Hammocks & Donald Trump

PB nike ride 01-17-2015Road Warriorette Anne and I took a nice bike ride on a coolish Florida Saturday. I paused to take a photo, then looked on the other side of the causeway that leads from the West Palm Beach mainland to the rarefied island of Palm Beach. There was a young woman reading a book suspended in a hammock between two palm trees. (Click on the photos to make them larger.)

I abandoned Anne to get a closer look. A lot of bike tourists like hammocks because they are light and pack up very small, but I always thought of the big, heavy ones I remember from kidhood.

Two heads pop up

PB nike ride 01-17-2015When I got within range, TWO heads popped up. I wasn’t expecting that.

I didn’t get their names, but I DID get the name of the hammock, which packs into the little square pouch hanging from the front of the hammock. It ends up about the size of a softball. They said this was an ENO, I didn’t know enough at the time to ask if it was a double or a single, but I’m guessing it’s a single.

Lots of favorable reviews

The reviews for the Eagles Nest Outfitters SingleNest Hammock on Amazon are almost universally favorable. The women said it’s a snap to put it up and it doesn’t harm the trees. What I didn’t know to ask them was if the straps that go around the tree came with it. From the comments I read online and the photo of the hammock, they look like they are accessories. The doggone straps cost almost half as much as the hammock, and probably could be rigged on your own, but these sure looked easy to use.

By the way, if you order one after following those links, I get a tiny piece of the action at no additional cost to you.

Just south of the huge Kapok tree that is now off-limits to the public, darned if we didn’t see another young woman hanging between two palm trees along the Lake Trail. Her hammock was a no-name from the Dominican Republic, but it looked and performed like the ENO. She said she likes to stretch out in it to study.

Big pile of sand

PB nike ride 01-17-2015The public beach in Palm Beach was covered with huge piles of sand that had to have been close to three stories tall. Kids and adults were clambering all over them. This little girl was playing Queen of the World.

I was afraid she was going to take a tumble, but she enjoyed taking a step, feeling the sand slide out from under her, then rinse and repeat all the way to the bottom.

Donald Trump missile strike?

PB nike ride 01-17-2015On our southbound leg down Flagler Boulevard in West Palm Beach, we spotted some strange contrails.

Donald Trump has been in the news lately because he filed a $100 million dollar lawsuit alleging that Palm Beach International Airport is deliberately flying planes over his property in Palm Beach. Considering that the airport has been there longer than Trump has been alive, and that the property, Mar-A-Lago is almost directly east of PBIA’s main east/west runway, it should come as no surprise to him that jets, including his own personal jet, take off or land that way, depending on wind direction.

Figuring that his suit will probably be thrown out as having no merit, I thought maybe he had decided to take out a few jets to send a message. The vertical trail looks like it’s coming from about the right spot to have been launched from Mar-A-Lago.

Swimming with Manatees

DCIM100GOPROGOPR2176.Road Warriorette Anne is back in Florida for a few weeks fleeing cold weather in Texas. For the record, that is NOT Anne. She took time off from her travel schedule to swim with manatees in Kings Bay in the Crystal River on Florida’s Gulf Coast. She bought a video of her experience, and I pulled a few frames out for this post.

Here is her account:

I’m not crazy about the cold

DCIM100GOPROGOPR2162.The night before my manatee swimming experience, I was actually pretty stressed out. I was excited, certainly. But the forecast was for 36 degrees at 7:15 a.m., which was the time we were due to arrive at the boat dock for our short ride to Kings Bay, where all the manatees were lounging in the relatively warm waters of Crystal River.

I am not a person who enjoys cold weather. Scratch that. I am a person who despises cold weather. But I had decided earlier in the day that if I was indeed going to honor my reservation, made before this rare arctic front swooped into west central Florida, I was going to do it cheerfully and have fun. A stop at the Goodwill store in Perry, complete with purchase of a cheap coat and blanket to keep me warm on the boat ride out and back, sealed the deal.

But the alarm was set for 5:45 (leaving time to eat breakfast before the boat ride), and I am ALSO not an early morning riser, so that was additional cause for anxiety. DCIM100GOPROGOPR2168.Not to mention I had driven 540 miles that day (and 525 miles the day before that), so I had a bit of white line fever running through my veins, I admit.

But I digress! It’s all about the manatees. Once I saw my first manatee in the waters of Kings Bay that morning, everything else slipped away. In my experience, it’s such a transporting experience to have a close encounter with another species, especially in their own habitat. [Editor’s note: that’s why she visits me.]

Although there were large areas of water cordoned off with buoys where visitors can’t enter, the manatees very often leave these sanctuary areas and come “visit” you! They are curious and just come right up to humans again and again.

My coat and blanket kept me warm on the boat ride out, and since it was such a cold day, maybe just 14 to 16 guests were in the whole area. Our guide told us the previous week (the holiday season) there were as many as 200 people in the water at one time. Which meant anytime a manatee was spotted, it was positively swarmed by humans, all with grasping hands and cameras, etc.  I was definitely feeling there was an upside to the cold weather by this time.

Watch the video

The manatees’ whiskers were softer than I thought they’d be, but their skin is quite tough. Their wrinkles feel funny and it’s darling the way they almost always turn over to have their tummies scratched. I had two wonderful encounters; one was on camera, which you can see on the video, and one all alone, when I got nose to nose with a cow who came up for a close look. Then she turned over for me to pet her tummy, which I did; but then she slowly began twirling around and around, mesmerizing me so that I just kept my hand on her while she quietly rotated.

Violated the two-hand rule

Anne titleOur guide happened to be filming when I had my second special encounter. A cow came up to me very close and then actually reached toward me with both fins. It was the dearest thing. Something within me wanted to respond in kind, so I reached out with both hands to sort of cup her face or perhaps touch her fins, I’m not sure which. I wasn’t really thinking, just reacting to her gesture. But apparently there’s a “one-hand” rule, which I didn’t recall hearing, despite closely watching the video about procedures before departure. Whatever, I did actually get to touch her with both hands before I got caught and it was very meaningful to me (and maybe to her because she reached out first!) so I don’t care about getting caught!

Two hours with the gentle giants

DCIM100GOPROGOPR2208.Our small group of six that left from The Plantation Dive Shop stayed in Kings Bay for close to two hours, having multiple encounters with the gentle giants. The only time I was truly, bitterly cold was when we got out of the water. Then we were all actually shaking so hard that we spilled lots of hot chocolate as we tried to drink it to warm up.

But every one of us agreed it was totally worth it.

Swimming with manatees has been on my bucket list for quite a while. If it’s on yours, go do it, and don’t be afraid to pick a cold day.

 

 

 

 

 

CRASH! and a Sunset

Sunset and moon from front yard 12-16-2012

The intersection around the corner from us used to average a crash every couple of months, but lately it’s been quiet. Still, the sound of screeching tires and a dull thud caused the nap magnet to release me from its grip.

I walked out in the front yard and noticed some of the neighbors looking down the street, so I hopped in the car to see if anybody needed help. It turned out to be a minor fender bender without any obvious injuries, so I went back to the house.

On the way to the front door, I looked up at the red sky at night and saw the moon that Dad would say is “holding water.” Let’s hope the red sky at night will signal a better week for us all. (Click on it to make it larger.)

Photo geek info: I underexposed the image about 2-1/2 stops from the automatic reading to make the sky go darker.