Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Florida ~ near Wellington

MUSAP happy to see sunshine and palm trees
MUSAP started the new year with a sad trip to Florida. My cousin’s daughter died in a car accident and I went to Florida to represent the family at her Memorial Service in Wellington.

Sophie's Sky, after her Memorial Service

I had some free time while I was there so I searched out some natural spaces where I could be outside and enjoy some sunshine in January.

MUSAP checking some tree bark texture

On day 1 I went to Okeeheelee Park in West Palm Beach. It was close to my hotel and the web site indicated there were many trails that I could stroll.

Okeeheelee Park

I saw lots of birds near the roadside ditches as I drove to the park - egrets, wood storks, even a pair of sandhill cranes. There wasn’t a safe place to pull over for pix, but I hoped there would be more birds at the park. I found some birds of interest and the skies and reflections were good subjects, too.

Cormorant drying his wings

It’s a pretty park and I enjoyed my walk. The weather was a little unsettled  - the sun was out, then I’d see raindrops in the pond  next to the path and realize it was sprinkling. So the light for photography kept changing, and for photographers it is all about the light!

Raindrops in a pond

I headed back towards to car in case it started to rain harder… didn’t want my camera to get wet. The rain stopped and the clouds started to part again.


As I was driving out of the park I noticed a bird perched on a wire. I stopped and backed up to check it more closely and was able to get a photograph of the American Kestrel.

American Kestrel - a small falcon, sometimes called a sparrow hawk

Pelican in the pines

The next day my flight time got changed to late afternoon so I had plenty of time for another nature stroll. I decided to check Fern Forest in Coconut Creek, just outside Ft Lauderdale.

Fern Forest

The weather was hot and sunny so I was happy to discover that the Cypress Creek Trail was shady and interesting. Plus it is a boardwalk so the walking was easy.

MUSAP on the boardwalk

There were a variety of habitats along the trail. In Florida even a slight change in elevation can change the plants and animals that will live in an area. I don’t usually see too many mammals so it was fun to see a raccoon. I heard him coming down a tree trunk before I saw him.

Raccoon going upstream

Along the trail the sun was lighting a huge spider web. As I was trying to find the right position to photograph it I suddenly thought perhaps I should be looking for the spider that built the web! I am not a fan of spiders, but this one proved to be an interesting subject.

When you see a web, remember to look for the spider!

I also walked the Prairie Perimeter Road. It was getting hotter and the trail was a little rougher so I spent more time watching where I was stepping than creating photos.

A sunnier trail

And it wouldn’t be a trip to Florida without a photo or two of anoles!


at Fern Forest

January 2106

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Providence ~ Dreaming of a White Christmas

MUSAP loves seeing musicals

MUSAP and I spent the night in Providence, Rhode Island. When I started these adventures I had the name MUSAP (thank you Jon for helping me decide on that) but I didn't have the butterfly! So this is the first MUSAP post from Rhode Island with pix of my traveling companion.

Sean after the show

The inspiration for this quick adventure was Irving Berlin's White Christmas at the Providence Performing Arts Center. This is the 4th year that Sean has toured with the show. I have now seen him tap & sing in Patchogue Village, NY, at Westchester Broadway Theater in Elmsford, NY, in Cleveland, Ohio, at the Wang in Boston, and now in Providence. It's become a Christmas tradition for me.

Snow, snow, snow
Despite the warmer than usual December weather it was 'snowing' outside the theater.

MUSAP was in awe of Santa

Santa was outside the theater too! My sister, Deborah, came to see the show so she was able to take this Santa photo. She started to say 'It's too bad you don't have MUSAP with you...' as I was pulling him out of my pocket.

Tony and Bobbi happened to be sitting in the row in front of me.

Rather than drive home after the show I decided I would stay at a hotel near by. That meant I got to go out for food with Sean, Tony, his mom, and some of his family after the show.

beautiful clouds

The warm weather continued and I was able to get outside with my camera the next day. Sean sent me a text letting me know he was going to be back on stage that afternoon (he's swing ~ understudy) so I went to the theater and got a rush ticket to see the show again. It's a happy story and it makes me smile.

MUSAP back at Providence Performing Arts Center

The theater is beautiful so I was happy to be back inside and get some photos.

beautifully restored theater

CLICK here for more photos.

Merry Christmas

December 2015

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

It's December and MUSAP wants to catch up ~

MUSAP's Travels 2015

It's December and sadly this blog has been neglected for many months... but I am hoping to catch up. There won't be as much detail as usual, but here is a lengthy post with lots of photos and brief reports about MUSAP's travels in 2015.

MUSAP ready for some first class travel!

Since the last post MUSAP and I have traveled to the Outer Banks of North Carolina in April, to Bethany Beach in Delaware with stops in Pennsylvania and New York, to Saint Simons and Savannah, Georgia, Hilton Head and Charleston, South Carolina, to Connecticut, to Old Orchard Beach, Maine, to New York City, to Indiana, Kentucky, & Tennessee. We have been out of state every month this year and away from home for 74 nights.

MUSAP has been to many beaches. 

Here's where MUSAP and I left off with the blog posts. There were more days of sandhill crane watching in Nebraska.

MUSAP waiting for the Fly In of the sandhill cranes at sunset.

The cranes first arrived back at the river in pairs and small groups.

We watched from a bird blind as thousands of cranes flew in to spend the night by the river.

Then in April MUSAP traveled to the Outer Banks of North Carolina for 4 nights.

MUSAP at the beach in Nags Head, NC.
MUSAP and I tried off-road segway riding with Back Country Safari Tours. I was glad I had ridden one before. Once I got used to being on sandy paths it was lots of fun.

A segway ride under Spanish Moss.

Outings included seeing wild horses and lighthouses

A Corolla wild horse.

MUSAP and the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse.

May's MUSAP adventure was a week on the Delaware shore. This was a driving trip with a visit to Longwood Gardens on the way south and seeing Phil & Jenny on Long Island on the way home.

Water lily garden at Longwood Gardens

in the Conservatory at Longwood Gardens

I rented a condo in Bethany Beach from a friend I had met on the Nebraska trip in March.

MUSAP had to take shelter from the wind on Bethany Beach.

There was a boat tour with Captain Dan's Around the Island Tours around Chincoteague Island, Virginia to see the famous wild ponies.

This Chincoteague pony foal was curious about our tour boat.

I also got to meet Darlene - we were Facebook friends because I know her son. She lives in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. We both share a love of nature photography so it was fun to go out and shoot with her. She knew all the good local spots!

some of the birds I got to photograph with Darlene.

In June my sister, Deborah,  joined me for a MUSAP adventure. We went down memory lane with a visit to St. Simons Island, Georgia where we had enjoyed many family vacations in the 60's, 70's, and 80's! Then we explored Savanah, Georgia in the summer heat.

Spanish Moss

Musician along the Savannah waterfront

so hot!

Next stop was Hilton Head, SC to see Sean Quinn sing and dance in Xanadu.

Hilton Head Beach ~ treated ourselves to rooms with a view.

MUSAP & Sean are used to posing for photos.

Last stop on this adventure was a quick visit to Charleston, SC. The heat continued but we were able to enjoy the Charleston Tea Plantation. This is the only place in the US where tea is grown.

Fun trolley tour at the tea plantation with very knowledgable guide.
We were the only people on the tour!
Learned a lot about how tea is grown and harvested.

We took several tours at Magnolia Plantation - the Rice Field Boat Tour and the Nature Tram Tour.

The Rice Field Boat Tour was informative and kept us moving which made us feel a little cooler.

It was nice to have someone to take my photo once in a while on this adventure.

Someone at Magnolia Plantation mentioned Angel Oak - it was worth finding!

Angel Oak

Sometimes MUSAP adventures can take us to sad places. There had been a mass shooting in Charleston shortly before our trip. We went to the church to pay our respects.

Outside the AME Church - left a Boston message.

There was a day trip to Buttonwood Farm to photograph sunflowers.

Sunflower Joy!

In July, despite the heat, MUSAP and I returned to Savannah and Hilton Head. There were things i still wanted to see and do, plus I wanted to see Xanadu a second time without the understudy we had seen the first time.

The Mercer Williams House
the location from Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil

In Savannah I went to Bonaventure Cemetery. This was a place I had read about in Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil so I wanted to see it.

Bonaventure Cemetery

Fort Pulaski has a lot of history and provided some fun photo ops on Tybee Island.

Fort Pulaski

I stayed at a different hotel on Hilton Head and there was an alligator next to my parking space. luckily there was a fence.

I was amused by the alligator warning sign hanging on the fence... then I looked down and saw the alligator!

Explored the natural side of Hilton Head by taking a kayak tour with Kayak Hilton Head.

I look for different things to do on my adventures - this was the first time I tried a kayak tour.

My destination for August was Old Orchard Beach in Maine. My youngest son, Phil, and his girlfriend were going to be doing a triathlon! I had to witness that ~

Phil's bike ready for the race the next day.

There was plenty of time for quiet walks on the beach and looking for sea glass.

Collecting sea glass reminds me of beach walks with my dad.

There was also time for mini golf with Phil and Jenny - I got 2 holes in one!

A hole in one at mini golf is more luck than skill!

The highlight of the trip was the triathlon. Into the cold Atlantic shortly after 7 am and done by 11 ~ 1.5 k swim (.9 miles), 40 k bike (24.8 miles), and 10 k run (6.2 miles). They both did a great job despite not doing as much training as they had hoped over the summer.

Phil circled around and joined Jenny to run across the finish line with her.

I stopped at the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge on my way home. It's a pretty place and an easy walk. Wish I lived closer!

MUSAP loves a quiet walk in the woods.

In September there was another day trip to Connecticut ~ ferry boat tour of the lighthouse in Long Island Sound between New London and Orient Point. Cross Sound Ferry Lighthouse Tour

Long Island Sound Lighthouses

September took me to New York City for Sean's wedding. I spent a couple of days as a tourist before the wedding and Phil & Jenny joined me for a show, bus tours and a harbor tour on a schooner.

MUSAP liked Bryant Park.

We did two bus tours - downtown and uptown loops on Big Bus Tours. There was definitely a difference in the quality of the tour guides.

We saw the Brooklyn Bridge from the bus.

Jenny and Phil on the Big Bus Tour.

One World Trade.
We enjoyed our Sunset Sail from Chelsea Pier around the harbor aboard the schooner America 2.0.

Jenny & Phil on America 2.0

America 2.0 at sunset

Statue of Liberty
Then there was the wedding!

This was some of the guests before we went upstairs for the ceremony.
Not sure who took this photo so I can't give proper photo credit. 
the handsome grooms

dancing the night away

I did birding walk in Bryant Park the morning after the wedding. I was surprised by how many different species of birds we saw.

Common yellowthroat in Bryant Park,

I tell myself I will stay home for a while and then I get the itch to travel again... So I planned another trip for October. The destination was Kentucky, but the trip included Indiana and Tennessee. Indiana because there aren't non-stop flights from Boston to Kentucky so I planned to fly into Indianapolis.

It started to rain as I explored the gardens at the Indianapolis Museum of Art.

The sun came out as I drive south. I walked across the Big Four Bridge
 a pedestrian/bike bridge that spans the Ohio River between Indiana and Kentucky.

I had found lots of factory tour possibilities in Kentucky - so I took 3 tours at Buffalo Trace Distillery where I learned a lot about how bourbon is made, 2 cave tour at Mammoth Cave National Park, a tour of the Corvette Assembly Plant in Bowling Green, a tour of the Louisville Slugger Factory, and a backside tour at Churchill Downs.

At Buffalo Trace I took their Trace Tour, Hard Hat Tour, and Ghost Tour.

At Mammoth Caves I took the Great Onyx Lantern Tour and the Frozen Niagara Tour.

No photography was allowed at the Corvette Factory. This was in the Corvette Museum nearby.

That was a big bat outside the Louisville Slugger Factory.

Great behind the scenes tour of Churchill Downs and got to watch some races.

When I was in Bowling Green I discovered I was close to Nashville (guess I should pay more attention to maps in my planning) so I decided to add a day trip to Tennessee. I was happy to find a segway tour with iRide Nashville. I t was a good way to get a look at the city on a cool and cloudy day, plus I could cross another state off my list.

A day trip to Nashville with a Segway ride.

One last thing on my Kentucky adventure was playing with my creative side at the Mark Payton Glass Center in Louisville. They have a walk in workshop where you can create almost anything you want as a fused glass project.

Walk in Workshop for creating a fused glass project.

You can also sign up for a private session with Mark Payton and create a flamed glass project. It was so much fun!!

I would have been happy just taking of photos of the Flame Your Own Workshop.
I made this 'imploded flower' pendant with a lot of help from Mark!

In December I saw a post about A Longwood Christmas at Longwood Gardens. I loved it there in May so I was excited about seeing their conservatory decorated for Christmas. It was magical.

How wonderful that they preserve some of the water lilies and put them on display.

MUSAP enjoyed all of the Christmas decor.

The grounds outdoors were beautifully lit.

It was so pretty in the Conservatory as it got dark.

As I was planning this adventure I happened upon a post about bald eagles at the Conowingo Dam. I had never heard of it, but when I check I discovered it wasn't too far from Longwood Gardens. So I added a day and planned to look for eagles.

I was lucky to be at Conowingo Dam on a day when there was lots of eagle activity.

Juvenile bald eagle soaring overhead.

2 eagles disagreeing on territory in the tree.

Eagle with a catch.

And that my friends is a summary of MUSAP's travel in 2015 from March to December. All good intentions to do expand on some of these trips and share more of the photos. Also I hope to keep the blog up to date on my adventures in 2016!

Best wishes to all for 2016!

December 2015