August 19th, 2021
I think it's time for another Photo Safari Report! This hike was the Almost Didn't Happen Hike. Coz it's almost didn't. And not through any fault of ours! After two weeks of doing other fun stuff on sisters day, Joy and I were especially eager to get back out to the preserves.
Because it's the crazyhot part of the year, we left at 7:30 to take as much advantage of the relatively cooler part of the day. Smart eh? Our thought was to perhaps do shorter hikes so that we would be done before the "heat index" part of the day really kicks in, so we headed over to Curry Creek. It's very close by and a smaller preserve. Perfect! As we drew near we saw, to our dismay, to giant worker trucks side by side completely blocking the entrance. Dang. Ok we will not be hiking Curry Creek.
We moved on toward one of our favourites, Carlton Reserve. We had not been there since the big fire. Because it's such a huge reserve, we always get carried away and hike into the hinterlands and spending far more time than we probably should which means that we needed to be mindful of the time so we wouldn't keel over from heatstroke! Ok the plan was set. We were excited. Right up until the moment we arrived and saw a closed gate. Dang! The Reserve, for whatever reason, was closed!
Limited options ahead of us now. We knew better than to even try any of the low lying hiking spots that go along the Myakka. With all of our daily rain, we knew those trails would be flooded. So instead we drove to the outskirts of Venice to Deer Prairie South Preserve. It wasn't that long ago that we visited, but it's a beautiful place. Ok we were all set. We loaded geared up and headed past the big pond and down the trail. But not very far because in less than a mile we were faced with:
More flooded trails. Well so far this hike has been a bust. Then we had a brainstorm! We knew there was another entrance to this preserve. Perhaps the other end would be more accessible? Nope.
We assumed that they were pretty serious about the locked gate since there were not one, not two but four locks on it!!!!! Seems excessive.
Well, hmmm. There was only one place left to check. The Caspersen Beach Trail. We knew that wasn't flooded but it did run parrellel to the beach and right now we are having a bit of an issue with Red Tide.
In case you are unfamiliar with the term, Red Tide is a naturally occurring ocean algae that, occasionally goes out of control. And when that happens it becomes very toxic. It kills fish, and ocean plants and in the air it smells terrible and can make you cough. Then too, the dead fish wash up on shore and the added whiff of dead fish with the existing toxic bloom smell is, well, just ghastly. We got out of the car, dubiously and took a cautious sniff. To our relief, it was good. We did not COUGH or pick up any stinky smell. Good! Not a Red Tide day and we set out on our way, FINALLY! Our decision was to hike out a few miles and turn around. This was no day to push our limits. And yes, of course, we brought water.
There were remarkably few birds. Didn't even hear them in the trees. Though I did capture some pigeons on the roof of the bathrooms as we started out and a flock of pelicans in the sky:
We did see a lot of beautiful flowers though. Far more than I expected this late into the summer actually so that was a delightful surprise. In fact, there was one flowering shrub that had teensy tiny yellow flowers that looked almost like little bells. Much like lily of the valley. And the scent was so beautiful. Such a tiny flower but it absolutely perfumed the air. (a nice counter balance to any remaining stink!) We saw it throughout the entire hike and I did not manage to successfully capture one single picture of it. Ratz. But I did get others:
There were tortoises galore! I think we counted 9 though there might have been more. I know this looks like photos of the same tortoise over and over, but I promise you it is not. You will just have to trust me:
There were so many butterflies! All different colours and shapes and sizes. But I only was able to get a good shot of the one at the top of the page. A couple of dragonflies, however, were far more courteous and paused for a long moment so I could take their portraits:
A little peek at the beach now and again. Yup, it's still beautiful
Last, but never least, the odds and ends, my favourite category, the rando files:
It was definitely the hike that almost didn't happen. But we are so glad that it did! Here is Joy and I happyhappy to be out hiking once again. Actually, although we do love Photo Safari Day, the important part is that we spend a day together regardless of what we are doing. We always have a good time.
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Yup, this is me. Some people said, "Sam, you should write a Blog". "Well, there's a thought", I thought to myself. And so here it is.