Kayaking North Hartland Dam, Vermont

Four of us caravanned to North Hartland Dam, in Vermont, a Corps of Engineers facility. Covid has them closing the beach, and their picnic shelters, but the boat ramp is open. It was overcast when we arrived – probably river valley fog – but the sun was out by the time we left. It started out very calm, with lots of reflections.

There was lots of wildlife – eagles, cormorants, turtles, herons –

These birds remained unidentified – even after going through bird books at the library later that day!

We could have spent longer, and gone all the way upstream to Quechee Gorge, but I had an appointment to get the windshield replaced on my Roadtrek. We packed ourselves up and three of us went and found a picnic table up the hill at which to eat lunch. It was a beautiful day to be on the water, and the wildlife was an added bonus!

Springtide Birds and Animals

Springtide porky

The porcupines wander at will – until shoved in a trash barrel and transported across the creek! These are two of them.

Romping on the beach results in a “dead” dog!  Springtide dead TashaAnd then there are the birds – all sizes and shapes. (I’m not going to add the previously posted hummingbird.)  Springtide yardbirdsSpringtide gooseSpringtide eagle

Roadtrek Roadtrip, Springtide

SpringtideMonday, September 2: It was time to say goodby to Lise, and go a few miles up the road, through Milbridge, Maine, and on out to visit Springtide, the house on Narragaugus Bay belonging to my friends Nat and Matt. As I approached, Matt popped out of the woods, thinking I was a lost stranger, I think – he wasn’t expecting the Roadtrek. Over the next three days, I took a few pictures of this view over their rugosa roses.  Springtide foggy viewSpringtide foggy viewYes, the islands are out there – one must have faith the Maine fog will lift! Springtide sunset/islandsThere’s a place to launch kayaks in a sheltered cove behind the house – Springtide launchalthough about half the time, the tide is too low to launch there, so we planned our outings around that.

Tuesday, September 3: Our adventure of the day was to paddle around Foster Island, a good sized island across Narragaugus Bay. It was very calm, with good visibility, and an easy paddle.   Springtide NatSpringtide tree sculptureSpringtide Matt

The natural veins in these rocks looked like someone had painted them – especially the one on the right, which looks like a person to me!   Those same islands, from a different point of view:Springtide view to seaRockweed:  Springtide rockweedA seal poked its head up –  Springtide sealSpringtide view over rocksSpringtide admiring viewSpringtide sandpipersReturning to the house, there were lots of butterflies flitting around the perennial gardens.

Springtide butterfly on hydrangea

Kayaking New Hampshire and Vermont

And then my primary camera went missing, with photos from the three days out kayaking over Memorial Day weekend. It’s got to be somewhere – I just don’t know where! On May 25th, a group of us went to Hubbard Pond, in southern New Hampshire. It’s a pristine and quiet place, a good size for a day’s paddle, and mostly surrounded by state forest. There’s not a lot of parking – I think we had seven cars for our 14 people and pretty much filled it up! The weather was perfect – sunny, not too warm. We saw lots of wildlife, especially turtles sunning themselves. There are boggy places, with pitcher plants and tamaracks, also called larch – more then I’ve seen in one place in a while. Another paddle that weekend was with one friend to the upper of the Knapp Ponds. It’s small, and it being a holiday weekend there were lots of people fishing around the edges, but only a couple of other kayaks and some of the time we had it to ourselves. The third day? I know I was out – but without photos to remind me, I can’t remember where! And then on Thursday, 5/30, another friend and I went to Crescent Lake in New Hampshire. This small lake is surrounded by cottages, and not my favorite place, but we did see loons and geese, got some welcome exercise, and it was geographically convenient.

Herrick's Cove signFriday, May 31: I took myself off to Herrick’s Cove, (using my old camera) where one launches onto the Connecticut River, and can go up or down it – or behind the land that encloses Herrick’s Cove, which is what I did. Herrick's Cove reflection

Herrick's Cove cove

Herrick's Cove wood sculpture

One is never free of traffic noise – there are state highways on both sides of the Connecticut River, Interstate 91 within earshot, and a rail line. Herrick's Cove trainAs I paddled in to a back corner, there was a loud splash. Beaver? Muskrat? There were signs of things chewed by both – Herrick's Cove beaver chewHerrick's Cove muskrat chewI’ll never know for sure what made that splash – but returning to the boat launch, this muskrat was slithering down the bank right next to the floating dock! I’d already put the camera away, and by the time I’d pulled it out of the dry bag, it was swimming away as fast as it could!  Herrick's Cove muskrat

Roadtrek Roadtrip, Part 14

Saturday and Sunday, April 27 and 28: Having gotten myself to Jan and Dean’s on the North Carolina coast, we spent the weekend hanging out, getting things done around the house, and driving around so they could look at property. We ate well, we enjoy each other’s company, we have a good time. Some of what’s here:

Ibis in the yard

Green anole on the deck, as it changes from the dark brown on the chair leg, to more green, to very green. Its mate really flattened itself on the downspout: newport grn anole thin

Pair of brown thrashers

Newport cedar dr. dragonDown the street, spotted while walking the dog

Newport foliage 2Cat briar? A local invasive thorny vine, much disliked

Next post – out on the water again!

Roadtrek Roadtrip, Part 13

Friday, April 26: After a night of being just a little too warm for sound sleep, and having the first mosquitoes invade the Roadtrek, I had breakfast eaten, kayaks loaded up, and was pulling out of Honey Hill campground at 7:25. I stopped in Pawley’s Island to pick up chocolate and fruit, and shortly before 9:00 saw a sign for a boat landing, and followed it. Waccamaw R. sign

Waccamaw R. launchThe wind was strong, as were the currents; I stayed close to shore and had no problems. Actually, the breeze was much appreciated, as it’s still too hot for my northern blood, even here in South Carolina! They provide life jackets:  Waccamaw R. life jackets

The Waccamaw River/Intracoastal Waterway:

This is the first time I’ve gotten a photo of a swallow-tailed kite – going slowly upwind.  Waccamaw R. swallow-tailed kiteI nudged into a creek not far from the landing, and wound my way up the winding twisting passage. Just after I started in I probably surprised a gator – don’t know what else would make such a big commotion entering the water! It churned up lots of mud, but I never saw whatever it was. Then I surprised a pair of wood storks – by the time I got the camera out, they were leaving. I just waved the camera in the right direction and snapped, and got a rather nice foliage photo:  Waccamaw R. looking upAnd when I zoomed in on it, there’s one wood stork!  Waccamaw R. wood storkI really like the feathery foliage of the cypress; it’s more fully leafed out then on my return trip last year.  Waccamaw cypress foliageThis is as far up the creek as I was able to go – the cypress knees were too close together to fit the kayak. Waccamaw cypress knees  Waccamaw creekWaccamaw irisesAlso seen: great blue and little green herons, and this turtle –  Waccamaw turtleBy 10:30 – after playing in the swirling current to get back – I was on shore, and loading in the kayak as it started to sprinkle. Rain didn’t last long – continuing north, I reached the North Carolina border at about 1PM NC flagsand the welcome center had beds of bright roses to welcome guests.  NC roseAfter 237 miles, plus 1 1/2 hours of kayaking, I was in Newport, NC to visit cousins Jan and Dean – and their new-since-last-visit German Shepherd, Amber. She likes to pin down any feet available. But she’s camera shy; I’m still trying to get a good portrait!Amber

Roadtrek Roadtrip, Part 9

Thursday, April 18 to Monday, April 22, Trinity, Florida: This time was spent with my youngest granddaughter and her parents. There was no school on Friday, which gave me the chance to hang out with Elizabeth Ann while her parents went to work. The weather was not inspiring – there were a couple of incidents of pouring rain. This very wet heron was not appreciating it!

Trinity wet heron

The house backs on to a pond, of which there are many in the neighborhood. I suspect it gives some resilience against flooding. It also provides a place for every water bird in the neighborhood – although the population is down compared to previous visits. Perhaps that’s because of this –

Trinity gatorThis was a parent; there was also a young alligator spotted while I was there. Also seen around the pond: Trinity Lakes snowy egret 2

For a while, there was an anhinga on or in front of every house along one side of the pond – but never more than one. I guess the territory of a human family is about what one of these birds requires.

Trinity anhinga shaking waterTrinity wood storkThere were also roseate spoonbills and great blue herons, but none of my photos of them are worth posting. There are lots of little lizards, and they move quickly once disturbed!

On Saturday, we had a day at the beach as a family. In front of us was the advertising vehicle of the trip:                              Trinity ad truckWe went to the beach at Clearwater, through heavy traffic on this Easter weekend. On arrival we saw the warning flag – further down the beach, it was closed to swimming; where we went we were just warned to be very cautious.  Trinity warning

Trinity beach wavesTrinity beach gullTrinity beach gull 2It’s rare that I get good bird-in-flight pictures – but it helps a lot when someone is feeding the gulls french fries!           Trinity beach feeding gullsLooking away from the water:    Trinity beach mural

Trinity beach turtle

Easter Sunday we all went to the religious observances of our choice, then met back at the house for a big dinner. The next day, Monday, it was back to real life – Elizabeth back to school, Dad to work, Mom to an appointment. And I left for Saratoga, and a visit with elderly friends, people I’ve known for decades from Connecticut, who now spend their time in Florida.

Roadtrek Roadtrip, Part 8

Thursday, April 18: I left Ellen and Ormand Beach after a leisurely breakfast, not being in a huge hurry. I planned to stop and kayak at Alexander Springs Run, where CR 445 crosses the run. The access is unmarked, but knowing it was there I was going slowly enough to make the turn. There were a couple of young couples making a day of it, but no other boaters. Or rather, all the other boaters were coming downstream from the state park where the Alexander Springs originate. I eventually caught up with this canoe.Alexander Sp. Run view 1Alexander Sp. Run view 2Alexander Sp. Run view 3The life cycle of a water lily flower:

It’s only a little over a mile to the park; I spent about 2 hours going up and back, with lots of stops for nature – the water is very clear, and while I wasn’t able to take photos, I did see several schools of good sized fish swim under me. There were also turtles,

anhinga, green heron, limpkin;Alexander Sp. Run AnhingaAlexander Sp. Run green heronAlexander Sp. Run limpkin and spider lilies:

I could hear the people in the swimming area long before I could see them. It’s about $5.50 to enter the park; there were a lot of people there! Alexander Sp. Run sourceAfter paddling back to the bridge, I loaded up the kayak, then went down for a quick swim before making some lunch and getting back on the road. The next stop was a quick care package drop, not too far off my route, and then on to the Trinity area of New Port Richey, where my youngest granddaughter and her family live.Trinity Lakes moonrise

Roadtrek Roadtrip, Part 7

Tuesday, April 16: Up early, wanting to get around Jacksonville before rush hour, I pulled the Roadtrek back on I-95 at 5:45, leaving behind the Florida Welcome Center. As a place to spend the night, it was level, but not either dark or quiet! It was a cloudless dawn; I was beyond Jacksonville by the time the sun came up, but it was a very uneventful sunrise. I angled over to St Augustine, stopping on the draw bridge while a parade of boats went through, and working my way south on A1A, the coastal route. I enjoyed glimpses of the Atlantic, pulling over sometimes to let all those poor commuters who had to be in a hurry rush by.  Before leaving the barrier islands I overshot the turn, and found a place to park so I could walk and get the kinks out, by this mosaic fountain. Sun’s not very high, yet!Ormand Beach fountainI pulled in to Ellen’s driveway in Ormand Beach at about 9:00, and it was great to catch up with an old friend and my e-mail! Her house is surrounded by native plants; it looks like Dr Seuss was here: Powderpuff, Herbaceous Mimosa - Mimosa strigillosaIt seems as though each Powderpuff/Mimosa flower lasts only a day or two – but the supply next to where the camper was parked seemed to never end.

Wednesday, April 17: While Ellen was off at her late afternoon poetry group, I took the kayak to the Ormand Beach Central Park Canoe Trail. There are five lakes connected by navigable channels; I toured four of them.                   Ormand Beach Central Park launchThese fish were swimming just in front of the launch – I saw larger ones, but this was the best photo. They were about 6 – 8 inches long.

Ormand Beach, fish at launch,

This is definitely NOT New England! Ormand Beach view 1Ormand Beach view 2Ormand Beach view 3

Ormand Beach view 5Ormand Beach view 6Ormand Beach view 7

These egg masses belong to the Florida applesnail – wonder how it got that name! And if I’d known that was what they were, I would have tried to get a photo of the snail that goes with them – but I hadn’t identified either the egg masses or the snails, yet.

Anhinga, osprey on nest, limpkins:Ormand Beach AnhingaOrmand Beach osprey on nestOrmand Beach limpkins betterand the non-native Muscovy duck:Ormand Beach Muscovy duckThis was the first time I’ve seen bananas fruiting since I was in Hawaii over 10 years ago:

My sister came through with the name of this plant for me – nothing like having a plant physiologist in the family! Its common name is rattlebox; it’s Sesbania punicea. Sure is pretty, even though invasive –

Ormand Beach red

There were a couple of dead ends, and a fisherman in the middle of the narrow channel to the last of the five lakes; I didn’t get to that one. The two corrugated culverts made interesting reflections in the water.

Ormand Beach culvertBack to the house after a couple of hours on the water, with perfect weather, getting there with just enough time to take a quick shower before Ellen came home.

Roadtrek Roadtrip, Part 6

Saturday and Sunday, April 13 – 14: After a pleasant night’s sleep (accompanied by rain and wind, but the Roadtrek is snug and cozy) I headed off early to get the propane refilled while I was still in civilization. Then back to eat breakfast and attend the working group meeting – the reason I spent the night there in the first place! We got out about 2, and by 2:30 I was headed out, dealing with traffic on the DC Beltway until I could head southwest. The views of the Blue Ridge Mountains were spectacular, but I didn’t want to risk pulling in the the campground after dark, so didn’t stop for photos. Hone Quarry Campground, in the George Washington National Forest, was a couple of miles up a very potholed and rough sometimes paved road  For a whopping $2.50, I had a level, dark and quiet campsite. My one regret is that I forgot I wanted to check out the waterfall rumored to be next to the campground. Another trip… There’s a lot more to explore here.

Sunday morning I had the kayaks loaded, breakfast ready to eat out of hand, and was headed back down the road at 7:05. Unfortunately, the route I’d mapped had a Road Closed Ahead sign, and rather than try it anyway, I went around. That meant that I ended up taking the longer but much faster interstate highway route to Lynchburg. It was overcast, drizzling sometimes, sometimes foggy, and I was concerned the delays, so again didn’t stop for photos. I made it to worship with Lynchburg Friends only about 5 minutes late, and then stayed and visited with them after for another hour or so. Then back on the road. By the time I got to the North Carolina border, I knew it was foolish to try to make it to the national forest in South Carolina I’d been thinking about, so I went to the Uwharrie National Forest. My first choice for camping was closed, and I ended up at the Uwharrie Hunt Camp. That night it was dark (except for the lightning). It was flat. (It was hot and humid.) But quiet? Not so much. Being the end of a weekend, at about dusk the large pickups, often unmuffled, and towing rattling trailers with their mud-splattered ATVs started coming through. The last vehicle came through the parking lot about midnight. Then at 2AM the heavens opened, with rig rattling strong winds, pouring rain and thunder (and lightning), necessitating getting up to close the top hatch. That only lasted about 15 minutes – but was long enough so I was thoroughly awake, being aware of the possibility of tornadoes in such a violent storm. And then cars started coming past about 5AM, headed out to work?

Monday, April 15: The morning was glorious, clear and bright, cool enough again, and once I’d eaten, and loaded in the kayaks, I went looking for a place to put one on the water. It was still very windy, and I wanted somewhere sheltered. Seeing a kayak launch sign by the roadside, I made a quick turn, and found the Uwharrie River.

It was very swollen, muddy, and with lots of floating tree pieces in it. I probably could have paddled against that much current, but it wouldn’t have been fun, and I had no way to get back to the Roadtrek if I went on downstream. This is apparently part of a canoe trail; this was near the endpoint of about 15 miles of river trail before it spits out into the larger Tadkin. But there were more options ahead.

I stopped at the very large and busy Swift Island access on Lake Tillery, and had something to eat, and took a nap to make up for the previous night’s lack of sleep. There were too many power boats, and the surroundings weren’t enough to tempt me. On to NC Lily's bridge signalso, I believe, on Lake Tillery – but with maybe 1/5 the parking spaces and much less traffic. Long sleeves were welcome, but the sun was shining brightly and it was sheltered enough that the wind never built up much in the way of waves. Scenery: NC Lily's Bridge up creek

NC Lily's Bridge new leavesWildflowers:NC Lily's Bridge azalea


That isn’t close to all the turtle pictures I took! There were lots and lots of turtles, singly and by the half dozens, on every sunny piece of wood. There were only a couple of herons, though.

Cliff dwellings:

There were swallows (?) flitting in and out of these nests – but moving too fast to capture the images. All of these, and many more, were under the bridge. It was an excellent outing, well worth the stop. Going out toward the lake, there were many more dwellings and docks, but inland it was mostly natural world.

Then it was back on the road, aiming for Route 52 down to I-95, to make time. I stopped for another nap – after so little sleep, I certainly didn’t want to fall asleep at the wheel! and I finished the day at the Florida Welcome Center at about midnight. With 384 miles driven, plus a couple of hours kayaking, it was a long day!