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Showing posts from January, 2014

Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

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Location: Powell, Ohio
Date: January 9, 2014


I went to the Columbus Zoo on a winter weekday afternoon only to find that I was perhaps one of three or four visitors in the zoo that I saw (it was half price admission). The entire Asian section of the zoo was closed, and the Congo section was basically closed as well since most of the animals there were indoors and out of sight. But nearly all the animals in the North American section of the zoo were out and about, including wolves, a mountain lion, bobcats, polar bear, brown bear, and moose among others, but unfortunately I couldn't find the wolverine which I really wanted to see. The fish and manatees in the small aquarium and animals in the herpetarium were of course going about their business as if it wasn't winter outside.







© Copyright 2017 Matthew Pintar. All rights reserved.




New River Gorge

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Location: Fayetteville, West Virginia
Date: January 7, 2014



The New River Gorge is a deep, scenic gorge of the New River in West Virginia. I've stopped at an overlook along U.S. 19 on the north side of the river several times where you can get great views of the gorge and the New River Gorge Bridge. Here are a few photos of it in winter on a day when the high was in the single digits and another of it in spring.



© Copyright 2017 Matthew Pintar. All rights reserved.




Georgia Aquarium

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Location: Atlanta, Georgia
Date: January 6, 2014


The Georgia Aquarium was the world's largest aquarium when it opened in 2005 thanks in part to the 6.3 million gallon tank that holds whale sharks (the largest fish in the world), among many other other fish. Among the other sections of the aquarium are the Cold Water Quest, Georgia Explorer, Ocean Voyager, River Scout, and Tropical Diver, each representing different parts of the world and different habitats. In all the aquarium has about 100,000 animals from 500 species. It took perhaps a couple of hours to go through the entire aquarium.







© Copyright 2017 Matthew Pintar. All rights reserved.




Andersonville National Historic Site

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Location: near Americus, Georgia
Date: January 6, 2014


Andersonville National Historic Site was the location of a Confederate POW camp during the Civil War. Today the site includes some reconstructions of the prison, the National Prisoner of War Museum, Andersonville National Cemetery, and the remains of other structures. For more about the site go to its Wikipedia page. Below are some of my photos from the site during my winter visit. All were taken close to the park's roads.







© Copyright 2017 Matthew Pintar. All rights reserved.




Weeki Wachee River

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Location: Weeki Wachee, Florida
Date: January 5, 2014


After leaving Key West amid a rain storm, I stopped at Weeki Wachee Springs State Park north of Tampa to go kayaking down the Weeki Wachee River. The river starts at Weeki Wachee Springs where the river is crystal clear and continues to the Gulf of Mexico. I kayaked about five miles downstream to a point where the outfitters pick you up and take you back to where you parked. Along the way the water slowly becomes less clear, but is only noticeably so near the end where there are a number of homes along the river.



The water is so clear you can easily see many fish in the river as well as the occasional manatee. There were three or four manatees close to where I started, including a calf. But closer to the end of my trip there was a large pool in the river with several manatees and a ton of fish, but by this point the water wasn't as clear, and there were people everywhere kayaking, fishing, and snorkeling with the manatees.




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Fort Zachary Taylor

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Location: Key West, Florida
Date: January 4, 2014


Fort Zachary Taylor in Key West was built starting in 1845 and was used heavily by the Union during the Civil War and again during the Spanish-American War. Today the fort is a state park, and you can walk into, on top of, and around the fort on your own. The fort was originally surrounded by water, but now a moat is along its southwest side, and there is a public beach on land on the land that has since filled in around it. I didn't stay very long thanks to rain, but there were a number of non-native iguanas  on the fort.







© Copyright 2017 Matthew Pintar. All rights reserved.




Southernmost Point, Key West

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Location: Key West, Florida
Date: January 4, 2014


Key West, Florida is home the the southernmost point in the United States. Or so it would seem. The famous buoy marks the southernmost publicly accessible point in the continental United States (not including Hawaii). In reality there is private land on Key West that is further south, and Ballast Key (a separate private island) is the southernmost point in Florida. But of course Hawaii is further south than all of Florida, and American Samoa (being south of the equator) is still further south of Hawaii. That said, the buoy in Key West is at a street corner and isn't more than a place to have your picture taken and think that you're 90 miles from Cuba.



For more in Key West see Fort Zachary Taylor.


© Copyright 2017 Matthew Pintar. All rights reserved.




Windley Fossil Reef

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Location: Windley Key, Florida
Date: January 3, 2014


After leaving John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park for the two hour drive to Key West, I stopped at Windley Key Fossil Reef Geological State Park. This park was the site of a quarry in the early twentieth century, and now the exposed rock showcases many fossil of reef animals, particularly corals. There are also a couple miles of trails through the park's forest with signs and a guide that talk about the park, its history, and its wildlife.





© Copyright 2017 Matthew Pintar. All rights reserved.




John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park

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Location: Key Largo, Florida
Date: January 3, 2014


John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park in Key Largo obviously protects a coral reef, but I took a glass bottom boat tour to see it in 2008. Since I was less than wowed with the boat, I decided that this time I would rent a kayak and travel throughout the mangroves rather than go out to the coral reef with hopes that I would go snorkeling on a reef in the coming days (which didn't happen).  The water was quite clear, but it was windy, which made for slightly more difficult travel during the brief time I went into open water near the park's beach.



After I finished kayaking, I went into the park's very small aquarium, which had one decently large main tank and perhaps three or four smaller ones with a variety of marine life. Next it was on to Windley Fossil Reef Geological State Park and Key West.




© Copyright 2017 Matthew Pintar. All rights reserved.




Biscayne National Park

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Location: south of Miami, Florida
Date: January 3, 2014


Biscayne National Park protects Biscayne Bay, barrier islands and part of Florida Reef south of Miami. Because most of the park is water and islands, you need a boat to visit much of it. To complicate this further, the park lost is concessionaire in late 2013, leaving visitor without their own boats stranded on the mainland.


So what did I do at the park? Well, not much. I went to the Dante Fascell Visitor Center east of Homestead where I looked around the building and walked the short path from the visitor center into the bay. This path is 0.35 miles one way and is partially a boardwalk. There are a few signs along the trail that tell you about the area, and you can see to downtown Miami on a clear day. But if you're not fishing from the boardwalk and there isn't much wildlife, then there's not much else to do. So I continued on to John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park.





© Copyright 2017 Matthew Pintar. All rights reserv…

Everglades National Park

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Location: south Florida
Date: January 2, 2014


I made my second visit to Everglades National Park in Florida on January 2, 2014 (with my first having been in March 2008). Just like in 2008, I drove from Homestead to Flamingo and back in one day and stopped at many of the turnouts along the road. However, this time I stopped at more places and spent more time at Flamingo by eating at the cafe and going on the Florida Bay boat tour.



Just after entering the park, I stopped at the visitor center and checked out the adjacent pond where the first of several anhingas I saw that day was perched. From there I made the short drive to Royal Palm where I walked both the Anhinga and Gumbo Limbo trails, both of which are less than a half mile long. The Anhinga Trail is partly a boardwalk that goes around and through ponds where the wildlife was quite visible: anhingas (and chicks), cormorants, black vultures, egrets, herons, Florida gar and other fish, turtles, and of course alligators. The were not…