Perfect Day at Circle B Bar Reserve

Diane White

The OLLI-USF Outdoors “hikers” explored one of their favorite places, Circle B Bar Reserve in Lakeland, on a beautiful day in March. We would like to share it in words, but mostly pictures, with OLLI Connects readers.

If you are looking for a great place to take your out-of-town visitors, or just go for a stroll to take in amazing wildlife, this is the place to go. One of our members, Sheryl, wrote, “With the exception of the Ding Darling Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel, Circle B Bar had the biggest variety of wildlife I’ve seen of all my hikes in Florida.”

What will you see? In many places you will see birds on the left, birds on the right. You might see a great blue heron and gator face off.  View more

My Day at Circle B Bar Reserve

Mary Satterwhite

Recently I went with a few friends to hike and take photographs at Circle B Bar Reserve near Lakeland.  It was a LONG drive there but well worth it.  It is a very large park of more than 2,000 acres. We hiked four and a half miles and saw not even a quarter of the park.  We took Marsh Rabbit Run (where we were stopped by a large alligator blocking the trail) and Alligator Alley which was my favorite. The large trees shading Alligator Alley are lovely.     View more

You may be wondering why you received an OLLI Connects email for a story that isn’t yet available over this weekend.  We have to chalk that up to an unfortunate misclick during the editing process for an upcoming piece.  Please disregard that notice–for now– and enjoy this week’s two offerings focused on the splendid photos produced by the hiking and nature SIG members.  And, check back with us in early June for the “Flying Tigers.”–Editor 

Crossing the Andes

Neil Cosentino

We were at 24,000 feet, unpressurized and on oxygen, as we crossed the Peruvian Andes eastbound toward the Amazon basin. I had selected Talara, Peru, to spend the night before the crossing. In the morning I refueled, checked the weather and notices-to-airmen, and filed our flight plan to Iquitos, Peru. Our twin-engine Piper Navajo was running like a Swiss watch, and that was important, for at all points east, beyond the Andes, any aircraft problem would mean very long delays.

We departed, climbing to the northeast, and when we passed 12,500 feet, I turned on the no smoking sign and told the others to go on oxygen. We continued climbing to 24,000, the safe altitude for crossing over the Chiclayo pass, and then descended into the Amazonas to follow the Marañón River to our destination—Iquitos, Peru.
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Growing Tomatoes in Florida

Bruce Shanker

Bruce Shanker successfully produces two harvests of homegrown tomatoes each year in his backyard garden in Carrollwood, yielding an amazing quantity and variety of jewel-toned, plump and flawless specimens. We sat down with Bruce on a zoom call to learn about his secrets for growing tomatoes in Central Florida.

Click on the photos below to open two short videos detailing Bruce’s methods, equipment and growing schedule. The first video focuses on planting, fertilizing and irrigation. The second video provides detailed information about improving yield, (more…)

 

Tranquility greets the OLLI-USF hikers at Lake Dan Nature Preserve

Diane White

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…)

 

Mother Earth


At the current 2021 COP26 meeting in Glasgow, member nations are struggling to agree on solutions to the earth’s rapidly warming climate and its effect on all species making their home on this planet. Renewed calls for a 1.5 degree Celsius cap in temperatures will require substantial national commitments to reduce fossil fuel use and emissions, and to preserve forests and restrict global carbon levels.

In the spring of 2020, more than a year ago, lockdowns enacted in response to the original coronavirus threat resulted in astonishing evidence of the earth’s capacity to heal when human activity is reduced. Jan Vaupel shared a series of reports from around the world with links to the source material, and added her own personal reflections in a poem.    (More…)

The History of Sex: A Personal Journey

Bharat Pathakjee

I’m currently teaching an online course for OLLI called “History and Science of Sex” which implies that I am an expert on the subject of sex.  This isn’t quite true.

I grew up in a traditional Brahminical culture in post-independence India. Sex education in school was limited to the birds and bees. Nothing about people. Most of the information I got came from older boys and a few racy magazines. Indian laws were, and still are, based on Victorian laws left over from the British Empire.  Ironic for the land that created the Kama Sutra.  I remember reading a banned copy of Lady Chatterley’s Lover and being shocked at seeing the “F word” in print. Most of us (at least the men) grew up reading the articles in Playboy while carefully ignoring the pictures.  (More…)

Florida Birds and Wildlife

Gail Parsons

Every state thinks that they have the greatest natural environment and the best “birding” in the country.  They’re wrong, of course.  Florida is clearly the best.  And we have some photographic proof in this article.

We also have some really interesting courses coming up in our Fall semester.  We’ll give you more information about them at the end of the article.  (More…)

Tree Frog

Sara Zimmerman

A frog jumps on my head and becomes slightly tangled in my hair this morning at 3:30 a.m. while I am sleeping. When I first feel it in my hair, I think I am dreaming of my Burmese cat, Spike, who was in my life for 16 years and woke me up when he had some kind of emergency during the night, or when he thought I should know something important that he knew and I didn’t.

But when the frog leaps from my head to the floor and the soft but distinct thud wakes me up, I turn on the light, see what is huddled there on the floor next to the bed, and try to decide what to do.  Should I ignore it and go back to sleep?  What if it jumps on my head again?  I wonder – that’s cat behavior, but isn’t that unusual behavior for a frog?  What was it trying to tell me?  (More…)