Florida: Spectacular Rocket Launch Tonight!

30 Second Exposure of Rocket Trail

30 Second Exposure of Rocket Trail

Afterglow in Sky

Afterglow in Sky

Raccoon Watching from Tree

Raccoon Watching from Tree

What a spectacular launch tonight!  The payload is a high capacity United States military communications satellite on a Delta 4 rocket.  The first picture is a 30-second exposure of the rocket trail.  The second picture shows the afterglow in the sky after blastoff.  The last picture shows a baby raccoon that was watching me from a nearby tree.  Gorgeous view on a warm night here in Florida! 

San Diego: Cabrillo National Monument and Point Loma Lighthouse

Rocky Tide Pool Area on Coast

Rocky Tide Pool Area on Coast

Beautiful View of San Diego from  Cabrillo National Monument

Beautiful View of San Diego from
Cabrillo National Monument

Statue of Cabrillo

Statue of Cabrillo

Point Loma Lighthouse

Point Loma Lighthouse

3rd Order Fresnel Lens In Lighthouse Museum

3rd Order Fresnel Lens In Lighthouse Museum

Prismatic Colors of Fresnel Lens

Prismatic Colors of Fresnel Lens

Overlook of Gray Whale "Highway"

Overlook of Gray Whale “Highway”

A popular place to visit near San Diego is Cabrillo National Monument.   At the park’s southern end are some of the most accessible tidepools in southern California.  The rocky trails there overlooking the Pacific Ocean are very scenic.  Nearby stands a statue of Juan Cabrillo overlooking beautiful San Diego Bay.  It commemorates his landing there in 1542.  At the top of Point Loma Peninsula stands the old Point Loma Lighthouse.  It was in active service from 1855-1891, but was retired because the light was often above the fog line and was thus invisible.  A short stroll from the lighthouse leads to the Gray Whale Overlook.  It is an excellent place to watch for whale spouts in winter. 

Emma Minter, who lived at the lighthouse as a child in 1878, said:  “What had I for playthings?  The nicest in the world!  Pretty shells, colored stones, kelp babies.  It seems to me that I can remember every day of my young life there.”  

Information on visiting Cabrillo National Monument is at:  https://www.nps.gov/cabr/index.htm

Spectacular Beautyberries

Colorful Beautyberries

Colorful Beautyberries

Beautyberries are one of Florida’s best native plants.  This shrub attracts both birds and butterflies, and the purple color of the berries in Fall is spectacular!  Although the berries are not tasty straight off the bush, they do make a wonderful jelly or sauce (recipe is at:  http://www.authenticflorida.com/articles/what-to-eat/time-to-make-authentic-florida-beautyberry-jelly/). 

Beauty in a Bubble

Bubble Rainbow

Bubble Rainbow

Bubble Group

Bubble Group

Bubble "The Fly"

Bubble “The Fly”

Bubble Streamers

Bubble Streamers

Have you ever stopped to notice how beautiful the colors are in a soap bubble?  They truly are spectacular!  

Florida Snakes

Colorful Corn Snake

Colorful Corn Snake

Close-up of Corn Snake Scales

Close-up of Corn Snake Scales

Yellow Rat Snake in Grass

Yellow Rat Snake in Grass

Yellow Rat Snake in Nesting Gourd

Yellow Rat Snake in Nesting Gourd

Beautiful Rough Green Snake

Beautiful Rough Green Snake

Tiny Ringneck Snake

Tiny Ringneck Snake

Curled Tail Revealing Orange Underside

Curled Tail Revealing Orange Underside

Black Racer Zig-Zag Following Grooves in Wall

Black Racer Zig-Zag Following Grooves in Wall

Shy Eastern Coral Snake

Shy Eastern Coral Snake

Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake

Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake

Close-up of Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake

Close-up of Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake

Since it is that creepy-crawly time of year, here are pictures of snakes that we have seen in Florida over the years.  Sightings are actually few and far between.  The most beautiful snake we’ve seen is the Rough Green Snake.  The biggest and scariest snake we’ve seen is the Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake (we were in the car and this several-foot-long snake crawled across the dirt road in front of us).  The majority of Florida snakes are nonvenomous, and all native snakes play an important part in the environment.  In this collection only the last two – the Coral Snake and Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake – are venomous.  And in case you want to know, venomous snakes have cat-eye or narrow slit pupils, and nonvenomous ones have round pupils.

Florida: Awesome Bees!

Bees in Birdhouse

Bees in Birdhouse

Bringing the Birdhouse Down

Bringing the Birdhouse Down

Opening the Birdhouse to Reveal the Honeycomb

Opening the Birdhouse to Reveal the Honeycomb

Brushing the Bees from the Comb

Brushing the Bees from the Comb

Close-up of Bees on Comb

Close-up of Bees on Comb

Hexagonal Pattern of Honeycomb's Wax Cells

Hexagonal Pattern of Honeycomb’s Wax Cells

Looking for the Queen

Looking for the Queen

Queen Bee in Temporary Container

Queen Bee in Temporary Container

Bees in Temporary Transport Box

Bees in Temporary Transport Box

Bee Removal Operation

Bee Removal Operation

Our wild bees didn’t fit in their birdhouses anymore, so today they were moved into temporary boxes before transport to a better home.  An important part of the process was finding the queen and securing her in a small container in the temporary transport box so that the worker bees would follow her there.  The beauty of the wax honeycomb was amazing!  And that honey – so yummy (light and fragrant).  Nature is awesome! 

Florida: Faithful Beauty Moth

Faithful Beauty Moth (also known as the Uncle Sam Moth)

Faithful Beauty Moth (also known as the Uncle Sam Moth)

We saw the Faithful Beauty moth (also known as the Uncle Sam moth) for the first time only a couple of weeks ago at Sebastian Inlet State Park, Florida.  So pretty!  Its Latin name is Composia fidelissima, and it is more commonly seen in southern Florida.   You can tell it is a moth by its feathery antennae.  We are happy to get back to normal after a very close call here on Florida’s Atlantic Coast with Hurricane Matthew.

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