NATURE ALI'S GRAND ADVENTURE - Day 23 - July 12, 2009

I woke up a 5 a.m. to a great cup of coffee that my brother made enjoying some more great conversation before we both had to leave. I went over to Gulf Coast Community College to bird a bit while the weather was still cool (there is no such thing as cool here – just not as hot… muggy applies to all times of day). Not too much activity but a few terns and gulls overhead. I drove over the Hathaway Bridge (where the bridge got struck by lightening 34 years ago while I was watching a waterspout) towards Panama City Beach… I had intended again to drive some distance but saw Allison Ave. and couldn’t resist taking the road to the first apartment I lived in after getting married to Clayton back in 1975. The apartment was gone but it led me to the beach where I continued the drive.

The number of huge hotels on the beach is disgusting. No view of the gulf anywhere. When I first moved to Panama City, we were hit by Hurricane Eloise which destroyed most of these types of buildings; fifteen years later Hurricane Opal did it again. Why do people continue to elect uninformed officials who allow buildings to be put in areas they shouldn’t? Anyway, I digress, I stopped here and there trying to bird wherever there was an opportunity. I did pick up a few Least Terns flying along the coast.

I got back on Hwy 98 but saw a turnoff to Seaside and the Florida Birding Trail (which basically seems to just direct people to every state park… the people at the Florida visitors centers should offer to sell annual park passes to every visitor who asks about birding opportunities so they don’t continuously get hit with the entrance fees).

Seaside is a really bizarre village where the movie “The Truman Show” was filmed. Narrow streets filled with beautiful little cottages… more bike paths than roads. Really Stepford Wive’s feeling place.

Just west of Seaside, I stopped at an amazing beach where the water was an amazing turquoise and so clear. The sand on the beach was so white. Out in the water was a loon just bobbing along with its head down fishing. I thought at first it was a dolphin or something similar. I took photos and finally got my feet wet which I had been reluctant to do because I didn’t want to travel with salty skin (they had a rinse off place). I dropped one of my sandals unknowingly way down the beach and a very helpful woman pointed it out to me. That was a pleasant stop.

Continuing west I stopped at Gulf Islands National Seashore where I got my National Parks passport stamped. The fellow at the desk was helpful yet completely clueless about nature watching. I really think the park service needs to make visitor center staff go out and explore their park and go on interpretive walks. I loved being able to share with visitors all of the exciting possibilities for adventures in Sequoia National Forest, being the person at the information center may be the only contact the public has to staff, it is really important that that person is a people person and willing to go the extra mile to help.
Anyway, despite the less than stellar information, I did walk the nature trail and found many wonderful birds for the day. Best of all was a Red-headed Woodpecker feeding a very anxious fledgling.

Leaving Florida behind, I entered Alabama to a most helpful woman at the I-10 Rest Stop. Birding rest stops is not to be missed if one is traveling. I found six species there including surprisingly Cinnamon Teal in the sump. I got an Alabama Coastal Birding Trail map and found the detour to Battleship Memorial Park in Mobile a good quick opportunity. While few birds were found beyond hundreds of Laughing Gulls, three Ring-billed Gulls were the first I had found in the east. They charged to enter the park which I thought was strange until I found out even with all of the military aircraft, the Battleship Alabama and a submarine, this was a privately funded park, I find that intriguing. I also find it strange America’s fascination with violence and glorifying tools of war. I am proud of the sacrifice of our soldiers but our need to fight others whose beliefs are foreign to our own (especially on their land) is so contrary to a truly civilized society. Oh, well, I am not about to change the world with my rants, but I would love it if those visiting such places would stop to enjoy and respect the world about them.

All through my voyage, I have been relying not just on my GPS, but on my ground support team, which consists of my sister Margot! I have to thank her for helping me figure out where to go next, where I am and what the weather is forecast to be.
Thanks MARGOT!

Funny thing, I have been saying all along that I have a special relationship to Mother Earth (Gaia) and that she has been protecting me. Margot scoffed (as would I) at the supernatural helping me on my journey. I had asked about severe thunderstorms and Margot checked, letting me know that a very bad system was heading my way. I was prepared but asked Gaia for assistance since my tires are getting worn and I am worried about the possibility of hydroplaning and having an accident. So while Margot was telling me what time the storm with the heavy downpour and hail should arrive, she was surprised when I told her I received just a few drops and that the road continued to remain dry. As she watched the radar, a bubble of cloudlessness opened up along my path and quickly closed behind me with heavy rain. My path remained dry and here I now sit at a rest stop in Atchafalaya, Louisiana without a cloud in the sky. I will rest for now.

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Nature Ali's Adventures

Photo Journal's from around the county, state, and country.


Carrizo Plain National Monument

Northern California and Oregon

Nature Ali's Weldon Backyard

Pixley National Wildlife Refuge 

Squirrel Valley Backyard Nature 


Yosemite National Park

Death Valley Spring            

Arizona Scenics outside of National Parks

Canyon de Chelley National Monument

Garden of the Gods

Grand Canyon National Park (north rim)

Grand Canyon National Park (south rim)

Great Sand Dunes National Park

Mesa Verde National Park

Mojave National Preserve

Pike's Peak Region Colorado

San Luis Valley Colorado

Wildlife Diary from Southwestern United States

Zion National Park


Northern Florida Summer 2006


New Year's Day - Inyo County

Grand Adventure 2009


Nature Alley is dedicated to protecting natural communities wherever they exist. She is involved in many scientific and educational programs, promoting environmental appreciation and ethics.

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