Sunday, 23 November 2008
Five weeks by the ocean has been wonderful, but all good things come to an end. We've had cold windy weather for the past week, and the forecast for next week isn't too good either. I'm ready to go home and see my lovely family.
We're leaving here Sunday morning and we'll be at home in Canada (snowstorms willing) by Monday night.
Thursday, 20 November 2008
In November the Centre holds an Open House that highlights it's coastal wildlife rehabilitation programme. Injured turtles, manatees and seabirds are provided with medical care and a safe place to recover from whatever ails them.
An assortment of birds of prey were on show. All of these birds had been found as orphaned fleglings, unable to care for themselves, so volunteers have stepped in as substitute parents.This Harris's Hawk had been raised by hand since he fell out of his nest at 14 days old. He was flying free but always returned to his handler's gloved hand on command. While we watched, he caught a lizard and greedily gobbled it up.
Wednesday, 19 November 2008
Some days, the beach is full of shells, and then the tide comes in and whisks them all out to sea. Then a couple of days later, they're all back, lining the edge of the surf.
Monday, 17 November 2008
It's the tallest lighthouse in Florida.... 203 steps will take you 175' to the top where you can look out over the Florida coastline and the Halifax River.
This lighthouse is the second on this site... you can read about it here.
Saturday, 15 November 2008
NASA Mission STS-126 "Endeavour" carrying seven astronauts lifted off from Cape Canaveral on Friday evening right on time at 7:55pm. It's heading to the International Space Station to make a few improvements to make life easier for the occupants.
And we were there to witness it! WOW!
The night before the launch, The Space Cadet spent about an hour looking at Google Earth, planning the best vantage point to see the launch. He decided Hwy 1 in Titusville, so we headed south on Friday afternoon. People and cars were everywhere, tremendous excitement in the air. We asked a group of tough looking bikers the best place and they said "Right here... just park and we'll show you where to go".
They were right, it was a bit of vacant grassland at the back of Wendy's Burgers, about 200 people had already assembled with chairs, radios, TVs, cameras, telescopes, children, etc., with a clear view across the Inland Waterway towards the launch gantry, which was lit up like a Christmas tree. You couldn't miss it.
We scrambled over a rusty fence and joined a group (including the bikers) sitting along the river bank. We had over an hour to wait, but time passed quickly, with so many people to talk to. After all, everyone was there for the same reason.
And as we waited, a gorgeous full moon rose into the clear sky.
Finally, the countdown... five... four... three... through my binoculars I could see smoke or steam billowing up... two... one... a huge burst of orange flame lit up the sky and the rocket started lifting into the night. I could hardly breathe. What an incredible sight. And a few seconds later the sound of the rocket reached us across the water... a huge rumbling boom, such power!
Cheers, applause, lots of whooping and hollering, people were celebrating a successful launch.
I followed the rocket with the binoculars as far as I could. I could even see the red hot booster rockets fall towards the sea. Incredible to think that seven human beings were sitting on top of that fiery rocket, trusting their lives to technology (and perhaps keeping their fingers crossed, knocking on wood, etc.).
Speed reached 1,000mph in just a few seconds.
It's going 1,500mph within 5 miles from the launch.
By the time it's gone 73 miles, the speed is 4,000mph.
By the time it reaches 10,000mph, it's 64 miles up.
By the time it reaches 16,000mph, it's 66 miles up, and has travelled 760 miles.
Thursday, 13 November 2008
The turtle nesting season in Volusia County ends on October 31.
The total count for 2008 was 649 nests on this part of the Florida sea coast, mostly of Loggerhead turtles.
This nest was laid on August 23 2008, and was numbered N201 and dated by the Beach Turtle Patrol. Incubation takes approximately 55 days, so the baby turtles should have hatched a few days before we arrived.
The female turtle lays 85 - 110 eggs in the sandy nest, which she digs with her hind flippers. After she covers her eggs, she returns to the sea, leaving her babies to take care of themselves and find their own way to the ocean.
I walked past the nest site most mornings but didn't see any sign of hatching. No baby turtle footprints to be seen. Turtle Patrol people wait at least 70 days before investigating if there has been a successful hatch.
A couple of days ago Turtle Patrol dug the nest site.
Tuesday, 11 November 2008
It's nowhere near it's natural habitat, muddy river water, unless you count the 6' deep, 8' wide moat that surrounds it.
But is it a real steamboat that somehow lost it's way?
Or could it be....
... a CAR WASH????
Showboat Car Wash was built in 2005 and offers a full wash service, washing about 13,000 cars a month. You drive over a bridge to enter and leave the carwash. There are chimneys and staircases and flags and it looks just like the real thing.
Mark Twain, eat your heart out.
Apparently, the car wash guys wear shirts embroidered with a ship's steering wheel. I wonder if they wear Captain's hats too.
Sunday, 9 November 2008
St Augustine is the oldest continuously settled city established by Europeans in the continental United States. It's full of tiny streets and ancient houses, narrow brick laneways and lush vegetation.
Unfortunately, it's also full of tourists.
We biked around the narrow streets, trying to stay well away from the commercial part of town and found houses that are full of contrasts, from the tiny and colourful...
... to the very grand, like this one, Lion's View, built in 1890.
The city was founded by Don Pedro Menéndez de Avriles in 1565, and here he is, standing proudly on his pedestal outside the Lightner Museum.
The Lightner Museum occupies part of the former Hotel Alcazar, built by Henry Flagler in 1887 in the Spanish Renaissance style. This impressive building is an early example of a poured concrete building. This solemn gentleman caught my eye in the courtyard.
I love the mosaic floor in the main entrance lobby, in fact I want one just like it......
Friday, 7 November 2008
Thursday, 6 November 2008
Tuesday, 4 November 2008
The Fourth Day of November, Two Thousand and Eight.
A date to remember.
A date for celebrations.
A date for congratulations.
A date for special messages... and this is the very special message I received today!
And I believe there's something else VERY SPECIAL going on in the USA today too...
Monday, 3 November 2008
Uhoh. Somebody took the curve a little too fast. He was well and truly at sea.