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What - summer’s over???
Written By: OC Fotoguy
*Click images below to view larger versions.
What - summer’s over???
What - summer’s over???
What - summer’s over???
What - summer’s over???
What - summer’s over???
What - summer’s over???

    John LaMere is in Key West, Jim Long has gone south, Jay has closed the Sahara Café, Fager’s Deck Parties are over, CoCoNuts had their closing party, MRs closes Saturday, and Birches Produce Stand is closing! What, I don’t have an article next week? Brenda says this is it!?!  But… I’m not done... I want more summer… so til next year.
    Ohhh, it’s time to think about my next adventure in my Nest (slide-in camper) on my pick’em up truck.  Of course, I have an idea of what I’ll do, but without details or schedule, that’s my style. I want to go back to every place I’ve had a good time. Gee, I may never get back to O.C., so short stops, and the weather needs to cooperate, too. A related thought is to stay in Florida and spend my time, January – April predominately in Big Cypress with the panthers, bears, alligators and where there are more of nature’s critters than any place I go.  That’ll be the following year; after that who knows.
    Again, of course I’m starting in Big Cypress to begin this January, that’s where I organize my nest for the next four months, rest after the marathon 12-hour drive in one day to Florida, and get reoriented with Mother Nature. Then I’ll be off to the Keys with a stop in Islamorada where the kayaking is great, sunrises are the best I see in my travels, and the sunsets are world class at the Lor E Lei. Key West, a premier party spot, and there’s superb kayaking there too, will be my next stop.  Last year I circumnavigated the island in my kayak and saw deserted beaches for combing for collectibles, where nobody goes, marine critters exhibiting themselves for marvelous snorkeling, and many islands to check out.
    Then it’ll be back to America’s Jungle, Big Cypress, to immerse myself in nature; I know no place like it. The EverGlades City Music Festival, which is really called Seafood Festival, but for me the music is it with national acts and locals, the GladesMen, who really rock. The beaches at Marco Island, my best sea shell beach, codger teenagers rule there, tourism isn’t encouraged, and HH is the main event; Ft. Myers Beach (always great sunsets & kayaking), and Siesta Key with silky sand and more HHs and all those restaurants of s/w Florida will fill the next week or two; then towards out west with a stop on the Cajun Trail in Louisiana to check out the spoonbills.
    Spring Break at Padre Island, Tex., is the next big happening where the college students put on quite a performance and local restaurants with shrimp, oysters & fish right out of the water in Port Isabel across the bridge from there are outstanding. Big Bend N.P., Tx. is always a Don’t Miss and next... Kayaking up the Rio Grande River into St. Elena Canyon is the high point, and it’s uniquely exciting with gorgeous scenery from the River; but if there’s not enough water, the sunrise vista from the rim of the canyon high above the river, bobcats, and critters as rare as badgers and big horned owls make the long drive there worthwhile, plus I butchered and cooked a rattle snake there several years ago.
    After that I’ll feast on BBQ pork, beef & chicken in a bar in a cavern, La Kiva, in Terlingua, then on to Arivaca, Az. where the hippies escaped to in the 1970s and are still there; and there’s a great nature walk infested with hummingbirds just a short distance from HH. From there it’ll be to Organ Pipes Cactus National Monument for more hummingbirds that come to play in a mountain stream at sunrise, but I encountered border guards with bazooka sized rifles one morning, so I never went back. No, I don’t need to get shot by mistake. Cibola will be next, which is an oasis in the middle of the desert on the Az./Ca. border, and of course, I’ll go to the hugest sand dune I’ve ever seen at Kelso Dunes in the Mojave Desert; then it’s on to buffets and outdoor bands on Fremont Street in Las Vegas.
    After leaving Vegas I want to walk the trail that goes above the Hoover Dam, where there’s a great view of it and the new bridge, then I’ll drive through Lake Meade National Recreation Area and end up in the Fire Valley State Park, Ariz., where the rocky landscape gives it its name. The Grand Canyon is next, but where I see it best is at Toro Weep on the north rim at the end of 65 miles of almost impassible roads, where I photographed big horn sheep, and made a discovery that spawned this column years ago. I saw a rain puddle, which has to dry up in a matter of weeks because of the arid climate, in a huge bolder that jutted out over the Canyon. In this puddle were minute little squiggly things. They have to be some kind of fish. There can’t be water there long enough for them to complete a life cycle. Plus, their existence is locked there where they can’t see the glorious view of the Canyon that is inches away, and one of the Wonders of the World. The most Amazing Thing I’ve ever seen!
    This time I’ll park about 3 miles from the rim because the road has proven just too dangerous to drive on my two previous visits, when I felt like my truck and my nest were going to roll as it descended a steep hill, lurching and rocking from left to right and pitched from front to back at the same time. No, I’m not putting myself in that predicament again. Bryce Canyon is next at 9,000 feet, which makes it difficult to breath, but the scenic panoramic vistas are almost as stunning as the Grand Canyon.  Then there’s a place that has at least four slot canyons south of the town of Escalante, Utah, where as I clamored down a rocky gorge, I wore out my sandals.  That’s my next destination, incredible!
    Then I’ll drive across the Staircase-Escalante National Monument, a real nowhereland, to Capitol Reef N.P., a gem that is not on any tour guides agenda, where most people never go, which has the largest stone arch I’ve seen and the volunteers make strawberry short cake in the Spring on Saturdays. From there I’ll go to Canyonlands N.P. with incredible landscapes with the Green River snaking through it. Arches N.P. is just north east of there, which has more incredible desert landscapes and rock formations. From there I’ll head home to O.C. I’ve charted a course home across the middle of Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia, so I can check out the thrift shops and local restaurants. That course should guarantee warmth, since my usual route home, US 40> 81> 50, proved to be very chilly last year and no fun! Will I get to all these places, who knows?  Last year I burnt out earlier than I expected. This year to avoid that I’m leaving a month later right after New Year’s, unless it snows and freezes relentlessly, then I’m out of here!
    Flash!  I just got a call at HH from Billy Whoooo, a true lover of natural critters. He was an activist who saved virgin forests in the northwest from saws of the lumber industry, wrote a book, Fisherman's Call: To Awaken the Heart of Compassion, based on his beliefs, and even mentioned me in it. I witnessed his natural instinct to talk to the critters as he actually called to a Barred Owl in its “language” and brought it to our feet. I was amazed to see it there on the ground! He said, he’d be in Florida this winter. I’ll certainly make time for him, and I know that there’ll be other things that will happen that I don’t expect. That’s why there is no Grand Plan. Maybe I’ll see you along the path of my Adventures.  Enjoy!!!     
Bob R  o.c.FotoGuy
more photos @ picasaweb.google.com/o.c.fotoguy2009
& facebook.com/OCfotoguy
PHOTOSAsYouWantThem.biz, articles @ Coconuttimes.com
 
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