miraflores on the Peru coast
 Our second day in Lima, we took a ship tour to 2 museums:

The Museo Larco was amazing!
This museum houses pottery and
silver and gold and cloth objects,
some dating from
superb condition!

Absolutely beautiful and
moche pottery

Silver and gold
funerary jewelry

Pedro de Osma,
a private collection
of mostly religious

Could easily have
spent lots more
time in both

Next port of call was, Paracas, Peru.  A small coastal town with nothing but miles of some of the driest land on the earth....annual rainfall barely registers!!!!! Colorful town though with some good beer!

Had to have local beer
but also had to try a
local specialty drink....
a Pisco Sour!
enjoying a Pisco Sour

Our first port of call in Chile was Arica, another very, very dry area on the edge of the Atacama Desert, the driest -non polar- desert in the world.  We took a ship tour to a nearby natural monument, Cuevas de Anzota, to hike along a coastal trail and see some caves and a colony of birds that have be nesting in the area so long the hillsides are covered in bird poop. What looks like white cliffs in the pics bird poop.  The scenery was great, the smell, not so much!

what kind of birds??  Note the icicles of bird poop....pew!

very picturesque area!

coming across the sea lions basking was great!
 Our final port of call and end of the cruise was San Antonio, Chile.  We traveled from the port to Santiago where we spent 3 great days exploring the city including a trip to the Santa Rita Winery.

little parrots flying around, common
birds!!  How cool!!

 We stayed at the Crowne Plaza in the
historic district and were able to walk to many
things we enjoyed seeing.

Santa Lucia Park was just a few blocks from
the hotel and a great place to explore the remains of Castillo Hildalgo and get a great  view of the city!

We, of course, found local beer
and had some Chilean

The cathedral of Santiago

governors palace 

on top of San Cristobal Hill, a shrine to the Virgin Mary, 60 meters high
 No trip to Chile would be complete without a tour of a winery!  We chose to tour Santa Rita and with it's beautiful grounds and winery we had a wonderful day.  We "discovered" the carmenere grape and love it's wine!

We certainly enjoyed our cruise and short stay in Santiago!  Would highly recommend the Panama Cruise!  We were pretty happy with Celebrity Cruise Line.

I would love to get back to South America some day.  Want to spend some time in the Andes Mountains and more time exploring the history!

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...