November 30, 2012

Bird's Eye View

SDP  11-30-12
I spotted this osprey enjoying a fresh sushi lunch about 30-feet up on top of a tree on Sanibel.  The ground way below was thick with trees and brush -- definitely not favorable shooting conditions.  So, how did I manage to get this shot? 
SDP  11-30-12a
Ta-dah!  I was staying at a house with a screened-in deck with a trap door in the roof. So, I employed the 'ol "Scale-a-Ladder-and-Poke-Your-Head-Out-the-Screen-Door" trick.  Whatever it takes to get the shot!

November 29, 2012

Dippin' Down

SDP 11-29-12
Gas prices are dropping a bit again.  During the past month, the price of regular unleaded went down 8-cents.  Of course, two days before Thanksgiving when drivers were getting ready to hit the road, I saw the biggest spike this fall: 10-cents overnight.  Tomorrow we'll head back to Sanibel and explore what the island has to offer in the way of nature. Happy Thursday!

November 28, 2012

Sanibel Morning

SDP  11-28-12
I spent Thanksgiving weekend on Sanibel, a tranquil island about 2 hours south of Sarasota.  I've been told the only thing better than a sunset on Sanibel is a sunrise.  And, last weekend I experienced it firsthand -- wow!  This is dawn as Mother Nature yawned a myriad of oranges, purples and blues across the sky at about 6:30 a.m.

SDP 11-28-12a
   A short while later, it looked like there wouldn't be much of a sunrise over the Gulf of Mexico.

SDP 11-28-12b
Then, the sun slowly revealed itself....

SDP 11-28-12c
...awakening the seabirds...

SDP 11-28-12d
...and rising up over the water to begin a fresh new day.  So glad I got up early for this beautiful, peaceful and memorable experience!

November 21, 2012

I See You!

imagSDP  11-21-12
What do you see in this photo? I drove by this scene and was so surprised, I turned around and stopped to photograph it. This could be the first time I've ever seen a law enforcement officer hiding behind an American flag on private property using a radar gun to catch speeders. I spotted this on 17th Street at Beneva Road on Sunday morning.  Around the corner, several patrol cars were lined up, apparently ready to chase down lead footed drivers and issue tickets.  When no cars were passing by, the trooper would duck as close as possible to the wall to conceal himself.   While I was there, no one was pulled over and the trooper didn't seem to mind that I was documenting what was going on.  (And, no, I wasn't pulled over when I left.)

November 11, 2012

Veterans' Day

SDP  11-11-12
Today is dedicated to those Americans who served and are currently serving in the military.  Thank you for your service and sacrifice to protect our freedoms and liberate so many from tyranny.  This photo is of the Iwo Jima monument at the Veterans' Memorial in Cape Coral, about 80 minutes south of Sarasota. The memorial area is rather nice and features many statues and plaques dedicated to veterans.   When I was there yesterday at sunset quite a few people were coming and going, which was really nice to see.  On the topic of Veterans' Day, I'm reading a book called 'Unbroken' about an American who was expected to be the first person to run a 4 minute mile when World War II started and he was drafted into the Army Air Corps as a bombardier and his plane crashed into the ocean.   It's a true story and was written by the same author who penned 'Seabiscuit'.  So far, it's a page turner -- very inspiring!

November 9, 2012

Holiday Madness

SDP  11-9-12
I would've walked right by this florist shop last night without noticing it, except it was lit up like....a Christmas tree.  Apparently, my holiday sanity plea earlier this week wasn't heeded.  Even this display (which was by far the best Christmas display in the area last year) is already up.  I don't plan on monitoring this madness any further.  Expect to see Sarasota Christmas decorations here at SDP starting December 2nd, right after the next theme day.

November 6, 2012


SDP  11-6-12
In case you've been living in a cave and haven't's Election Day!  While millions of Floridians opted to vote early (something like 4.2 million), lines at the polling precincts here in the Sunshine State are still expected to be long today.  One of the reasons is because of the sheer length of the ballot.  With 11 proposed state constitutional amendments, which are complex and lengthy, this is the longest ballot in state history.   When I heard about early voters in Miami waiting in line for up to 6 hours, I immediately presumed those voters hadn't reviewed their sample ballot and were actually trying to decipher the questions in the voting booth (which I cannot imagine!)  Of course, the item that everyone is talking about is at the very top of the ballot:  President of the United States.  As for me, I voted last Friday at 7:15 a.m. without too much of a wait.  

November 5, 2012

'Tis the Season...?

SDP  11-5-12
The SDP Editor-in-Chief made an executive decision to halt the North Carolina fall photos for...Christmas!  I was rather surprised to hear Christmas music playing in Best Buy yesterday.  Then, I saw this: a lit Christmas tree atop a strip mall in Sarasota -- on November 4th.  My neighbor also put up Christmas lights over the weekend and had them lit last night.  This might be the earliest Christmas ever.  I love Christmas.  But, come on...let's enjoy Thanksgiving first.

November 4, 2012

Autumnal Steps

SDP  11-4-12
This could have been one of the 'fall hazards' along the Glen Burney trail in Blowing Rock, North Carolina which was alluded to in yesterday's post.  There's nothing like hiking your way through Mother Nature's beauty!  We might have one more fall vacation post tomorrow...then back to Sarasota.  Hope everyone is having a good weekend.

November 3, 2012

Autumnal Adventure

SDP  11-3-12 
The fall color tour of North Carolina continues.  I thought this sign was rather apropo for this time of year.  I spotted it along the Glen Burney trail, a pleasant 2-mile hike in downtown Blowing Rock, which winds through the woods en route to a couple of waterfalls.  The leaves were gorgeous and I managed to safely escape any and all 'fall hazards'.  Happy Saturday!

November 2, 2012

Biltmore Estate

SDP  11-2-12
Welcome to the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina!  Located on 8,000 square acres in the Blue Ridge Mountains, it's considered the largest privately owned residence in the United States. I could list all the mind boggling statistics such as the number of bedrooms, bathrooms, living rooms, dining rooms, game rooms, libraries, and of course, the 70,000 gallon swimming pool....but, let me just's lavish and enormous!  When George Vanderbilt built this place in 1895, he put the 'conspicuous' in conspicuous consumption.  Biltmore has remained in the family all these years, although it opened to the public for tours during the Great Depression as an economic generator for the Asheville community.  Over the years, it has become a very successful tourism destination.  Believe it or not, the estate employees approximately 1,700 people.  Besides the mansion, there's a lot to explore on the grounds including a variety of stunning gardens.  You can learn more about the Biltmore Estate here.   Definitely a worthwhile visit!

November 1, 2012

Mother Nature's Show

SDP  11-1-12
The timing for my visit to the Blue Ridge Mountains last week was perfect. Although the leaves were just past peak, they still were gorgeous -- plus, I avoided a severe winter storm which arrived courtesy of Hurricane Sandy a few days after I left.  This shot was taken along the Blue Ridge Parkway just outside of Blowing Rock.  I love the lone red tree just off center to the right.  Mother Nature was putting on quite a show!