Sunday, February 21, 2010

Of Best-laid plans

After several miserable weekends in a row better weather finally crept into the Florida panhandle. To celebrate I had decided that I would dust off my mountain bike that had been hanging up in the garage all winter and peddle over to Ranger Camp road and get a few miles in on the Timberlake Trail system. Timberlake has well over 26 miles of hiking and biking trails suitable for any almost any skill level. I'm not a daredevil so I stick to the easy and intermediate trails and leave trails like Carbo to the diehards. Dutifully I aired up my tires, filled up my water bottle, pulled on my gloves, strapped on my helmet and after a brief once over of the bike I was off... to a grand distance of three houses down where my front brakes seized up for no apparent reason other than to tick me off.

I freed the brakes and pushed my bike back home and into the garage where I began digging for tools and gear oil. Ten minutes later still no luck. My day was starting out almost exactly as the previous day had, only instead of a stubborn set of brakes I had heck assembling a travel cage for my Southern flying squirrel duo. And although I did finally get the cage assembled, it took a hammer, a set of pliers and language that would make turn a pirate's ears red. So once again I was right back where I started, my plans foiled and in a very foul mood.

How to salvage my plans of fresh air and exercise? Well, I was already dressed for it so I picked up my water bottle, grabbed a camera and headed out to the very same set of trails to hike a five mile portion of it. Not quite the adventure I'd had planned, but it would have to do until I could drag my metal beast into the bike shop for an overhaul. My slower pace allowed me to be passed by several of my biking buddies, leaving me to once again reflect on the bike that had failed me. They might be faster, but I was getting the natural experience. Heck, with my camera in tow I might even be the one to take a picture of the elusive Ivory-billed Woodpecker.

Or not. Instead I managed to work my way down to the edge of Stinky Creek (which isn't so stinky in the winter) and get a spectacular shot of a turtle basking on a log. I also found a deep pool of water where a rather large bass was hanging out, but even though my camera is waterproof, the acrobatics required to obtain said shot would have had me swimming with him and I am terribly opposed to cold water.

Turtle on a log

So, while not the perfect day that I'd set out to have, it was still a nice day and the forecasted 30% chance of rain held off. And if I may take a brief moment of creative license; a leisure day that doesn't go quite as planned is still better than a day at work.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Covering Hands Across the Sand

Yesterday I went out to our local beach on Okaloosa Island to cover the Hands Across the Sand event where hundreds turned out at various locations all along the beach to show their opposition to oil drilling in Florida waters. They weren't alone because the scene was replayed by thousands all across the beaches of Florida.

I admire these people for having the courage to stand up for something they believe in and not just going along with the flow. Florida has some of the cleanest beaches in the world, but in addition to that it is home to many rare and endangered plants, animals and marine life that depend on its preservation. The health and well-being of those species should always come before the pockets of greedy oil men.

It is time to stop depending on oil and truly make the switch to renewable energy. Solar, geothermal, hydroelectric and others are the future. Here's to Florida taking a stand against big oil and telling them NO OIL DRILLING IN FLORIDA WATERS!

Okaloosa Island

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Say No to Oil Drilling in Florida Waters

On Saturday, February 13th 2010 thousands of Floridians will descend on their local beaches at noon in a peaceful protest against oil drilling off of Florida's coastline. Florida's beaches, while certainly a major attraction for tourism, is also home to many species of plant and animal life that depend on an ecosystem that is free of dangerous oil and chemicals.

Florida has hundreds of species of plants and animals that are listed as endangered, threatened or a species of special concern. Some of those most at risk from a catastrophic oil spill include the West Indian manatee, several varieties of beach mouse, and sea turtles.

Not only would oil drilling pose a potential environmental risk to the beaches, but it would mar an otherwise beautiful setting. In the background of photos of beach weddings, sunsets and family outings would be the not so distant profile of oil drilling platforms which could be as close as 3 to 10 miles offshore if pending legislation passes.

Please find time to come out to the beach this Saturday and join with others to help protect Florida's beaches. To find a beach near you just log onto Hands Across the Sand