Monday, July 20, 2015

Back to Normal, Whatever That Is! and Gator NEWS

Sparky is back to bike riding, and has been seeing some pretty wonderful things. You can see them on Facebook sometimes, but it's good to put them in the blog, too. Some day, we hope to have the blog printed in book form, it's gonna take a LOT of chapters and quite a few books to print! That's the affordable way, to do it in chunks, like 6 months at a time....

It's full bore summer now, here in Bradenton/Sarasota...We are getting rain at least three times a week or more, which SOMETIMES brings down the temps, and other times all it does is bring up the humidity. Lows are in the mid seventies at night, and low nineties during the day. It's supposed to be the rainy season. Sparky would love for it to rain all day long, but that's not the pattern here. Storms blow in and blow out. It can be raining in INCHES ten minutes from our house, and be sunny in our backyard. If it does rain, it seldom rains for more than a half hour or less and it's done.  We have an alarm sound that goes off on the golf course when there's lightning, because our backyard is on a golf course. So we hear THAT almost every day. If you are on the golf course, you are supposed to get off and come in immediately, but people don't. When the danger of lightning has passed, there is a second alarm that Sparky insists sounds like, "Bee-doh, bee-doh". That's the "all clear".  We get a LOT of lightning in this area. So it's great that there's a warning system in place. Now if only people heeded that! Sparky enabled the lightning alert on her phone from a weather app after reading lightning can strike a distance as much as ten miles from a cloud! And since Florida is the "lightning capital" of the country, or so they say, it's a good idea to have that, she thinks. But after using it and seeing the amount of time lapsed between the strike and the alert on the phone can be more than a couple of minutes most times, Sparky thought it wasn't worth using. Eldy thinks Sparky needs a gator alert on her phone, haha....

Speaking of gators..... A gator grabbed a 75 pound black lab from the Hillsborough River in a park near Tampa, did the death roll with him while his owner was watching and screaming for help, and the dog was never seen again.  That was sad.....

Sparky saw this gator with his mouth open on one of her rides this week and this time, she was farther away...Wisely, she used her zoom...He was between two marshes in Lakewood Ranch, the area Sparky likes to ride to and does her 15 miles round trip at least three times a week to and from her house. There's usually some kind of action going on, and some kind of wildlife to see.....

Sparky saw this smaller gator just a few feet from her on a bike ride a couple of days ago as she was just starting out. She was up on the sidewalk, the ditch with the gator was just a few feet below her. He wasn't hungry, wasn't moving, he was just trying to keep cool. The ditch was located right next to a car wash in a shopping plaza.


The other day, Sparky saw a roseate spoonbill (her favorite Florida bird, says E.) looking for bugs near a marsh. She witnessed a VERY large gator come up out of the water and onto the bank about 50 yards from the spoonbill. He then rose up on his legs (that's running mode for a gator)--it was very evident he had a plan that the spoonbill was going to be his lunch. As Sparky came closer, still VERY far away from the pair) he caught a glimpse of her and whipped around so fast and hightailed back into the water. The spoonbill flew to the opposite side of the marsh. Whew! Here he is, safe! Guess that's why he let his photo be taken....

Another morning, Sparky saw TWO LIVE armadillos. They are almost always dead ones when you see them, being devoured by vultures, so it was great to see what they look like when they are alive...Ugly but kind of cute, too. They are like little jackhammers with their heads. Rat-a-tat-tat, hammering the soil for bugs.

How about a nice little blue heron? We see them all the time, but they are still pretty in the early morning light....
He kept an eye on Sparky while she slowly strolled by......

One of our latest trips to the Anna Maria Island City Pier netted us a photo of a great blue heron with a fishing lure stuck in his chest. It doesn't seem to bother him in the least which is good.. Almost like he's wearing bling and proud of it, like those old guys who wear big bulky gold chain necklaces..Ugh.
Here it is close up....He even has been given a nickname. The fishermen call him--wait for it--"Bling".
Lots of birds out at the pier that day, coming in for remnants of the fishermen's catch and escapees.

And that's the latest from the "Bird Lady" of Bradenton....hahaha......Sparky probably should be called "Gator Lady" with all the gator photos she likes to take! Oh, well....See you next time.....

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Virginia is for Lovers

Lovers of hiking, lovers of biking, lovers of beaches, lovers of nature, lovers of mountains, lovers of good food....Need Sparky say more? Well, yes....Virginia's slogan is one of the most recognized and popular ad campaign slogans....It's so popular Jordin Sparks ( no relation to Sparky), American Idol winner, recorded a song, "Virginia is for Lovers" in 2007. Virginia is the tenth most popular state to visit in the U.S. Sparky can see why...It's beautiful!

Sparky spent six great days with her daughter, helping her get moved in...Unpacking, assembling furniture, whatever needed to be done. We went shopping for organizational stuff.....

We ate at some terrific restaurants and took pictures of our food and ourselves.....
We saw some sights....The same artist who designed a branch sculpture in Sarasota, FL designed this sculpture in town....

And Sparky went on a fabulous bike ride on the Washington/Old Dominion Rails to Trails trail.....Sparky rented a bike from the Green Lizard Cycling Shop in Herndon, VA. It's a great shop with great service, and close to the bike trail, right outside the shop's front door. Bike rental is expensive here, because it's so close to the D.C. area. FORTY dollars for a four hour rental. Compare that to 19.00 for four hours in Bar Harbor, ME.  But it was worth it! The bike was a "Scott" bike...considered by some to be a high performance bike.

A great trail.....Sparky rode 26 miles the day she went....longest ride so far...The trail was VERY well maintained...The first part out of Herndon, was like this....like a highway! Later down the road, (heheheheh), the trail becomes a little more worn and a little bit rougher, still paved. But the entire ride today was rated as "easy" even though there are some hills. Sparky had no problem riding the distance and could have gone farther today on the really nice rental bike, but didn't want to over do it.
The cool thing about this trail is that there are lots of access points along the way.....Like access to a brewery, (too bad Eldo wasn't along, we could have stopped for sure! haha :-)
A sweet shop, AND a fantastic BBQ place called Carolina Brothers. LOTS of people on the trail today, and LOTS stopped here for a lunch bite. Sparky decided she would stop on the way back when it wasn't so crowded.
There's a quarry along the way....
Beautiful trumpet flowers......
Nice rest stations.....
A beautiful mimosa tree......
And wildlife...This deer was grazing RIGHT beside the trail....There were a LOT of riders this Sunday, but that did not faze him a bit! Sparky got off her bike to take his photo, and he didn't budge.
On the way back, time for BBQ! Carolina Brothers was a GREAT place to eat. The smell wafting outside the restaurant was enticing! By the time Sparky was on her way back and near the restaurant, she was FAMISHED! Inside, it was a simple restaurant, very plain, wooden tables and chairs, with a deli counter, and they advertised several things. One, where they get their pork for the day....

Two, interesting cold drinks...Sparky had never heard of this pop/soda....She didn't try it, but it sort of looks like a Dr. Pepper or a cherry coke drink.
But what about the BBQ you ask? Sparky had a pulled pork sandwich, and it was THE BEST PULLED PORK EVER! WOW! That's all she can say, it was AMAZING!

A great ride today.....Loved the trail and all it offers.....

All too soon, it was time for Sparky to head back to Bradenton/Sarasota....She was sad to leave her daughter, and sad to leave the wonderful temperatures that Virginia had for the week...low seventies and high sixties...cooler than normal, the weather people said. That was fine and dandy for Sparky! No more trips planned for a bit until August...Sparky heads to Myrtle Beach to visit a friend in early August and to her daughter's in Texas later the same month. August will be busy! For now...time to get back on the bike back home and see what we can see..... See you later......

Monday, July 13, 2015

Sparky Heads to Virginia

Actually, Sparky is back already, still trying to catch up on the blog...Almost there...When Sparky's daughter returned home from her deployment, it was time for Sparky to relinquish Kelly's car and return it to her daughter, after getting to use it for a year. So-o-o-o-o, road trip here we come! Eldy had his own road trip to Indiana at the same time to see his granddaughter play golf in a tournament, so we were heading in different directions for a change....

A great ride to Virginia....Interstate 95 most of the way...Nice road, nice drive....Sparky took her time, stopping at various junctions for a rest and to see what's what....This was at a gas stop in northern Florida....They advertised Florida orange juice and gators, a large stuffed one and live babies in a tank. Of course Sparky had to stop! "LIVE GATORS!"

Nice welcome centers...here's South Carolina's welcome center...Sparky picked up a few brochures like she always does, and a road map. Just in case.....They really do have beautiful welcome centers along I-95.

Sparky started seeing corny signs for "SOB"--South of the Border....A tourist attraction that has been around since 1949. It's really kind of cheesy and headed towards the fate of many popular tourist roadside attractions that were the heyday in the fifties--downhill, but the website continues to do a great job of promoting it, and so do all the billboards along I-95. Sparky thinks there must have been a least 50 billboards heading toward the border of South Carolina and North Carolina. The billboards were really corny....

How about this one?

What about those signs? They are all designed by Mr. Schafer himself. Around 175 billboards are north and south from the Virginia/North Carolina state lines to the South Carolina/Georgia state lines. (At one time there were more than 250 different billboards from Philadelphia, PA to Daytona Beach, FL.) Many of these billboards are on I-95. They are also north and south on Highway 301/501, east and west on Highways 9 & 17. There are a few billboards on I-20.

So of course, Sparky had to stop....After all, South of the Border is on America's Roadside America's list of must see's.....It's a huge place, but almost nobody was there mid morning the day Sparky stopped. It looked very dated, but fun!
The 97-foot Pedro, which stands adjacent to the Mexico Shop East and the Sombrero Restaurant, has 4 miles of wiring and weighs 77 tons. He stands 18 feet deep in solid clay. You can drive your car through the legs of the “Big Man”, as some may call it.

There's an interesting story behind South of the Border and how it grew over the years, if you click on the link above....It's a little town within a town, and friends say it even has a nice campground on the premises as well, called Camp Pedro--100 sites, with 30 and 50 amp hookups. There's a reptile lagoon, an amusement park, a motel, and a sombrero observation tower 200 feet high. There's shopping on the grounds, too. There's a Myrtle Beach shop designed to get you ready for the shores, a leather shop, a Hats Around the World shop, and an antique shop!  Guess it's still going great after all these years! But it was time for Sparky to hop back in the car and get going again....

Sparky split the trip of 900 miles into two days. No Paul Dahl driving for her! (An inside joke for RVer's about an RVer who has since obtained legendary fame as a guy who LOVES to drive very long distances in his RV.) Fellow RVers call it Paul Dahl syndrome,  or something similar, if you drive a high number of highway miles in a day. She stopped in Walterboro, S.C. for the night, a place she picked because it had a nature preserve with boardwalks within just a few miles of I-95.  Walterboro is in the northeast corner of the state, getting close to North Carolina. Sparky pulled in early enough to check into a motel, and then checked out the preserve for a little hike before it got dark. 

Walterboro Wildlife Sanctuary is within 3 minutes of I-95. It's located within the ACE Basin, the East Coast's largest estuarine preserve and has 842 acres. It has hiking, biking, and canoe trails. The literature says is might be the only "braided creek" swamp highlighting low country nature that is available for the public. Sparky is not quite sure what a braided swamp means, but guesses that there are "feeders" leading into and out of the swamp area. It has 3 miles of hiking and biking trails. They seemed nice. The boardwalks were cool and went for quite a ways. There were many of them intersecting and crossing in different places. This would be a wonderful walk in the fall!

The day Sparky visited, it was a little disappointing...The swamp was completely dried up in the section she hiked...It was very buggy and almost depressing the day of the visit. The website description makes you think this is a fairly modern and up to date sanctuary, opened in 2013, with lots of future plans for it coming up. However, the atmosphere was depressing. The preserve features appeared as though they weren't being well maintained. Sparky saw downed tree limb debris on the boardwalks, a hole in one of the planked paths, and foliage overrunning some of the walking and biking paths. Of course, it was a dreary day, too, and that just makes everything seem old and dirty. And, it's a swamp for heaven's sake! Black bottomland swampland. Of course it's going to be buggy! Sparky forgot bug spray. Ugh!  As far as nature, Sparky didn't see anything but she did hear some interesting bird calls. 

The next morning, Sparky was off driving once again...getting closer to her destination and her daughter! Next time, see you in Virginia!

Friday, July 10, 2015

Hiking in Greenville, Maine

Oh, there are LOTS of terrific hikes in Greenville. You are near the Appalachian Mountains, after all, so you know there are some great hikes available. The Appalachian Trail passes southeast of Greenville and touches some of the day hikes you can choose from. Pick up a little brochure from the visitor's center on your way into Greenville, called "Hiking Guide to the Moosehead Lake Region". Sparky absolutely HAD to get out on a trail before leaving Maine. So she found one in this guide. Only it was about 12 miles outside of Greenville. That was ok...Eldy didn't mind driving Sparky to the hike starting point. His knees were bothering him, so he decided he should be the transporter today..... Sparky thought she might need some bug spray, so we stopped at a little general store in Greenville to look for some. Wanna buy some moose antlers for a souvenir? Here's half of a pair, ten bucks. There were a bunch of them in a bin. These didn't look too swift.

The drive into the hiking starting point was SCARY after getting off the main road. After traveling to Monson, a nearby town, you get off the main road and take a gravel road for 0.7 of a mile. The gravel road was barely no wider than the width of a car, and we were driving a rental. The sides of the road had not been trimmed since last year, and branches bare and/or leafy were a constant threat to scratching the car. The potholes were abysmal! Sparky could tell that Eldy wanted to turn around but he couldn't, it was a one way drive into the hiking destination. If you met somebody on the road coming out, there were only two places where you could even think about pulling off to let them by. He prayed on the way in that we wouldn't meet anybody. We didn't.....Whew!

We got to the campground site where the hike started. Eldy's knees would not be able to take a "moderate" hike so he graciously waited in the car while I headed out, rather than drive BACK out the horrible washed out road, with no cell phone signal, so he read literature in the car while Sparky started her hike. The trail was well marked with blue blazes.

You walk upstream on a trail that follows a river. After about .8 of a mile, you come to the Appalachian Trail, designated by white blazes on the trees. Sounds easy, right? Wel-l-l-l-l....yes and no. The distance is short, the hike is steep! The trail starts out not too badly....
Then, lots of roots....

Once you get on the AT, you only have to go about two tenths of a mile, but it seemed a lot longer than that, till you get to the falls....See the incline? There's a drop off to the right. You are steadily, steadily climbing to get to a gorge and the falls, which are NOT little, by the way.
On the way to the falls, Sparky saw a check in box for the AT. She thought about registering for a moment, just to note that she was on the AT, but that's really for people doing longer hikes, so she didn't. Although she almost got lost later, so perhaps that WOULD have been a good idea!

This is a very popular hike, despite the awful road leading into the parking lot which is basically a very small campground site about big enough for two or three tenting families. But the view is fantastic at the gorge....

Your final destination can be a little scary and hiking with very young children is NOT recommended as there are only slippery rocks and big rounded boulders at the end of the trail. Sparky lay down on her stomach to photograph the gorge below and she gulped a little. It wouldn't take much to lose your balance on the rounded rock she was standing, then sitting, then laying on.

BUT---the falls were fantastic! And not so little!

Time to head back, Eldo was waiting....Sparky eagerly started back reversing her steps, or she THOUGHT she was...After following the trail and reversing the colors of the blazes, white first, then blue, Sparky noticed that she was now right next to the river, instead of being on higher ground. She knew she was on the Appalachian Trail for much longer than she should have been. Something was wrong. She had not seen a blue blaze for some time. Sparky headed a little further, nope, not right...She should have picked up the blue blaze trail by now. Sparky started to panic, she did not see the AT trail to reverse her direction and get back a ways to where she wandered off the trail. As she looked around, there didn't seem to be a sign of a trail in front of her or in back or her, or to the side. There must have been an intersection between the Little Wilson Falls trail and the AT, and Sparky had missed it coming back. Twenty minutes went by. Sparky thought "Uh-oh, I'm in trouble. It's late in the afternoon and I'm lost." She took a deep breath. She knew she had to get on higher ground, she just needed to retrace backwards, not deviating from the very narrow path she was on.

So, back she went, and finally, about five minutes later, which seemed like thirty, she saw an intersecting sign, with white, blue, and PINK markings. There was a pink "equals" sign beside the AT white, and Little Wilson Falls blue blaze, which apparently signified that the falls trail joined the AT there. Sparky never saw that tree with the markings the first time on the way back. But there was the BLUE, and she knew she was ok. A big sigh of relief.....A BIG sigh.....And she bogeyed back on the trail towards the car where Eldy was waiting....He was just beginning to worry, he said....Sparky downplayed how nervous she was at getting off the trail and being temporarily lost, she knew she could have followed the river back, except the AT trail ventured AWAY from the river after a while, and that was not going to be an option. At any rate, Sparky decided to never hike again without some sort of compass! This was a short hike, folks, so not as alarming as it sounds...Sparky could see, however, how easily someone might panic on a hike, how someone could blindly head off into the woods in a slight panic and REALLY get to the point where there was no trail whatsoever to follow....She was glad Eldo was waiting up ahead. She had planned about how long it would take, and Eldo would have come looking for her, if needed. There were also other campers near the trail at the time of the hike, so Sparky was confident that if she didn't find the trail soon, she could use her whistle to sound an alarm......

Oh! Sparky did see some interesting things on the trail back from the falls....Is this bear poop or moose poop?  Could be deer poop, maybe? That was one thing she got a little nervous about. And she could SWEAR she heard some animal noise on the ridge above her, like a bear rustling around....heheheheheheh......
Hard to see, but Sparky thought this might be a moose hoof? or a deer hoof? It was quite big for a deer. And hard to see if it was a split hoof or not.....
It was an exhilarating hike for more reason than one...Sparky loved seeing the falls, and hopes to return to do more hikes in the Greenville, Maine area next year....

A terrific visit to Maine this year...We are truly blessed that we saw so many things this time...Sparky got to bike and hike and whale watch, and both Eldy and I loved our trip this year...We had a wonderful time at beautiful, beautiful Acadia and Bar Harbor.....See you on our next adventure! Sparky heads to Virginia......Eldo heads to Indiana to see his granddaughter play golf, play golf with her and his grandson, and visit his son and daughter....Bye for now....

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

How to Find Moose Near Moosehead Lake in Maine

You have to have a strategy...We have been only been marginally successful in previous visits to Maine to see moose. Mainely, (pardon the pun, haha) because we have been there usually in July or later. It's hot, the moose are not around the roads as much as they have taken to the ponds and are trying to stay cool in the waters of marshes, lakes and other mosquito laden areas during that time of summer. The last time we went moose hunting in Greenville, we looked down a logging road one early evening and saw a mother and her baby walking down the logging road. That was after multiple  trips every evening for several days, up and down logging roads, scanning swamps and watering holes, just the pair, that was it.

But this year, we were in Maine the first week of June, and the BEST time for seeing moose is late spring and very early summer, just after the calves are born--May thru June, the locals said. HOT DOG! We just might have a chance to see some. So, we drove over to Greenville, Maine, and stayed at a local motel for one night. Accommodations are different in Greenville...Not as fancy as Bar Harbor, a little older perhaps. Rates are great this time of year...Less than 100.00.

We stayed at Kineo View Motor Lodge, which we highly recommend as a reasonable place to stay while moose hunting. The lodge has fantastic views of the nearby mountains. However, the price goes up mid June for the short tourist season.

Here's our moose hunting strategy if you are heading to Greenville, Maine....Stop at the visitor's center on the way into the town of Greenville. They have some literature and a location list of where are the best spots for viewing moose. There used to be a great spot in Shirley, just down the road, where the Department of Transportation would have salt blocks for the roads for winter. People would drive up at dusk or dawn and park their cars along the road by the marsh by the dozens where the chances of seeing moose were excellent--except we did that several times on our last visit, both dawn and dusk, and never saw any. We were told at the visitor's center, that the department is not storing salt or using something different for winter roads now, so the moose no longer frequent the Shirley D.O.T. location, at least not much at all. We checked one night, just to see, and saw nothing.

The next best viewing spot is a few miles north of Greenville. Head out on the only highway out of town, north, (Lily Bay Road) and watch for entries to logging roads and watch for moose along the road intersections, north of Lily Bay State Park, all the way to Kokadjo, a tiny town further up the road, a distance of about 27 miles.

The first night we headed out---JACKPOT! Almost immediately after Lily Road State Park, we saw our first moose, a young one! She was on the left side of the road and just decided to cross the road in front of us and over to the other side. We were only going about 25 miles and hour, constantly scanning the roadside and logging road paths, and BOOM! there she was. We stopped right in the middle of the road to watch her cross. (Nobody was coming, Eldo kept watching.) We're going to say she, because this time of year, the males should be just starting to develop a new set of antlers. No knobs on this one. She didn't see us at first, she was just moseying along. Then she turned and noticed us. If you can enlarge the photo, you can see the "deer", er, "moose-in-the-headlights" look. :-)
A truck came barreling down the road, probably a local who sees moose all the time, so this young one trotted off. We hadn't gone but a few miles further and we saw THREE moose in the brush, eating shoots off the trees. One moved out into the open. We managed to catch her eating out in the open.

And then two came out of the brush and started trotting along the side of the road.....We think this was a mother and her young one.

WOW! This was GREAT! We were truly pumped to have seen FIVE moose so far! All females... We had one more early morning ride we could go for. Sparky cringed at the thought of getting up at dawn, so she didn't! We actually went out about an hour AFTER the sun rose, Sparky just had a good feeling that we were going to see some more moose. Especially after checking into our room the night before, and seeing this sign on the door:
There was a different enameled (?) crafted sign on each door of the motel. It was an omen! Did we see more moose the next morning? Yup! Two more! And one was a BULL moose! Yahoo! Not the best photo, he was bogeying along the side of the road.

We saw our last moose near a logging camp/site entry.....We drove by, and Sparky saw what she thought was a statue...A moose statue. You know how you sort of see something, you think you see something, but you say to yourself, naw, that's not what I think it was--WAIT---STOP THE CAR, ELDO!  It's a REAL moose! That girl was standing so stock still, not moving a muscle, that Sparky thought it was a moose statue at the logging camp!  Eldo stopped, and Sparky caught a photo, just as a giant logging truck came and turned into the driveway...She took off....
A total of SEVEN moose on our very short visit (a day and a half) to Greenville this week...We were so happy and thrilled that we got to see so many! This time of year, the end of May and the first week of June were just the perfect time. BUT--you never know....where they are going to be, or what their traveling patterns are like. Someone else could go the same time next year, and see nothing....We never saw them in the water or near the water, they were all standing shortly off the side of the roads or in open intersecting road areas. So we wish anyone hunting moose the best of luck! We hope your luck is as good as ours was!

Friday, July 3, 2015

Day 6--Acadia National Park/Bar Harbor--Whale Watching Tour

Sparky absolutely HAS to go on any whale watching tour that is available in our travels....Even though the weather was cool to cold for us the first week in June in Bar Harbor, (in the fifties)--now that we are Floridians, Sparky still wanted to go. Eldo thought that maybe it was too early in the season for whales to be in the area, and with the cold, rainy weather, Sparky thought he might be right. (WHAT??? What did you say??? asks E. Did I hear you say I might be right?????) So-o-o-o-o.... today dawned with a little better weather, temps were up just a bit...around 60...We decided to chance it and GO! Really really bundled up...layers and layers of clothing, and Eldo even decided to buy a sweatshirt, to add to his layers. We just LOVE being out on the water.....

We went with the Bar Harbor whale watching/puffin tour...the company is right at the wharf at Bar Harbor. It was early in the season, first week of June, they had only been underway since mid May, we think. Prices were 59.00 a person. The company is a very good company with responsible ecological goals and deserves the support your tourist dollars, we feel....

There was a little bit of a chop (waves and some small up and down movement), and briefly Sparky fought some queasiness, easily remedied by heading to the upper deck and breathing in some fresh air. A lot of folks ended up using the seasick bags...Sparky got a kick out of the name on the bag....
There was an Asian lady and her daughter sitting right across from us inside the cabin as we waited for the whale activity to begin. We first had to ride a good half hour to get anywhere where we might see whales. Sparky saw the mom using a pencil/stylus type tool on her daughter's hand. Apparently, she was doing acupressure or some kind of massage technique on her daughter to help her with queasiness.
The book in front of her was the "complete guide to acupressure points" Sparky guessed. This is what one of the pages looked like. It was really cool! Then all of a sudden, the mom grabbed Sparky's hand and started vigorously stroking the webbing between Sparky's fingers on her left hand and pushing HARD on her fingers. She was talking in Japanese (Korean?) rapidly to her daughter and the daughter translated a little. She said that her mother said Sparky was healthy. She also asked if Sparky had a little trouble with lower back pain. Actually, Sparky has trouble with the left lower side of her back and side now and then. Sparky was startled that this lady was able to tell that just by stroking the fingers on her hand! Interesting!
Soon, we were far out from Bar Harbor....We first passed the Egg Rock Lighthouse where the puffins were nesting and swimming. They are little dudes...only about 12" in length. Sparky tried very hard to get some photos, but with the boat rocking up and down quite a bit, it was impossible to get the camera steady enough to capture any puffins. Darn! Bring on the whales! We were well into the trip and hadn't seen anything at all in the way of the great mammals when one was spotted!
A finback whale! He was close! So close that the naturalist aboard said there was something not quite right about him.

It turned out that the whale was tangled in some kind of lines and buoys and was trying to swim and drag himself out of it. The boat was able to get close enough to the whale to document that this was happening, and they immediately started logging his GPS location and other identifying details to a special team in Maine that specializes in rescuing entangled whales. The ship's captain and crew announced that we would need to spend more time by the whale in order to get the best and most current information to the rescue team to try and help the whale. OK by us! The whale continued to move while we were in the area, dragging the lines and buoys with him. The naturalist said that the whale could have been trapped for quite some time, although they didn't see him as starving or in drastic imminent danger quite yet, he was thin. He was breathing quite often, though, and we were all concerned for him. She said that she had heard of THREE entrapped whales in the time that she had been working the whale watch trip, all in one season. Sad! The whale watch company has protocols that they follow:

After spending 40 minutes with this animal, we realized it was dragging buoys and had fishing line cutting into its tail. Because the whale was thinner than normal, we believe the whale was entangled for quite some time, (many days...probably weeks). The Friendship V followed Whale SENSE protocol and called the Coast Guard, Department of Marine Resources, and Center for Coastal Studies. Unfortunately, because we were 42 miles from Bar Harbor, and the whale was not anchored to the ocean floor by the gear, NOAA's whale disentanglement's team made the decision hold off on sending out a vessel out to search for the whale this morning. If this whale is relocated and reported NOAA will decide if a disentanglement team will be dispatched from the Maine Department of Marine Resources Marine Patrol.

But of course we didn't mind staying in the area and the trip being twice as long as it was supposed to be, with the chance of seeing a whale so close by....But very sad circumstances.....

The crew said it could take HOURS for a team to come into the area where the whale was, and it looked like after a lot of communication between all parties involved, that nothing could be done till the next day....With heavy hearts, the crew and ship with all of us had to leave the area.....Not knowing if anyone would be able to locate this distressed whale.
We found out after we got back, a few days later, that they were not able to get a team to this whale...His fate and location were unknown....Later, after we returned to Florida, we heard of another whale called Spinnaker, a 35 foot humpback whale, that had been rescued from lines and traps three times in 11 years, only to succumb to a death that was unknown when she was found washed ashore, dead, in Bar Harbor near Great Head.

On another note, one last hurrah before leaving beautiful Maine, to head home for Florida. We are leaving for Moosehead Lake to go hunting for---MOOSE! We are going to spend two days in Greenville, Maine and see if we can't spot some moose! Stay tuned....See you next time!