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The Birds and the Dog are Happy

Indeed, when I picked Baxie up from Bill's house yesterday afternoon, he ran down the steps and to the car in a flash. Not that he didn't get good care from Bill and Fallon, but still...he knows who pays the vet bills. Moreover, despite my telling you the bird feeder lasts a week, not so fast Gail! Empty when I returned, and I was gone but two days. And where, pray tell, did I go? St. Augustine. Look who had to ride in the front seat on his way to his vacation?
And why might that be, you ask? Because Mrs. Camera Crazy's bicycle filled the back of the Pilot, and was put to good use, I might add. The new bike is so much heavier than the former one making it nearly impossible for me to lift it up to the bike rack. Tuesday morning, Mr. Bruce figured out a way to roll it into the back of the Pilot, laying it on its side. We practiced multiple times before he left for the airport. Packing lightly, and in this case, too lightly, because I discovered, once there, that I'd forgotten my blood pressure medicine! Nonetheless, I made the most of my time after experiencing a harrowing drive there. At least it was for this chicken on the highways during a blinding rainstorm in a construction zone!!

Once there I settled into my friend's apartment in the Old Town area of St. Augustine. Because it was still raining, and because I did not want to get my car back out of the perilous parking garage, I walked to a nearby restaurant called Cellar 6. Seated at the bar, I had conversations with the two lovely couples on either side of me.
The fellow in the front is a former big time German tennis player, pictured with his wife. On my other side was an executive with Marriott. He and his wife live in Vilano Beach which will be pictured in my next post as there is way too much for you to see in just one. The restaurant was cute and comfortable, and featured lighted menus which are great unless only one side works, as pictured below.
The following morning I set out on an early morning bicycle ride, taking in the sights beginning at dawn.
The obligatory fort photo..
Taking the street adjacent to Ripley's Believe it or Not, I rode down to Water Street which runs along the marshes.
There are some really interesting homes in that area, ranging from crazy paint jobs,
to super modern and modular...
to classic...
Riding to the street behind the pictured ones, I discovered some entirely different kinds of homes.
Seriously, these back up to the previous ones. I'm thinking, in the old days, perhaps these were servants homes? The contrast could not be more great! This was the only street like this, and then it was back to cute and colorful as in the "Blue Bell Cottage" below.
Then it was onto the property of the first Catholic mission in the United States. Lovely and to a Catholic, full of shrines.
The chapel front..
and the lovely grounds leading up to it.
Please note the gigantic cross soaring into the air and visible from quite a distance, as you might expect a cross 208 feet would!

After a shower and breakfast it was off to
and what a nice farm it is. Of course right across A1A is the lighthouse
which I did not visit, only admired. Note how blue the sky is after the cloudy start to the day. Good and bad. No rain, but mighty sunny(and hot!) for picture taking; nonetheless, picture taking I did. My goodness, the opportunities were abundant. I've no idea if this little duck with the blue bill turns into a Mallard or what, however, I found it adorable.
Ring tailed lemurs chilling...
Gorgeous West African Crowned Cranes..
and some, not so beautiful, Marabou storks, although their plumage is lovely in the right light!
How about the teeth on this gharial from India??? We'd call it a crocodile.
The biggest draw for me though was the gigantic Wading bird rookery that you hear before you see. Mostly those hanging around this area for extended periods, are males with big time camera equipment, comparing notes.
The sound of nearly a thousand birds is really something, and they are all completely wild. Apparently, on some days the smell of a thousand birds is really something as well, however, I was lucky enough not to experience that sensation.
I don't know how the number of birds compares with Gatorland, but here they seem to be more concentrated. It is crazy hard for me to only show you a few shots, but I'll do my best as I know most readers do not share my bird obsession! One bird I was most delighted to photograph for the first time in the wild is the Roseate Spoonbill. There were quite a number of them, and I did find a visible nest, however, the branches covered it so well, the photos are not much. What the heck, here's one anyway.
I tried both sides of the tree, and this was the best I could do. I watched another one high in a tree...
After watching birds for a while, you can sense when they are going to take off, and sure enough, this one did...
The color of those wings!!! A great egret flies overhead...
An egret family..
with a pair of squawking kids! This little group amused me, with only one testing wings, while the other two look a little bored.
Just amazing to see them while they are forming. I know you are probably sick of birds by now, but indulge me by looking at one more, because I found the feather detail so fascinating, almost like landing gear on a plane.
Isn't that neat? Or perhaps I should say the landing gear on a plane is like this? :)

I spent the afternoon going into some cute local stores, including this one that was filled with all manner of "stuff."
My goodness! Picture overload for sure. The remainder of the day was mostly uneventful with nothing major to report. Aren't you glad?

your sometime solo traveling friend,

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