Story by Diane White
Images by Donna McGrew,
Sheryl Long and Diane White
Look up, look down, try viewing nature from a different angle. That was the challenge given to OLLI-USF’s Better Composition for Outdoor Photography class at their field trip to Trout Creek Conservation Park located in Hillsborough County northeast of Tampa.
Using the composition techniques discussed in a prior online seminar, the class spent the morning looking for subjects to improve their photo skills. We started by taking a leisurely stroll along the short boardwalk which leads along the Hillsborough River to the canoe launch. Trout Creek Conservation Park proved to be a gem, offering a variety of ecosystems to explore, including the shorelines along the Hillsborough River, pine flatwoods under tree canopies and the edges of a floodplain forest. The zig-zag boardwalk and early morning dew provided many subjects for creative nature shots.(more…)
We took off in small groups from the parking area of Lake Dan Nature Preserve in northwestern Hillsborough County near Odessa. A short walk later, as the trail takes a turn, we were rewarded with a view of a tranquil lake filled with birds and other wildlife. The boardwalk over the marshy lake with its diverse habitat is exactly what drew us to choose this park for our monthly adventure.
After being cooped up indoors for so long, we especially enjoy the opportunity to safely gather outdoors. Lake Dan Nature Preserve is the perfect spot to safely hold a group hike, or just explore on your own. The trails are well-marked and wide, stretching out over open spaces of pine flatwoods. Originally this property was used for citrus production, cattle grazing and as a wellfield for potable water. Horse farms and agricultural uses still border the property, along with some new residential developments.
On this day in mid-February, we found that the boardwalk provided the perfect (more…)
We were on a northeasterly heading at 7,500 feet above and along the Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina. Had I not looked down through a very small hole in the clouds by pure happenstance, there would be no log cabin in our life. I saw, at that moment a long, paved runway in those high mountains. It seemed odd and in curiosity that paid off later, I circled the location on the aeronautical chart and placed it back in the map holder.
This happened while en route to Mount Airy, North Carolina to look at a large track of land owned by the Reynolds Tobacco family. We landed and were met at the airport and toured the property. I found it strange that (More…)
Yogi Berra once advised: “when you get to a Y in the road, take it.” So that’s exactly what Kay and I have done. Oh, you say—but how do you know where you will end up? We don’t, and of course, that’s exactly the point. Our Y in the road was the decision to relocate to Colorado and take residence in a brand-new sparkling co-operative. So, if you are not sure what life in a cooperative is about—neither are we, but we are going to share with you what we know in this essay.
First, the basics—a co-operative is not a condo nor an apartment complex, although it is close quarters living. You don’t buy or rent your living quarters—in our case 58 units in a three-story building. Rather, you become a member by purchasing a share in a mortgaged building. You are not an owner. Okay, I know that is difficult to grasp—think of it as an investment. Over time, your share will (More…)
The 2007 crisp autumn air of Portland, Oregon, invited Rosa and me to stroll down the tree-shaded central streets of an immaculate city.
Later, we wandered through Chinatown and laughed while we cracked and read fortune cookies, carefree like the youngsters we were when we became college friends fifty-two years ago in Buenos Aires. Since then, our lives had taken us on our separate ways, but we had continued to nurture our friendship. Now we were alone, as it sometimes happens in time . . . .
Far away from our Florida homes, during our flight to Portland, we had released arrays of troubling thoughts and unresolved problems. We longed to absorb new discoveries during our short vacation that would include a visit to the iconic Mount St. Helens Volcanic Monument. (More…)
I started diving in 1994 when I taught school on Kwajalein in the Marshall Islands where I earned PADI Open Water, Advanced and Rescue Diver. I returned to Florida for a year and did a little diving here on the east coast. In 1996 I returned to the Pacific to teach on Saipan for two years in the Northern Marianas Islands. While there, I earned my PADI Dive Master and Open Water Instructor.
But the photography bug did not bite until I returned to Florida once again. I started with film in a Sea&Sea point and shoot camera. Today, I shoot with a Panasonic EM5 with two Sea&Sea strobes for lighting.
Over the years, I have had a chance to travel and dive throughout much of the Caribbean including Cuba and Belize. This included (More…)
I am not an outdoorswoman, and my skills with an oar or a paddle are negligible. The last time I fished was with my dad when my family spent summer vacations in Wisconsin. I have never fired a gun, although I was good with a bow and arrow at one point. However, I loved this book. Peter Heller, who is an adventure writer, an outdoorsman, whitewater kayaker, fisherman, a recipient of an MFA in fiction and poetry, and much more, uses his background to good advantage. He has created a thrilling, poetic work with memorable main characters whose wilderness canoe trip is upended by a wildfire and men intent on killing them.
I was immediately hooked by the prologue:
“They had been smelling smoke for two days. At first they thought it was another campfire and that surprised them because (More…)
In Acapulco everything slopes downwards to the sea. The mountains are green and lush. Houses are built into the sides of hills and on the tops of hills. We are here at the house of I do not know who, a man who plays some prominent role in the world of bull fighting. There is a group of men (boots, hats, gleaming teeth, all geniality), and Kelly and me. They might be ranchers, toreros, impresarios, or just friends, aficionados. I do not know, or, to be truthful, care.
The hospitality is impeccable, the dinner interminable and when the table has been cleared and the silent serving women have disappeared somewhere in the back of the house, the men are still seated, settling themselves to talk. Cigars are being lit and bottles opened. The mood is becoming more jovial, expansive. They’re launching into an evening of reminiscences, gossip and jokes and I sigh, despondent at the prospect of the long evening ahead. Though studiously polite, these men barely recognize my existence, I am simply not relevant, and I’m self-conscious, dismayed also at the struggle to keep up with the Spanish, the sheer exhaustion of trying to seem engaged. This, in the 70’s, seemed a requirement, I thought. Why am I here, I ask, not for the first time. (More…)
In 1960, during my freshman year at Harvard, I decided after reading Jack Kerouac’s On The Road that studying and exams were a waste of time and that I’d take a year off to hitchhike across the country, experiment with drugs and sex, write a novel, and get in touch with my inner self.
Among those who weren’t exactly thrilled by this news was my father, who in an uncalm manner asked such questions as, “And how the hell do you intend to support yourself, may I ask?” Though a little vague on particulars, I assured him that the income from odd jobs and my writing, plus the seizing of various financial opportunities as they arose, should see me through.
The prospect of being drafted for two years by the Army caused me to amend plans, and in the summer of 1960 I enlisted in a military alternative then available: six months active duty followed by six years active reserve. My first stop: Fort Jackson in Columbia, SC, for basic training. (More…)
Growing up in small town America where Route 66 went straight through it and with freedom to do most anything was just too much of a temptation for me. I was never thrown into a juvenile jail or correction facility, but I surely would have been had I grown up in a city. So, what did I do that was so juvenile?
For starters, the local culture was gun friendly, so I wasn’t very old when I acquired a BB gun, a perfect weapon to shoot out street lights and do other nasty things. At age 15, apparently my father thought I was old enough to handle a shot gun, so he bought me a 16-gauge automatic firing Remington, so I could hunt. I also acquired a .22 single shot rifle. (More…)