Day two opens to a fantastic 65 deg Southwest breeze. I stretch and say to myself, this is really what life is all about, all about natures pace! Pure pleasure and fresh air all wrapped up in a place called New Turkey Key, my Everglades High! Its a gorgeous sunrise with all flavors of sky, I'm really enjoying it but lurking is the old sailors rhyme 'Red sky in morning sailor take warning, red sky at night sailor's delight'.
There are so many options on this beautiful Island morning I don't know where to begin. Breakfast would be nice but I don't want to miss the great light of dawn so off I go, camera and tripod in hand. I have this wonderful place all to myself! I am so very thankful for all of the folks happy in their homes and content with city life at this moment...
On the Southwest tip a mangrove stood begging to be photographed. Of course I obliged as the waves rolled in soaking the morning. As the camera drew its lines for the umpteenth time Mr.Hunger struck and I'm off to camp.
Ahh yes, bacon and eggs for breakfast, again! It is very similar to a circus balancing act trying to keep cooking utensils out of the sand, no kitchen counter here. This is the same cheap little propane burner used on last years adventure but this time I only brought one tank instead of four.
Another walk around the island and I spot this little lone raccoon out on the flats looking for seafood amongst the millions of Calusa Indian shells. I try hiding in the mangroves but it finds me anyway from a few hundered feet away. It reacts in a slow but steady motion as it heads for cover.
Do not want to disturb the little fellow so I walk the opposite way but do see the shelter it seeks. This old mangrove tree provides temporary protection. I approach wanting to know if it could possibly hide here.
Down in the hollows lies the little raccoon in wait for the human to leave. I take a few quick shots and leave the critter to the naturals of its home. Life surely is not easy out in the wild animal kingdom, no feeding trough here.
Most raccoons are nocturnal and forage in the dark but here they must work with the tides to survive. Still they will check out your camp for easy pickings. I have found the safest place for my backup fresh water supply in the bow of the canoe. I tie a milk crate tight to the opening and have not had problems to date. Yes, they try and get in and track lots of sand around in the boat but the fresh water stays safe. I have heard stories of rats getting into fresh water supplies and I have seen a few on the beach at night but 'knock-knock' no problems, yet!
This is the National Park Service official 'New Turkey Key' sign. The NPS signs are usually placed at the deepest and safest landing locations which hold true here.
This osprey family kept me entertained most of the time around camp. The family had setup house within 25' of the island port-o-let in a live mangrove. They had a small chick deep down in the nest. I could never actually see it but could hear the little peeps. Dad would perch nearby and cater to moms every whim. Fish, honey I need a small fresh fish for youngster. Yes darling, and off he would go. They have a language in the tone of their chirp. Dad would fly back with the takeout order and hand off to mom then a order for a long piece of wood for additional house protection. After his chores were complete he would have his own meal always at a nearby tree. Any time other birds would get in the no-fly zone dad would chirp and attack if close enough. I once watched dad chase a vulture 1/2 mile away to another island, and it was not a casual escort service. Osprey's talons mean business!
My camp was in need of a little art and with all the Calusa Indian shells around why not. I started off by placing the larger conch shells on the nearby dead tree stubs, then an arch in clam shells around the tent as seen here. The arrow points to my next destination, Pavilion Key, and the conch in the center is the sight alignment.
It was difficult to get a good shot but I rather liked the shell highlighted tree. It had a bit of a water world look only not quite as sinister.
This mangrove just looked so awesome in the evenings. Hang, it looked awesome any time. Right in my front yard too! How lucky can one be...
I'm sitting at camp contemplating what the next few days will hold when I catch a glimpse of a sail on the horizon. Not just any sail but a Hobie Adventure Island sail. I know the color and shape all to well as it is the same as 'Robinsone Calusa's' own sail. I have never actually seen one under sail other than on YouTube so I was watching with keen interest hoping it would pull in so I could chat with the captain. I walked out to the West end and took more photos but it never got real close. It was tacking into the wind which was picking up pretty well about now. I was thinking how wet this person must be out in those waves. Anyway it sailed on and off of my radar.
Treked back to camp and pulled the DSLR back out for more shots. Uesd all three cameras around the island depending on what mood I was in.
This is a good 17mm wide angle perspective of the shell bar extension into the Gulf of Mexico at low tide. All of these shells are completely underwater during high tide. I would not want to be out here barefoot! It is mostly clam shells with a few oysters and conchs thrown in. The pre-Spanish Indians sure must have lived here a very long time to amass this amount of shells. Most all of these islands are made up of a shell base from the native Calusa Indians. Many many generations of hunting and gathering here. I have the utmost respect for these prehistoric places.
Wow, I'm so into photographing that I don't notice that the Hobie AI returned to the island. This is a shot of Bob Quirk just after landing from a rough sail to weather and back. Bob is the captain of the Hobie AI (Adventure Island) that I had photographed earlier in the Gulf. He was soaked as expected but in very good spirits. Its a treat to see someone enjoying this wild, rough, and adventuresome life without complaining. Bob had pushed his vessel near its limits today so I moved on and left him to dry out and setup camp. Nice AI rig Bob - I could not believe the amount of gear he had on that AI. Click here for Bob Quirk's Everglades Camping Trip Site - Check it out!
When the tide is low a land bridge forms between New Turkey Key and Turkey Key to the Northeast. This is a shot of a cool old mangrove that is normally underwater at high tide. I actually paddled over this bridge on my way in yesterday. The tides in this area tend to run near the 4 foot range and winds can push that number a foot or two more in either direction. Last year I had a 6' tide swing while at the Broad River Campsite when a cold front came through.
The weather forecast is for a cold front to collide with a warm front over this area tonight then another colder cold front in a few days. I pack up camp pretty well and lower the front of the green tarp into the wind as it starts to rain. No sooner do I get changed into dry clothes and into my sleeping bag when all hell breaks loose. I'm now on the windward side of the island as a thunderstorm moves in. The noise is deafening from the tarp shaking violently and it is 100% dark, no street lights around here. It must be blowing 40 or more. All of a sudden the tarp tears loose, the same gust pulls the tent vestibule loose and the rain is now coming horizontally inside the tent, not a good thing. Even though most gear is in waterproof containers the sleeping bag and a few other items are exposed inside. I jump up as lightning starts popping all around and tie the vestibule to a tree and lay some large limbs over it. About then a huge lightning strike hits very close by. It was in Bob's camp direction, the osprey's are in between. It all calms down in about 10 minutes so I walk over to check on Bob and the osprey's. Bob gives the OK and the osprey's chirp, nest is still together so I change into dry clothes once again and crash. What an exciting evening. I had collected fire wood today that should have lasted 3-4 hours but no chance to use it. In addition to all the excitement the tide is now only a couple of feet in height from reaching the tent. tomorrow I must reevaluate the situation and most likely move. This is why I'm here, adventure!
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