We’ve Been Shot!

First Covid-19 Shots!

Kathy and I received our first dose of Covid 19 vaccine yesterday.  Getting it involved a trip to Bolivia.  Bolivia, North Carolina, that is! 🙂

When North Carolina announced a few weeks ago that they would be opening up vaccinations to Group 4 (our group), I knew that because it included anyone from 18-64 it was going to be a huge group unless they somehow broke it down.  Well, they did, sort of.  They determined that the first wave would be people 18-64 with pre-existing health conditions, which in my opinion (and the CDC’s guidelines) is just about everyone.  That essentially created a huge group vying for the next batch of vaccine, especially when I’m not sure how good of a dent they’ve made on the 65 and up crowd.  I know all or most of our neighbors have gotten it, but we have a pretty aware and active bunch.

Anticipating a wait of days or weeks, I went online Wednesday morning with my pre-saved folder of websites for the local hospitals and county health organizations.  These websites are extremely aggravating, as most of them require you to enter and re-enter information, only to take you to a page that says there are no appointments available. I don’t know if it is result of poor (or no) user testing or if it is intentionally designed to keep people from continually refreshing multiple pages.  There has to be a better way, but I’m not smart enough to figure it out!

When I went to the website for Novant Health, one of our two large local hospital networks and one for which I already had an online profile, a few clicks took me to a page to show what appointments were available.  There were no appointments available locally, but they were showing numerous appointments available at Brunswick Community College in Bolivia, North Carolina.  Where the @#$%^ is Bolivia, I asked?  Well, Bolivia is a little crossroads just outside of Southport and near Wilmington, in the southeast corner of the state and a little over 200 miles away.  Kathy & I immediately snagged appointments for the same time on the same day.  ROAD TRIP!

Of course it doesn’t take much of an excuse for us to load up the car and head somewhere.  But the promise of a vaccination appointment just two days away was not a hard decision to make.  So we found a motel, an Italian restaurant and a place for breakfast, just like we would do anywhere.  It’s good to have lots of practice. 😉

I’ll talk more about the trip and the vaccination process in another post, but suffice it to say it was smooth as silk.  They automatically provided us with appointments for our second dose in the same place at the same time in 4 weeks, so we’ll go back and do it all over again!

Oh, and we made some photo stops along the way there and back, so that will also be the subject of future posts! 🙂

A Quick Stop At Lake Okeechobee

Park at Port Mayaca Lock & Dam on Lake Okeechobee, Florida

We’ve passed by Lake Okeechobee on a number of occasions as we’ve transited central Florida, but have never taken the time to stop until this last time.  The reason we hadn’t seen the lake before is that it is almost completely surrounded by a 30 foot earthen dike, preventing views of the lake from the roadway, but keeping the water where it belongs.

Park at Port Mayaca Lock & Dam on Lake Okeechobee, Florida
Park at Port Mayaca Lock & Dam on Lake Okeechobee, Florida
Park at Port Mayaca Lock & Dam on Lake Okeechobee, Florida
Park at Port Mayaca Lock & Dam on Lake Okeechobee, Florida
Park at Port Mayaca Lock & Dam on Lake Okeechobee, Florida

The only way to actually see the lake is at one of the access points to the Lake Okeechobee Scenic Trail.  Even in the few towns around the lake there is no actual ‘lakefront.’  There is a large roadside park at the Port Mayaca Lock and Dam on the east side of the lake about 30 miles south of the town of Okeechobee.  We stopped there on our way to Okeechobee, where we spent the night before heading out to St. Augustine.

Park at Port Mayaca Lock & Dam on Lake Okeechobee, Florida
Park at Port Mayaca Lock & Dam on Lake Okeechobee, Florida
Park at Port Mayaca Lock & Dam on Lake Okeechobee, Florida
Park at Port Mayaca Lock & Dam on Lake Okeechobee, Florida

We only spent about an hour at this stop, but it looks like a place with a lot of photographic opportunities depending on weather conditions.  If you don’t mind man-made objects like dams and pilings in your photos they might really add some interest to a nice morning or evening sky.  We had a few clouds around for our time there, but it was a little early in the evening for really nice light.  It had already been a long enough day, so we went on to our day’s destination.  We’ll see about returning for longer on a future trip!

Critters Galore

Anhinga drying his wings beside the lake in Nalcrest, Florida

While we didn’t specifically look for wildlife during our time in Florida, we did come across some examples of the local fauna.  Here are a few of my non-wildlife-photographer results.  I don’t think I ever saw an armadillo in the wild before.  If I did I don’t remember it.  I have seen plenty of the others, however.

Great Horned Owl at Lake Wailes Park, Lake Wales Florida
Dolphins swim in the waters behind the Apollo Visitor Center at Canaveral National Seashore, Florida
Alligators enjoying the sunshine at Big Cypress Oasis Visitor Center on US-41/Tamiami Trail near Big Cypress National Preserve, Ochopee, Florida
Sandhill Crane wading the shoreline at Nalcrest, Florida
Limpkin wading the shoreline at Nalcrest, Florida
Osprey in search of lunch in Nalcrest, Florida
Osprey nest on a platform in Nalcrest, Florida
Alligator enjoying a relaxing afternoon by the lake in Nalcrest, Florida
Snowy egret wading the shoreline at Nalcrest, Florida
Limpkin wading the shoreline at Nalcrest, Florida
Wild turkeys wandering through the community of Nalcrest, Florida
Wild turkeys wandering through the community of Nalcrest, Florida
Armadillo at Nalcrest, Florida
Cathy’s green gator

The Murals of Lake Placid, Florida

Even the trash cans join in the themes in Lake Placid Florida, known as the Town of Murals

I did a postcard from Lake Placid a few weeks ago but wanted to share a few more of the photos.  I know 25 seems like more than a few, but there are a lot of murals!

Mural celebrating the path to Eagle Scout. Lake Placid Florida, known as the Town of Murals

Small towns these days have to work hard to attract tourism, and these murals are a testament to the pride of the community and the hard work required to see the project to completion on such a grand scale.  It was an enjoyable day, we had a good lunch and enjoyed a few hours walking around this pleasant town.  Thanks to our friends Bill & Cathy for sharing it with us! 🙂

Series of murals celebrating the history of Florida at Rotary Park. Lake Placid Florida, known as the Town of Murals
Series of murals celebrating the history of Florida at Rotary Park. Lake Placid Florida, known as the Town of Murals
Mural depicting the harvest of pine resin for gum terpentine and sold by Consolidated Naval Stores of Lake Placid. Lake Placid Florida, known as the Town of Murals
Mural depicting the harvest of pine resin for gum terpentine and sold by Consolidated Naval Stores of Lake Placid. Lake Placid Florida, known as the Town of Murals
Mural depicting Lake Placid’s championship-winning basketball team in Lake Placid Florida, known as the Town of Murals
Mural depicting the medical profession. Lake Placid Florida, known as the Town of Murals

I have a number of “non-mural” photos too, and will save them to illustrate some future post.

Mural depicting Lake Placid’s championship-winning basketball team in Lake Placid Florida, known as the Town of Murals
Mural depicting the natural beauty of rural Florida. Lake Placid Florida, known as the Town of Murals
Mural depicting the natural beauty of rural Florida. Lake Placid Florida, known as the Town of Murals
Mural at the Post Office in Lake Placid Florida, known as the Town of Murals
Mural depicting early telephone communication. Lake Placid Florida, known as the Town of Murals
Celebrating the history of the orange industry. Lake Placid Florida, known as the Town of Murals
Mural depicting the fishing in Lake Placid Florida, known as the Town of Murals
Mural depicting the printing industry. Lake Placid Florida, known as the Town of Murals
Lake Placid Florida, known as the Town of Murals
Mural depicting the natural beauty of rural Florida. Lake Placid Florida, known as the Town of Murals
Mural depicting a bank robbery that took place in Lake Placid Florida, known as the Town of Murals
Lake Placid Florida, known as the Town of Murals
Even the trash cans join in the themes in Lake Placid Florida, known as the Town of Murals
Even the trash cans join in the themes in Lake Placid Florida, known as the Town of Murals
Even the trash cans join in the themes in Lake Placid Florida, known as the Town of Murals
Even the trash cans join in the themes in Lake Placid Florida, known as the Town of Murals

Florida Air Museum in Lakeland, Florida

Stearman biplane at the Florida Air Museum at the Lakeland-Linder International Airport in Lakeland Florida

One of the spots we visited on our recent visit to Florida was the Florida Air Museum, located at the Lakeland-Linder International Airport in Lakeland.  Airplane buffs will recognize ‘LAL’ as the home of the annual Sun-N-Fun Aerospace Expo.

Florida Air Museum at the Lakeland-Linder International Airport in Lakeland Florida
“Woody Pusher” homebuilt airplane at the Florida Air Museum at the Lakeland-Linder International Airport in Lakeland Florida
“Woody Pusher” homebuilt airplane at the Florida Air Museum at the Lakeland-Linder International Airport in Lakeland Florida

I was a little disappointed in the museum given the status of Sun-N-Fun in the aviation world, but to be fair they are in the process of a major facilities upgrade which should provide a lot more exhibit space and room for more aircraft.  Plus, we have visited some awesome aviation museums over the last few years, in particular the Evergreen Aviation Museum in Oregon.  How can you compare seeing photographs of Howard Hughes to actually standing inside the Spruce Goose? 😉

Pitts Special displayed in a typical configuration. Florida Air Museum at the Lakeland-Linder International Airport in Lakeland Florida
Ford Flivver homebuilt airplane at the Florida Air Museum at the Lakeland-Linder International Airport in Lakeland Florida’
Florida Air Museum at the Lakeland-Linder International Airport in Lakeland Florida
Florida Air Museum at the Lakeland-Linder International Airport in Lakeland Florida
Florida Air Museum at the Lakeland-Linder International Airport in Lakeland Florida
Florida Air Museum at the Lakeland-Linder International Airport in Lakeland Florida

It was a nice day and a good place to spend a little time.  And there are definitely a few one-of-a-kind aircraft housed here, including the Lockheed XVF-1 which was designed to be a vertical takeoff and landing vehicle long before Space-X figured out how to re-land rockets.  I can only imagine trying to set that thing down on its tail!

Lockheed XVF-1 at Florida Air Museum at the Lakeland-Linder International Airport in Lakeland Florida
Lockheed XVF-1 at Florida Air Museum at the Lakeland-Linder International Airport in Lakeland Florida
Piedmont Airlines Boeing 727 on display at Florida Air Museum at the Lakeland-Linder International Airport in Lakeland Florida
F-14 Tomcat on display at Florida Air Museum at the Lakeland-Linder International Airport in Lakeland Florida

Food For Thought About Food

Signals stored at a train station in Williston, Florida

Over the last year or so, Kathy & I have come to understand the impact of food choice on nutrition and overall health.  One of the arguments I hear a lot as to why people make poor choices regarding food is that not everyone has access to quality food.  My opinion is that people don’t know how to make good choices regarding food, because they don’t know what good food is, let alone what it tastes like.  Why?  Because the marketing messages we receive aren’t pushing healthy foods.  They’re too often promoting foods which are actually bad for us but are sold to an unsuspecting public as being good for us.  As I like to say, there is little profit in selling (for example) broccoli.

One of the food blogs I follow is Marion Nestle’s “Food Politics.”  A recent post titled “Feed The Truth: Draining The Swamp” outlines a study and paper by an organization called Feed The Truth titled “Draining The Big Food Swamp.”  This paper outlines the influence that “Big Food” has on national politics, which in turn affects the information people receive to make decisions about food.  I highly recommend reading Nestle’s post and then following the link to at least the Executive Summary of the report.

This is important stuff.  And this report only covers part of the problem, as it does not address the influence of pharmaceutical companies on the health care profession.  Drug companies don’t make money off of healthy people any more than food companies make money selling healthy foods.  We could solve a lot of the country’s health problems with a focus on quality food as an alternative to drugs and miracle cures.

Getting That First Shot

Closed (possibly permanently) storefronts along US-129 near O’Brien, Florida

Whenever we’re traveling, especially by car, I often look for photographic opportunities on the way.  Sometimes I’ve pre-identified a place like a train station, other times I’m looking for something serendipitous along the side of the road.  If my camera is buried in the bag somewhere in the back of the car I have a hard time stopping.  But if the camera is out and ready, I’m a lot more likely to find a place to pull off or turn around in order to get that first shot.  I find that once I have stopped and taken a few photographs, it is easy to stop the next time something comes up.

Closed (possibly permanently) storefronts along US-129 near O’Brien, Florida
Closed (possibly permanently) storefronts along US-129 near O’Brien, Florida

For me, putting the camera bag on the back seat or on the floor behind my seat is a start.  That makes it easy to get to when I need it.  But the best approach has been to actually get the camera out and hang it over the headrest of the back seat.  I’ve driven hundreds and perhaps thousands of miles that way, and it works.  We had a 2-door car for a while and that made my method a bit more challenging, but we’ve gone back to 4 doors now and probably won’t change back.

Closed (possibly permanently) storefronts along US-129 near O’Brien, Florida
Closed (possibly permanently) storefronts along US-129 near O’Brien, Florida

If we’re staying in a town and walking around, I’ll carry my camera with me, lens cap off, ready to shoot.  I’m kind of a one lens guy anyway, so I have the camera around my neck or on my shoulder and a spare battery in my pocket.  I learned quickly with the EVF cameras to always have a spare!  I often chuckle at the people walking around with their brand new CaNikonUjiOny camera bag on their shoulder, securely zippered shut with the camera inside, probably with the lens off the camera.  Hardly a way to get a photograph! 😉

Closed (possibly permanently) storefronts along US-129 near O’Brien, Florida

A Little “Floridiana”

Roadside stands along I-95 offering all kinds of Florida items

On our way into St. Augustine a few days ago, we exited I-95 at an interchange that contains what I like to call “Floridiana.”  It’s the oversize signs advertising all kinds of goodies to take back home and rot in the cupboard – Tropical Fruit Wine?  Probably not.  Gator Jerky?  Don’t think so.  Boiled peanuts?  Tried ’em – pass.  Also lots of things to tempt the kids and make them sick 20 miles up the road.  I thought I would like to know what “Honey Toasted Chocolate Covered Praline Pecans” taste like until Kathy assured me that it is three different kinds and not just one.  Oh, well.

Roadside stands along I-95 offering all kinds of Florida items

The story is that we didn’t stop there on the way in to town, and as often happens I kicked myself for not taking the time (it was late, we were tired and thirsty, etc.).  So today we went into town to the fort to get a stamp on Kathy’s National Park Passport, and on the way back took the scenic route by way of this exit.  Pretty interesting signage, although it didn’t tempt us enough to go inside.

Oh, and in case you wondered about all those oranges and grapefruits out roasting in the sun?  They’re little concrete spheres.  Wouldn’t make very good juice. 😉

Roadside stands along I-95 offering all kinds of Florida items
Roadside stands along I-95 offering all kinds of Florida items
Roadside stands along I-95 offering all kinds of Florida items
Roadside stands along I-95 offering all kinds of Florida items
Roadside stands along I-95 offering all kinds of Florida items
Roadside stands along I-95 offering all kinds of Florida items
Roadside stands along I-95 offering all kinds of Florida items
Roadside stands along I-95 offering all kinds of Florida items

Full Moon – Sort of a Bust?

Full moon rising over the Atlantic Ocean at St. Augustine Beach, Florida

The full moon is technically today 2/27, although it was fuller at moonrise last night than it will be tonight.  The night that the moon rises just before sunset is what I have heard referred to as the “photographer’s moon” because it rises almost-full while there is still sufficient light on the landscape to show detail.

Last night’s moon rose through a band of thick haze on the horizon into a cloudless sky, so there wasn’t a lot to be excited about.  But it was still pretty, we had a nice place to watch from and it was cocktail time!  I may try again tonight but moonrise coincides with dinner time so I may need to make do with one night’s photos.

White balance may be a little wonky on this but I think it is pretty true to the scene as it was presented.

Photographs and stuff!