Sunday, April 27, 2008

Big Whelk Shell Found at Fort DeSoto

We found some great shells at Fort DeSoto today. The shell on the left is a whelk and is over 7" long. The shell on the right is a fighting conch and is about 4" long. The whelk was buried in the sand. The whiter, sun bleached part of the shell was all that was sticking out of the sand. Both shells were unoccupied. We found a lot of shells today that I've never seen before.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Emerson Point Preserve on Snead Island

(Click on the photos for larger images.)

This view is from the observation tower. The Sunshine Skyway Bridge is in the background and a boardwalk through the marsh is in the foreground.

Boardwalk through mangrove marsh.

Blanket flower.

Wild pointsettia.

I was impressed with the variety of wildflowers.

View of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge near the head of the Beach Trail. There are a lot of small beaches in nooks and crannies among shade trees along the Beach Trail. It's a quiet, secluded setting. You feel like you're on your own private beach, even though there are other people along the trail.

Fishing off the Beach Trail.

A mangrove tree growing in salt water. The roots look like stilts. Mangroves are island builders. Sand and debris get caught up in the roots. Material accumulates to support other plant life, and voila! The island gets bigger.

Strangler fig. These trees seed as parasites on the bark of other trees, usually palm trees. The roots grow and touch soil. The strangler fig eventually covers the host tree with root shoots. Creepy, isn't it?

This was an interesting place to explore. There is no admission fee. I think it is one of the best kept secrets in Manatee County. It's not on any of my maps, and there's scarcely any information on the web about Emerson Point Preserve. I thought something interesting might be out here because there is an Indian mound noted on a map and it looked like there might be some cool sandbars or beaches at the point of Snead Island.

The Portavent Temple Mound is at the first parking lot near the entrance. Stop there to get map of the park and see the ancient Indian mounds. The Portavent Temple Mound is the largest Indian mound in the Tampa Bay area.

Directions to Emerson Point Preserve from Palmetto, Florida:
Go west on 10th Street West, cross the bridge to Snead Island, right on Tarpon Avenue, then left on 17th Street West which ends at the Preserve entrance.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Driving Home from Tennessee

Signs promoting Rock City and Ruby Falls are all along I-24 between Nashville and Chattanooga. One of these days I'd like to stop there and take a look.

Spring colors along the highway.

Driving through the mountains.

Houses on top of a mountain in Chattanooga.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Redbud Tree

Here's a close up of the flowers on a redbud tree. We went for a walk this morning along a stream near Abigail's house. The M&M sisters ran around looking for frogs. We could hear them croaking, but couldn't find any. It was nice to see spring flowers like tulips and daffodils.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Nick-A-Jack Lake Rest Area on I-24

It's Grandma Apple's birthday, and we're on our way to Nashville from Florida. Nick-A-Jack Lake is just past Chattanooga on I-24. Part of I-24 goes into Georgia for a few miles, then back into Tennessee. Nick-A-Jack Lake is nearby after returning to Tennessee. The rest areas are gorgeous. There's one on each side of the highway. This is the westbound side.

Here's a scenic view from the bottom of the hill at the rest area.

There are picnic shelters and tables available. A Tennessee visitor information station is in the parking lot.

The redbud trees were in bloom all over the South. Wisteria vines were in bloom near Atlanta. They grew like weeds all over the trees along the roads. Wisteria has light purple flowers that hang from bunches like grapes.