Safari trumps Zoo

Disney’s Animal Kingdom Safari

Going on a safari Disney style is better than going to the zoo. The attraction imitates an open-sided safari ride through the savanna of East Africa. It may be bumpy but that’s to make it feel authentic. They used to do this whole “catch the poachers” routine to raise awareness. That was gone on this trip. I think it was much better without that.

Passing through the Birds of AsiaAsian Pigeon

Leaving Pandora, JR suggested going through Asia to get to Africa and the safari. I was happy to go along with that. Usually we get to see the tigers but they were all hiding. Another section of the trail has loads of exotic birds. Best to wear a hat when you pass through here. I always enjoy that section even if one must beware of bombs from above.

Welcome to Harambe ReserveThe Harambe Wildlife Reserve

The Kilimanjaro Safari takes place in the fictional Harambe Wildlife Reserve. Everyone is loaded into the trucks. I prefer the left side if possible because the lions are usually on the left. Still there seem to be more animals on the right side. Like this curious giraffe that practically posed for his picture.Giraffe

If we were in a zoo there would be fences and cages to distract from the viewing. Here you not only get to ride, but you get to see the animals un-caged and acting like wild animals. Don’t get me wrong. The animals are separated so the lions can’t eat the gazelles but the fences and moats are very carefully hidden.

Wild Africa Trek

Two Cheetahs taking a rest

If the Kilimanjaro Safari is too tame for you Disney has just the thing.  It’s a privately guided VIP expedition at Disney’s Animal Kingdom park! You’ll walk along a grassland path, cross a rope bridge and ride in a rugged safari vehicle over an open savanna. I haven’t done this but you can see some of the trail while you are doing your safari. I found it very tempting.




Air Boats and Alligators

Tom & Jerry’s Air Boat rides

The last part of the Florida Adventure tour is a 30 minute air boat ride. We had a 45 minute bus ride from Crystal River to Lake Panasoffkee for a 30 minute boat ride. I’ve been on air boats before but not on Lake Panasoffkee. Upon arrival the group was split in two. Only one air boat was operational. Or maybe it was because there was only one captain available.

Cruising the Lake

airboats and alligator

My group followed the Captain Jerry down the dock where we boarded a medium sized air boat. There were plenty of earmuffs on each bench seat. You really need to use them because the roar of the huge fan that drives the board is deafening. We started out slowly but soon Captain Jerry kicked up the speed. A great blue heron took off as we roared past. Captain Jerry slowed the boat and pointed it out. He said it was the first bird he’d seen since the hurricane. Usually the lake was teeming with birds.

Birds and Hurricanes Great Blue heron

Captain Jerry explained that the birds get into the eye of the storm and are carried far off their normal flight paths. It takes them awhile to get orientated and begin to return. He was very happy to see the Great Blue. A bit further on Captain Jerry again slowed the boat. This time so we could see a smaller bird. It was a heron too. This one was the tricolor Heron.

Where are all the Gators?

We finally spotted one alligator. Captain Jerry said he thought most of the gators were way back in the brush. The lake is usually about 6 ft deep at its deepest. With all the water from the hurricane it was more like 12 feet and still rising. It made for a beautiful blue lake but the marsh grass and Lilly pads were all underwater now. Alligators like to be able to hide. With the deeper water they felt exposed so were way back in the brushy area.

Want to hold the Alligator?

Baby Alligator

Back at the dock the 2nd half of our group headed out. One of the other employees brought out a small alligator to let us hold and take pictures. The really little gators were in an aquarium in the gift shop. Captain Jerry may have been disappointed that he couldn’t show us more gator’s but I didn’t hear any of us complaining. We had a great time all day!





Monday Morning, Can’t trust that day

Monday morning, sometimes it just turns out that way (The Mamas and the Papas)

I woke up bright and early Monday morning. The weather report had said a storm was rolling in with high seas, rain and winds. Well it was certainly windy last night. With that in mind I thought after breakfast I’d give the GPS another chance. A folder with a bunch of GPS tours came with the unit. I could drive around and see if the weather cleared. My first whale watch wasn’t scheduled until Wednesday.

I sat at the table watching the sunrise. Maybe its because I was on the top floor but I had a lot more birds visit than when we were here in November. Oh the ever present Mynas were there but so were little finchy type birds including a pair of Redheads.



While I was kicking back I got a rather uncomfortable feeling. The meds I take for diabetes have the unpleasant side effect of making me prone to UTI’s. Now if I were at home such a development would be handled with a quick call to my doctor but she’s 3000 miles away!

To try to keep the situation under control at home I’ve switched to cranberry juice instead of orange juice. Luckily that was what I picked up at the TIMES grocery store last night. So out came the big glass and I rapidly downed 2 big glasses. My fingers are crossed that I caught it in time. I refuse to let a illness sideline me on this trip!

But back to my view from the pent house, I’ve heard we can see the whales from here  and I’ve been watching all morning. So far nothing but I’ve got my binoculars handy in case.


The sky has cleared considerably and the sun has come out. Even the surf has settled down a bit. I think it might be a nice day after all.

OOPS! I may have spoken too soon!



Photo #2

I’m still sorting through the Whale pictures. I went on quite a few whale watches this summer so there are a ton of pictures. I eliminated all of the flukes and tails because I have lots of those so they lack that “special” quality I’m looking for.

This one is another surface feeding humpback. I like this because of the boat in the background and the shoreline. It gives you as reference point for size and the relationship to the shore. The water depth is relatively shallow where these whales are feeding.DSC_3183 copy

Check out all of the gulls flying around hoping for an easy dinner.

Its That Time Again

New Years is right around the corner. A blank sheet of paper if you will. Lots of people will be looking back over 2016 and setting goals for 2017. There will be the usual “lose weight”, “quit smoking”, “be nice to the neighbor” and so on. I’ll probably make some “resolutions” too. After all, a little introspection is a good thing but I tend to think of this week between Christmas and New Years as a time to wade through a whole year’s worth of photos.

Red Fox on a rock

Red Fox on a rock

Most of my pictures are of the snap shot variety. I grab the camera and try to capture a moment, maybe something to share here but every now and then I try to get that special picture. One that makes me say ahhhh.


It gets harder and harder to get those special pictures. Everybody has a camera and everybody thinks they are a “pro”. Just this kind of atmosphere raises the bar.


I’m reviewing my pictures for that special , indefinable quality that makes them a “cut above”. I want to find the 10 best.


They have to be in focus, with lots of pixels so they can be blown up to gallery print size, and they need to be special in some way.

Puffin portrait

So for the next few days I’m going to share my pictures as I search for those special top 10.


Some of these are pretty good but I don’t think they will make the cut. We’ll see.