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Vultures and Dead Jellyfish

By the time we arrived in Manatee Springs, Florida, about an hour north of Cedar Key, the weather had changed and it was cold enough that I had to wear gloves to hold my camera. I couldn’t get a shot of the manatees because only their noses came out of the 70 degree crystal spring water. I had better luck photographing a heron that was stalking its next meal.
The gangs of vultures that also inhabited the state park were more than willing to pose. At night they gathered together and roosted in the trees by the hundreds. During the day, they brazenly mulled about as if they were at a convention.
The people who created the interpretive signs on the long walkway out to the river have a good sense of humor. One sign warns against contracting squirrelitis, the feeding of wild animals. There's a mirror attached to the sign to show who is most likely to catch the disease.
We noticed about ten German campers and met some of their owners who were on a 5 month tour of the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. One German woman expressed, in broken English, her horror at the poverty she saw while touring through Mexico, as witnessed by all the dead dogs they came across. Her husband, who had lived through WWII, was keen to talk politics with us. They had recently come from a rodeo and were uncomfortable with the nationalistic display that included public prayer and much flag waving.
After 5 days camping along the Gulf of Mexico in Cedar Key, Florida, Joe told me he had a Valentine’s Day surprise for me. By the end of the day we were standing on the shore of the Atlantic Ocean in Ameilla Island. “The real ocean!” I squealed with delight.
By then I was wearing my down parka. The beach was littered with thousands of dead jellyfish! Apparently, jellyfish have a very short lifespan and they wash up like that every year. “It stinks pretty bad for a few days,” the ranger said when I asked him about it.
We were still in Florida, but it was cold. By the end of our walk on the beach, I was calling Joe “Kenny,” the South Park cartoon character who can’t talk because his jacket is zipped up over his mouth. It was as if we were preparing ourselves for the icy cold weather we knew we’d come home to. We decided to pamper ourselves after a week of camping. We ate at the “Gourmet Gourmet,” got a motel room, and watched the movie “Dirty Dancing” all the way through for the first time.


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Dirty Dancing is one of my favorite movies ever, as cheesy as it is I love it. "Nobody puts Baby in a corner!"

I really dislike jelly fish but it is still sad to see them lying dead all down the beach. Poor things. And I would love to see a manatees!

great photos, colleen! it IS wierd about the jellyfish. i know the chesapeake bay is riddled with them. we honeymooned there and canoed a little in an inlet of the bay...they were everywhere! i was so afraid we'd tip and fall into the water. and it's funny how the german couple were unnerved by something that seems so normal and non-threatening to me...a prayer and pride in your country.

Not many Germans, or Europeans for that matter, like the policies of Bush presidency. He wanted to get a take on how Americans feel and was releived to hear from Joe and I that not so many Americans are pleased with this presidency either.

He was unnerved by the public display of so much nationalism because that is how Hitler was able to manipulate Germans into supporting him. Nationalism when expressed in the extreme can set up the "us against the other" dichotomy. He expressed that he was church goer but thought prayer was a personal and that one relgion shouldn't impose itself publically on everyone...those who practice different relgions or who are not religious at all. For those, public prayer can be an oppressive imposition. I understood and agree with him. At a rodeo? If there were to be prayer, I beleive it should be a moment of silent reflection, which is more inclusive and respectful of all. I believe separation of church and state is what protects our religious freedoms.

I felt bad for the jellyfish! They were a variety that was strange to me and looked like brains. You could see in to their insides!

Wow, what an adventure you are having!!! I love the photos.

Regarding "Dirty Dancing"! I had a doula(and a doctor) with my second birth and for some unknown reason, the doula put that movie on while I was in labor...bad move...I never want to watch that movie again. ;-)

Great pictures. Agree with you and the Germans on the prayer and nationalism. It's gotten very scary in recent years but folks bristle if you point it out so I generally just stay low. I am hoping for a kinder, gentler national spirit before I depart this world.

Your pictures of the vultures roosting made me miss my "black buzzards". They would settle in every night on the huge trees that surround my property...until a land developer chopped them all down...the trees, that is, not the birds!

Joe looks more like he's walking on Cape Cod than in the Keys!

Wonderful pictures Colleen....I LOVE that Heron! And the Squirral, too---Well, I Love them all! The Star Fish...fabulous! I cannot get over the cold creeping in that way...I think you are righjt that it is preparing you for the trip home!

Thanks for all the wonderful "warm weather" pictures, Colleen. You've no doubt heard what it has been like here in Floyd. Glad the power is on for your return...and temps in the 60s this week. Yippee.

We went from white sandy beaches to a floor of ice and empty birdfeeders here in Floyd. The shot of Joe is on the along the Atlantic on our way home from Cedar Key, on the northern tip of Florida, Amelia Island.

A gang of vultures.. now that would be a sight. Wonderful photos and I love the stories that go with them.

You always run into the most amazing people.

How can it be cold in Florida?!?!

Those shells are amazing!

I was most surprised to read the comments of the German tourist couple. And somehow, comforted by their shock at public prayer.


I think the German couple got comfortable enough with us to share their true feelings because Joe's dad was German, born in Germany, and Joe could speak a little German to them while they tried their best to speak English.

Great photos, Colleen.

I sort of half knew that about the jellyfish because a very similar thing happens to sea stars that wash up in Rhode Island (near Watch Hill) every year. When I asked about this odd and sad phenomenon, I was told that it can also happen with jellyfish. I have a photo of the sea stars along the shore too ... it's amazing how they wash up by the hundreds!
I guess it's just how their life-span goes... like ours, which ends sometime between birth and a hundred years or so. They just have a much shorter span.

Great pics! The top one looks like a painting!! Or some neat cut and paste!

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