Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Horrifying Parenting

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After our boat trip, we took a walk to the diving platform to watch the manatees. When we lived in the Tampa/St. Pete/Safety Harbor area, we saw Manatees all the time, and it was heart breaking. They are big, stupid, clumsy animals who do no harm. They love to congregate where there is warm water on a cold winter’s night. Sadly, these slow moving sea cows are often hit and damaged by boaters; the blades of the motors scarring the manatees, often wounding them fatally. They have no defense against the casual, callous cruelty of the oblivious boater.

Here, in Wakulla Springs, they are safe. The only boats allowed in the Springs areas have caged blades; they cannot hurt the manatees.

No, only people can hurt them.

As we were watching the manatee, there was a family there. I try not to judge parents; parenting is hard. I will just make some observations. It was 40 degrees F – not that far from freezing – and the two little girls were dressed in beach clothes and their feet were bare. They were running on the diving platform, while Mom was trying to take photos of the manatees with her iPhone, and dad was trying to keep the little ones rounded up. On the second level, two stories above the ground, one little girl, maybe four years old, runs out to the edge of the diving platform and her dad snatches her back, just in time, as mom continues trying to film the manatees. All this is their business, although I fear for little girls who are raised carelessly, it is not my business.

Then, the older little girl reached down in her pockets and pulled out handsfull of breadcrumbs, which she spread into the water WHILE HER PARENTS WATCHED. Did you not see the signs? Did you not hear the guides? We are not to feed the manatees anything! Bread and breadcrumbs are not a part of their diet! Parents, what are you using for brains? ? ?

No. I did not say anything; I don’t look for trouble. I write it in this blog, and then, God willing, I let it go.

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December 29, 2012 Posted by | Adventure, Blogging, Cultural, Education, Environment, Family Issues, Living Conditions, Parenting | Leave a comment

Wakulla Springs Boat Trip

At Wakulla Springs, everything is separate. Like the entrance fee goes to the State. The Wakulla Lodge is run by some corporation with a state contract, I am guessing, and the Wakulla Boat Rides are another separately run concession. If you are staying at the Lodge, or booked for the lunch buffet at the Lodge, you get into the Edward Ball Wakulla Springs State Park for free, instead of paying the $6/vehicle entrance fee.

The boat trip is half the fun. On hot days in the park, you can swim right in the same spring as the manatees, but on chilly winter days – take the boat trip. We took the boat trip twice, it is so much fun, and because we love the late afternoon light. I will share my photos of some of what we saw on the hour long trip below; warning you that trying to get a shot of an underwater manatee is not such an easy thing to do. You may have to use a little imagination to see the manatee 🙂 but I swear, it is there.

These are leathery buzzards, wintering in Wakulla Springs:
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Great Blue Heron:
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Little ducks called Koots:
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Sunning Gator:
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Close up of Gator skin:
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Close up Gator head – he was so cold he didn’t even care about the boat being near, he just wanted to soak up as much sun as he could before it set:
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Wakulla Springs Cypress:
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The Wakulla Springs Lodge from the Springs:
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Old fashioned swimming platform:
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Buzzards roosting:
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Turtle soaking up some sun:
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Anhinga drying out his wings:
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Merganzer Duck – don’t you love his helmeted head?
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OK, there it is, the Manatee, otherwise known as a sea cow, a siren, and a sea slug – about the size of a small whale or a very large shark:

00WakullaManatee

December 29, 2012 Posted by | Adventure, Beauty, Birds, Education, Entertainment, Environment, ExPat Life, Geography / Maps, Hotels, Living Conditions, Local Lore, Road Trips, Travel, Wildlife | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Black Bean in Wakulla Springs and Tallahassee, FL

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So we’ve arrived in Wakulla, to be received rudely at the hotel, turned away until the 3:00 pm check-in, the restaurant closed as we were trying to check in, and there is a part of every human being that wonders if this is going to be the story of our trip.

And then, to save the day, we find The Black Bean.

We drove to the nearby crossroads, where I saw a sign to a restaurant to which we did not go, but we turned left, up 363 and saw an all-day breakfast buffet place with a sign saying “Pork Fat is Where It’s At” (no, no, it’s true, how could I make that up?) and I am praying “Please Lord, find us someplace else, please Lord” and we keep going. AdventureMan says “should I turn around?” and I see a sign just a little up and say “let’s go up there and turn around if it’s nothing.”

As we get closer, we see a big sign for Jerry’s Bait Shop and my heart sinks. But as we turn in to turn around, we see the sign for The Black Bean Cuban Food, and my prayer is answered. Yes!

As it turns out, this is not the REAL Black Bean, which is in Tallahassee, but this is the Black Bean Express, their outpost, for people on the run, going down to St. Marks to go birding, heading out in their boats, etc. The menu is almost the same, just a few things less.

We both ordered the same thing, which we never do, but the Habanero Pork BBQ just sounded so good, and oh, man, it was. It was SO good. We didn’t know how much sandwich there was going to be, we could have shared one, but no, we didn’t know, and we ordered the fabulous black bean soup, too, and we couldn’t eat it all.

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This is one of the owners, who fixed these fabulous sandwiches. He told us about their breakfasts, so we decided to come back the next day, but when we came back the next day, they were not open and we saw on the sign that the breakfast is only Friday, Saturday and Sunday at the Black Bean Express.

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We went back around lunch and had their grilled chicken wrap, which – smarter now – we split, and we also split a red beans. You can read more about them HERE. We met the other owner (the are married to one another) and as we ate, we decided that rather than enjoy another perfectly uninteresting dinner at the Lodge, we would bet another sandwich, and split it for dinner along with some trail mix and water we already had with us.

The Black Bean saved the day. The food was so good; we even stopped for breakfast on our way out toward Tallahassee, having the biscuit sandwiches. I never knew Cuban food could be SO good, so tasty. It was fast, convenient, close to the Lodge, and very tasty. Let’s see, pay a lot more money for uninspired food at Wakulla Lodge, or pick up something at The Black Bean . . . . ? I don’t have to give it two seconds thought! Life is too short! It’s a Wakulla Red R! (Michelin Red R’s are given for good local foods at reasonable prices)

In the adjoining bait shop; a huge box full of live crickets, eeeeeeek!

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And a guard dog, Zorah:
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Here is how to get to The Black Bean Express, in Wakulla Springs. There is another, larger Black Bean in Tallahassee:

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December 29, 2012 Posted by | Adventure, Community, Cooking, Cultural, Customer Service, ExPat Life, Food, Geography / Maps, Living Conditions, Local Lore, Restaurant, Road Trips, Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

Living Waters

Here is what I love about reading the Bible every day; the sheer inane humanity of it all. Even many of the heroes are seriously flawed, murders, adulterers, liars, and the bible goes ahead and tells the whole story, not just the part of the story that makes them look good.

So here we have Jesus, talking about the rivers of living water – rivers that are supposed to be flowing out of US, the believers, if we are true believers, rivers of good works, good deeds, love for one another. It is a glorious – and challenging – image.

And here are those niggling, human, priests, who, in the face of this miraculous man, are denying he could be the Christ because he comes from Galilee.

How often do we do the same thing in our own lives, overlook the blindingly glorious to focus on the niggling detail which doesn’t even matter one iota in the greater scheme of things?

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John 7:37-52

37 On the last day of the festival, the great day, while Jesus was standing there, he cried out, ‘Let anyone who is thirsty come to me, 38and let the one who believes in me drink. As* the scripture has said, “Out of the believer’s heart* shall flow rivers of living water.” ’ 39Now he said this about the Spirit, which believers in him were to receive; for as yet there was no Spirit,* because Jesus was not yet glorified.

40 When they heard these words, some in the crowd said, ‘This is really the prophet.’ 41Others said, ‘This is the Messiah.’* But some asked, ‘Surely the Messiah* does not come from Galilee, does he? 42Has not the scripture said that the Messiah* is descended from David and comes from Bethlehem, the village where David lived?’ 43So there was a division in the crowd because of him. 44Some of them wanted to arrest him, but no one laid hands on him.

45 Then the temple police went back to the chief priests and Pharisees, who asked them, ‘Why did you not arrest him?’ 46The police answered, ‘Never has anyone spoken like this!’ 47Then the Pharisees replied, ‘Surely you have not been deceived too, have you? 48Has any one of the authorities or of the Pharisees believed in him? 49But this crowd, which does not know the law—they are accursed.’ 50Nicodemus, who had gone to Jesus* before, and who was one of them, asked, 51‘Our law does not judge people without first giving them a hearing to find out what they are doing, does it?’ 52They replied, ‘Surely you are not also from Galilee, are you? Search and you will see that no prophet is to arise from Galilee.

December 29, 2012 Posted by | Community, Cultural, Lectionary Readings, Living Conditions, Spiritual | Leave a comment