Heckrodt Wetland Reserve: A Nature Lover’s Paradise in Menasha, WI

Not all of my blogs will be about Florida. Wisconsin has some very nice places too. Heckrodt is located near where I use to live in Appleton.

Nestled in the heart of Menasha, Wisconsin, the Heckrodt Wetland Reserve stands as a testament to the region’s commitment to preserving and celebrating its natural heritage. Spanning over 76 acres, this enchanting wetland sanctuary offers visitors a unique opportunity to explore and connect with the rich biodiversity and serene beauty of the area. With its diverse ecosystems, well-maintained trails, and educational programs, Heckrodt Wetland Reserve has become a beloved destination for nature enthusiasts of all ages.

As soon as you step foot into Heckrodt Wetland Reserve, you are greeted by a peaceful ambiance that instantly transports you away from the bustling city. The reserve comprises a mosaic of wetlands, woodlands, prairies, and meadows, each with its own distinct charm and ecological importance. This diverse habitat is home to a remarkable variety of plant and animal species, making it a paradise for wildlife enthusiasts and birdwatchers.

The reserve boasts a network of well-maintained trails that wind through its various habitats, providing visitors with the perfect opportunity to immerse themselves in nature. Whether you are seeking a leisurely stroll or an invigorating hike, Heckrodt Wetland Reserve offers trails suitable for every fitness level. As you wander along the paths, you may encounter picturesque bridges, observation decks, and interpretive signage that offer fascinating insights into the wetland ecosystem.

One of the highlights of Heckrodt Wetland Reserve is its abundant birdlife. Over 200 bird species have been recorded within the reserve’s boundaries, making it a must-visit destination for avid birdwatchers. From the vibrant colors of the majestic blue heron to the melodic songs of warblers and sparrows, the wetland is alive with avian activity throughout the year. The reserve provides bird blinds and designated viewing areas where visitors can quietly observe and appreciate these winged wonders.

Apart from its natural beauty, Heckrodt Wetland Reserve is also committed to environmental education and conservation. The reserve offers a range of educational programs, workshops, and guided tours designed to deepen visitors’ understanding of wetland ecosystems and foster a sense of environmental stewardship. From school field trips to adult workshops, these engaging experiences provide hands-on learning opportunities for visitors of all ages.

Furthermore, the reserve is home to an interpretive center, where visitors can delve into interactive exhibits that showcase the history, ecology, and wildlife of the wetland. The center also hosts informative presentations and events that promote environmental awareness and inspire a connection to nature.

Heckrodt Wetland Reserve is not just a place to visit; it’s a place to engage. The reserve actively encourages community involvement through volunteer programs, citizen science initiatives, and nature-based activities. Whether it’s helping with wetland restoration projects, participating in wildlife monitoring programs, or joining in community celebrations, visitors have the chance to become active participants in the preservation of this precious natural resource.

Heckrodt Wetland Reserve in Menasha, WI, is a hidden gem that captivates all who visit. From its serene landscapes and diverse ecosystems to its commitment to education and conservation, the reserve offers a multifaceted experience for nature lovers. Whether you are seeking solace in the midst of nature, expanding your knowledge, or contributing to a meaningful cause, Heckrodt Wetland Reserve is a place that will leave you with cherished memories and a renewed appreciation for the wonders of the natural world.

Exploring the Beauty of Bok Tower Gardens in Lake Wales, Florida

Nestled in the heart of Lake Wales, Florida, lies a hidden gem known as Bok Tower Gardens. Spanning 250 acres of lush landscapes, serene gardens, and captivating architecture, this enchanting destination offers visitors a truly magical experience. From its iconic Singing Tower to its diverse botanical wonders, Bok Tower Gardens invites you to immerse yourself in the beauty of nature and indulge in a peaceful retreat. Join us as we embark on a virtual journey to discover the captivating allure and rich history of Bok Tower Gardens.

A Tapestry of Nature’s Beauty: Bok Tower Gardens boasts a breathtaking collection of botanical wonders, showcasing the splendor of Florida’s diverse flora. As you wander through the gardens, you’ll encounter an array of vibrant blooms, towering palm trees, and meticulously manicured lawns. The lush landscapes create a serene ambiance that evokes a sense of tranquility and harmony.

One of the most iconic features of Bok Tower Gardens is the Singing Tower, a magnificent structure that rises 205 feet above the ground. Constructed with pink and gray marble and adorned with intricate carvings, the tower stands as a testament to both architectural excellence and natural beauty. At its peak, you’ll find a stunning carillon, a musical instrument comprising 60 bronze bells, which fills the air with captivating melodies throughout the day.

Enchanting Gardens and Serene Sanctuaries: Within the expansive grounds of Bok Tower Gardens, you’ll discover a plethora of enchanting gardens and serene sanctuaries, each offering its own unique charm. The Sundial Garden, with its vibrant floral displays and meandering paths, provides a perfect spot for relaxation and contemplation.

For nature enthusiasts, the Pine Ridge Nature Preserve presents an opportunity to explore Florida’s diverse ecosystems. Here, you can stroll along nature trails that wind through longleaf pine forests, lush wetlands, and scenic vistas. Keep an eye out for wildlife, as the preserve is home to an array of bird species and other native creatures.

The Window by the Pond Garden is a tranquil retreat where visitors can reflect and find solace in the serene beauty of water features and blooming water lilies. Nearby, the Wild Garden showcases an assortment of native wildflowers, attracting butterflies and hummingbirds, adding an extra touch of wonder to your visit.

The Edible Garden presents a delightful blend of beauty and utility, featuring an assortment of fruits, vegetables, and herbs. You can learn about sustainable gardening practices and gather inspiration for your own garden at home.

Educational Opportunities and Cultural Enrichment: Bok Tower Gardens also offers a range of educational opportunities and cultural enrichment programs. The Visitor Center provides interactive exhibits that delve into the history of the gardens and the life and legacy of its founder, Edward W. Bok. The Pinewood Estate, a Mediterranean-style mansion located on the grounds, offers guided tours that provide insight into the estate’s rich history and architecture.

Additionally, Bok Tower Gardens hosts a variety of events and concerts throughout the year, including the annual Sunset & Symphony series, which combines live music with the backdrop of a stunning Florida sunset. These events create a vibrant atmosphere and allow visitors to engage with the arts while surrounded by the beauty of nature.

Bok Tower Gardens in Lake Wales, Florida, is an idyllic escape that captivates visitors with its stunning landscapes, awe-inspiring architecture, and diverse botanical wonders. Whether you seek a peaceful sanctuary for relaxation, a place to explore the marvels of nature, or an opportunity for cultural enrichment, Bok Tower Gardens offers it all. So, if you find yourself in Central Florida,

Exploring The Fascinating World Of Bats At The Lubee Bat Conservancy And Photo Gallery

View the photo gallery at the end of the blog.

Nestled in the heart of Gainesville, Florida, lies a hidden gem for nature enthusiasts and wildlife lovers alike—the Lubee Bat Conservancy. Established in 1989, this unique conservation facility is dedicated to the preservation and study of fruit bats, also known as megabats or flying foxes. Spread across 110 acres of lush greenery, the Lubee Bat Conservancy provides a remarkable opportunity to learn about these fascinating creatures up close and personal. Let’s delve into the wonders that await within its doors.

At the core of the Lubee Bat Conservancy’s mission is the conservation and preservation of bats. With a strong focus on fruit bats, they play a vital role in maintaining the ecological balance of their habitats by pollinating flowers and dispersing seeds. The conservatory works tirelessly to protect these remarkable creatures, whose populations are under threat due to deforestation, habitat loss, and climate change.

One of the highlights of the Lubee Bat Conservancy is its commitment to education. Visitors of all ages can engage in interactive and informative experiences, gaining a deeper understanding of bats’ importance in our ecosystems. Guided tours provide a comprehensive overview of bat biology, behavior, and conservation efforts. Knowledgeable staff members offer engaging presentations, dispelling myths and misconceptions about bats while highlighting their critical role.

As you explore the conservatory’s expansive grounds, you’ll encounter numerous enclosures housing various species of fruit bats. The naturalistic habitats provide the bats with ample space to fly, roost, and socialize. Observing these creatures in action is an awe-inspiring experience, as you witness their graceful flight and unique behaviors. Additionally, Lubee Bat Conservancy offers visitors the opportunity to witness bat feedings—a truly memorable sight.

The Conservancy’s commitment to research and conservation extends beyond its educational endeavors. Lubee Bat Conservatory collaborates with scientists and researchers from around the world to better understand bats’ ecological importance and address the challenges they face. By studying bat behavior, ecology, and genetics, the conservatory contributes valuable insights to the scientific community. Moreover, they actively participate in conservation programs and initiatives, striving to protect bat populations and their habitats.

The Lubee Bat Conservancy stands as a beacon of hope and knowledge in the realm of bat conservation. Through its educational programs, research efforts, and commitment to preserving these extraordinary creatures, the conservatory inspires visitors to appreciate and protect bats for future generations. Whether you’re an avid nature enthusiast, a curious student, or simply seeking a unique experience, a visit to the Lubee Bat Conservancy will leave you with a profound appreciation for these often-misunderstood mammals. Embark on a journey of discovery and unlock the secrets of the bat world at this remarkable facility.

Enjoy my photo gallery of the photo shoot at Lubee Bat Conservancy

The Ruby-Throated Hummingbird

The ruby-throated hummingbird is a fascinating bird species that is native to North America. It is one of the smallest bird species in the world, weighing just 3 to 4 grams and measuring about 7 to 9 cm in length. The ruby-throated hummingbird is also one of the most agile birds, capable of hovering in mid-air and flying in any direction at high speeds.

One of the most distinctive features of the ruby-throated hummingbird is its iridescent plumage. The male has bright green feathers on its back and wings, while its throat is a deep ruby-red color that shimmers in the sunlight. The female has similar plumage, but her throat is white or pale gray.

The ruby-throated hummingbird is found in a wide range of habitats, including forests, meadows, gardens, and urban areas. It is a migratory bird, spending its summers in North America and then flying south to Central America or the Caribbean for the winter. During migration, some ruby-throated hummingbirds may fly nonstop for up to 18 hours, covering distances of over 500 miles.

The diet of the ruby-throated hummingbird is primarily nectar from flowers, but they also consume small insects, spiders, and other arthropods. They have a long, thin bill that is perfectly adapted for sipping nectar from flowers. To catch insects, they use their long, sharp beaks to pluck them from the air or from foliage.

One of the most interesting behaviors of the ruby-throated hummingbird is its courtship display. The male will perform an elaborate aerial dance, flying up to 100 feet in the air and then diving down towards the female. As he approaches, he will make a loud chirping sound with his wings, which can be heard up to 30 feet away. If the female is impressed, she may mate with the male and then build a small, cup-shaped nest using spider silk and plant materials.

The ruby-throated hummingbird is also known for its remarkable ability to store energy. During migration, they can double their body weight by consuming nectar and insects, allowing them to fly long distances without stopping. In preparation for migration, some ruby-throated hummingbirds will even enter a state of torpor, slowing down their metabolism to conserve energy.

Despite their small size, ruby-throated hummingbirds play an important role in their ecosystems. They are important pollinators, visiting flowers to collect nectar and inadvertently transferring pollen from one plant to another. They also serve as a food source for predators such as birds of prey, snakes, and mammals.

The ruby-throated hummingbird is a fascinating bird species that is admired for its beauty, agility, and remarkable abilities. Whether hovering in mid-air, sipping nectar from flowers, or embarking on an epic migration, these tiny birds never fail to impress. Their presence in our gardens and forests reminds us of the importance of preserving our natural habitats and the incredible diversity of life that they support.

The Shark’s Eye/Moon Snail

The Shark’s Eye Shell, also known as the Atlantic Moon Snail, is a fascinating and unique species of marine snail that can be found along the Atlantic coast of North America. With its striking appearance and important ecological role, the Shark’s Eye Shell is a species that deserves our attention and appreciation.

Shark’s Eye Reflection photo. This photo is for sale at www.etsy.com/shop/WIFLAdventurers. Click Here!

One of the most distinctive features of the Shark’s Eye Shell is its large size, which can reach up to 4 inches in diameter. The shell itself is spiral-shaped and has a brownish-gray coloration, with a series of ridges and bumps that give it a textured appearance. The underside of the shell is also notable, with a smooth, pale surface that is used to slide along sandy substrates.

Another unique feature of the Shark’s Eye Shell is its method of feeding. Unlike many other snail species that use a rasping tongue called a radula to scrape algae and other small organisms off of surfaces, the Shark’s Eye Shell is a carnivorous predator. It feeds on other snails and bivalves by drilling a hole into their shell using a specialized structure called the proboscis. Once the hole is made, the Shark’s Eye Shell secretes an acidic substance that dissolves the prey’s flesh, allowing it to be consumed by the snail.

While the Shark’s Eye Shell may seem like a voracious predator, it actually plays an important role in maintaining the balance of the marine ecosystem. By preying on other snail and bivalve species, it helps to control their populations and prevent overgrazing on algae and other important components of the marine food web. Additionally, the holes that the Shark’s Eye Shell drills into its prey’s shells can provide homes for other small organisms, further enriching the diversity of the ecosystem.

In addition to its ecological significance, the Shark’s Eye Shell also has a cultural significance for many coastal communities. In some regions, the shell is used for decorative purposes, such as in jewelry and other crafts. The smooth underside of the shell has a pearly sheen that is highly valued for its aesthetic appeal. In some Native American cultures, the Shark’s Eye Shell is even considered to have spiritual significance and is used in traditional ceremonies and rituals.

This close up photo of a Shark’s Eye shell lets one see the intricate pattern of this beautiful shell. This photo is for sale at www.etsy.com/shop/WIFLAdventurers. Click Here!

Despite its importance, the Shark’s Eye Shell is facing a number of threats in the wild. Overfishing and habitat destruction are two of the biggest challenges facing this species. Additionally, pollution and climate change can have a negative impact on the health of the marine ecosystem as a whole, which can indirectly affect the Shark’s Eye Shell and other species that rely on it for food and habitat.

To ensure the long-term survival of the Shark’s Eye Shell and other marine species, it is important that we take steps to protect and preserve their habitats. This can include implementing regulations on fishing and other activities that can harm marine ecosystems, as well as supporting conservation efforts such as habitat restoration and pollution reduction.

In conclusion, the Shark’s Eye Shell is a fascinating and important species of marine snail that deserves our attention and conservation efforts. With its distinctive appearance, unique feeding habits, and important ecological role, this species serves as a reminder of the complex and interconnected nature of marine ecosystems. By taking steps to protect and preserve these ecosystems, we can help to ensure the survival of species like the Shark’s Eye Shell for generations to come.

The Mystical Sea Horse

This Sea Horse Mirror Photo is for sale. Click here!

Sea horses are fascinating and unique marine creatures that can be found in many different parts of the world, including the Gulf of Mexico. These small, slow-moving creatures are often considered to be some of the most interesting and beautiful animals in the ocean, with their intricate and delicate features and their ability to change colors to blend in with their surroundings.

In the Gulf of Mexico, there are two main species of sea horses that can be found: the lined seahorse and the dwarf seahorse. Both of these species are relatively small, with the lined seahorse growing up to 7 inches in length and the dwarf seahorse only growing up to 2 inches in length. They are both found in shallow waters, typically around seagrass beds and other areas with abundant vegetation.

One of the most distinctive features of sea horses is their unique body shape. They have a long, thin snout that is used for feeding on small crustaceans and other tiny organisms. Their bodies are covered in bony plates rather than scales, and they have a prehensile tail that they use to anchor themselves to seagrass and other objects in the water. Unlike most fish, sea horses swim upright rather than horizontally, and they are able to move their eyes independently of each other, which allows them to scan their surroundings for potential threats and prey.

Sea horses are also known for their remarkable ability to change colors and blend in with their surroundings. This helps them to avoid predators and catch prey, as well as to communicate with other sea horses. They can change colors rapidly, going from bright and vibrant to dark and mottled in just a few seconds. They can also change their patterns and markings to match the seagrass and other vegetation in their environment.

Despite their unique and fascinating features, sea horses are facing a number of threats in the Gulf of Mexico and around the world. One of the biggest threats to sea horses is habitat loss, as seagrass beds and other coastal ecosystems are destroyed by development, pollution, and climate change. This can also lead to declines in the populations of the small organisms that sea horses feed on, which can further impact their survival.

Sea horses are also heavily targeted by the pet trade and the traditional medicine market. They are often captured and sold for their supposed medicinal properties, even though there is little evidence to support these claims. They are also popular aquarium pets, which can lead to overfishing and declines in wild populations.

To help protect sea horses and other marine species in the Gulf of Mexico, there are a number of conservation efforts underway. These include efforts to protect and restore seagrass beds, reduce pollution and other environmental threats, and regulate the trade in sea horses and other marine species. There are also a number of educational programs and outreach efforts aimed at raising awareness about the importance of marine conservation and the threats facing sea horses and other ocean creatures.

Sea horses are fascinating and unique creatures that are an important part of the marine ecosystem in the Gulf of Mexico and around the world. Their delicate features, remarkable abilities, and important role in the ecosystem make them a species worth protecting. By taking steps to address the threats facing sea horses and other marine species, we can help ensure that these amazing creatures continue to thrive for generations to come.

Shelling with Ali Mick of SWFL Shell Guide In the 10,000 Islands

Shelling is a time-honored tradition that dates back thousands of years. It is the act of collecting shells that have washed up on shore, and it is a beloved activity for many people around the world. However, in Southwest Florida, shelling is taken to a whole new level. The area is home to some of the best shelling beaches in the world, and the sheer variety and quantity of shells that can be found there are truly remarkable.

One of the most experienced and knowledgeable shellers in the area is Ali of SWFL Shell Guide. With over 10,000 hours of shelling under her belt, Ali is a true expert when it comes to finding and identifying shells. She offers guided shelling tours in the 10,000 Island area, which is known for its abundance of shells. These tours are a great way to learn more about shelling and to find some truly amazing specimens.

So what makes shelling in Southwest Florida so special? For one thing, the area is home to a unique ecosystem that is ideal for shell formation. The warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico and the shallow, sandy bottoms provide the perfect conditions for mollusks and other shellfish to thrive. As a result, the beaches are constantly replenished with new shells, and each day brings a fresh supply of treasures to be discovered.

Another factor that sets Southwest Florida apart is the sheer variety of shells that can be found there. The area is home to hundreds of different species of mollusks, and each one creates a unique type of shell. Some of the most prized specimens include the lightning whelk, the junonia, and the alphabet cone, all of which are commonly found in the area. In addition to these more rare and valuable shells, there are also plenty of common shells to be found, such as sand dollars, scallops, and cockles.

Of course, finding these shells is not always easy. It takes a trained eye to spot them in the sand, and even then, they can be easily missed. That’s where Ali of SWFL Shell Guide comes in. With her years of experience, she knows exactly where to look for the best shells, and she can help her clients spot even the most elusive specimens. She also offers tips on how to identify different types of shells, which is helpful for those who are just starting out in the hobby.

In addition to the thrill of finding new shells, shelling in Southwest Florida also offers a glimpse into the area’s rich natural history. Many of the shells found on the beaches are hundreds or even thousands of years old, and they provide a window into the area’s past. Some of the most interesting specimens include fossilized shells from ancient sea creatures that once lived in the area. By collecting and studying these shells, shelling enthusiasts can gain a deeper appreciation for the natural world and the history of the area.

Overall, shelling in Southwest Florida is a unique and rewarding experience that is not to be missed. Whether you are a seasoned shell collector or just starting out, the area offers something for everyone. With the help of an experienced guide like Ali of SWFL Shell Guide, you can make the most of your shelling experience and discover some truly amazing treasures along the way. So if you’re planning a trip to the area, be sure to put shelling at the top of your list of things to do – you won’t regret it!

Click here for more information on booking a tour with Ali of SWFL Shell Guide.

Junonia, Junonia Shell, Florida Shells

The Junonia Shell is a beautiful, rare seashell that is highly prized by collectors and beachcombers alike. This unique shell is characterized by its distinctive pattern of intricate spots and lines that create a stunning visual display of rich, warm colors.

The scientific name for the Junonia Shell is Scaphella junonia, and it is a member of the Olividae family of seashells. These shells are typically found in warm, tropical waters and are known for their hard, durable exteriors and intricate internal structure.

(The mirror junonia photos are for sale at WIFLAdventurers Etsy Shop. Click Here)

The Junonia Shell is particularly prized by collectors due to its rarity and unique beauty. While it is found in a few different locations throughout the world, it is most commonly found along the coast of Florida, making it a popular target for beachcombers and collectors in the area.

There are several different types of Junonia Shells, each with their own unique coloration and pattern. The most common variety is the Junonia Excavata, which is characterized by its rich, warm colors of red, brown, and orange. This variety is found primarily along the Gulf Coast of Florida, particularly in the areas around Sanibel and Captiva Islands.

(Junonias in the sand photos are for sale at (WIFLAdventurers Etsy Shop. Click Here)

Another variety of Junonia Shell is the Junonia Hesperia, which is characterized by its bright, vibrant colors of blue and green. This variety is found primarily along the coast of southern California and Baja California, although it has also been found in other parts of the world as well.

The Junonia Shell is typically found in sandy, shallow waters, particularly in areas where there is a lot of wave action. These shells are often found washed up on the beach after storms, or can be found by beachcombers who are willing to do a bit of searching.

While the Junonia Shell is a beautiful and prized find for many beachcombers and collectors, it is important to remember that collecting seashells can have an impact on the local ecosystem. It is important to only take shells that are already dead and to avoid disturbing live animals or their habitats.

In addition to the Junonia Shell, there are many other types of seashells that can be found along the coast of Florida. Some of the most common include the Lightning Whelk, the Fighting Conch, and the Alphabet Cone. These shells, like the Junonia, are prized for their unique beauty and are a popular target for collectors and beachcombers.

Overall, the Junonia Shell is a beautiful and unique seashell that is highly prized by collectors and beachcombers around the world. Found primarily along the coast of Florida, this rare and stunning shell is a must-see for anyone who loves the beauty and wonder of the ocean.

Crumps Landing Tiki Bar

Crump’s Landing is a popular seafood restaurant located in Homassassa, Florida. Situated right on the water’s edge, the restaurant provides a picturesque view of the Homosassa River and a cozy, inviting atmosphere for diners to enjoy their meals.

The restaurant is named after the Crump family, who have been running the establishment for over 30 years. The family has deep roots in the Homassassa community and takes pride in offering fresh, locally sourced seafood to their customers.

To enter the restaurant, you walk through an archway where you’ll be greeted by a warm and friendly staff, who will escort you to your table. The restaurant is a vast area with three bars and only outside seating, with wooden furnishings and nautical accents, creating a maritime theme that is in harmony with the surrounding environment.

One of the most significant draws of Crump’s Landing is its menu, which features a variety of seafood dishes, from classic favorites to more innovative preparations. The restaurant’s signature dish is the “Stone Crab Claws,” a delicacy that is unique to the Gulf of Mexico. These succulent claws are harvested from the nearby waters and served with a tangy mustard sauce, creating a flavor that is hard to beat.

Other popular menu items include the fried shrimp basket, seafood gumbo, and the fresh catch of the day, which varies depending on what the fishermen have brought in that day. In addition to seafood, the restaurant also serves up a variety of salads, sandwiches, and burgers, making it a great option for those who may not be seafood enthusiasts.

Crump’s Landing is also known for its lively atmosphere, with live music performances on weekends and special events throughout the year. The restaurant hosts an annual Stone Crab Festival, which attracts visitors from all over Florida to celebrate this local delicacy. The festival features live music, games, and of course, plenty of stone crab claws to go around.

Another standout feature of Crump’s Landing is its location on the Homosassa River, which allows for stunning views of the water and the surrounding nature. The restaurant has an outdoor deck, where diners can enjoy their meals while taking in the sights and sounds of the river. There is also a dock, where guests can arrive by boat and tie up for a meal or drinks.

Crump’s Landing is a must-visit seafood restaurant for anyone visiting Homassassa, Florida. Its charming atmosphere, extensive menu, and stunning location make it a top choice for locals and tourists alike. Whether you’re looking for a romantic dinner for two, a family outing, or a fun night out with friends, Crump’s Landing is sure to please.

Marker 48 Craft Brewery

Marker 48 Brewery is a craft brewery located in the heart of Brooksville, Florida. Founded in 2014 by four friends, Marker 48 has quickly become a local favorite among beer enthusiasts, offering a wide range of handcrafted beers that are brewed onsite.

The brewery’s name is derived from the nearby meridian marker, which was placed in the early 1900s to help surveyors measure distances accurately. This nod to the area’s history is also reflected in Marker 48’s commitment to using locally sourced ingredients in their brewing process whenever possible.

One of the most unique features of Marker 48 Brewery is its spacious and welcoming taproom, which boasts a rustic yet modern decor that is both comfortable and inviting. The taproom is adorned with repurposed wood and metal, giving it a warm and cozy ambiance, while the large windows provide ample natural light that floods the space during the day.

The brewery’s menu features an extensive selection of beers, ranging from classic styles like pilsners and IPAs to more adventurous brews like stouts and sour ales.

In addition to their core beer offerings, Marker 48 also produces a variety of seasonal and limited-edition brews that are only available for a short time. These experimental beers are often created in collaboration with local businesses and organizations, showcasing the brewery’s commitment to community involvement.

Marker 48 Brewery also offers tours of their facility, giving visitors a behind-the-scenes look at the brewing process and the opportunity to learn more about the art and science of craft beer. The brewery is open seven days a week, and regularly hosts events such as live music performances, trivia nights, and food truck rallies.

Overall, Marker 48 Brewery is a must-visit destination for anyone who appreciates quality craft beer and a laid-back, friendly atmosphere. With its commitment to using locally sourced ingredients, community involvement, and dedication to producing innovative and delicious beers, it is no wonder that Marker 48 has become one of the most popular breweries in the region.

You can view all my small batch Marker 48 beer reviews from the 2022/2023 Small Batch Brew Passport season at Wisconsin Florida Adventurers Marker 48 Beer Reviews.

Circle B Bar Reserve January 7th, 2023

Circle B Bar Reserve is a nature reserve located in Polk County, Florida, and is known for its diverse flora and fauna. Spread over 1,267 acres, the reserve is home to numerous species of birds, mammals, reptiles, and amphibians. The reserve is a popular destination for birdwatchers and wildlife enthusiasts who come to observe the wide variety of species that inhabit the reserve.

One of the main features of Circle B Bar Reserve is its extensive network of hiking trails that crisscross the reserve. The trails provide visitors with an opportunity to explore the diverse habitats that exist within the reserve, including wetlands, marshes, and hardwood hammocks. The trails range from easy to moderate difficulty, and visitors can choose the one that suits their fitness level and interests.

The most popular trail in the reserve is the Alligator Alley Trail, which is a 1.5-mile loop that takes visitors through the heart of the reserve. The trail passes through a wetland habitat that is home to numerous bird species, including the Anhinga, Great Blue Heron, and Wood Stork. Visitors can also spot alligators basking in the sun along the banks of the trail, making it a unique and exciting experience.

Another popular trail is the Eagle Roost Trail, which is a 1.3-mile loop that takes visitors through a hardwood hammock. This trail provides visitors with an opportunity to observe numerous bird species that inhabit the hammock, including the Red-shouldered Hawk, Barred Owl, and Pileated Woodpecker. Visitors can also spot turtles and snakes that live in the dense vegetation along the trail.

Apart from hiking trails, Circle B Bar Reserve also offers visitors other outdoor recreational activities. The reserve has a fishing pier that provides visitors with an opportunity to fish in the waters of Lake Hancock. The lake is home to numerous fish species, including bass, catfish, and bluegill, making it a popular destination for anglers.

Circle B Bar Reserve also has a picnic area that is located near the entrance of the reserve. The picnic area provides visitors with a place to relax and enjoy the natural surroundings of the reserve. The area has numerous picnic tables, grills, and restrooms, making it an ideal place for families to spend a day outdoors.

The reserve also has an environmental education center that provides visitors with an opportunity to learn about the natural history and ecology of the reserve. The center has exhibits and displays that provide information about the various habitats and species that inhabit the reserve. The center also offers educational programs and guided tours for visitors of all ages, making it an ideal destination for school groups and families.

Circle B Bar Reserve is a unique and diverse nature reserve that offers visitors an opportunity to experience the natural beauty of Florida. With its extensive network of hiking trails, fishing pier, picnic area, and environmental education center, the reserve provides visitors with a variety of outdoor recreational activities to choose from. The reserve is an ideal destination for birdwatchers, wildlife enthusiasts, and families who are looking for an outdoor adventure. The reserve is open year-round and is free to enter, making it accessible to everyone. If you’re planning a trip to Florida, be sure to add Circle B Bar Reserve to your itinerary.

Myakka River State Park

The Florida state park system is vast. You can enjoy beautiful scenery and a plethora of wild animals as well as beautiful lakes and Gulf beaches throughout the Florida parks.

The Myakka River State Park does not disappoint. Myakka River, Florida’s first state-designated wild and scenic river, flows through a vast expanse of wetlands, prairies, hammocks, and pinelands that make up Myakka River State Park. Boating, fishing, canoeing and kayaking are popular activities on the water while hikers and bicyclists explore miles of trails and backroads.

Among the already mentioned features, the Myakka River State Park includes a Canopy Walk. You can walk across a bridge suspended in the trees. At the end of the canopy walk is a lookout tower. From the top you can view the horizon above the tree line for miles in any direction. Below is a 360 video where you can experience a fully immersive experience of walking across the Canopy Walk. Hit play and use your mouse or turn your phone to be a part of the canopy walk experience.

The opportunity to see wildlife while at the park is always present. Alligators are plentiful. Although you may have to look harder during the wet season. One of the best places to observe gators is at the Deep Hole. The park limits the number of people who can visit the Deep Hole every day. If this is your objective, you will have to get to the park early. The park opens at 8am. The ranger stated the permits to the Deep Hole are usually gone by 8:10. It is a 2.2 mile hike into the area.

We rented kayaks. We were able to see plenty of alligators from our kayaks. Kayak and canoe rental is $20 for the first hour and $5 per hour after that. The people at the rental place were awesome and very liberal with our time in the kayaks.

Myakka River State Park is also popular with bird watchers. Myakka’s 37,000-plus acres provide wonderful habitat for wading birds, raptors, songbirds, migratory birds, and ducks. Whether you are a professional or amateur, you won’t be disappointed. 

There is plenty of camping at the park.

The park features three campgrounds with 90 campsites. Each site is equipped with 50-amp electrical service, water, a fire ring and picnic table. The sites in Palmetto Ridge also have sewer hook-ups. A dump station is located near Old Prairie Campground. Laundry facilities are available to all campers in Old Prairie and Palmetto Ridge campgrounds. All campsites are located within 40 yards of restroom facilities with hot showers.

There are six primitive campgrounds (Mossy Hammock, Bee Island, Honore, Panther Point, Oak Grove and Prairie) located along the hiking trails for backpackers. These rustic settings provide campers with a fire pit and post to hang items. Each campground has three campsites, and a maximum of four people may be on each site. Only Bee Island, Oak Grove and Prairie have water pumps. Water at these sites is not potable; it requires boiling/chemical treatment. Other sites do not have water; you must bring your own. The terrain is primarily prairie, and dehydration is possible even on the coolest days. 


Paw Park Beach, Venice, Florida

If you want a great day on the beach with your best friend? I highly recommend Paw Park Beach just a few hundred yards South of Sharky’s On the Pier.

You will park at Brohard Paw Park where they have a nice fenced in facility for dogs. One fenced area is for small dogs and the other for large dogs. To get to the dog beach, just walk through the fenced in dog park, down a short path and over the boardwalk.

There is limited parking in front of the Brohard Paw Park, but there is plenty of parking right next to the park. They have a nice little doggie showering area and water available in the fenced in dog park area. When on the beach, you will want to bring your own water.

Mango, our Great Dane enjoyed playing in the water and playing with other dogs. This beach is a beach where dogs are suppose to be on a leash. Many of the dogs were on a leash, and the dogs off leash were very well behaved with very responsible and nice owners. People were friendly as we all shared time with our dogs.

If you like sharks teeth, you can do a little hunting for them while your pup plays. My wife, Carrie, enjoyed a day finding shark’s teeth and shells.

Our day at Paw Park Beach was wonderful. We had surf, sun and sand. We met nice people and nice dogs. We even got to do some shelling and shark teeth hunting.

If you find yourself at Paw Park Beach and see Mango the Great Dane, stop and say hi. #mangothegreatdane

The Dance Of The Sandhill Crane

We live in Hernando County, Florida. Interesting wildlife is always a short drive away. Today we didn’t have to take a short drive. All we had to do was look out our back window where we were lucky enough to have a pair of sandhill cranes walk past our house.

As we watched them, all of a sudden one started to dance. As soon as the dance began, I ran and got my camera. I was lucky enough to get outside to catch some of the dance on film, well digital film, so to speak.

Sandhill cranes mate for life. Their bond lasts until one of the mates passes away at which time the surviving mate seeks a new mate. During the mating season, sandhill cranes perform dancing displays, which is most likely what I was privy to seeing on this occasion. Dancing is common in the breeding season, but sandhill cranes can dance all year long. Their dancing involves bowing, jumping and wing flapping, all of which I caught during this photo session.

Browse through my photo gallery and experience the “Dance of the Sandhill Crane.”

Enter Mango The Florida Great Dane And New Florida Adventurer

When we purchased our Florida home, we were excited to bring our beautiful Great Dane Roxy with us to the sunshine state. Sadly, Roxy passed away a year ago in January of Osteosarcoma. It was a tough loss and we think about her every day.

Memorial to Roxy

We now have been in Florida since late July. We have taken many adventures, but miss having a dog. Carrie started surfing various dane sites. We have considered many options. Last week she came across a few danes up for adoption that live near us. Long story short, we found an eleven week old blue brindle dane that lives a little more than hour from us. We contacted the breeder and then had to wait.

The breeder replied. We filled out the breeder’s application. We were accepted!

Mango found a stick.

We took a ride on Sunday to meet this new dane who has been christened Mango. When we arrived this puppy was let out the door. Her big paws were flopping as she tried to run over the leaves and grass. Her marking is called brindle. She is a blue brindle to be exact. Her eyes are a green and her fur is like a loose coat ready to be grown into.

Mango comes to our home on February 3rd, 2021. We missed our walks with Roxy. Now we can take our walks with Mango. When food drops on the floor, we no longer have to get a broom. Mango will be our vacuum. We will be back to warm snuggles on the couch as we watch tv in the evenings and comforting dog snores as we sleep at night.

Most of all, we look forward to new adventures in Florida with Mango.

Shelling on Anclote Key Preserve State Park

Just off the shores of Tarpon Springs is a barrier island known as Anclote Key. It is an amazing place to find some great shells. The island is also only accessible by boat.

Anclote Key Preserve State Park is Florida State Park and historical site located 3 miles off Tarpon Springs. The park does allow for camping on the north end of the island as well as picnic pavilions and grills. Wildlife includes various birds and sea life. The island is host to a picturesque lighthouse.

As far as shelling goes, Anclote Key is a nice site to find shells and sponges. Sponges are sparse in most places we go shelling, but the Tarpon Springs sponge docks are world famous with the title of the Sponge Capital of the World. As the tides roll in and out, Anclote Key becomes a resting place for many of the sponges the sea chooses to relinquish.

Shelling on the island was good. We went with a charter called Odyssey Cruises. They were one of the most affordable shelling cruises we have been on. They do pack the boat full and if you are reading this while the pandemic is still going on, not everyone will be wearing masks. The trip is a 2 and 1/2 hour trip which is barely enough time. Check the low tide charts and try to book during a low tide cruise for optimal shelling. The run back to back cruises. They are a business and quantity is what they are going for.

Two of our shells from the tour.

When my wife goes on these trips, I do look for shells, but am more interested in photography. The photography opportunities are plentiful. On this trip I found a beautiful sea star, a juvenile Herring Gull and an American Oystercatcher.

We are looking forward to heading back to Anclote Key. Any friends with a boat up for an all day excursion?

Northern Flicker

One of the neat things about being in Florida is the wide variety of birds and animals that are out our backdoor. I mean that in a literal sense. The other day I looked out our back window and saw this bird I have never saw before. I quickly got my camera and got a few rudimentary shots before the bird flew away. With a little research I discovered this is a Northern Flicker

Northern Flicker

This photo appears to be a male Yellow Shafted Northern Flicker. The northern flicker is a woodpecker.  Often seen feeding on the ground in lawns, where they eat lots of ants and worms. The flicker is the only woodpecker in North American that commonly finds food on the ground. Apparently this guy was having a feast in my neighbor’s backyard the day he came to visit.

Unlike other woodpeckers, flickers typically migrate south when inclement weather arrives. In the spring the northern flicker establishes its own nesting territory. The do this by drumming on trees and any other object which makes noise as a way of warning others to stay away.

Northern Flicker

Circle B Bar Reserve 12.28.2020

The Circle B Bar Reserve is an amazing place where one can experience a wide variety of wildlife. The grounds host miles of walking trails through woodlands and marsh areas. Here are some photos and a short video of a male Anhinga eating a fish.

Anhingas always stab their fish to catch them. They are very skilled at removing the fish from their bill. They will lower the fish and then whip their head upward to fling and dislodge the fish from their bill. The fish flies directly upward, and then when the fish descends, the anhinga catches it in its mouth. If the toss is not perfect, the anhinga will bat the fish up into the air until the fish is in the right position.

Male Anhinga Swallowing a Fish.

Below is a photo gallery of the birds, reptiles and animals we viewed on our visit to the Circle B today.

Make sure to follow me to see future photos and videos of my Florida activities.

Alligators At Lake Apopka 12.12.2020

Lake Apopka is a wildlife wonder. The drive through experience will offer you a chance to view birds and alligators. The drive will take you a minimum of an hour and a half to complete. The experience can easily take a half of a day to complete. Bring food and water. Please bring out all wrappers and bottles you bring in.

Various other walking trails available to visitors offer the experience of seeing other wild animals. Here are photos of the alligators we saw on our visit this day.

Fort DeSoto 12.24.2020

Fort DeSoto is a great place to see a wide variety of birds. Here is the photo gallery from our visit to Fort DeSoto on Christmas Eve.

Funny story from when we were heading home. We stopped at Publix and bought a roast chicken. We grabbed some napkins and plastic forks and knives. We sat in the car in the Publix parking lot and had a nice little picnic. We had a quarter cup of water left from the day. We washed down our roast chicken sharing the cup of water. It was a great day.