A Day with the Porsche

Porsche Boxster by the Ocean

The time has flown since I purchased my Porsche Boxster on June 26, 2019. In the two months since then, I have greatly enjoyed driving and also just looking at the thing, to be honest. I drive it to work on sunny days and have taken the Boxster on a few short trips.

But in that period I haven’t taken the time to do some of the basic things you’d do with a new car. I added only one radio station to the ones preset by the dealership and didn’t activate the satellite radio. I hadn’t paired my mobile phone with the car. I hadn’t changed any of the default settings on the displays or configured its optional features. I hadn’t even taken the Porsche on an extended drive just because. I barely tested the Sport mode. Although I actually did RTFM.

So on August 26, exactly two months after bringing the Porsche Boxster home, I decided to devote the day to getting to know my car.

I started with the center display screen functions. Although I don’t expect to use this feature much, I paired my mobile phone with the car using Bluetooth. It was a simple process. After checking my preset radio stations in the MINI, I set the same stations in the Porsche. Finally, I jotted down the satellite radio ID so I could activate it online later.

Porsche Boxster Center Console

After reviewing the owner’s manual for the programmable features, I went through the menu and set a few options such as the folding mirrors, auto door locking, warning volume, and the multi-function display items. I checked the oil level and tire pressures on the display. (Note the outdoor temperature of 107°F!)

Porsche Boxster Display

My building’s parking lot is gated and I had been using a clunky, ancient-looking remote control to open the gates. No more. I programmed one of the Porsche’s HomeLink buttons to open the gates. So much better!

The next order of business was to wash the car. Due to the soft-top, Porsche doesn’t recommend putting the Boxster through an automatic carwash. So I have been hand-washing the car and today would be its third bath. I washed and dried the car, taking extra time on its wheels and under the rear spoiler.

Porsche Boxster
Porsche Boxster
Porsche Boxster Spoiler

The day was hot, so a drive and photoshoot would have to wait until evening. There is a scenic and partly curvy road nearby, known to bikers and car clubs, called The Loop. Around 6:30 pm, I set off up Beach Street, top down, in the warm evening. I began The Loop at Granada Boulevard, driving north on Old Dixie Highway with no traffic ahead of me. I turned right on Walter Boardman Road and then again on Highbridge Road which winds its way along the edge of Bulow Creek. Here I pulled off the road to take a few photos.

Porsche Boxster on The Loop

I continued on Highbridge. There are two ways to complete The Loop, either along the river on John Anderson Drive or along the beach on A1A. Since I hoped to take some photos by the ocean, I continued to A1A and stopped at the parking lot where the roads meet. Here I took more photos above the beach.

Porsche Boxster by the Ocean
Porsche Boxster by the Ocean
Porsche Boxster by the Ocean
Porsche Boxster by the Ocean

The sun was setting soon and I had one more stop for photos I hoped to make. So I cruised south on A1A enjoying the cool wind and the ocean views. At Granada Boulevard I turned right and crossed the bridge, completing The Loop. A few blocks further I made a U-turn, then pulled up in front of the Ormond Garage. This was an historic garage but recently turned into a bar and grill. Since I was parked illegally, I left the Boxster running while I quickly took a few photos, dodging traffic on Granada.

Porsche Boxster
Porsche Boxster

Photos completed, I jumped in the car and headed back home along Riverside Drive and Beach Street, arriving just before 8:00 pm. During this drive I passed 1,000 miles since purchase and will be writing a review of the car soon.

Porsche Boxster Dash

50 Hikes: #45 Doris Leeper Spruce Creek Preserve

50 Hikes: #45 Doris Leeper Spruce Creek Preserve

This is Hike #45 in the book 50 Hikes in Central Florida, started on August 22, 2019. Will complete at a later date.

Due to the hotter Florida Summer weather, I had not hiked in three months. But I had a day off and this park was nearby and sounded promising. I didn’t get a really early start, arriving to the park around 11:40 am after a 20-minute drive.

The book lists two hikes in the preserve. The first is Spruce Creek Bluffs, a 5.6-mile loop trail, which is what I did. The second is Spruce Creek Park / Rose Bay, a short out-and-back plus a loop, for another 2.6 miles. The total hiking distance is 8.2 miles.

50 Hikes: #45 Doris Leeper Spruce Creek Preserve

The Spruce Creek Bluffs area has trails for hikers, bikers, and equestrians. The beginning of the trail from the West Trailhead was used by hikers and bikers. After just a few minutes on the trail, I decided I would have to come back in the Fall with my mountainbike. Although there were lots of bike tracks, I could tell by the number of spiderwebs that no bikes had been there in the recent past.

The first ten or 15 minutes were pleasant enough. But soon I was swatting at the occasional horsefly. As I kept walking along the winding perimeter trail, the frequency of the horseflies increased. I soon reached Bailout A, the first of three connecting trails to the main Bluff Trail, used to quickly return to the trailhead.

50 Hikes: #45 Doris Leeper Spruce Creek Preserve

I continued north along the very winding perimeter trail. The amount of horseflies steadily increased to the point where I was exercising my arms nearly as much as my legs. I passed Bailout B with the brief thought of taking it. I optimistically trudged on. The conditions got worse so that when I reached Bailout C, I seriously considered abandoning the hike and returning to my car.

50 Hikes: #45 Doris Leeper Spruce Creek Preserve

I hadn’t quite reached the scenic bluffs, the main attraction of this hike, so I kept going. I was walking quickly, just trying to get trough this section. The view at Sunset Point was nice, but I wasn’t able to enjoy it. When I stopped walking for any length of time, the horseflies really swarmed. I had a quick look and snapped a few photos.

50 Hikes: #45 Doris Leeper Spruce Creek Preserve

At Sunset Point the perimeter trail meets the main Bluff Trail that goes back south. I headed down it hoping the conditions here would improve. They didn’t, at first. I don’t normally carry the 50 Hikes in Central Florida book with me, but on this day I was glad I did. I knew there were lots of crossing trails and there was the potential to take a wrong turn; I nearly did two or three times. The written directions in the book helped a lot.

The second half of the Bluff Trail got better. It was mostly shaded and the horseflies nearly stopped buzzing my head. After about 3.5 miles, I reached 6 Corners. As its name suggests, it was the juncture of six trails. I turned left and began the well-marked Overlook Trail. The horseflies returned and I actually jogged a portion of this trail to lessen the annoyance and complete it quicker. This trail reached Spruce Creek and provided two good overlooks of the river and marsh (see photo, at top).

50 Hikes: #45 Doris Leeper Spruce Creek Preserve
50 Hikes: #45 Doris Leeper Spruce Creek Preserve

After quickly enjoying the views, I continued on, wanting to finish this hike as soon as possible. The time was after 1:00 pm and the day was beginning to get warm. However, the most miserable part of the hike was still to come. The next segment was a trail along powerlines, which meant a straight trail in thick sand, in the hot sunshine, and still swarming with horseflies. Breathing harder here, I actually inhaled and swallowed a couple horseflies. Yuck.

50 Hikes: #45 Doris Leeper Spruce Creek Preserve

Here was another place I nearly missed my turn. There were two service/equestrian trails that went off to the right that I was not supposed to take. I passed them. But the second also included my needed perimeter trail which I passed. After checking the book and my hiking app, I turned around and found the correct trail. I was hot and exhausted at this point. Fortunately the final 3/4 mile was shaded and the horseflies abated. At the end, I had never been more happy to be finished with a day-hike.

50 Hikes: #45 Doris Leeper Spruce Creek Preserve

Sitting in my MINI, I cooled down and changed shoes and shirt. I looked in the rearview mirror, startled to see seven bloody dots on my forehead and cheek. Horsefly bites. I could only guess the number on my back. I did my best to wash off the blood. I also decided I was done hiking for the day, the second hike would have to wait until tomorrow.

50 Hikes: #45 Doris Leeper Spruce Creek Preserve Route

Post-Hike Beer

Since I was done hiking for the day, it was time to get my reward. I planned my return drive to pass by downtown New Smyrna Beach and a stop at New Smyrna Brewing. It was nearing 3:00 pm and I worried they might not yet be open. A quick search on my phone told me they opened at 3:00 pm. Perfect! I found the men’s room, washed my face and arms, found a corner bar seat, and ordered a flight of beers (numbered right-to-left).

50 Hikes: #45 Doris Leeper Spruce Creek Preserve Beer

Postscript

The next day I motored down to Spruce Creek Park to complete part two of the hike. I was hopeful that conditions would be better closer to the coast. I was wrong. I found the trailhead and walked the long wooden boardwalk to the start of the trail to Rose Bay. However, as soon as I started down the sandy trail the horseflies swarmed again. Quickly deciding that I wasn’t putting myself through more torture, I turned around and returned to my car. I will return sometime in the Fall to complete this short hike.

50 Hikes: #45 Doris Leeper Spruce Creek Preserve

MINI JCW Coupe vs. Porsche Boxster

MINI JCW Coupe

Porsche Boxster

If you know me or have browsed my website, you’ll already know that my most recent previous car (in addition to my older MINI Cooper) was a MINI John Cooper Works Coupe.  While I like the sporty, yet practical, hatchback MINI Cooper, I have always preferred the two-seat sportscar.  I don’t have a family or the need to haul many people or large items.  This preference is why I bought the MINI Coupe in 2011 and the Porsche Boxster this year (2019).  Despite the Porsche being a convertible, the two cars have several similarities.

Both cars are two-seaters and relatively small and lightweight.  They are true driver’s cars with excellent steering, handling, and braking.  Both cars employ active rear spoilers.  Both have excellent six-speed manual transmissions.  Although very different, the two cars each produce a distinct, aggressive engine noise; the MINI pops while the Porsche growls.  My Porsche 981 has the traditional flat-six engine, but the current Boxster 982 (and its hardtop sibling the Cayman) has a turbocharged four-cylinder like the MINI JCW.  The MINI JCW Hardtop and Porsche Cayman used to compete against each other in the IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge ST class until 2018.

The biggest difference is in the layout: the MINI JCW Coupe has its longitudinally-mounted engine up front, while the Porsche Boxster has a mid-engine configuration.  The MINI is front-wheel drive; the Porsche is rear-wheel drive.  Two different philosophies with each having its benefits and drawbacks.

Here are the numbers for comparison.

MINI JCW Coupe Porsche Boxster 981
Dimensions
Length 148.0″ (3,734 mm) 172.2″ (4,374 mm)
Width without mirrors 66.3″ (1,683 mm) 70.9″ (1,801 mm)
Width with mirrors 75.3″ (1,913 mm) 77.9″ (1,987 mm)
Height 54.5″ (1,384 mm) 50.5″ (1,282 mm)
Wheelbase 97.1″ (2,466 mm) 97.4″ (2,475 mm)
Weight 2,701 lb (1,225 kg) 2,888 lb (1,310 kg)
Engine and Transmission
Type and Displacement Inline 4 Cylinder
1,598 cm³
Flat 6 Cylinder
2,706 cm³
Power 208 hp @ 6,000 rpm 265 hp @ 6,700 rpm
Torque 192 lb-ft @ 1,850-5,600 rpm 207 lb-ft @ 4,500 rpm
Transmission 6-Speed Manual,
front-wheel drive
6-Speed Manual,
rear-wheel drive
Suspension
Front MacPherson MacPherson
Rear Multi-Link Multi-Link
Brakes
Front 12.4″ Ventilated Disc 12.4″ Ventilated Disc
Rear 11.0″ Ventilated Disc 11.8″ Ventilated Disc
Wheels and Tires
Wheels 17″ x 7″ Alloy – F
17″ x 7″ Alloy – R
18″ x 8″ Alloy – F
18″ x 9″ Alloy – R
Tires 205/45-R17 – F
205/45-R17 – R
Performance Runflat
235/45-ZR18 – F
265/45-ZR18 – R
Performance
Base Price (MSRP) New (With Destination Charge) $31,900 $50,450
Performance
Top Speed 149 mph (240 km/h) 163 mph (264 km/h)
Acceleration
(0-60 mph)
6.1 seconds 5.5 seconds
Fuel Economy (City/Highway/Combined) 25/33/28 mpg 20/30/24 mpg

[Sources: MINI USA website, MINI USA News, Porsche Boxster Owner’s Manual, Porsche Boxster Window Sticker.]

My Porsche Boxster

Porsche Boxster

After I bought my loft in December 2017, I began thinking about buying a new car. After researching the new car market, including MINI, I decided that nothing in my price range really interested me. Since the time I was a kid, I have always wanted to own a Porsche. So, about a year ago I started doing some research on the Porsche Cayman. The reviews of the car were excellent and I decided to try to find a recent (Generation 3 or 981 in Porsche-speak) with low miles. I had one requirement: the car had to have a 6-speed manual transmission.

In early June I spotted a 2015 Porsche Cayman in white with low miles that seemed perfect. But it was an automatic. I decided to go have a look at it at Porsche South Orlando and maybe test-drive it. Maybe it would change my mind. When I arrived, someone was just taking it out, so I went inside to speak to a salesman. I gave him my preferred specifications and he told me about a 2013 Porsche Boxster with a manual transmission that had just been sold to the dealership. Did I want to have a look? I hadn’t really considered a Boxster, which is the convertible version of the Cayman, but I thought it was worth viewing. So I followed him up to the large parking garage at the back of the building.

Porsche Boxster
Porsche Boxster

The Boxster was a beautiful Dark Blue Metallic with a dark blue top in nearly new condition. It was indeed a 6-speed manual. Plus, it had very few miles by the one previous owner, an older gentleman in his 70s who owned several Porsches and used this one on sunny days to drive to the golf club. I liked the car and its history, but I still wasn’t sure that a convertible was right for me. So I left.

The following week I received a message from the Porsche dealership asking if I wanted to test-drive the Boxster. Since I had an appointment at Orlando MINI for an oil change that coming Friday, I decided to go try the Boxster. It was a very hot and sunny day, so I began the drive with the top up before retracting it on the way back. I really liked how the Boxster handled, shifted, and sounded with its mid-engine flat-six engine. I expected the the car to feel big and heavy, but it drove very similar to my previous MINI JCW Coupe.

Porsche Boxster
Porsche Boxster

Again, although I loved the looks and enjoyed the feel of the Boxster, I still wasn’t sure a convertible was for me. So I left again. But I kept thinking about the Boxster.

In the meantime, I did some more searching and research. I realized that a manual Cayman (or Boxster) with my other specifications might be hard to find. I was buying the car for fun, and I live in Florida near the beach. When the salesman sent me a message the following week asking if I had any general questions (they were not aggressive at all), I made them an offer a few thousand less than the asking price. I didn’t have anything to lose. But they accepted my offer and I quickly put a deposit on the car.

The first available day I had to go back to Porsche South Orlando was Wednesday, June 26. I took the afternoon off work, left my MINI Cooper in my parents’ driveway, and drove down to the dealership with my dad. We had another look over the car. My dad, Jim, a retired auto-body technician, was impressed with the like-new condition of the car. I signed all the papers (twice, due to a small error on their part), and was the owner of a Porsche Boxster! I took a few photos at the dealership before heading home in my new purchase.

Porsche Boxster
Porsche Boxster
Porsche Boxster
Porsche Boxster

When I left, it was nearing rush-hour and traffic through Orlando was terrible. But it was a beautiful day and I was just getting adjusted to the car. Once I escaped the suburbs of north Orlando, it was open Interstate back to Daytona Beach. Then I could really enjoy driving the car. Once I reached the local streets of Daytona Beach, I lowered the top and drove the rest of the way home.

Since it was a sunny day and there were several spaces blocked off in front of my building, I decided to have an impromptu photoshoot.

Porsche Boxster
Porsche Boxster
Porsche Boxster
Porsche Boxster
Porsche Boxster

Because my building was being painted, all cars had to park in the guest lot. Including mine. A few days later I spoke to the painters who assured me that my car would be fine parked in the covered lot. Only then could I finally could rest easy knowing my Porsche was safe at home. And I have already decided that buying the convertible was the right choice. I am thoroughly happy with my choice of the Porsche Boxster. I’m sure there will many adventures to come.

Porsche Boxster

World Goth Day

World Goth Day

Did you know May 22nd is World Goth Day?

Goth Day started in the UK in 2009. BBC Radio 6 Music DJs Cruel Britannia and Martin Oldgoth started the annual celebration of goth music and culture.

While not really a goth myself, at least not on the outside, I have enjoyed listening to “goth” music (and its rougher mate “industrial” music) as my favorite subcategories of classic alternative music. I am a longtime listener of Sunday Night Vinyl on Orlando’s 104.1 which plays all of these genres of music.

Below is a sample of some of my favorite goth bands. Please enjoy in a low-key, introspective way.

Joy Division

Joy Division was a relatively short-lived Manchester, England band who released only two studio albums before the singer and guitarist, Ian Curtis, died. They started out known as Warsaw. This song is their best-known release and comes from the Closer album in 1980.

The Sisters of Mercy

Another English band from the same period is The Sisters of Mercy, originally from Leeds. The lineup changed several times with the band producing only three studio albums. I could have chosen almost any song from the 1987 album Floodland, but this is my favorite today.

Peter Murphy

If you don’t know the name Peter Murphy, you might know the band he fronted from 1978 to 1983 called Bauhaus. He’s from Northampton, England (seeing a pattern?). I prefer his solo work, with this song being a standout from the 1989 album Deep.

Siouxsie and the Banshees

Siouxsie Sioux is probably the best-known female goth voice. She was the face and voice of Siouxsie and the Banshees out of London. This song comes from the 1986 album Tinderbox.

The Cure

When most people hear the term “goth” music, they probably think of The Cure. And they were really popular starting in the 1980s. Most people can identify Robert Smith with his unchanging wild hair and makeup. The Cure come from Crawley, outside of London. The band had several later hits, but my selection is from an earlier album, Faith, from 1981. Interestingly, both Smith and Simon Gallup play bass on this song accompanied by drums, but no guitars or keyboards.

The Smiths

Although not technically a goth band, The Smiths were very popular with the goths with Morrissey’s melancholy voice and lyrics and Johnny Marr’s original “jangle pop” guitar sound. The band produced many singles but only four studio albums. This song is from their third album, The Queen Is Dead, from 1986.

A dreaded sunny day
So I meet you at the cemetry gates
Keats and Yeats are on your side

50 Hikes: #17 De Leon Springs State Park

50 Hikes: #17 De Leon Springs State Park

This is Hike #17 in the book 50 Hikes in Central Florida, completed on May 19, 2019.

I arrived at De Leon Springs State Park just before one o’clock to find the park was full, so I had to join the queue of cars waiting to get in. As cars left, the seven or eight cars ahead of me were let in. After waiting for about fifteen minutes I paid my $4 entrance fee and alerted the ranger that I would be hiking the Wild Persimmon Loop trail.

To reach the trailhead for the Wild Persimmon Trail you first have to walk up a short paved trail. From this trail, the book recommended taking a quick side boardwalk trail to see Old Methuselah, a bald cypress tree that’s more than 500 years old. So I did.

50 Hikes: #17 De Leon Springs State Park

I rejoined the paved trail, took a left and continued to the loop at the end where the proper trailhead stood. The sign warned of “BEARS in Area” and to beware of venomous snakes, so I was half hoping and half worried I’d run into a bear and wholely worried I’d step on a snake.

50 Hikes: #17 De Leon Springs State Park

The trail description didn’t mention any exceptional spots, so I decided I’d walk this trail at a bit of a faster pace than normal. So off I went to follow the blue blazes. Although not shown on the map in the book, there were markers mentioned in the text to note your progress.

Less than ten minutes in, I reached the first of several wood plank walkways. Although the trail was mostly dry, these raised boards were useful to keep above the grass and out of the few muddy spots.

50 Hikes: #17 De Leon Springs State Park

The first marker I noticed was Marker 5 about a mile into the hike. I came to a clearing with a grassy trail going off to the right, but the book said to stay to the left and reenter the woods. I passed a couple of benches, Marker 6 and 7, followed by more wood walkways. Soon I reached the Wild Persimmon Loop trail next to a rustic bench.

50 Hikes: #17 De Leon Springs State Park

Again, I stayed to the left and hiked into the woods, soon reaching Marker 8. I hiked on nearly walking into a large spider web. Ducking under that one, I soon came across another to the right of the trail. In the center of this web was the empty husk of a large spider, still hanging where it died.

50 Hikes: #17 De Leon Springs State Park

The rest of this section was uneventful as I passed Marker 9 and 10. The trail briefly became a grassy double-track before entering the woods again before Marker 11. Soon the trail emerged back into a sunlit grass trail (see photo, at top) where it continued for some time. This section was hot and I was followed for a bit by a horsefly or small wasp or something. I had slowed my earlier quick pace but here I picked it up again. I passed Marker 12 and then the first “EXIT” marker. A bit farther in the sun and I reached the end of the Wild Persimmon Loop at Marker 13 and the rustic bench from earlier. Another “EXIT” marker pointed to the trailhead.

50 Hikes: #17 De Leon Springs State Park

I quickly retraced the trail back to the beginning, crossing again all of the wooden plank walkways. Shortly before the end, I passed one older hiking couple then a group of kids. I emerged back onto the paved trail around three o’clock, completing the recommended hike.

I wasn’t yet tired, so I chose to walk one of the short “other hiking options” for this hike in the book. Just a few yards down the paved trail was the trailhead for the Monkey Island Trail

50 Hikes: #17 De Leon Springs State Park

This turned out to be a busy half-mile total out-and-back walk that ended at bench sitting a muddy patch. I circled the bench and headed back.

50 Hikes: #17 De Leon Springs State Park

I still had one last section to hike just before reaching the trailhead. So at the fork I turned right to follow the trail a short way before it ended again. This is where you can see the remains of the original Monkey Island which was home to monkeys and part of a jungle cruise in the 1950s and ’60s.

50 Hikes: #17 De Leon Springs State Park

Leaving the Monkey Island Trail I turned right and followed the paved trail down to De Leon Springs. The swimming area was crowded and loud so I just took a quick walk around the springs, across the bridge, and behind the Old Spanish Sugar Mill. Since I hadn’t carried any water, I bought lemonade and a bottle of water and headed to my car.

50 Hikes: #17 De Leon Springs State Park Route Details

Post-Hike Beer

Persimmon Hollow wasn’t directly on my drive home, but I was passing by downtown DeLand so I motored a few miles out of my way to enjoy my traditional post-hike beer(s). This was the hottest day of hiking so far, so the cold wheat beer was most welcome. The bartender there recognized me and my book from a previous trip and we got to chatting about hiking again. He was moving north soon and planned to do some hiking in his new place. I also started looking forward to my next hike.

50 Hikes: #17 De Leon Springs State Park Beer

Google Featured Snippet

As you may have seen elsewhere on my website, I created and maintain a library technology website called Library Technology Launchpad. On that site I write about various topics relevant to librarians such as websites, online resources, open access, and others. My most popular series is the Basics and Resources Series. In this collection of articles, I have covered topics such as APIs, Discovery Services, Linked Data, OAI-PMH, proxy servers, and more.

While searching for some sources for an article posted today, I was pleasantly surprised to see my own work as a featured result. I entered the search terms “library discovery services” (without the quotes) into Google and got back a screen of search results. There at the top as the “featured snippet” was a description from, and link to, my Library Technology Launchpad website.

Google featured snippet for library discovery services

So from a search that resulted in 324 million results, Google selected my article as the top source for the topic. In order to see whether Google was basing this ranking on my searching or browsing history, I asked a colleague to perform the same search. She confirmed that she also got my website as the featured snippet.

Anyone who posts articles to the Web hopes to get listed on the first or second page of Google search results. Although I’ve frequently found posts or pages from my Library of Motoring website high in Google results, this is the first time that I have had, to my knowledge, an article featured on Google. That it is a professional library article makes it more satisfying. Hopefully this inclusion indicates a high search ranking for my Library Technology Launchpad site as a whole.

50 Hikes: #19 Black Bear Wilderness Area

50 Hikes: #19 Black Bear Wilderness Area

This is Hike #19 in the book 50 Hikes in Central Florida, completed on April 22, 2019.

This hike was supposed to happen on Easter Sunday but it was changed to the next day. The thought was the trail might not be as crowded on a Monday. This turned out not to be the case. The Black Bear Wilderness Area trail is a single loop trail of 7.1 miles near Sanford, Florida. It’s recommended to hike the loop clockwise, saving the best views for the last half.

All of my previous hikes from the book had been solo. My companions on this hike were A. and her dog Freida.

50 Hikes: #19 Black Bear Wilderness Area

Soon after leaving the trailhead we came to the first boardwalk. This is where the loop began and we took the left-side trail. After a brief hike, we crossed a small bridge and then soon arrived at Boardwalk 14. (Because we were hiking the route “backward” the boardwalk numbers and mileage markers counted down.)

50 Hikes: #19 Black Bear Wilderness Area

The trail took a slight right, then headed straight towards the western boundary of the park to where it meets the Lower Wekiva River Preserve State Park. Veering right again, the double-track equestrian trail followed along a stream to the left side. After about a half-mile, the trail became narrower as we climbed up to hike on a small levee. Walking the trail here was tricky with slopes, ruts, and tree roots.  We took a brief rest on the bank of the stream where we saw wading birds and examined many large snail shells. We continued along the western edge of the park, crossed Boardwalk 13, and reached the St. Johns River. At this northernmost point, we turned right again to hike beside the river.

Here we began to look for alligators along the bank of the river, which was separated from us by a small canal. Shortly after Boardwalk 12, I spotted a very large alligator partially hidden in the bushes about 30 yards away to our left. I backtracked a few feet up the trail to take a few photos and point it out to A.

50 Hikes: #19 Black Bear Wilderness Area

Hearing our voices, the gator turned its head to look directly at me. Not knowing how deep the stream was between us and the gator, we moved quickly up the trail as to not provoke him to come after us or the dog. After putting a little distance between us and the gator, we stopped at a bench for lunch.

50 Hikes: #19 Black Bear Wilderness Area

After lunch, we continued down the scenic trail between the river to our left and a cypress marsh to our right, crossing Boardwalks 12 through 10. I photographed several types of colorful wildflowers here.

Soon after, we spotted a less-intimidating animal sunning itself on a fallen palm tree.

50 Hikes: #19 Black Bear Wilderness Area

This scenic part of the hike followed the bends of the St. Johns River with several boardwalk crossings affording clear views of the water (see photo, at top). We crossed Boardwalks 9 through 3.

We had one scare when Freida waded into the shallow canal and we had to chase and call her to come back to the trail, hoping she did not encounter a hidden alligator. Just when we thought we might have to go in after her, she bounded out covered in mud and debris.

Nearing the end of our walk along the St Johns River, we spotted our second alligator. This one was much smaller but also enjoying the sun on a grassy bank across a wider and deeper canal. A large wading bird (possibly a Limpkin?) was perched on a log nearby, unfazed by the small gator’s proximity.

50 Hikes: #19 Black Bear Wilderness Area

At the northeast corner of the Wilderness Area, we turned right onto the Boardwalk 2 bridge which afforded a view straight down the canal. Here we did pass several other hikers enjoying the river views.

50 Hikes: #19 Black Bear Wilderness Area

We left the river and hiked inland towards the trailhead. Shortly before reaching Boardwalk 1 we saw this bit of amusing nature graffiti. Can you spot the lizard in this photo?

50 Hikes: #19 Black Bear Wilderness Area

(Hint: The figure’s left arm is reaching towards the lizard.)

We crossed Boardwalk 1 and walked the short entrance trail back to the trailhead, reaching the end of our 7.4-mile hike in exactly four hours.

This hike was, by far, my favorite of the six I have done from the book. The day provided sunny weather, interesting trails, scenic views, dangerous and harmless wildlife, colorful wildflowers, and excellent company. Although we didn’t encounter any black bears, I highly recommend Black Bear Wilderness Area.

50 Hikes: #19 Black Bear Wilderness Area Route Details

Post-Hike Beer

Afterwards, A. had to take Freida home and run errands. But I didn’t, so after a quick shower I walked next door to McK’s Tavern for a couple of cold German wheat beers.

50 Hikes: #19 Black Bear Wilderness Area Beer

50 Hikes: #46 Lyonia Preserve

50 Hikes: #46 Lyonia Preserve

This is Hike #46 in the book 50 Hikes in Central Florida, completed on April 14, 2019.

My wonky left knee was bothering me before this hike, so I chose to make a short one. The book said the suggested hike in Lyonia Preserve was only 2.1 miles. It is a home for the Florida scrub-jay, the only species of bird endemic to Florida, so my goal was to spot (and photograph one). Another bonus was that there was an Environmental Center and the Deltona Regional Library at the trailhead.

I set off down the trail which passed behind the Environmental Center. At the first loop trail, I turned left onto the Rusty Lyonia Trail (orange blaze). Almost immediately I passed a den of Cub Scout Webelos coming the other direction. I worried there would be lots of others on this suburban trail, but they were the only people I passed.

After a short hike on a sandy trail in the scrub, I turned left again to continue on the Red Root Trail (red blaze). There were a few instances where I thought I should turn around because my knee might not handle the walk, but I pushed on. Quickly I reached the longest loop trail, the perimeter Blueberry Trail (blue blaze).

After a slight climb, I spotted my first Florida scrub-jay. Just to the right side of the trail about head-high I spotted a blue and grey bird in its nest. It didn’t move as I approached. I snapped a few photos and started to continue my walk when I spotted a second scrub-jay, apparently on the lookout. Again I was able to approach closely and get a few close-up photos (see photo, at top).

I continued up a slight slope and the scrub opened up where I could see across the preserve to the high point. The day (at this point) was mostly sunny, though not hot at this time of year.

50 Hikes: #46 Lyonia Preserve

I continued up, across the open preserve to reach the highest point and approximately the midpoint of the hike. Much of this section was spent observing small insects which would rest in the trail until I disturbed them and sent them leaping and sputtering to a point 15 to 20 feet further, only to repeat the process as I approached again.

50 Hikes: #46 Lyonia Preserve

At the “summit” there were only a few signs that I was in the middle of a residential area: such as power lines, one rooftop, and the sounds of airplanes and a melody playing from an ice cream truck. Soon I plunged down into thicker scrub and approached the prairie with a small pond in its center. On the way I saw several cactus plants with spines that looked like silver nails, much to my surprise.

50 Hikes: #46 Lyonia Preserve

I noticed the sky was getting cloudy when I reached the intersection of the Red Root Trail. However, my knee felt fine so decided to extend the hike a little by turning right and taking it across the middle of the preserve and back. I started down this cross-trail but only got a hundred feet before some light rain began to fall. I took a quick shot of the prairie to my left before turning around.

50 Hikes: #46 Lyonia Preserve

I continued on the Red Root Trail to complete its return. The rain stopped as quickly as it had started. Walking down this trail I saw several more scrub-jays, but this time they eluded my camera before I could get any closeups. At the bench I turned left onto the main trail.

50 Hikes: #46 Lyonia Preserve

Back at the Rusty Lyonia Trail, I turned left to complete that short loop back to the main trail and out to the trailhead. The rain began again just as I reached the shelter of the Environmental Center. My knee held out just fine.

50 Hikes: #46 Lyonia Preserve Route Details

I headed inside the Center where they had exhibits featuring manatees, birds, and native land animals. Glass aquariums contained live snakes, lizards, turtles, and fish.

I spent some time enjoying the up-close look at the animals. Then I walked next door to visit the library. I observed some of the bipedal creatures there before returning to my car for water and a snack.

Post-Hike Beer

Now becoming a tradition, I headed to downtown DeLand to Persimmon Hollow for a cold reward beer. Feeling good after my short hike, I searched the 50 Hikes book to find a longer route for my next hike.

50 Hikes: #46 Lyonia Preserve Post-Hike Beer

Book Review: The Oxford Handbook of the History of Physics

The Oxford Handbook of the History of Physics

The Oxford Handbook of the History of Physics edited by Jed Z. Buchwald and Robert Fox

ISBN-13: 9780199696253
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Published: January 1, 2014

View the publisher’s page for this title.

View details and find a place to buy or borrow at Google Books.

Reading note: Started on May 19, 2017 and finished on March 15, 2019.

When this beautiful and hefty book arrived in my office in May 2017, I knew I had to read it. I enjoy reading history and I also have an interest in modern physics. One of these two interests was satisfied by this book, but the other was left disappointed. I set the book aside many times to read other books, which is why it took so long before I finished it.

Most of the book covered “classical” physics, the period that can roughly be though of as predating quantum theory and relativity. Classical physics topics covered include Galileo’s mechanics, Newton’s Principia and Opticks, fluids, mechanics, electricity and magnetism, thermodynamics, energy, electromagnetism, electrodynamics, and side chapters on textbooks, medicine, and metrology.

While the book contains 976 pages (917 of content), Part IV (out of four) on Modern Physics doesn’t begin until page 719. Even then, the first chapter titled “Rethinking ‘Classical Physics’ ” is a discussion on the inability of physicists and historians to agree on when “modern physics” began. Modern physics topics include statistical mechanics, relativity, quantum physics, a tangential chapter on semiconductors, and finally cosmology. The first mention of dark matter doesn’t come until page 910; on page 913 the book finally mentions CERN; the Grand Unified Theory (GUT) is briefly mentioned on page 914; black holes on page 915; and string theory is quickly noted on page 918. Very little was written about the discovery of the atom and subatomic particles! I don’t remember the terms quark or Higgs boson stated at all. Physicists such as Rutherford, Fermi, Feynman, and Hawking were barely covered or not mentioned at all! Perhaps Part IV could be pulled from this book and used as the beginning of a second volume on modern physics.

The 29 chapters read like 29 individual papers written by nearly as many different authors, which they are. Due to this fact and the varying subject matter, the writing style and difficulty varied greatly from chapter to chapter. Some chapters were easily read and could be comprehended by anyone, even those without a physics or engineering background. Other chapters were very difficult—some including calculus and differential equations—which were difficult for me, even with a degree in electrical engineering. Some had useful diagrams and photographs while others contained only text.

Here is an example of one difficult paragraph from page 781:

Whereas Boltzmann had reasoned in terms of temporal probabilities for a single system, Maxwell adopted the ‘statistical specification’ of a system, in which the equilibrium properties of a thermodynamic system are to be compared not with those of a single mechanical system but with those of a stationary ensemble of such systems. He proved the stationarity of the microcanonical ensemble for any Hamiltonian dynamics and derived the Maxwell-Boltzmann distribution and energy equipartition from this ensemble. But he did not explain why stationary ensembles represented the thermal properties of macroscopic bodies. He regarded this property as a plausible assumption, to be tested by experiment and perhaps to be justified someday by ergodicity.

Did you get that? Probably not, if you don’t have a PhD in physics.

However, there are many non-technical chapters scattered throughout the book. The most layman reader-friendly was Chapter 10 titled “Physics on Show: Entertainment, Demonstration, and Research in the Long Eighteenth Century”. If you want a good history of scientific instruments and instrument makers, there is a book-within-a-book here. You could simply read the following three chapters for a great overview:

4. Physics and the Instrument-Makers, 1550-1700
11. Instruments and Instrument-Makers, 1700-1850
20. From Workshop to Factory: The Evolution of the Instrument-Making Industry, 1850-1930

The book did have several strong points. Many chapters wove the history of physics with the world at-large, demonstrating how politics and wars affected scientific inquiry and cooperation. While we see the building of theories on top of each other (the “standing on the shoulders of giants”), the book also showed how competition pushed scientists to make their discoveries. Also, the book presented an excellent history on the caloric theory of heat, which—because it was proven to be false—is not taught in contemporary textbooks. Although not falling directly under physics, the chapter “Physics and Metrology” provided an interesting look at the rare topic of metrology, “the science and technology of standards of measurement” and how it is both a product of physics and an essential tool for its advancement.

For Further Reading

As I read through the history, I compiled a list of written works referred to as important and influential. These are original physics papers and publications containing the actual theories and experiments. It provides a great source for further reading to learn in-depth about any major physics discoveries.

Dialogue on the Two Chief World Systems by Galileo (1632)

Discorsi by Galileo (1638)

Le Monde by René Descartes (1629-1633)

Discours de la Méthode by René Descartes (1637)

Principles of Philosophy by René Descartes (1644)

Horologium Oscillitorium by Christiaan Huygens (1673)

Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy by Isaac Newton (1687, 1713, 1726)

Opticks, Or a Treatise of the Reflexions, Refractions, Inflexions and Colours of Light by Isaac Newton (1704)

Théorie des phénomènes électro-dynamiques: uniquement déduite de l’expérience by André-Marie Ampère (1826)

Theory of the Motion of Solid or Rigid Bodies by Leonhard Euler (1765)

Hydraulics by Johann Bernoulli (1742)

Mécanique céleste by Pierre Simon Laplace (1799-1825, 1829)

Réflexions sur la puissance motrice du feu by Sadi Carnot (1824)

Treatise on Electricity and Magnetism by James Clerk Maxwell (1873)

Relativity: The Special and General Theory by Albert Einstein (1920)

Principles of Quantum Mechanics by Paul Dirac (1930)

The Physical Principles of the Quantum Theory by Werner Heisenberg (1930)

See This Review on Goodreads

The Oxford Handbook of the History of PhysicsThe Oxford Handbook of the History of Physics by Jed Z. Buchwald

My rating: 3 of 5 stars