Florida, Know Your Birds: Snowy Egret

The snowy egret is ubiquitous to Southwest Florida, but this wasn’t always the case. Like many other egrets and herons, the snowy egret saw its numbers plummet in the late 1800s. Concerted efforts by conservationists helped bring back the small egret and its range is now expanding along the Eastern seaboard and the South.

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Four days to Florida – Part 3

Cobblestone and brick paths create an inviting atmosphere for St. Augustine visitors.Cobblestone and brick paths create an inviting atmosphere for St. Augustine visitors.

Southwest Florida is, in general, a very new place. Much of the construction has occurred over the past 20 years. There are older sections for sure, but there’s very little that’s OLD here.

Thursday’s journey led my fiancee and me to the old parts of Florida. St. Augustine, on the East coast south of Jacksonville, bills itself as the oldest European settlement in the United States. The original Spanish settlers arrived in 1565 and the town is planning its 450th anniversary ceremony this year. A popular vacation spot, St. Augustine is full of both historical and modern amenities.

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Four days to Florida – Part 2

After a grueling 7-hour drive Tuesday, the rest of the trip should be easy as pie – or at least a warm praline from the Candy Factory in Savannah where we stopped for the night.

Savannah is an old city – as evidenced by its cobblestone River District – but busy among locals and tourists alike. Some cities I’ve been to (looking at you, Cleveland and Rochester, New York) shut down when the sun starts to go down. That’s when Savannah begins to come alive. Our Uber driver says in the month and a half the ride-sharing service has been open she always sees steady downtown traffic.

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Four days to Florida – Part 1

My fiancee and I are hitting the road to travel back to Florida. As relatively young and relatively strong people we could make the 16-hour drive in a day, but we’re making a trip of it and taking you along.

Our goal is to find some really special, out-of-the-way places that can make great pit stops in the future, or for anyone brave enough to follow in our footsteps.

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Fireworks on the Fifth – U.S. Wins the World Cup

When I was a kid my family would take weekly one-hour drives to my sister’s soccer games. I didn’t get it. My soccer field was just around the corner. We were usually home by lunch. Unfortunately for my selfish self, my sister played for a traveling team that took her across the East Coast.

Tonight – especially tonight – it would be convenient if my sister grew up to be a star player on the World Cup-winning women’s soccer team. Unfortunately she didn’t. I only mean unfortunately for this story.

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Go Take a Walk (It’s Good For You!)

I suppose that if you live in or love to visit Florida you know that there’s nothing as refreshing and reinvigorating as a nature walk. The sights, sounds, and smells wake up something in us that is deeply human.

Now, according to the Washington Post, there is scientific evidence these walks make you feel better. Essentially, walking in nature limits inward, negative thinking called “rumination” that can increase the risk of depression. Researchers backed up their claims with brain scans. The big takeaway from the research is to get outside.

Spending time outdoors, in nature, is good for you. The new study just adds — in a new way — to a growing body of evidence that demonstrates that.

– Chris Mooney, Washington Post

With that in mind, here’s a few nature walks to take in Southwest Florida.

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Five Tips for an Awesome Autotrain Trip

The Amtrack Autotrain is a little-known but brilliant idea that shuttles thousands of people back and forth between the Orlando, Florida, and Washington, D.C., areas. More precicely, the Autotrain will take you and your car from Lorton, Virginia, to Sanford, Florida, overnight.

The stations are under construction and the seating can be cramped, but it is overall one of the best ways to travel the U.S. East Coast. It also happens to be a lucky coincidence that the train picks me up less than a four-hour drive from my house and drops me off three hours from friendsand family.

With that lead-in, I took the train down once and am writing this from the lounge car of a northbound Autotrain.

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Expressions of a Joyful Day at the Beach – Postcards from Florida

Postcards - 8 for $6 on Etsy.
Postcards – 8 for $6 on Etsy.

There are a couple of things that I really like to do. Well, if I think about it, there’s a ton of things I like to do. BUT, two things I like to do are take pictures and send postcards. It started out with postcards to older relatives who weren’t hip to the email, but I realized how much a little piece of paper and a 34-cent (now 35 since May) stamp could mean to anybody.

Not long after I moved down here, about a year ago, I started taking pictures. Lots of pictures. So, I was sitting on a pile of pictures and a pile of bland, boilerplate postcards. So I printed my own postcards.

Then, I figured, “I could sell these.” This is the ultimate betrayal of the mind. It’s the equivalent of “we should buy a bar,” or “we should start a band.” Even if the only musical experience is Rock Band on the Xbox.

So, it’s me, my fiance, the dog, the cat, and a pile of postcards. Pretty postcards. Minimalist expressions of the true joy that only a day on the Southwest Florida beaches can provide. Several dozen minimalist expressions. I have set up an Etsy shop. The postcards come in a neat envelope. If you message me on Etsy and let me know you read about this on photosfromflorida.net or our Facebook page (facebook.com/photosfromflorida) I’ll drop a little something extra into the envelope as well. (Not money!)

Anyway, you get eight postcards for $6 (cheap!). You can find them by clicking the banner below. Thanks for following PhotosfromFlorida. Most importantly, even if you are on the email bandwagon and don’t need postcards, I truley hope you enjoy PhotosfromFlorida as much as I enjoy producing it. Thanks!

– Ben Andersen

Beautiful pictures in a beautiful place