Florida’s Space Coast: Beaches OK after Hurricane Irma

Path to Sebastian Beach before Hurricane Irma

Sebastian Inlet Calm Waves Before the Storm

Shell Bits on Beach

Beach Morning Glory and Hamburger Bean

Bunches of Sea Grapes

Clean Melbourne Beach Coastline after Irma

Melbourne Beach Waves

Melbourne Beach Dune Erosion after Irma

I am very happy to say that our beautiful beaches here on Florida’s Space Coast still look great after Hurricane Irma!  We were all nervous staring down a Category 5 hurricane  – at times the projected track went right over our coastal area east of Orlando.  There certainly was damage in Brevard County, but nothing that can’t be fixed.  Our house itself is fine, although we do have an enormous amount of yard work to do.  It is such a luxury now to have use of power, water, internet, gas, and grocery stores – makes you appreciate what surrounds you every day.  It was also nice to see people helping one another.  All our animals and birds are back too.  Great to get back to normal!

Tetons: Beautiful Historic Church

Historic Chapel of the Transfiguration

Interior of Log Cabin Chapel

Chapel’s Altar View

Winter Stained Glass

Close-up of Winter Stained Glass

Summer Stained Glass

Close-up of Summer Stained Glass

Solar Eclipse Church Service

Watercolor of Chapel in Winter

 

Grand Tetons on a Summer Day

Trumpeter Swan in Park

While we were in Jackson, Wyoming for the solar eclipse, we stopped at Grand Teton National Park and saw the Chapel of the Transfiguration (built in 1925).  This historic church’s spectacular location is a popular place for weddings in summer.  A special service was held there in the morning before the solar eclipse featuring a reading from Genesis (“Let there be light…..and God made two great lights – the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night and stars – and it was good”).   Perfect reading for the day!

There are two beautiful stained glass windows by Jessie van Brunt inside the log cabin church featuring both winter and summer.  Behind the altar is a window looking out at the Cathedral Group of the Teton Mountains.  What an inspiring place to visit!  More info is at:  https://www.nps.gov/grte/planyourvisit/index.htm

 

Eclipse – Just WOW!!!

Solar Eclipse Collage

Eclipse Humor: Smiley Face

Eclipse 1: First Contact

Eclipse 2: Three Sunspots Visible

Eclipse 3

Eclipse 4

Eclipse 5

Eclipse 6

Totality 1

Totality 2: Solar Prominences

Totality 3

Totality 4

Totality 5: Regulus on Lower Left

Totality 6: Diamond Ring Effect

Totality 7: Venus on Upper Right

Totality 8: 360 degree Horizon Sunset Glow

Eclipse Ale

Richard & Pam Winegar’s Eclipse Photography Gear

There are no words to properly describe the eclipse – just WOW!!!  The collage shows the progression of the solar eclipse in Jackson, Wyoming, on August 21, 2017.  Individual pictures follow (click to enlarge for detail).  Early morning we walked five minutes from our Teton Village hotel to ride a gondola up Rendezvous Mountain.  We set up our camera equipment in a beautiful wildflower meadow overlooking Jackson Valley.  We heard a ram’s horn blown in the distance when the eclipse began.  First contact is seen in the collage photo on the upper left.  Three major sunspots were visible on the face of the sun.  An amazing amount of light still came from only the tiniest sliver of sun.  At totality at 11:34 am it was safe to remove protective glasses and filters and look directly at the sky.  The beauty and magnificence of the sight was jaw-dropping!  Everyone gasped and cheers went up!  Many of us, myself included, had an emotional response – it brought tears to my eyes. Photographs do not begin to capture what the eye can see – the corona’s streamers extend way out beyond the sun and across the sky.  It felt like Star Trek come to life.  At least three solar prominences were visible on the edge of the sun, and the diamond ring effect was stunning!  The sudden darkness of totality brought a chill to the air.  The star Regulus and the planet Venus became visible, and a sunset band of orange extended 360 degrees around the horizon.  After 2 minutes and 20 seconds the light burst forth again and the air warmed.  I will never forget that moment!  I think we have officially become eclipse chasers.   The next U.S. eclipse will be April 8, 2024 in a path crossing from Texas to Maine (https://www.timeanddate.com/eclipse/solar/2024-april-8).

Florida: Cocoa Beach in Summer

Summer Walk on Cocoa Beach

Morning Waves

Sanderling Running

Ghost Crab

Florida in summer is a land of ocean breezes, afternoon showers, and warm nights.  A walk on Cocoa Beach in the morning is perfect!

Florida: Fantastic Waterlilies

Lavender Waterlily with “Sunflower” Center

Lovely White Lotus

Yellow Waterlily

Purple Waterlily with Red Center

Red Hibiscus

Vintage Movie: Woman Feeding Deer

Vintage Movie: Chimps Eating at Table

Summer is peak waterlily time at McKee Gardens in Vero Beach, Florida.  Lots of waterlilies are in bloom, along with many other beautiful flowers. There is always something new to see!  The park first opened as McKee Jungle Gardens in 1932 as one of Florida’s earliest roadside attractions.  At that time the park was much bigger and monkeys roamed the garden.  A vintage eight minute movie from 1939 named “A Man-Made Jungle” is always on display and fun to watch.  You can see it yourself at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3zY7SZT1B-c    More info about McKee Gardens is at: http://www.mckeegarden.org/

Monterey Bay Aquarium is Great!

Striped Pyjama Squid

Scrawled Filefish

Sea Gooseberry

Orange Sea Nettles

Baja Tropical Reef Tank

Orange Garibaldi

Sea Otters Sleeping on Beach Nearby at Moss Landing

Sea Otters Returning to Water

Sea Otter and Sea Gull

Raft of Sea Otters

The Monterey Bay Aquarium is a wonderful place to visit – it is one of the top aquariums in the country!  It is located on the beautiful California coast south of San Francisco.  Up to 2,000 gallons per minute of fresh sea water constantly flows through the exhibits.  

We especially enjoyed seeing a recent display featuring the striped pyjama squid.  These shy cuttlefish have never been shown in the United States before now.  More info is at:  https://montereybayaquarium.tumblr.com/post/138692614238/were-geeking-out-over-the-newest-addition-to-our

Animators from Pixar Studios visited the aquarium before animation began on the movie “Finding Dory”.  They studied octopus, sea otters, and shorebirds in detail.  That attention to detail shines through in the film, and hopefully inspires a new generation of children to love the ocean too!

Nature Outside My Window

Night Blooming Cactus Flower

Group of Cactus Flowers

Cactus Wrapped Around Sabal Palm

Wildlife Cam: Raccoon Trio

Wildlife Cam: Deer Peekaboo

Wildlife Cam: Tom Turkey

Wildlife Cam: Mother Turkey (right) and Chick (left)

Wildlife Cam: Mottled Duck

Wildlife Cam: Cardinals, Blue Jay, and Woodpecker

It is amazing how much nature is visible outside my home office window.  Since it is summer, we are enjoying a spectacular show of cactus flowers every night.  The automatic wildlife camera captured these raccoons playing beside the flowers.  During the day the female white-tailed deer was caught visiting the same spot, as well as wild turkeys, mottled ducks, and many other birds.  I always have handy a flashlight, binoculars, and camera to look at and capture any surprises I might see.  

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