Category Archives: Conservancy of Southwest Florida

Turning Over A New Leaf

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Turning Over A New Leaf

(This week’s Manic Monday prompt is “leaf”)

I turned over a new leaf this past February. Started a new life on my new leaf, as a non-smoker. As the smokeless months wore on, the pounds piled on. This necessitated more leaf turnage, and I vowed to sweat a lot more in order to avoid those pounds. Alas, merely sweating was not enough to take off what was put on; it was barely enough to stop further pileage of poundage.

So leaves number 3 and number 4 needed some turning, those being a) taking up the use of free weights to put on a little lean muscle, for better more efficient fuel-burning, and b) the limiting of caloric intake, aka dieting. Ugh, I have NEVER had to do this before! How did I get to be 48 years old without gaining ANY experience *le gasp* DIETING?dunno

I started the epic sweating and calorie counting at the beginning of September. A month later, I have lost 7 pounds, and the sweating thing is really starting to get on my nerves. It does not come naturally to me. In fact, I freakin’ HATE it. I’ve worked my way up to 4/4 minute intervals of run/walking. I’ve worked up to 5 pound hand weights for curls, 3 pounds for lat raises. I can do 30 squats in a row without stopping, and believe me, my butt burns when I’m done.

Why do I have to work so hard to keep the pounds off? Why is nicotine so addictive and harmful when it clearly can keep people from getting fat? I mean, I had the normal middle aged spread before quitting, but I had NOTHING like the serious weight gain that occurred during the 7 months and change since nicotine left the building. How much weight gain, you ask? Let’s just say that in addition to the 7 lbs. I’ve already lost, I could probably stand to lose 10 more. AT LEAST.

But now, I am faced with a week of “last chance workout” because as of Saturday October 11th, I’ll be in Walt Disney World attending a conference by day and the International Food and Wine Festival at EPCOT by night.

Oh, you didn’t think it was time for another leaf, did you? Um, no. It’s the Food and Wine Festival, baby! Brings back fond memories – it was the very FIRST thing I blogged, and mobile at that! Yes, I started this blog a year ago, hooked up my camera phone to it, and ate and drank my way around the World for a week. It was heaven.

Of course, I was still smoking back then, so it was all good. Wasn’t any need to worry that I’d gain 5 pounds just LOOKING at the food. Oh, and I keenly remember the night I drunk-dialed Debbie Photobucket after discovering where the banana daquiris were being sold. That was epic!

You know, there’s got to be a few leaves available at this thing. I know they serve the salmon (seared with maple syrup!) on a bed of arugula at the Canada pavilion. So, arugula is leaves, right? So maybe I can find stuff to eat that has leaves, and only eat those dishes. I’ll make sure I turn ’em over before I eat ’em, too. This might ward off the poundage.

I just have this remarkably nagging fear that the entire 7 pounds that I lost during September is going to come and attack me in the night, adhering itself firmly to my thighs and tummy. OK, that’s a lie. Technically, it SHOULD adhere to my boobs. That’s where I lost it from, so that’s where it should re-adhere, right? Yeah, I know. These things never work the way we want them to. I mean, if I have to gain 7 pounds, would I mind so much if it was boobs instead of tummy? Probably not. So naturally, it will be tummy.

OK, enough of this. Those 7 pounds are NOT going to come back. I’m just going to have to sweat HARD this week plus while I am away. There’s a gym at the Disney Yacht and Beach Club (that’s where I am staying). And there’s a path all around the lake. I can do this. I can sweat! I will hate every minute of it, but I will do it.

The alternative is “comfy pants” and deprived boobs. We can’t have that!

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SIMILAR/RELATED POSTS
October 13th 2007 – eating around the world
October 12th 2007 – spent my 15 yr anniversary cancer free in the Magic Kingdom!
October 11th 2007 – the night I drunk-dialed Debbie while having a banana daquiri

Wordless Ruby Tuesday, July 7th 2008

Yo, I think deeze are da stairs!
Disney’s Pop Century Hotel
Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
April 21st, 2004

Sunset Cruise on Rookery Bay, Part 3

Sunset Cruise on Rookery Bay, Southwest Florida
Saturday 26 April 2008
Part 3: More About The Mangroves

Dr. Jackson told of a time he went to Costa Rica and visited old growth mangroves, which were a hundred feet tall and 3 feet in diameter. He said we don’t have old growth here in Florida any more because mangroves had been cut down and used to make furniture, but they’re starting to make a comeback. Anyhow, he described walking UNDER the roots of the old growth mangrove trees in Costa Rica, and he said that for him, it was like walking through a cathedral.

Video: Cruising by some mangroves. Audio: Early explorers faced the tangle of the mangroves – and lots of skeeters!

There are a variety of mangroves, and they grow in a sort of wave depending upon how far you are from the shore. Red ones grow in the water, then the black ones, then the white, and finally the buttonwoods grown the furthest inland.

Video: Bookin’ along at a decent speed. Audio: Lots of wind, but beginning of Dr. Jackson talking about Kleptoparasitism which is a kind of piracy amongst living organisms. I believe he was referring to the Magnificent Frigatebird

Dr. Jackson explains that estuaries are shallow, and this allows mangroves to take root and rise to the skies, as well as allowing other plant life to thrive in the water; the shallowness allows for sunlight to reach the bottom, giving rise to photosynthesis.

A new baby mangrove island just starting out

Another mangrove island

And yet another mangrove island

Because photosynthesis can happen in the shallow waters of this bay, grasses and other plants can grow here, providing food, hiding places, and nursery grounds for many, many forms of wildlife. This includes the mangrove islands.

Video: Panning a mangrove island where lots of birds are settling down for the evening. Audio: talking about clam seeds that start out as parasites

Video: Cruising by mangroves. Audio: Describing fish farms/hatcheries

Many of the life forms that thrive in the rookery and the mangrove islands can also thrive elsewhere, but there are a few that are found exclusively in the mangroves. The one that Dr. Jackson mentioned was the the mangrove cuckoo

NEXT TIME: Popular inhabitants of the rookery

Sunset Cruise on Rookery Bay, Part 2

Sunset Cruise on Rookery Bay, Southwest Florida
Saturday 26 April 2008

Part 2: Into The Rookery

Dr. Jerry Jackson


Dr. Jerry Jackson is a professor at Florida Gulf Coast University. He’s kindly and energetic, and demonstrates a keen, bubbling-over enthusiasm for his subject, namely – birds! Dr. Jackson doesn’t always do this eco-tour; I have the impression it was a special treat for all us public radio geeks who listen to his radio spot on WGCU every morning.

Dr. Jackson displays a bird’s skull


What’s a Rookery?

He started off by telling us about the word “rookery”, which he points out has “rook” at it’s root, which is a European crow. Indeed, dictionary.com tells us that this is so, and also points out that “rook” can also mean “to swindle”. Perhaps the verb arises from a crow’s proptensity to swipe things. So if a crow is a “rook”, then a crow’s nesting place is a “rookery”, a term which came to be more broadly applied to places where any types of birds have their colonies.

The Importance of Mangroves

A little mangrove island with some critters hanging out

Dr. Jackson apparently loves words nearly as much as he loves birds, for he went on to expound upon the word “mangrove, remarking that the roots look like the legs and feet of a “man”, and that they grow in a “grove” or tight grouping.

A display of mangrove roots

A tricolor heron rests in the tangle of the mangrove roots

An egret wades for his dinner among the mangrove roots

NEXT TIME: More about the mangrove islands and their inhabitants.

Sunset Cruise on Rookery Bay, Part 1

Sunset Cruise on Rookery Bay, Southwest Florida
Saturday 26 April 2008

Part 1: The Road to Good Fortune

Thanks to those of you who followed along Saturday evening while I was floating blissfully on Rookery Bay in Southwest Florida. As you could see, I did indeed have a cell phone signal out there on the bay. BONUS: I learned how to take video with the cell phone and send it off to Utterz for posting here! WOOT!

Several weeks ago, when I made my annual pledge to support our local National Public Radio station here in the Fort Myers area (WGCU), I received a sunset cruise on Rookery Bay as my “thank you” gift. I had intended all along to renew my membership with WGCU, but the offer of the cruise narrated by Dr. Jerry Jackson made me call immediately upon hearing about it. Dr. Jackson presents a short program about nature and conservation each morning called With the Wild Things

The trip down took more than an hour. This is because a)I drove at 60 mph instead of 70, to conserve on gas, and b)Shell Island Road down in Naples is nothing but dirt and potholes, and requires careful navigation at no more than 15-20 mph.

Above, the location of Shell Island Road, which leads to the Conservancy’s dock


Here’s what you see when you turn onto Shell Island Road from Collier Blvd.


Above: This sign reassures you that you are in the right place


Not so reassuring: the condition of the road!


Even driving an SUV, it takes a while to drive those 2.5 miles. The speed limit is 15 mph, and rightly so. It’s an obstacle course of hills and canyons, and at some point, I realized I had an opportunity to drive my RAV like it was meant to be driven, and began to have a little fun – yee haw!

There was a point at which I had to get out of the car to remove a piece of wood from the road – it had very long nails sticking out of it! All along the road, every few hundred feet, there were dire warnings posted regarding the removal of wildlife from the premises… and then I realized that the reason the road looks like that is because it is part of nature conservancy area, and they cannot very well put blacktop through it.

But I started to wonder at all the signs, especially calling out saw palmetto berries and gopher tortoises. Are these really popular wildlife items with which to abscond? Why? Do people try to eat them or something? I many never know!

Turtle soup, anyone?

Finally, after bumping along for what seemed eternity, I found the place to park.

Put myself alongside a big tree, like a good Floridian, and then broke out the bug spray. Having wandered through Ding Darling a few times in my life, I knew better than to even set foot outside the car in this area without bug spray.

As I wandered down the sandy path in the direction of the dock, I saw this plaque and snapped a pic so I could google it –


You can find out about Dellora and Lester Norris too, by clicking here to visit the Naples Chamber of Commerce page that lists that city’s 60 most important business leaders.

Finally got down the path, and found I was the first person there, except for two gentlemen sitting on the boat reading. Yep, the Road to Good Fortune led me to this –




The gentlemen on board were Pete, the skipper, and Jim who was his “Gilligan” for the evening. Jim gave me a copy of the the colorful booklet/brochure about the Conservancy of Southwest Florida. The Conservancy owns the boat called The Good Fortune, which does educational eco-tours of Rookery Bay January through April, and is staffed by volunteer naturalists like Carol, who climbed aboard a bit later with a steady stream of arriving guests.

Bill and Nancy arrived just after I did. Nancy recovering from knee surgery. They live on the Caloosahatchee and have been there long enough to see entire ecosystems wiped out and replaced as the water has changed from fresh to salt and back again. Not fans of Lake O releases, which have turned their part of the river to fresh water. Bill believes it’s supposed to be salt at their point on the river, and says it has been recovering to salt as of late (Lake O is down more than a quart, so there is no need for releases).

A woman named Sue sat next to me for the duration of the trip. She’s a pharmacist, and she and her husband like to go kyaking near their home.

Finally, as the last few guests were climbing aboard, the man of the hour and our tour guide for the next two hours, Dr. Jerry Jackson (bio on globalexplorers.org) arrived.

TO BE CONTINUED…. !!!