Lens Artists Photo Challenge #240 – The road (most often) Taken

Many thanks to John for this challenge and for mentioning my WanderingDawgs blog in his post. He asks: “For this week’s challenge, I want you to think of your favorite type or style of photography as the road you’ve chosen to take most often.”

I enjoy many types of photography but I my favorite is nature photography.

Coastal Brown Bear Cub, Haines, Alaska
Pelicans, Florida
Monarch on Mexican Sunflower
Bee in the Butterfly Garden
Flame Azaleas on the Blue Ridge Parkway

Many thanks to for John for his challenge Lens-Artists Challenge #240 – The Road (most often) Taken

Birds, Manatees, and Mermaids on the Florida Gulf Coast

Our home away from home for our recent getaway to Florida’s Gulf Coast was a cute Airbnb in a quiet neighborhood near Crystal River. It was our first Airbnb experience and it was exactly what we were looking for. When we weren’t out exploring the area we enjoyed just relaxing on the large screened porch or walking around the neighborhood in search of wildlife.

I started each day with a walk. The sunrises were glorious and I enjoyed seeing the many birds each day.

Florida Sunrise
Brown pelicans stand by while an American White Pelican scratches an itch
Two kinds of pelicans
A fisherman tossed a fish to this Great Blue Heron who enjoyed a free breakfast
Brown pelican at sunrise

Weeki Wachee Springs

Weeki Wachee Springs State Park was just a 45 minute drive south so we couldn’t pass up an opportunity to see the famous mermaid show there. The park is celebrating it’s 75th anniversary this year. In addition to the mermaid shows there is a swimming beach, Ranger led wildlife talks, picnic areas, kayaking and a nature cruise on the Weeki Wachee River. Mermaid statues around the park are part of the 75th anniversary celebration.

We took the nature cruise where we saw Martha, one half of the resident Bald Eagle pair George and Martha, and a Tri-Colored Heron in the mangroves.

The highlight of our visit was attending the mermaid show. We arrived early for the show and while we waited for the main show we were entertained with videos of the history of the park and highlights of some of the old mermaid shows. My favorites were the old black and white videos with the mermaids in their old style swimsuits.

Swimming with Manatees

One of my bucket list items was to swim with the manatees in Crystal River. We had done this back in the 1990’s and I’ve been wanting to do it again ever since. We booked an early morning tour with Fun2Dive in Crystal River. Before we left home we watched a manatee manners video which explained what was acceptable and what was not when in the water with these gentle giants.

I donned a wetsuit and met our guide at the dive shop before riding a bus to the dock where we boarded our boat, the Manatee Life for a tour through the Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge. There are several springs which are protected Manatee sanctuaries in the refuge. Henry stayed on the boat with the captain to watch the manatees from above the water. I was one of four guests who got in the water with our guide. As soon as we hit the water we watched a small female chewing on the anchor line of another boat.

Two manatees enter the sanctuary while we humans watched from outside the roped off area
Following our guide outside the sanctuary in search of manatees

Our guide led us in our search and showed us where to look. We spotted several manatees and stayed in the water for about an hour before getting back on the boat. Our captain then took us on a boat ride around the bay to a second location. The highlight of the day was observing a huge female moving along the bottom grazing on the grass as we watched. She weighed about 1500 pounds and ignored us.

We watched her for a while before it was time to head back to the boat. While we were in the water Henry and the captain spotted a mating herd in the water near us.

Scenic Drive on Fort Island Trail

Another day we took a drive along the Fort Island Trail. We stopped to walk out on a fishing pier on the Gulf and watched a manatee swim under the pier. We took a walk on a beautiful white sand beach near the pier and stopped at another smaller fishing pier before returning home.

Boardwalk trail on Fort Island Trail
A manatee swam under the fishing pier
Fort Island Beach
View from fishing pier at Citrus County Fort Island Trail Park


Watching the sunset on Florida’s Gulf Coast was a great way to end each day.

Lens Artists Photo Challenge #235 – Shadows and Reflections in Monochrome

Patti’s challenge is to show shadows and reflections in monochrome. You may be thinking that black and white are two colors. Patti did some research and explains that black and white photos are really different shades of gray so they are considered monochrome for this challenge.

Our last challenge was from Donna who asked us to show messages in our photography. In my response I asked for guesses on where we spent our vacation last week. Those of you who guessed Florida are exactly right! We were on the Gulf Coast of Florida in Crystal River to be exact. I took these first three images while we were there and converted them to monochrome for Patti’s challenge.

Sunrise in black and white

Pelican gathering

The rest of my images are from some of places we have wandered over the years.

Airplane shadow over Alaska moutains
A walk in the Georgia woods
Storm over mountains in Colorado

Many thanks to Patti for her challenge Lens-Artists Challenge #235 – Shadows and Reflections in Monochrome

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #231 – Favorite Images of 2022

I am grateful that in 2022 we were able to take not one but two fabulous cruises, enjoy a wonderful weekend with family attending our grandson’s high school graduation, and take a few short road trips. When we weren’t wandering we enjoyed being at home in Coastal Georgia.






University of Georgia Arch


Georgia Salt Marsh


Magnolia, Coastal Georgia


Sunrise over the St. John’s River, Palatka, Florida


Coastal Georgia Summer Storm


Humpback Whale – Sitka, Alaska


Roseate Spoonbill, Coastal Georgia


Great Egret, Coastal Georgia


First Camellia of the season, Coastal Georgia


December beach walk, Tybee Island, Georgia

Many thanks to John for the first Lens-Artists challenge of 2023. You can see his original post at Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #231 – Favorite Images of 2022.

Lens Artists Photo Challenge # 225 – Wildlife Close to Home

In this challenge Anne asks us: ”From squirrels to birds, wildlife is around us. What non-domestic animals live in your neighborhood or nearby?”

The salt marsh, salt water creeks, rivers and the Atlantic Ocean attract an abundance of wildlife close to my home in coastal Georgia. Whether on the beach, in the waterways, in my neighborhood, or in my own back yard I am grateful to be able to see such a variety of wildlife.

Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphin near Tybee Island, Georgia
Flock of Terns, Tybee Island, Georgia

Wading Birds

Birds of Prey

Backyard Wildlife

Insects in the garden

Many thanks for Sofia’s Lens-Artists Challenge #225 – Wildlife Close to Home