Breaking all the rules of the blog, here. Not one week, not one day at a time, obviously did not walk here from my house, not about Huntington harbor. Joan desperately wanted to look forward to a break, and I reluctantly agreed back in September, and in fact it worked out well. The other thing is that for the last two weeks I have been getting over a bad cold and faced an awful internet connection. So this is catchup.
Drove from Tampa airport totally wiped out, little sleep, coughing like a smoking addict, desperate to arrive yet afraid of what we might find. After all, on the internet every hovel is a castle; each new friend a prince or princess. But it all worked out, nice fifties-style room right on the beach, looking out on the Gulf. I sit here on the porch and (between coughs) hear the surf breaking endlessly on soft white sand.
Mid Florida need not be warm and sunny in January. In fact, it was in the forties and threatening rain. Embarrassed, I felt like a tuberculosis patient spreading plague to the neighbors.
Human nature being what it is, many ignore reality and will sit in shorts and even bathing suits no matter what the actual conditions because _ hey!_ we paid for this. By gosh it is Florida and we mean to get our money’s worth, even if it means shivering in the chair in shorts. Bah. Illusions.
People stream along Crescent Beach (#1 beach in the USA, proclaim the signs) constantly from foggy dawn until darkness after sunset. From the porch it looks like an old film of war refugees _ particularly since the average age of the sloggers is maybe seventy or more. The loop goes along the water line from the public access two miles away to the dead end of Point of Rocks, where it crashes into private property and reverses going back.
I admit that on occasion I have joined the long conga line and quite enjoyed it. The gentle break of the waves and constant rush of the wind with cries of gulls drowns out the intrusions of man and is very meditative. Of course, from another perspective, it is simply another endlessly boring grey moment at the vestibule of Hell.
John Ringling started a circus, lived on Fifth Avenue, and in his spare winter months built a Venetian palace in Sarasota. Joan pretty much hates the long, and usually boring, house tours, where guides always end up telling you more than you really want to know, more slowly than you would believe possible.
Yet this was a great day to spend a rainy day, even if I did scare guards and visitors with my ongoing hacks. An Art museum of old paintings is included, but the real star is the miniature circus, which I am really happy that I got to see. Look it up if you’re interested. My main question is what kind of obsession is required to bring such an exhibit into being.
Joan took this picture from near our porch on one of the few clear days. Yeah, we faced due west. Every night a gang of folks would gather outside at the picnic tables and drink wine and compare their mostly tiny dogs. Very convivial.
It’s not that we don’t have magnificent sunsets in Huntington. I can see them from the windows of our house in winter, and a short walk away the sun goes over puppy cove from our dock. Yet, you know, you’re paying for vacation so you pay more attention as well.
Two miles along the powder white sand is the public Siesta Beach, separated from the road by this wild grass and vegetation. The parking lot fills quickly on hot days, and over this rise you can make out the countless umbrellas, although you are spared the screams of the young children and the sight of people who think they look better than they do exposing vast amounts of ancient flesh.
Nevertheless it is all a happy and harmless celebration of being alive, hurts nobody and nothing, and perhaps represents what we should all strive more to attain. I’m not one to shrug off wisdom no matter how it may arrive.
Various back roads represent the old days before the march of progress constructed huge apartments lining the beach. One woman along this road said she had lived here for forty five years. I don’t know what kind of changes might have happened in that time.
Still, the fifties and sixties were not the true “old times.” One article claimed that originally Siesta Key was famous for being natively inhabited by every species of venomous snake in the continental US. And that’s not even taking into account infinite mosquitoes ….
All along Florida the back side of coastal islands are connected by the watery “intracoastal”, a canal used by countless pleasure craft. Originally built after world war one, to protect shipping from German U-Boats. I don’t think there was ever an enemy submarine within sight of Tampa but, well, I haven’t searched all of Wikipedia nor alternate web sources.
The main thing about the intracoastal now is that it has to justify its existence to the rich yacht owners. So drawbridges on crowded highways (including this one on Stickney Road) are raised every few hours tying up a heck of a lot of motorists while one rich bastard in a little boat with a big mast proudly sails from one end of the island to the other.
Obligatory shot of brown pelicans, almost as common as gulls. I think the locals are as amused at tourists taking their pictures as I am at visitors gleefully snapping shots of squirrels in central park.
On the other hand, they are big, graceful, fun to watch, and do dive into the waves to catch fish. I still find it hard to understand how they can they take off again from a floating position on the water. We are lucky to still have wildlife to protect. I am grateful to have been able to have seen it still holding its own in the world.
A ”pass” around here is any channel between islands that lets you navigate from the true gulf to the back bay, which is what is shown here. At the end of this picture and to the right is “Midnight Pass,” which leads to the otherwise incomprehensibly named “Midnight Pass Road” which is _ logically _ the road that takes you to that dead end inlet.
All water shots are inevitably beautiful. It’s hard to mess them up, here or in Huntington, or probably in the Arc tic. That, of course, is why a dumb amateur like me likes to concentrate on them. Water forgives a lot of lack of technique.
Florida has state parks, from what I have seen (and I haven’t gone to the everglades) none as grand as those we enjoy in the northeast. This is a sandy scrub, really second growth on what was a cattle ranch until the early fifties.
There is something fun about walking down desolate tracks like this, especially if you know exactly where you are because there are easy blue markers all along the way. On the other hand, I saw no wildlife other than a few grasshoppers and tiny butterflies. Joan and I enjoyed the respite from traffic and humanity.
On the other hand, the nanny state is a bit less intrusive here. Although, the last time I was at Niagara Falls, there were no fences preventing people from swimming in the river right about the falls _ and people and their children were wading right out having a grand old time. Idiocy is not confined to one region or another.
You can’t make it out, but there are people in the water, and, yes, it is a designated area with floats around. On the other hand, the “lake” is the size of a large hotel swimming pool. Maybe the sign is just here to give people a thrill _ I know I might do something like that if I were a bored ranger….
Point of Rocks is _ a point of rocks. The maps and brochures say it is great for snorkeling and wading to find shells. That assumes you can get to it, because the public tide-line beach ends at the bulkhead, and you have to wade almost chest deep to reach to rocks themselves.
There is always controversy about public/private ownership of shoreline. On the one hand, I know I like to be able to sneak in anywhere. On the other hand, I am often grateful when the rest of the stupid idiots like me are excluded. That makes it a problem that has no rational absolute answer _ like Einstein’s universe, the flat fabric of human rights is distorted by the presence of large amounts of wealth.
The dunes support (seasonally) dry dead grass and occasional flowers like this one. I love finding little patches like this, even if the flowers end up being as common as dandelions, even if they turn out to be invasive species. I have no idea how this falls, but it is beautiful anyway.
The interaction of man and nature is our proper study. Ignoring nature for our own desires and dreams and internal considerations is folly. Ignoring our vast emotional and logical human existence to pay homage only to raw environment is an affront to the universe that endowed us with our infinite capabilities.
Fittingly, a last near-sunset through the clouds as we move on to the next week. This may not be a classic sunset, but it is surely typical. How many typical ones have I ignored over the last year?
One reason I take pictures and try to write is for the discipline. Knowing, or thinking, I must do this forces me to confront each day and each moment in each day. So, I apologize for digressing from the pure form I have tried to follow, and hope you enjoyed this digression.