I had already completed two hikes and arrived at my final park by 3:30pm. Hidden Waters Preserve is a small nature area surrounded by residential neighborhoods. The “hidden waters” is a marshy lake at the bottom of a huge sinkhole. The recommended hike was a 1-mile loop trail encircling the lake. More notable was the 105-foot elevation change from the trailhead down to the water’s edge.
After an accidental turn down a side trail which went out to the boundary of the preserve, I returned to the main trail that plummeted down to the loop trail. Here I turned left to follow the Ravine Trail, climbing up the bank clockwise around the lake.
After a short drive from Flat Island Preserve, I reached the Trout Lake Nature Center. I wanted to hike this park and still have time to visit the Environmental Education Center before it closed at 4:00pm. The recommended route was only 1.4 miles. I signed in at the Center.
Not long after setting off from the trailhead on Lazy Oak Trail, I arrived at the Bobcat Walk, the first of several wooden walkways during the day. This part can sometimes be flooded, but at the time I was there it was very dry.
My second hiking trip from the book was actually three hikes of three parks in Lake County, near Leesburg and Eustis. I began with the longest and farthest hike from home at Flat Island Preserve, arriving just before noon. The recommended route was 3.7 miles along an entry trail and a perimeter loop trail. The morning was cool and sunny.
The hike began on a winding, wooded trail which soon reached the beginning of the loop (marked with an B sign). I turned left to walk the loop clockwise.
This was my first hike from the book. Ponce Preserve is in Ponce Inlet, a short 20-minute drive from my place. I set off on a late Sunday afternoon knowing that the suggested trail was only 1.6 miles long. The site lies on a strip of land between the Halifax River and the Atlantic Ocean so the trail was sandy with broken shells. The perimeter loop trail circles the historic Green Mound with extensions over boardwalks to the ocean and river.
KEXP is an independent radio station in Seattle which streams live and also hosts musical artists playing in their in-house studio. The station makes these live performances available on YouTube. I have discovered many new bands by following KEXP’s YouTube channel. Here are some of my favorite live performances. See also Best of KEXP 1.
For years I have wanted to hike more of Florida trails, either by day-hikes or by taking longer multi-day hikes. While I don’t intend to through-hike the Florida Trail, I have thought of hiking much of the Florida Trail in sections.
So in mid-January 2019 I bought the book 50 Hikes in Central Florida by Sandra Friend and John Keatley. This practical guide gave me information on the best places within driving-distance and the numbered hikes will serve as a checklist while I systematically work my way through the list. I am not going in order and I have not set any time limit to complete all of the hikes.
The area of Florida covered by the book stretches from Daytona Beach (where I live) in the northeast, down to Palm Bay on the east coast, over to Tampa Bay in the southwest of the area, and up to Ocala as the northwest corner.
On January 9, 2019, my friend A. texted me with a request: “Hi James! I plan to go to the river bank near the [N]ews [J]ournal and pick up the trash. Would you like to join me?”
I often ride my bike through Riverfront Park along the Halifax River and adjacent to Beach Street in downtown Daytona Beach, so I had a selfish reason to clean up the area. I had noted after a recent storm, the shoreline in the park near the Daytona Beach News-Journal building was heavily littered with trash and debris. So when A. suggested cleaning the park, I quickly agreed to help. We planned to meet at noon on Sunday, January 13.
Sadly, my cat Laser Eyes “Ellie” Day died on New Years Eve. Literally minutes before midnight on December 31, 2018, the veterinarian at the animal hospital where Ellie had spent the last night called to say that her severe pneumonia and dehydration had worsened to the point where she was suffering and would not live through the night. I gave my permission to euthanize her. It was an awful end to her life and an awful way to end the year. She was a few months shy of her seventh birthday.
Ellie was a rescue cat, so I didn’t know her exact birthday. The papers that came with her estimated that she was born in March 2012. That meant she was about fourteen months old when I got her on May 5, 2013.
I didn’t intend to get a cat. But that changed when I was contacted by my ex-girlfriend to ask if I would adopt a cat. A mutual friend of ours was visiting her and impulsively agreed to adopt Ellie from a pet rescue inside the pet store they had visited that day. She was due to pick up the cat the following day but in the meantime came to the realization that she could not take yet another pet home. They needed someone else to take the cat, thus the sudden call to me. After some resistance, I agreed to take the cat if they would supply a few basic necessities, which they did. Ellie arrived the next day, Sunday, May 5.
When Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University announced to staff that they were sponsoring a team for the 2018 Volusia/Flagler Heart Walk to take place on the track of the Daytona International Speedway, I knew I wanted to participate. So I made my donation, added my name to the team, and picked up my free ERAU shirt. I was joined by library colleagues Jesper, Sandra, and my boss Suzanne.
The Heart Walk took place on Friday, September 14, 2018. We started off at 6:30 pm from the middle of pit road. It was a rare chance to walk around the famous racetrack.
KEXP is an independent radio station in Seattle which streams live and also hosts musical artists playing in their in-house studio. The station makes these live performances available on YouTube. I have discovered many new bands by following KEXP’s YouTube channel. Here are some of my favorite live performances.