As we continued our southbound Suwanee River Kayak junket, we started where we left off last year at the Suwanee River State Park on a rainy Sunday November Morning. The five paddlers met before daylight and loaded equipment into two trucks and drove to the State Park.
Fortunately, the rain subsided and the weather could not have been better for the three day trip with highs in the 70’s and lows at night in the 50’s which kept the mosquitoes at bay.
With day 1 in the books, the paddlers pulled into the first stop of the trip, Dowling Park River Camp. These river camps are state run camps only accessible by the river. There is a camp host at these sites who oversees and maintains the properties. The camps are free but you do have to make reservations ahead of time. They are a very welcome sight to weary paddlers. They have restrooms and bath houses with hot/cold running water. They have picnic tables and screened in houses to sleep in. They could not be nicer!
Day 1 consisted of 14.5 miles of paddling at a 3mph pace. The winds were light and the paddling was excellent. The river was very low which, over the course of 3 days, exposed 12 sets of rock shoals that the paddlers had to navigate. These shoals were challenging and added some excitement to the trip!
Shortly before noon on day 2 a big whitetail buck flew down the eastern bank of the river and with one huge leap hit the river. He was on a mission as if swimming for his life. I paddled close to him in order to take a few photos, trying not to get too close, but he spotted me and turned back. I backed off all the while taking photos. Unfortunately, he swam into a large, downed oak tree in the river and got trapped. He desperately fought to get over the tree and finally made it. Once away from the tree, he swam to the shore and climbed the bank and ran south. Having seen little wildlife on the trip this was an exciting occurrence!
Paddlers paddled 18 miles on day 2 with an average speed of 3mph.
Day 3 was the longest day of paddling with approximately 20 miles having been covered. The trip ended at the Hwy 27 bridge/boat landing where the next leg of this journey will begin. This was a wonderful adventure with 5 great friends! The entire trip was approximately 52 miles at a 3mph average. The river was low and we encountered 12 rocky shoals. Wildlife was scarce however we did see a deer, turkey, otter, and a lot of birds. Very little boat traffic and few people were encountered! This trip only leaves us to strongly anticipate the next leg! Hope you enjoyed this blog! All photos were taken with a Go Pro Hero 8 Black.
With Covid finally slowing down the 2022 Halloween event on Beard Street was full on! Below are some of the ghosts and goblins waiting to greet trick or treaters on this scary Hallows Eve Night! Enjoy!!
The 2022 Hallow’s Eve was set to be a great event! Lots of people were beginning to arrive prior to 5pm so hopefully everyone had a great time! A lot of work went into putting this event together! Hope you liked it and……HAPPY HALLOWS EVE!
We just recently returned from a week long trip to Northern Michigan. Having never been there before we really had no idea what to expect other than what we had read online, had heard from friends and seen from looking at photos on the internet. Upon our arrival we were in for a tremendous surprise! The place is incredibly beautiful!
The season was fall in mid-October, the temperatures were cold (well, cold for Florida residents, the good folks in Michigan weren’t too affected by the weather). A storm was passing thru which led to rain and strong winds coming in from the west across the lake. Winds so strong they knocked a lot of trees down including some across the power lines which led to three days of no electricity. Fortunately we were privy to a Generac Home Generator which ran non-stop until at last the power was restored.
It was harvest season and farmers were busy bringing in apples and corn and lots of both! Road side fruit stands were plentiful and to stop at one was a treat! The offered apples, cider, honey, baked goods and just about anything else you could imagine that makes this area so very special! Visiting this area took me back about fifty years to when we had similar stands here in Florida. Sadly they have become a thing of the past in our part of Florida. The stores in Michigan were clean and very well stocked. The employees were friendly and helpful, a far cry from what we have been accustomed to.
We hunted early one morning. The rain on Lake Michigan had turned to snow further inland and the wind was howling. We hunted over corn rows using two highly trained Brittany Spaniels who knew their business. They located and flushed these pheasants who fell to 20ga shotguns loaded with #5 high brass shells. These birds will be enjoyed with gravy over rice and yes, that is snow on the birds and on the tailgate! It was COLD!
The Hunting lodge was loaded with mounted birds, fish, deer and other animals. The Taxidermist who mounted these items is world renowned and awards adorn the walls of the cabin. He is very skilled!
One thing that really stood out is the cleanliness of the area. There was NO trash on the roadsides, on the beach, nowhere! What a difference this made and it really added to the uniqueness of the area. Its a very special place.
One afternoon we visited a beautiful lake fed by a crystal clear and strongly flowing trout stream. We were blessed to have caught several very nice Rainbow Trout, some weighing in the neighborhood of 3lbs! These fish were fat and healthy. They put up a great fight and were put back into the lake to hopefully fight another day!
The seasons were changing and the leaves were incredibly colorful, more so than I have ever seen before!
As the weather finally calmed we were able to get down onto the beach along Lake Michigan and do some walks. The water was clear, emerald green and very similar to the water in the Caribbean. I wanted badly to swim but I knew I’d suffer if I did because it was freezing cold. The lake could very well freeze over in a couple of months!
The sand was tan and smooth and very clean. There were a lot of rocks in certain areas of the beach and in the water. The rocks were different colors and sizes and were smooth due to the constant wave action which was similar to the waves in the ocean. One afternoon while we walked 3 bald eagles flew overhead! It was a very beautiful beach and much like the roads there was no trash to be found!
Our research and anticipation of Lake Michigan did little to prepare us for the absolute beauty of this area. It was nothing like I had imagined. The beauty of the water rivals the Caribbean! Had it not been so cold I would have spent the afternoon swimming in it! The lake is vast, over 300 miles long and 160 miles across, unlike any lake I have ever seen! Words alone cannot describe it’s awesomeness and beauty!
The Northern Michigan landscape is stunning this time of year with the turning fall foliage. Large corn fields and apple orchards line the hillsides for miles. This visit was truly a step back in time to the beauty of this great country that I remember from my childhood. It was a trip we will never forget!
Was recently invited to photograph the Leon vs Lincoln High School Football game at Gene Cox Stadium in Tallahassee, Florida.
The game started at 7pm, we arrived just before 6 in order to capture some pre-game warmups which many times leads to some outstanding photos! This was the first time I stepped foot onto this field since the artificial turf has been installed. Still not a fan of this stuff, was told the Leon County School Board has spent around $900k for this field and others like it. Rumor has it that in 3 years the turf will pay for itself in upkeep over a natural turf field. They may get some folks to believe this but I’m not buying it, I can buy a lot of water, fertilizer and mowing jobs for $100k, much less $900k. Their math and mine just don’t add up. Many thanks to the half cent sales tax that the Leon County Taxpayers were saddled with several years ago….
Meanwhile, we got to the stadium in plenty of time to get set up and start taking some photos. The October weather was perfect and the light was good! What follows are the results of this effort.
It was great covering this football game. Lincoln managed to defeat Leon but regardless it was a great game to photograph! The crowd was large and was very much into the game. Hope these young men realize that these will be some of the best days of their lives, it surely was for me!
Friday night I was invited to take some photos of a high school football game at Leon High School. It was a great opportunity that I really enjoyed! I have not covered a football game recently so I embraced the challenge and done my best. What follows are photos taken during the first half of the game.
It was great covering the Leon vs Munroe football game! The game brought out a large crowd in spite of it being the Friday night just before Labor day! The new field was impressive but the old soil held the blood and sweat of many years of practice where boys developed into men. Hopefully the new turf will absorb the same drops of transition. The dedication and teamwork are still there, only time will tell. Kudos to both teams who played their hearts out but tonight Munroe won the game!
Once again I had the opportunity to attend the annual amateur boxing competition at John Paul II which is sponsored by the great folks at the Lincoln Center in Tallahassee. This year’s event was very well attended and featured 18 three round bouts! Athletes came representing various boxing clubs from around Florida were in attendance to include several from the Lincoln Center in Tallahassee and a couple from the Shiny Head Boxing Gym in Gadsden, County! This event is always well organized and supported by officials from USA Boxing as well as medical personnel. This year’s event did not disappoint!
This event always provides great entertainment, discipline, intense competition and sportsmanship! These young athletes are learning lessons that will carry them thru life. Much appreciation to these coaches who selflessly devote their time and expertise to build these young men. And many thanks to the great folks at the Lincoln Center who once again put on a great show! Looking forward to next year!
It is hard to believe that we are once again celebrating the Fourth of July at Lake Mystic! It was just a few short months ago that we were celebrating it last year and here we are again!
It is also hard to believe that 246 years ago, the fathers of this great country declared their independence from the tyranny of King George III and pledged their lives to create this wonderful country that we are so blessed to live in. Needless to say, these are scary times we are living in today and I think we can all look around us and be grateful for the blessings bestowed upon us to include celebrating our independence around a beautiful spring fed lake.
Your flag team has been hard at work preparing and hanging the flags around the lake. This year your team hung 51 flags! This tradition was started years ago by Mr. Billy Rankin whose roots run deep in the sandy Liberty County soil. Billy has since moved from the lake but still has ties to the area and if you are lucky, you may see him around from time to time. If you do, please thank him for creating the annual flag decor around the lake. It adds a lot and demonstrates the patriotic spirit shared by residents and visitors of the lake.
Weather has certainly been a factor leading up to this year’s Fourth. Although the lake was busy, it did not seem as busy as in year’s past. No doubt several factors probably played into this to include the weather and the economy. Regardless, those who made it out enjoyed a wonderful fireworks show. Thanks to those of you who made it happen, this was one of the best!
Although the water level is still high, the residents and visitors enjoyed a great afternoon before the evening festivities!
The boat parade was scheduled to begin at 7, however the weather played a factor in this year’s parade and between showers and lightning, it finally started around 730 for a few brave souls who decided that the show must go on!
And as the sun began to set, the skies cleared and the rain stopped. The temperature was cool and it was a perfect evening for a July 4th Fireworks show on the lake!
And as dark approached, the crowds gathered to watch what was sure to be a great night of celebratory July 4th fireworks! They would not be disappointed!
What an incredible weekend! Many thanks to those of you who made this possible. You are making memories for the young people who will always remember spending the Fourth of July at Lake Mystic! It was a tremendous event and leaves us looking forward to next year’s celebration! Never forget the reason we celebrate and for those who gave their lives in defense of the freedoms that we enjoy. To those we owe our sincere gratitude.
Throughout life’s journey there are people who make a huge impact on our lives, mine is no exception. Parents, teachers, coaches, friends, and sometimes mere acquaintances have left a mark that is so indelible that our lives are changed forever. Tonight I prepare to say farewell to one of those people.
I’ve known Betty Jo for over forty years. A longtime Tallahassee native she spent her days raising a family of four children in a loving home along with her husband R Guy. Not only did she raise her four children but she raised a whole lot more. Her home was always open to her children’s friends as well as to her very large extended family and to others who would often drop by for a meal or to share conversation. I was fortunate to have fallen into this group. As a family friend I enjoyed many a great meal at her table. Her southern charm, hospitality and love of the Lord were some of the wonderful memories that I have from back then. She was a wonderful mother to her kids and wife to her husband. Kids were drawn to her home and she treated us as if we were her own. Everyone felt welcome and safe there. It was one of those places that as life took us in different directions none of us ever forgot.
Fast forward about 30 years and she and I crossed paths once again. This time I officially became part of her family as I was blessed to have married one of her daughters, BR. Now widowed and having moved from the old home I had once known, she now lived by herself in a beautiful country home near Lake Talquin, on the west side of Tallahassee. Again as before her home was always open to family and friends and for the past 10 years we have enjoyed some incredible times there. Her children now had children and grandchildren of their own and who we once called “Mrs. Revell” was now affectionately known as “Nana!” Our friendship grew and I loved Nana as if she were my own mother. She was always good to me and I to her. More than a Mother in Law she was a good friend. We had a great relationship. I admired and respected her. Throughout my life I have oft heard people complain about the relationship (or lack thereof) with their mother-in law. I was never privy to that sort of relationship because she and I have always gotten along great. When I stop and think of why my wife is so wonderful I don’t have to dwell on that question long because the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Her mom is a wonderful lady and so is my wife and I admire and respect both of them tremendously.
Occasionally I would work on Nana’s house and she would make us a great lunch and we would sit and eat and talk about all sorts of things. The family, our country, old Tallahassee, and any other topic we felt needed discussing. I cherish those conversations because those who have come before us are a wealth of knowledge and I have always soaked it up like a sponge. These conversations I shared with Nana were no different. Talk to her during lunch and then ponder what she said for the rest of the day. Twas good stuff. I have learnt a lot throughout my life by talking to my elders and listening closely to what they said. I learnt a lot from Nana as she and I knew many of the same people, went to the same High School, we just had a lot in common.
Her large kitchen was a place where magic occurred! So many wonderful dinners and suppers we have enjoyed there! So many wonderful meals enjoyed at her antique dining room table that I many times put the leaf into to accomodate large family gatherings, only to remove it after dinner and stow it away for next time. For the past 10 years we have eaten there just about every week or two! In the fall of the year I’d take my cast net and catch a few mullet from the gulf, always keeping a few medium sized “Nana Mullet” because that was the size she liked, and oh yea fry ’em a little hard because that was how she liked ’em! Every now and then I’d get her to eat a little red roe which either you love or you hate, but she was from the old school and she would eat it. On special occasions the girls and Nana would drink some champagne while making some type of over the top incredible meal in her kitchen, always under Nana’s watchful eye! The turkeys and hams were cut to Nana’s specifications, her dressing was made the old fashioned Nana way and always turned out delicious! Two weeks ago my wife secured Nana’s recipe for marinara sauce after she made a dinner of pasta shells in Nana’s kitchen and Nana gave her the recipe. Surprisingly BR said the recipe was simple to make however it rivals any marinara sauce served in the finest Italian restaurants. Its truly that good (and I ain’t kidding)!
Whenever Nana ventured out to dinner somewhere she was always surrounded by her children and grandchildren like the secret service around a president! She was closely guarded and her every need attended to. She was loved by her family like no other. Everyone looked out for Nana!
Family reunions were a whole other topic. Nana became the Matriarch of the Liberty County Revell clan. Everyone knew Nana and she was loved by all of her family close and extended. Sitting at the table with Nana we’d watch as family members would line up to check on Nana and to share a quick story with her, glad to see her there during the annual event. Nana was the star of the show and everyone knew it.
However, time has passed by as it always does and the years have finally caught up with our Sweet Nana. What we thought would be a brief two day hospital stay last week has turned into a nightmare for Nana’s loved ones. Tonight is night seven of a 24 hour vigil her daughters are keeping to make sure Nana wants for nothing. The Doctors have told the family that all has been done that can be done and that Nana’s days are short. Nana is now 90 years old, Nana is tired, her body worn out. She’s run her race, she has done her job and done it well. Her time is near. The family crushed. Family and friends now line Nana’s bedside sharing choked up stories and saying their final goodbyes to a lady who has meant so much to so many. The young people who shared her home, beach house and dinner table so many years ago stop by to see Nana one more time. Voices crack and eyes water as they realize that this wonderful chapter in their own lives is now coming to a close. This is not just another old person dying, this situation is devastating. She meant so very much to so very many, this chapter in all of our lives is ending.
For me, I am being supportive, doing anything I can to make this situation a little easier to bear for anyone who needs it. Its all I know to do. Coffee, I’m on it. Food, whatcha want? Today holding hands with family members circling Nana’s bedside the Preacher asked me to lead a prayer, I did the best I could but it is hard when your throat is locked up and the words won’t come. I did the best I could. For seven long days now I have been choked up inside, unable to focus my thoughts and unable to speak without having to clear my throat. I’m about to lose yet another loved one who has meant so much to me. I know it is life’s process, I get that. No one lives forever, we all have our appointed hour. But this one hurts and it hurts bad. I oft wonder what is wrong with me, why do I hurt this bad? I’m 60 years old now. I spent 36 years as a street cop, 22 of those years on a SWAT team. I have seen death up close hundreds of times, I have done some unimaginable things to save human life, sometimes with success, most of the time without. Why can’t these experiences toughen me up and prevent me from hurting so bad? For the life of me I do not know. Maybe it is because I have never lost our Sweet Nana before. Soon I’ll go home and I’ll climb into bed and try to go to sleep. I’ll toss and turn and then read a little bit, finally from exhaustion I’ll fall asleep. Another restless night. And tomorrow I’ll again walk to the ICU and check on our Sweet Nana and pray to God for Mercy.
Along with asking for Mercy I’ll Thank God for our Sweet Nana. I’ll thank him for my relationship with her, for being my wife’s mother, for doing such an outstanding job of making my wife and for allowing me to be a part of the wonderful family she raised. I’ll Thank God for her friendship, for the wonderful relationship that she and I had that apparently a lot of folks do not enjoy. I’ll Thank God for all she did for so many, for touching the lives of so many young people in a caring and positive way. I will Thank God for sharing her family and her life with me. I’ll Thank God for the influence she has had on my life, for her strength, her caring and for her love, for the example she has set for us all, and for the time God has given us to spend with such a sweet soul. For so much of what she did has made me the man I am today.
Nana, Thank You. I am going to miss you more than you know. You have had a tremendous impact on my life. You were one of the good ones. You were always there, you were solid, you never changed. You loved and you were loved. You Nana are what life is all about. Our lives are about about to change big time. Its no secret, we all know it. The life we knew with you is about to end, things will never be the way they were before. Never. It is sad. It is true.
Where do we go from here? I do not know. I am being supportive. We will take it one day at a time. The young will grow old, the old will grow older. Time will push on. Who will I catch mullet for? Who’s table will we gather around on holidays, birthdays, or just any days? Who will I blow the truck horn for when I pass by your house (“two toots for Nana”)? Who will we rally around at family reunions? Life as we know it is about to change but one thing is certain…we are much better people for having had you in our lives. You will be missed.
Our Sweet Nana, we are going to miss you. Thanks for being who you were and for all you did. You were truly one of a kind. We Love You Nana.
After lunch I met with Mark Wheeler at the range to sight in a couple of new MOS pistol sights. “MOS” stands for Modular Optics System, also known as Reflex Optics. It is an optical sight that attaches to the top of the pistol slide near the rear sort of like small scope. It has buttons on the side of it which you can turn the sight on or off and adjust the brightness of the illuminated reticle inside the sight. The sights can also be activated by a “shake awake” system in which the sights “turn on” when the gun is handled. The illuminated reticle inside the sights were bright, one was red and one was green. Optic sights are becoming more popular with competitive shooters as well as home defense and target shooting. These Optical Sights allow for faster target acquisition, faster target transition, and improved accuracy. I have spoken to Police Officers who have been through the new MOS Pistol training and they are sold on the new technology. They have spent days learning and training with these new sights, have qualified with them and now carry them on the street. I’ve been told that the key to these new sights is to focus on the target and bring the reticle up and through your peripherial vision you pick up the illuminated reticle and when it gets on the target you pull the trigger. With the traditional iron sights you focus on the front sight, not the target. Totally different than anything I have shot before. Although I have seen and read about these new sights I have never shot one until today. They are quickly becoming increasingly popular with the law enforcement community and I can see why. They are quick and accurate. I can see where many shooters would want to venture away from the standard “iron” sights and outfit their pistols with this new technology. Having spent 36 years as a law enforcement Officer and 22 of those years on a SWAT Team I’m not convinced that these new sights are right for me. I will explain more later.
Today was an interesting and educational day for sure. Although I have seen and read about these new sights this is the first time I have shot with them. I liked them and I know with time and practice I would become proficient with them. The Officers I know who are carrying them on the street speak highly of them. They are the future. However, I have some concerns about them. As I mentioned above I have been a cop for a long time. In a perfect world these sights will be great but this ain’t no perfect world. What happens when they fill with rain? What will happen when the battery goes dead when you need it most or when it shorts out. What happens when an Officer is fighting on the ground or crawling in a ditch and this sight fills with mud and dirt? What happens when an Officer doesn’t maintain his equipment like he should and the sights fill with dust and grease and whatever else falls into it? What happens when an Officer is shot and the sight fills with blood? These are real concerns and again…this is not a perfect world. If it can go wrong it will at the most inopportune time. These will be bugs that will have to be worked out. I’m not a cop anymore, I’m out of the game. I haven’t attended transition training, been qualified or taken classes to teach me about these sights. I haven’t read policies pertaining to these sights and have no idea what the rules on maintaining them will be. I can only hope that the Officers who carry them will maintain their sights and maintain their proficiency with them. I like them, I really do. I enjoyed shooting with them today and if I were younger I would challenge myself to be the best shot I could be with them. However my ship has sailed. I’m an old iron sight guy and always will be. Best wishes to all of you who transition to these new sights. I’m sure in the future we will see more and more Officers carrying MOS sights. We can only pray that whatever sights they choose to carry that God will keep them safe.
We were recently blessed to have been given the opportunity to travel to Coolidge, Georgia in pursuit of the wily Bobwhite Quail. The Plantation that we visited was Boggy Pond which is renowned for it’s southern hospitality and world class wing shooting!
The Plantation is an established hunting venue that has developed a reputation as being a highly sought after wing shooting plantation visited repeatedly by those who enjoy the challenge of a first class shoot!
The Plantation is headquartered on the banks of Boggy Pond and sports several guest houses that have been moved to this location and refurbished. The houses are very comfortable and afford visitors a clean and comfortable place to stay, numerous bed and bathrooms along with central air and heating.
The guest houses and the dining room are very well furnished but one of the most impressive additions to these buildings is the artwork that hangs on the walls. Paintings and photos of dogs and upland gamebirds adorn the walls and instill excitement for guests looking forward to a day in the field!
Comfortable accommodations and world class wing shooting aren’t the only attractions at Boggy Pond. Guests are treated to incredible old style southern dining at Boggy Pond. The dining hall is located near the cabins and the pond. The food is prepared by a team of ladies who are masters and cooking good southern food! Fried Chicken, fried quail, cubed steaks, fried pork chops, biscuits, lima beans, corn, potatoes and gravy are just a few of the delicacies that are served here. The food is like your grandma use to make and most folks haven’t eaten like this in a long time!
Boggy Pond is an incredible venue for outstanding wing shooting and southern hospitality. The accommodations are first class, birds are plentiful and the food is over the top! The dogs are very well trained and love to work. To watch these dogs hunt is very impressive. Their noses are amazing, the dogs along with their Handler Josh work together as a team to locate, flush and retrieve the birds. Not only did we shoot quail but we shot several Chuckers which are larger than quail and just as good to eat! We were blessed to have had this opportunity and look forward to another hunting adventure at Boggy Pond!