Saturday, November 14, 2009

Basking To Get Warm

It was nice to get back to work today. After being sick and then taking my days off, I had been away for 3 1/2 days. It felt like an eternity. The park was in good hands though. I could tell that it was slow, everything was immaculate. There were very few leaves in any of the mowed areas or paved surfaces. Every building was very clean and straitened up, inside and out. A few projects that I had requested were done. I also continued to admire my thoroughly cleaned truck today. Its nice to know that the park is well taken care of when I'm gone.
My day started with a drive through the park and then opening the gate and putting up the flags. I wondered if all of the critters would still be hiding in the flag box. I opened the box and didn't see the spider. I hope it left on its own accord. I didn't see the frogs either once I had carefully removed the first two flags. I returned to remove the third flag and found two chilly little frogs. I think that their colors are darkening, maybe from the cold.
IMG_5057
I headed to the office next and decided to get the paperwork out of the way and hope that it would warm up outside. Once that was done, I took a walk around the park. It wasn't really all that warm yet. I opened the cabin and then headed towards the restrooms to make sure that there were brochures in the rack. I spotted a group of turkeys and was able to walk behind the restrooms to get pretty close before they decided to waddle back to the woods.
IMG_5058
I walked down to the spring next and enjoyed the buoy-free view of the spring run while it lasted. Hopefully it will be warm enough outside tomorrow afternoon to coax me into the water to replace the buoy cable. The buoy line really is necessary to keep swimmers and the Madison safe from boaters, but its nice to see everything natural too. The fishermen were already hard at work. They had some company soon after that. Half a dozen fishermen and two free divers were all the visitors that I saw today.
IMG_5061
I drove out to the entrance station to add honor envelopes and brochures. I found this little, tiny spider perched on top of the iron ranger or the metal drop box for payment. I guess the spiders were on gate duty today. There was also a Daddy-longlegs on the front of the iron ranger. I swatted it away. I don't want to hear the excuse that 'there was a big scary spider so I couldn't pay'.
IMG_5062
IMG_5062
Because the park was so quiet today, I needed some things to do. I didn't want to get too involved in anything in case we did get busy later in the day, but I was ready to be back to work. I decided to get started on a potential eagle scout collaborative project. I have always wanted some interpretive panels on the long walkway down to the spring. Interpretive panels are expensive though so it was really out of the question. A scout from one of the groups that camped with us recently wants to start working on an eagle scout project to help the park. I mentioned my idea and they think that they may be able to raise the funds for the panels and to install them. The project is still a long way out and not completely set in stone, but I will do my part of the work and it will be done if and when the project is ever picked up. I am really looking forward to it. The panels will give people a reason to slow down and notice the life around them and in the busy summer season, they may be the only interpretation about the park that some visitors will see.
I started by thinking of some topics for the panels and an overall theme. I also looked through my photo files to see what I had to support those topics. Next, I headed out with my trusty rusty measuring wheel.
IMG_5065
I measured the walkway and each of its sections. I also drew out a crude map of the walkway so that I could add notes about which panel should go where. I want to make sure that the panels are appropriately spaced to keep them interesting. I made notes about where the Persimmon Tree is on the walkway for a potential panel as well as the most popular corner for frogs and toads. On my way back up the walkway, I was finally feeling the warmth of the sun. The lizards were feeling out the possibility of soaking in the sun too.
IMG_5067
IMG_5068
Content with a good start on that project, I moved on to the cabin. I filled up the fish tank and resolved to return with some fish tank cleaning supplies from home at a later date. I also filled the brochure rack and updated a display about the Suwannee River Wilderness Trail. The catfish in the aquarium usually hides under a rock whenever I am in the cabin. I have to hide behind a display after I feed it to watch it swim. Today, I guess it got used to me being there and it swam around the tank quite a bit. It was pretty cool to watch it so active. At least the fish tank was active, because the park sure wasn't. Hopefully tomorrow will be a little busier.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Nice Day For A Walk

Today is day off number two. It started out cold, but quickly warmed to 80 degrees by the afternoon. Dozer and I decided to take a walk to soak in the sun. We also picked up my truck from the main park area.
We walked around the barn and in the field behind the barn first. There was not a lot of wildlife action aside from some very fast lizards who had the same idea we did, get warm in the sun. There were no flowers to speak of aside from some tiny yellow ones here and there, but there was color! Sprinkled throughout the browning grasses, were hundreds of little Sumac sprouts that had turned the most beautiful shade of crimson.
IMG_5044
I also noticed that the pea pods were drying out. Many of them had dried enough that they had twisted open and scattered their seeds.
IMG_5048
When we stopped at the water faucet at the barn so that Dozer could get a drink, I noticed a great big grasshopper on the fence.
IMG_5051
When it hopped away, Dozer took notice and had to give it a sniff. I'm glad he didn't want to taste it, the grasshopper is too, I'm sure.
IMG_5053
We left the barn area and headed off down the trail to the park. I was surprised to see a giant yellow butterfly just sitting in the leaves on the trail. I was also surprised that it stayed still while I got close to it with a camera and a 130lbs dog!
IMG_5055
When we got to the park, we visited with the workers. Dozer was happy to have other people to snuggle against. I was happy because my co-worker washed my truck for me. It looked so shiny and nice! When we were done with our visit, we loaded up in the truck and headed home. It was a nice adventure.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Slug

Today is my regularly scheduled first day off this week. I am still taking it easy, but I am pretty much over the horrible congestion that I had been experiencing. It has been cool out since the last storm came through, but while the sun was out this afternoon, I decided to take advantage of it. Here is what I discovered in my yard.
IMG_5023
My froggy friends are still on the porch. The third wheel has made another appearance!
IMG_5024
In my garden, there was not a lot of action. This grasshopper posed with a lovely yellow flower. It must have known how well the flower would bring out its highlights.
IMG_5027
There were a few bees, lazily bouncing between the few flowers left in bloom.
IMG_5029
I think that some of these flower seeds are just as pretty as the flowers themselves were.
IMG_5038
Because the garden was so calm and quiet, I ventured out to the log pile which was in full sun. I thought that I might find some lizards basking in the sun. The Anoles were too quick for me and hid themselves between the logs before I could get any photos. This little fence lizard was rather brave. He waddled his fat little, tailless self back and forth and snatched up any little gnats and flies that had the misfortune to cross its path.
Disappointed with the lizard selection, I started digging into the decaying log pile in hopes of finding some interesting critter. I found slugs. They are interesting, but I don't know if they are exciting. I wondered why they were grouped together in small, medium, and large. They hatch from eggs which are buried in the ground, so this definitely isn't a family. One likely found a nice moist place that may have some tasty mold or fungus to eat. The others likely followed the slimy trail to get to the good stuff.
IMG_5034

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Another Sick Day

I started thinking about what I was going to blog today and it all sounded very familiar. I am grateful for all of the help that I have at the park these days. It is really nice to be able to stay home when I am sick and know that the park is in good hands. I went in for a little while this morning to open up, take care of paperwork, make my weekly visit to Adams Tract, fill up the gas cans, and then let a volunteer drive me home so that he can have my truck tomorrow. I will take tomorrow off as well as my regular Thursday and Friday off to try to keep my germs at home and give myself plenty of rest to hit the ground running when I get back to work Saturday.
Here are a couple of photos that I managed to get today. The first is from the garden in front of our entrance sign. The beautiful green plant is Coontie and I loved the way the unidentified-red-plant looked, entwined in the Coontie. The frogs are the ones that live on my front porch. They were happily active today because it was warm and humid from rain.
IMG_5011
IMG_5012

Monday, November 9, 2009

Ranger On The Go

It was another Monday full of driving. I had a long list of things to accomplish today. In addition to the usual Monday errands, I also had to take a trip to Lake City to tackle a few different tasks. It seemed as though each stop multiplied into several other things to do as the day progressed. Throughout the day, I completed end of the week paperwork, picked up deposit slips, dropped off paperwork, made copies of the brochure, had all 12 or so fire extinguishers in the park checked, picked up a case of paper towels, got the oil changed in my truck, bought new cable for the buoy line, talked to a vendor about new buoys, got hydraulic fluid for the lawn mower, ordered a test kit for an annual water test on the well at Adams Tract, and had a lot of help at the park from other workers and volunteers who took care of visitors and removed the old cable from the buoys while I was gone. It was a productive day, but I didn't manage to take any photos. I won't disappoint you though, here are some leftovers from a great photo day in October.
IMG_4844
IMG_4845
IMG_4852
IMG_4854
IMG_4855

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Diver Day

Today was pretty much the exact opposite of yesterday. The park was busy and there were a lot of people, but I was not as busy. I was grateful for that because I wasn't feeling very well due to a sore throat. The day started out quiet enough, I opened up and started on paperwork. Soon, I heard a rumble that I recognized as a large vehicle. I looked out of my office window and saw a giant bus in the parking lot. When I walked to the picnic area, a dive instructor met me with the appropriate permit and an accurate count of her group. They proved to be a very organized group throughout their visit and I did little more with them than answer the occasional question about the park. They were the largest group in the park all day with 29 people in all, but it didn't seem that way because their visit was so well structured. As the large group finished up and began to get ready to leave, a steady trickle of small dive groups began.
IMG_4999
I spent the day just strolling through the park, unclogging the toilet, checking in divers, seeing off the boy scouts, and chatting with visitors. It was a typical sunny Sunday, and here are the typical sunny day photos. I stumbled upon the tiniest little Anole who had already lost its tail once in its short little life so far.
IMG_4997
There were a lot of Long Tailed Skippers who were very active throughout the sunny afternoon.
IMG_5003
IMG_5004
I also found several busy busy bees. This one is the only one that was still enough to catch with my camera.
IMG_5005
There aren't many flowers still in bloom now, so I couldn't pass up this pretty little bundle.
IMG_5007