Back in August, relatively early in my current path to fitness, I wrote this post, in which I articulated some secondary goals related to my fitness. These are not goals about the fitness itself – they are goals that address a theme I’d call “How I Want to Live My Life”. For the record, though I couldn’t have done so when I wrote that post, I can sum the answer to that up in one word now – Adventure.
One of those goals is worth quoting in its entirety:
Start keeping track of bag nights. I love to hike and camp, and I don’t do it enough because it can be hard. I don’t have the energy, and the physical work is just exhausting. It has been on the order of years since I’ve done even minor camping. That has to change, if for no other reason than that I’m committed to introducing my kids to the outdoors.
Got up this morning to go for a scheduled 4 mile run, but I was having some gastro issues and lets just say that I was nervous to be 2 miles from the house this morning after having run to get there and move on.
Instead, because I was up and had a rare free morning when the sun was coming up, I grabbed my camera and headed out to the big pond / little lake out here by the house that I see so much wildlife in as I drive by on the way to and from work. This is the same lake where I took the picture of the big alligator a few weeks back, and I thought maybe I’d find something interesting.
And I did. Lots of things.
One thing I have to say about Florida – when the sun isn’t directly overhead the landscape is absolutely beautiful.
So I walked up and spent a couple of minutes looking around, just to see if there was anything obvious to see. There wasn’t, so I started walking down the edge of the water. Within two minutes, I made a new friend.
This was not the big guy, but I was able to get up very close to him and get some pictures I really like. This was a rush.
Then I went and found the birds. A great blue heron:
A great egret:
A red-winged blackbird (actually a bunch of these, but they didn’t sit still for pictures):
And a little blue heron (which is a distinct species, not just a small specimen):
The light was challenging, but I want to practice my photography and try and get better – there is so much here to take pictures of, and it is frustrating to know what you want the shot to look like and not be able to execute. So I’ll keep practicing – and seeing all of this wildlife is really a rush.
Tomorrow, though, I’ll be running. I’ve got a 4-miler to make up.
Took the family to Gatorland in Orlando today, and here’s the thing about Gatorland – you need to go.
No, seriously, whatever it is that you have planned in the Orlando area the next time you come around, you need to just go ahead and shuffle that around and make a trip to Gatorland. If you’re here for Disney, just take the half day or even full day and skip Disney and head over there.
We went in with low expectations. Frankly, it seemed like it had an opportunity to be very cheesy. And, in spots, it was. But that was more than made up for by the just unbelievable wildlife – there are so many alligators that counting becomes pointless. And snakes and birds and crocodiles and you name it – this place is incredible.
We didn’t see the “famous” Jumperoo show, but we did go and take in the alligator wrestling. Picture a sand pit in the middle of a little arena, bleachers on all sides. The pit is surrounded by a moat, in which swim a dozen or so alligators and over which is a single bridge that has gates on both ends of it. Some crazy-ass dude walks in there, asks a little kid to pick out which gator he’s going to “wrestle” – and the little kid OF COURSE picks the biggest one in the water. Because, OF COURSE. This thing is mean, and our man struggles to get it out of the water. So he STEPS OFF INTO THE MOAT, WADES OVER AND GRABS IT BY THE TAIL AND DRAGS IT UP INTO THE SAND PIT. This alligator snarling and bellowing and trying to bite him the whole time. And then proceeds to do all kinds of tricks with it.
Are you kidding me?
Seriously, come do this. And bring your camera. There is some amazing stuff to see here. I took all of the pictures included below except the one with the family – that one cost $18.99, but did come with a 1GB flash drive.
Back in December, a headhunter got in touch with me about a great job opportunity. And he was right – it was great. There was a catch, though.
The job was in Florida.
But – against all odds, we sold our house and moved to Florida at the end of April. There will be a lot of discussion of the adjustment of moving and the running in Florida vs. the running in New York (preview: no hills!). This post, though, is going to focus on a specifically new thing for my runs: wildlife.
I’m sensitive to this topic because about six weeks after we moved here I took this picture from the pond about 3 minutes from the house:
When I took that picture, I was standing on a sidewalk that is part of my regular running route. It has to be, because I have to regularly go through there to get to a lot of places.
So … yeah. I run in the early morning, before work. Before dawn. When it is still dark. I pay attention when I run now, to indulge in understatement.
Of course, this means I notice a lot, and it turns out that there is a lot to notice in Florida. The big one for me is the birds – an example is this guy, whose picture I took not 100 yards from where I took the picture of the alligator:
This one is called an anhinga, and they are basically South American birds who also have a small range in the extreme southern United States, including most of Florida. In other words, I never ever would have seen this bird in New York. Incidentally, I looked him up, and they stand with their wings like that to dry them – they are water birds, but their feathers don’t get oily like a duck’s, and they struggle to fly with wet feathers.
There seem to be a million of these little lizards:
And, just, in general there is a lot of wildlife. Several runs ago I spent 5 minutes watching two bats going crazy catching bugs. On the run after that I was close enough to an armadillo that I could have kicked him. And then just after the armadillo, there were three deer that included a little yearling buck about 10 steps away.
The next day I almost stepped on something that scared me to death, and I still don’t know what it was. It was, however, furry – so not an alligator. Or a snake.