Sometimes we look at sights in nature but don't really see. While hiking in the woods the other day, it became a realization that we need to open our heart and eyes to see the beauty of the simple things in nature with each season. There is so much order and purpose in His creation. God has given us awesome beauty in this world to see and enjoy... if we would but stop to see and feel it. Join us as this blog is about stopping to see the real beauty around touch and feel it... "Through the Lens".

Our Friends

Monday, August 29, 2011

Visiting Lower Suwannee NWR


One of the things Mike and I wanted to be sure to do while in Cedar Key was visit the Lower Suwannee Wildlife Refuge.  We have a real love for the wildlife refuges in our country.  In 2009 we volunteered at Hagerman NWR in Texas and have been in love ever since.  Once we purchase our next RV we definitely want to get back into volunteering in the various wildlife refuges around the country.


The Lower Suwannee NWR is quite large….53,000 acres to be exact.  This refuge was developed to protect one of the largest undeveloped river-delta estuarine systems in the U.S. 


It consist of natural salt marshes, tidal flats, bottomland hardwood swamps, and hardwood forest making an excellent habitat for thousands of large and small creatures.       

The first day out we decided to take the Shell Mound Loop which is the closest loop to Cedar Key.  This loop took us down three driving paths…..Dennis Creek Trail, Shell Mound Trail and the Shell Mound Fishing Pier.  This was a very nice peaceful drive showing the different habitats provided by this NWR.  It was on the Shell Mound Trail that we spotted a beautiful hawk sitting on a cable wire. 

     DSC03955    DSC_5190


We weren’t sure which hawk he was but after consulting a few pictures we felt he might be a Red Shoulder Hawk.  When I posted the picture on Facebook one of my friends said it was a Coopers Hawk.  So if we have any birders reading perhaps you can shed some light on this beautiful creature.  I was so excited that I was able to get such a good shot of him with my little Sony point and shoot camera.  YAY me!!  A few very distinctive looking Vultures were sunning themselves on an overlook.  Must have been an off day for them!



The next day we set out to drive the 9 mile Lower Suwannee Nature Drive.  We were in hopes of spotting some birds or other wildlife on this drive but I am afraid it was just too hot.  The heat index was probably near 105 and the humidity was extremely high.  That was disappointing but the drive was not.  It was also a very beautiful peaceful drive showing a much larger area of the habitats this refuge provides.  The most impressive area we passed through was the swamp area. 





It seemed to go on forever and was definitely a swamp land.  We saw some beautiful wild ferns growing among the trees, many lily pads and huge cypress trees growing right in the shallow water.  We drove through the flood plain hardwood forest, scrub oak communities, and of course the pine plantation in the upland area. 




A great day and a great drive through what is proudly known as “old” Florida showing the huge amounts of vegetation that provide for the creatures that call this Suwannee River Country their home.


       DSC_5250  DSC_5253  DSC_5247

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Unique Cemetery


Gerri and I went to one of the most unique cemeteries we have ever seen while we are in Cedar Key. This is an old cemetery that dates back to the mid 1800’s and the locals view this as more of a park than a cemetery.



The cemetery actually sits right on the gulf and they have a boardwalk on the back side of the cemetery to walk out on. The cemetery has hills with graves on them and randomly scattered throughout…some were just giant stone mounds or slabs up to ten feet large. Some of the graves were surrounded by iron fencing that is starting to fall while others were simply covered in sea shells…WOW!













Basically this is a sea captains cemetery and fishermen along with those that died in storms and pioneers to the area. This is probably a main attraction for most amateur ghost busters who come here after their conferences to look around. It is said to be one of the most haunted cemeteries in Florida and we can see that by the way it sets. There are many large oak trees with moss hanging down almost to some of the graves.




Gerri and I drove and walked this cemetery several times and were amazed at the uniqueness of this place. While there, we sighted a rather large bird perched high in a tree and upon taking pics and looking at them, we discovered it to be an Osprey…wow.





Looking further, we saw its nest on the outskirts of the cemetery in a DEAD tree top. What an awesome nest it is!


For us, this was a truly neat outing and experience/adventure.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Cedar Key, Florida


Off to Cedar Key, Florida!  That is where we headed Wednesday morning.  The trip took us a little longer than we thought but we enjoyed every mile!!
It has been too long since we have been able to “hit the road.”


As you know, we haven’t purchased our “downsized” RV yet so we were destined to stay “sticks and bricks” style.  We reserved a cottage at Pirates Cove….sounds nice doesn’t it??  The pictures were nice as well…..the reality not so much.  Our cottage was rather small and uncomfortable with the A/C not doing a very sufficient job.  We decided to go ahead and stay the night since it was getting late and regroup in the morning.  Oh how we miss our wheels!! 

       DSC03977  DSC03979

This morning we located a very nice place called The KingFisher where we were able to get a really nice rental.


We have a one bedroom with a nice kitchen and bath complete with a new tile floor and a lovely dock overlooking the Gulf!  It comes at an affordable price and best of all….it is pet friendly.  Everything worked out very well.  Did I mention that we really miss our wheels???

Once we got settled into our room we made our way to Dock Street….the main street that runs adjacent to the Gulf where we found a great place to eat lunch.





  We always ask the locals to recommend places to eat and Coconuts came highly recommended. 



We pretty much had the place to ourselves and a nice table overlooking the water.  Mike had a pulled pork sandwich and I had the coconut shrimp.  Both plates came with coleslaw and french fries. 


I must say my coconut shrimp was crazy good!!  It came with a zesty orange sauce that really tasted wonderful. Not only was the food excellent but the local dolphins put on a pretty neat show for us.


They were swimming and jumping a pretty good ways out.  Mike tried to get a good picture but it isn’t easy from such a distance. 




After getting our tummies full we decided to walk off lunch and explore the Cedar Key area.  We walked through many of the stores on Dock Street and enjoyed the awesome water views.  Before going to Lower Suwannee Wildlife Refuge and other birding spots we stopped by our “cabin” for an afternoon siesta!! 

More to come!!