Saturday, December 5, 2009

Cold Rain

Its never on a day that I would expect it when there are divers waiting at the gate as I open up in the morning.  It was cold, just over 50 degrees, and it was raining.  It was raining a fine mist that wasn't really substantial enough to use an umbrella, but it was enough to soak you in the time it takes to open the gate and get back in the truck.  I was opening the gate about twenty five minutes early, but the divers were anxious to get in the water and finish up their dive class so that they could get out in time to see a football game.  I drove to the office and walked over to the picnic area to check in the divers.  They were still waiting on a few more to arrive and it had stopped raining, so I played pick-up-sticks in the picnic area for a good long time.  We had just over an inch of rain last night, which brought down quite a few small branches.  I like to admire the different Lichen, (fungus and algae together) growing on each branch.

As the last divers in the group arrived, it started to rain again.  I got them all checked in and retreated to my cozy, dry office to work on paperwork  I took care of the paperwork quickly and saw that the e-mail and internet were down.  There was nothing else I could do in the office, so I went for a walk.  I opened up the cabin and set up the craft project for December.  I forgot to take a photo though, I will try to remember tomorrow.  When I left the cabin, I headed down to the river.  There I found some beautiful views.  The sun was almost done rising, but it was still shining through the trees in the flood plain enough to illuminate the remaining fog.

The weather was in a great state of confusion.  I looked downriver first and found dark, cloudy skies and a lot of fog.

I looked up river and saw the sun trying to peak through the clouds.  It didn't last long though, moments after I snapped this photo, it was just as gray upriver as it was down.

From the river dock, I could see that the river has come up quite a bit.  When the internet started working again, I checked our water level and saw that it has come up over a foot since I worked last, on Wednesday.  Compare the view below to this view taken less than a month ago.

I loved this view of the spring dock.  The wind was really blowing and moving the surface of the water.  The fog was still resting over the water, and the fall colors are really at their peak right now.

Back up the hill, I had to get a photo from the cabin porch.  Only the top of the center rock is still above water.  Its really amazing how quickly the water can come up when south Georgia gets some rain.  Here is the same view, last month.

I picked up more fallen sticks on the way towards the picnic area and the spring dock.  I passed some of the divers who were coming up to get new tanks.  They were all having a great time.  When its 50 degrees and rainy outside, its a great time to be submerged in 70 degree spring water.  I walked down to the dock and talked to some of the divers that were still in the water.  They thought that the water felt great.  They also didn't realize it, but they were glad that the water level came back up.  It was starting to get tricky to climb out of the water with SCUBA gear on because only two steps up to the dock where under water.  Today, four steps were wet and getting in and out was a breeze.  As the divers prepared for their second dive, I walked back up the hill.  I saw several Cardinals fly out of the plants above the walkway, then another bird caught my eye.  A small, agile, and quiet little bird started to dart around me.  It was flying in and out of the plants and stopping momentarily on flower stems or small branches.  I waited patiently, and fortunately, it seemed as interested in me as I was in it.  We watched each other for a while and I managed to get a couple of images or it.  Unfortunately, here enters my frustrations with birding... small birds that are brown and yellow... there are just too many of them.  Perhaps a kind birder will offer an identity to my cute little friend, or I may be able to get some help from park biologists.  Hopefully we can find a name for this little bird.

Sometime, late morning, the internet and e-mail started to work again.  I had a few e-mails waiting for me, including a request to list all of the wildlife that I have documented on my blog to help with updating park records.  That was a good rainy day project and I was able to get the project organized and get a good start on it.  Soon the divers left and it looked as though, no one else would be coming to visit the park.  I decided to head home and burn up some comp time.  I am paid a salary, so when I work on a holiday, I get time off that I can take on another day.  I think I have hours for three November holidays that I need to use up, and a rainy day is a good place to start.  I left a note for my evening relief and headed home.

Friday, December 4, 2009


I went riding today!  It was my first time on a horse since September 18th.  It was great.  The last time I rode, we were still going as early as possible to try to beat the heat somewhat.  Today we were bundled up and the horses were growing their winder coats.  They are so warm and fuzzy when its cold.  Amigo had the longest fur on his legs compared to the other horses.

It was drizzling a little bit on the way to the barn.  I looked at the weather radar and saw that we would have a gap in the rain for a little while.  I hoped that it would stay dry while we rode.  It did, for the most part.  On our way back, it started to rain a little but the tree canopy blocked most of it.  It was really  nice to be on a horse again.  I had a great time.  Amigo only spooked twice.  Unfortunately, I started to get a migraine just as we arrived at the barn.  This just isn't my week.  Next week will be better!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Last of the Mashed Potatoes

Its leftovers again today, but something exciting tomorrow!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Why did the turkey cross the road?


The turkey crossed the road because a park ranger was looking at it.  The turkeys are always good at moving to the side of the road that is opposite from my open, driver side window.  I have shown you lots of photos of the turkeys from a distance, but I was hoping for some better ones today.  No luck, but I'll show you my turkey friends anyhow.

Unfortunately, I had to spend another day away from the park.  I went to the little town of Micanopy, just south of Gainesville to pick up more hay bales to slow the erosion in front of the cabin.  After I picked up the hay, I drove past another state park, Paynes Prairie.  There is a little boardwalk onto the prairie right off the side of the road, so I stopped to see what I could see while I was there.  I saw some beautiful yellow flowers, but nothing else blooming or moving.  The flower is Primrose Willow.  I think it is interesting that its flowers can have four OR five petals.  Usually a flowers have the same number of petals on each flower.  The flower in the center of the photo has five petals and all of the rest in the photo have four.

One of my favorite things about this walkway is how much sky you can see.  Because there are very few trees on the prairie, your view goes on and on.  Sunsets and incoming storms are magnificent from this spot.

On my drive back to the park, the sky kept growing darker and the wind was getting stronger.  When I pulled onto the last county road before the park, I could see the pouring rain falling miles ahead.  I knew that it would not be long before the rain reached the park.  When I pulled in, my coworkers jumped into action to unload the hay and get it in place.  We reminisced about the wonderful smell of hay and our experiences from the past of unloading hay for horses.  The job was done in no time at all and we were ready for the rain to fall.

I went back to the office to do the little bit of paperwork that I had left and the rain started, all at once.  It was a good thundering rain.  It was beautiful.  My coworkers and I sat under the cover of the shop roof and watched the rain fall.  I tried taking a few photos of wet leaves and things.  I did get one that I liked of our beautiful Dogwood tree.  The leaves are such a vibrant red now.  Compare them to just a couple weeks ago, they have changed a lot.

The rain wasn't letting up and there were too many of us standing around, so I left a little early to get a start on my weekend.  Hooray for weekends!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Missing the Park

Today was a frustrating day.  Like yesterday, I was not in the park for very long.  I had to repeat many of yesterday's steps, including the trip to Ichetucknee because of the end of the month paperwork.  When I returned to the park, I had to leave again.  I had intended to finally take a mandatory yearly water sample at the well at Adams Tract, but had to put that off again. I had a message on the answering machine that required me to leave the park again and stay away for much longer than I deemed necessary.  I can't say many nice things about my day today, so I will share the only two photos that I got while I was in the park this morning and hope for a better day tomorrow.  I guess not everyday can be a day at the park.

The leaf is another type of Smilax, like the berry photo from Sunday.  This is one of the prickly types but I like the unique shape of its leaves.  Apparently something else appreciated the shape of the leaf as well.  This may have been the cocoon of a leaf rolling caterpillar or a spider's tent.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Monday Motion

Today was a usual Monday with a little extra paperwork thrown in because of yesterday's volunteer injury.  Unfortunately, I wasn't at Troy for very long at all today.  I met with my coworkers at the beginning of the day, talked about some projects, and took care of the paperwork before heading out for Monday errands.  While I was at Ichetucknee, I looked through the spare and scrap lumber that they had in their shop.  I took some of it back to Troy for an upcoming volunteer project.  I had to cut some of the lumber in order to transport it and had to drive to the other side of the park to get a saw.  On my drive down the service road in the park, I stopped at a couple of my favorite springs on the Ichetucknee River.  These two are well hidden and are not usually seen by visitors.  The first two photos are at Mill Pond Spring.  This beautiful spring really bubbles up out of the ground and flows steadily out to the river.  It is named for a grist mill that once used the spring for power.  The cuts in the rock where the water wheel sat are still visible, though covered in moss.  Unfortunately, they are hard to see unless you get in the water and I wasn't going swimming today!

The next two photos are the Grassy Hole Spring.  Appropriately named, it is a tiny hole, surrounded in Eel Grass.  The water also bubbles above the surface at this spring before it flows through more dense vegetation to the river.  The water is crystal clear and the vibrant green and red from the Eel Grass and the leaves are almost like stained glass.  Its hard to not be awestruck by this river system. 

I took care of what I needed to at the shop at Ichetucknee, with the assistance of one of the other rangers before I headed back to Troy.  By then it was mid afternoon.  Our volunteer and I began to unload the lumber that I had rounded up at Ichetucknee.  I had just started when my arm began to ache and I realized that I had better stop before it got worse.  I was at least able to load it all without any pain.  I am getting closer and closer to having a fully functional arm again.  I took a few minutes to walk around the park next.  I chatted with a group of canoers who were passing through and answered their questions.  I also looked at a project that my coworkers took care of while I was out of the park.  They removed the deteriorating hay bales that had been slowing rainwater runoff from the cabin porch.  We are battling some major erosion on the hillside in front of the cabin and I am going to get new hay bales this week.  The remnants of the old ones were moved to slow water in another area.  We can't really repair erosion that has already happened, but we are trying to slow any further progression.

I wrapped up my projects and loose ends in the office and talked to my evening relief for a little while before heading home for the day.  I will rest up for another day on the go tomorrow.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Fall Day

This morning was another cold one.  I was hoping for a busy day though, so I decided to leaf blow the walkway before doing paperwork this morning.  I somehow snuck up on a squirrel with the noisy leaf blower and ended up directly behind it when it realized that I was blowing air very close to it.  It was fun to watch it scramble to get away from the blower.  On the way down the walkway, I spotted a beautiful spider.  It is a Fishing Spider.  I realize from comments and the poll that a portion of Rangervision readers do not care for spiders.  Since that has come to my attention, it seems that I find spiders nearly every day.  I promise that I am not trying to scare or bother any of you, I just blog what I see.  I saw this spider... ALL day.  It remained in the same, very prominent spot on the wall of the spring walkway, just above the hand rail.  I don't think that anyone noticed it aside from one visitor who I pointed the spider out to.  It started him on a spider hunt with his camera.  He captured quite a few species!

At the spring dock, while I was leaf blowing, I took a minute to admire the morning view of the spring.  Its always spectacular.

After leaf blowing, I opened the cabin and cleared the leaves from the cabin porch.  Then, I headed back to the office to warm up and do paperwork.  Just as I was hoping, divers began to appear.  They came conveniently spaced, for the rest of the morning and into the afternoon.  The first two groups overlapped a little, then each new group arrived as another group finished up.  It was spontaneously well orchestrated.  My day was spent walking back and forth between the office and the parking lot to check in divers, record numbers and provide change. I also spent time with several non-diving groups of visitors.  I told the story of the Madison at least six times today.  The water and sunlight conditions were top notch for viewing the ship today, so it was a great experience for several groups.  On one of my treks from the office to the parking lot, some red berries caught my eye.  I photographed them and then looked them up to find that they are Dwarf Smilax.  There are many types of Smilax in florida, most are very prickly, irritating vines.  I think that this one is pretty.

Near the river, I found this little fluff in the grass.  I was wondering what it was so I took a closer look.  There was an opening in the top and I could see some tiny green, spidery legs inside the hole.  I wasn't able to find an ID for the spider without seeing the actual spider.  I also don't know exactly what this little bag was.  It could have been a little tent that protects it from the elements, or a bag for its eggs.  I will try to remember to check here again to see if I discover anything new.

On one trip down the walkway, mid-morning, the sun was beginning to warm some walls.  The little Anoles were beginning to emerge and seek out the sunny spots.  How many Anoles can you find in this picture!?

I finally caught a photo of a little bird that I have been seeing a lot of in the past few weeks.  I notice it because it likes to perch on low branches and fences to watch for flying insects to feed on.  It is a skittish bird and I haven't been able to get close enough for a good shot.  This one isn't great, but its the best one that I have gotten of an Eastern Phoebe.  They are winter visitors to my area.

My last photo of the day was one lonely and beautiful leaf clinging to a scraggly little stick which was apparently trying to become a tree.

The late afternoon was the busiest that I had been all day.  It was finally warm and I had started on a quick project of reattaching some boards to the dock.  The screws from the original construction of the dock have rusted from being submerged during floods.  As each board gets loose, I remove the remnants of the old screws (if there are any) and reattach the board with more appropriate hardware for the conditions.  I only had to put in a few screws, but as is usually the case, starting a project on the weekend means that the park will get busy.  I stopped to talk to some visitors for a while and then finished up after they left.  When I headed back up, I sold some park T-shirts to several of the divers and checked in a new group of divers.  Within half an hour though, nearly everyone had left and my evening relief arrived.  I spent a bit more time at the park and started thinking about heading home when my phone rang.  One of the volunteers at Adams Tract cut his hand and didn't have enough first aid supplies.  I went over there armed with gauze and tape and ended up heading to the emergency room.  He had some bad cuts that needed to be treated.  Fortunately, he didn't need stitches, just a little glue.  My day ended a bit late, but it was one of the quickest ER experiences that I have seen.  It could have been worse.  I foresee a day FULL of paperwork tomorrow.