September in Florida.

September was an off month due to Hurricane Irma.

I was away for Labor Day weekend and returned home to Florida to get straight into hurricane prep. I managed to squeeze one short hike in that week, and it was that cloudy and windy morning before the hurricane arrived about 12 hours later. And of course, it was all about mushrooms!

 

I was curious to document the findings on my walk and return after the hurricane to see how things had changed but was unable to because that park was flooded for weeks afterwards. I knew that was a possibility but the flooding from Irma was certainly more than usual (and now about 6-7 weeks later some homes along the rivers are still flooded).

After the hurricane it was all about clean up, and many of the trails were closed anyway, so lingering trips to explore and take photos were out of the question. Although here a few from the local bird banding site.

The photo above is a before and after the hurricane from the bird banding site. It was flooded and as you can see washed out the trail and left it an ugly muddy mess.

And here is one last mushroom, found in a friend’s yard while helping in the hurricane clean up efforts…

Another day I arrived at the Orlando Wetlands to help in the clean up efforts and was surprised to find the park quite crowded. Unbeknownst to me, a Baird’s Sandpiper had taken up there and was getting a lot of attention. Here is my terrible photo of it.

August in Florida.

August in Florida, a belated post because September has been bonkers.

Lots of insects in August…

Birds out and about on the big day of the Solar Eclipse…

Some other little critters…

And of course, mushrooms going strong…

And a little bit of inspiration in the form of nature’s textures in bark and moss…

July in Florida.

In July the rain has kept on coming with afternoon storms, and mushrooms continue to flourish. Many of my favorite trails and parks were flooded, and rivers are high. Going out meant fighting off mosquitoes and no-see-ums, but with essential oil bug spray and sticking to shady trails and breezier spots, July was a beautiful month to be outside.

Here are some of my findings from July.

Gopher Tortoise

Deer with fawns

Yellow Rat Snake

Dragonfly

Gulf Fritillary Caterpillar

Eastern Kingbird

Feather and little mushrooms

Mushroom

Dead Man's Fingers

Mushrooms

Mushroom

Flowers

Dunes

Swamp

August brings change as birds begin to migrate. It’s time to start looking to the treetops for warblers!

June in Florida.

Spring was dry, with Florida in a bad drought and numerous wildfires daily. Then, like a switch was flipped, the thunderstorms began to roll in every day. The plants came to life, the swamps filled up, and mushrooms popped up everywhere! Here is a collection of photos I took around Central Florida in June.

 

One of my favorite flowers, the native Tarflower appeared…

I spotted a Grizzled Mantis…

Little Big Econ State Forest…



Lake Harney Wilderness Area…

Orlando Wetlands…

Beautiful summertime!

Iceland road trip, day 6, farewell.

Iceland road trip, last day. Returned the van and walked around Reykjavik a bit before heading home. Here are some photos from the city, of charming streets and urban art, including this first photo of a very cute shop with handmade indie goods called “Reykjavik’s Cutest”.

Then, time to return home for a direct flight from Iceland to Florida. For this itinerary I strongly suggest a window seat to the North so you can see the beauty of Greenland. I got my binoculars out and everything, I’m such a nerd! I was enthralled…

Iceland road trip, day five.

Day five was our last full day, since I had lost day six due to my flight to Iceland being delayed 24 hours. Because of this we had slightly rushed our schedule and crossed a few things off our list. We were unsure if we would make it to “The Golden Circle”, but we did, and had even made it to Thingvellir National Park to camp the night before and begin our adventures early on our last day.

We had gone to sleep to dreary rainy weather, and unfortunately it went on through the night and woke up to a full day of THAT too. Boo. Not great, but at least it was still something you could go out in, being a misty dreary weather and not the torrential downpour like I’m used to of Florida’s rainy weather.

So, first to explore Thingvellir and see the walk the rift between the tectonic plates.

That is one of the many cairns you see across Iceland that were used for navigation in the old days.

Also at Thingvellir here is the waterfall Oxararfoss.

And look, a bit of rare Icelandic forest…

Thingvellir was so beautiful. I wish the weather had been nicer so I could have really gotten into exploring more. Off of one picnic area we found a trail down into what looked like another rift, it was oh so mossy and beautiful.

After Thingvellir the next stop on The Golden Circle is Geysir. It was crowded and none of the photos I took looked great so I got nothing to post here. Honestly, we were not very enchanted by Geysir, although the land is steaming and it’s cool to see the geyser go off, but compared to all the amazing things I had already seen in Iceland, this was not very exciting.

From there you can go on to Gulfoss, another impressive and powerful waterfall, that has some neat history behind it too- many thanks to Sigridur Tomasdottir for saving the falls from being developed as an electrical plant so we can all enjoy it!

Amidst our cold and wet adventures of the day, there was a warm comforting most PERFECT place on The Golden Circle- Fridheimar greenhouse restaurant.

Fridheimar’s greenhouse grows tomatoes for all of Iceland, and for their restaurant. You can tour the greenhouse, which is buzzing with bees and has Wagtail’s flitting about.

And then, you can EAT at the greenhouse because it’s a restaurant too! And you can enjoy all those birds and bees while you’re eating! There is a menu offered, but the choice was obvious for us- the all you can eat tomoto soup and bread buffet. They also bring you water with little cherry tomatoes in it, cucumber salsa for the bread, and a fresh basil plant on the table to pluck leaves from for your soup. And a coffee/tea bar so I had like 5 cups of delicious warm coffee after a week of drinking instant in the camper! It was heaven.

A couple days after I got home from Iceland I was making their tomato soup recipe at home trying to recreate the magic- impossible! Although the soup was good and their recipe can be found online. (It is sweetened with mango.)

And now, I end the day with more sweet (wet) Icelandic animals.

Iceland road trip, day four.

On day four of our Iceland road trip, we woke up at our campsite to the adorable sounds of sheepies baaing. Check this cutie…

Day four was going to be a long driving day from the town of Myvatn to Thingvellir National Park, with a bit of stopping here and there along the way but nothing particular.

Here’s a common site- the “Common Snipe”, spotted on the way out of Myvatn…

Yet another waterfall, Godafoss…

From the ring road we were lured into the town of Hvammstangi, thanks to signs promising of seals and these weird little rock people.

We stopped at the seal museum and walked out to a little beach there, which was pretty neat being more rocky than the previous beaches of sand, and nice for looking at the rocks and searching for sea glass.

AND WE TOTALLY SAW A SEAL THERE. I didn’t get a photo, as it bobbed back under the water rather quickly, but it sure was cute! I also made friends with a cat.

And then, back to the road, lots of rolling farm lands, and then dirt roads with loads of dramatic gorgeous scenery driving around inlets and mountains that I got no photos of because I was driving. This was not my day to be a photographer and share with you.

On this day we also officially completed the Ring Road, as we were now on towards other roads… yeah, we did it only four days. That was fast, I would honestly suggest more time for such a journey! But the Golden Circle awaits on day five.

Iceland road trip, day three, part two.

Day three, after a long beautiful drive along the East coast of Iceland, we started heading West into what looked liked another planet, with vast landscapes of rock.

Hiding among this landscape is the waterfall Dettifoss, the most powerful waterfall in Europe.

A short walk from Dettifoss is another waterfall called Selfoss.

Selfoss was one of my favorite waterfalls we visited (along with Gljufurarfoss), not due to the waterfall itself but to the pools of water surrounding the top before the falls. I had not seen anything quite like this before and loved exploring around the pools.

Also, what’s the deal with the purple rocks?

Next stop, Hverir Mud Pots. One of my favorite places of the whole trip. The smell of sulphur fills the air at the mud pots, and the land is devoid of plants, but it is steaming and bubbling with activity and fascinating overall. Again, what planet is this?

Careful, it’s very hot…

From the mud pots it is not far to the Grjotagja Cave. When you climb into the cave you find a beautiful blue hot spring pool. (Although swimming is no longer allowed.)

I thought that would be it for Grjotagja, but the surrounding area is also super neat as you can climb up to the land above the cave and explore the rift which is gently steaming. Peer down into it to see lush plant life.

We were the only people there for a bit, so I took a photo of our home away from home, the Camp Easy campervan.

On our way out I got a not great but identifiable photo of Iceland’s iconic sign of Spring, the Golden Plover.

From there, we headed into Myvatn and picked up a hitchhiker. They are common in Iceland and we felt we should experience that as part of our trip, and gave a nice girl who was WOOFing a ride to her hostel. Then, strangely enough, we camped at a campsite at “Daddi’s Pizza”, which I was happy to do because it was next to a nice pasture of sheep. Love all the sheepies!

We could also easily get away to Myvatn Nature Spa that night and then return to our campsite afterwards. I purely relaxed at Myvatn Nature Spa and didn’t take photos, but I will say it was worth the splurge and a wonderful couple of hours in the geothermal steam room and hot spring while the sun went into twilight mode (doesn’t exactly go down). I highly suggest the hot springs!

Iceland road trip, day three, part one- driving.

We departed our campsite on the third day, as the fog was finally lifting. It was a long but gorgeous drive onwards to Myvatn.

Also, sheep. The lambs are too adorable and caused us to constantly flip out over the cuteness. When they are eating and their tails start to wiggle it is especially TOO MUCH.

 

Next up- Dettifoss, Selfoss, Mud Pots, and Grjotagija.

Iceland road trip, day two.

Day two in Iceland was glacier day!

First stop, Svinafellsjokull.

The layers of mist, upon moss and black rock, with of course a small waterfall, and then the ice of the glacier… the epitome of Iceland’s beauty!

 

After that we went to Fjallsjokull for a glacier hike. Thankfully my friend and traveling companion’s cousin was in Iceland with a group of college students studying climate change, so we were able to join them on their glacier hike as opposed to going on an expensive tour. I had brought my own crampons (shoe covers with metal spikes) to walk on the ice. Here you can see a group coming down the glacier.

 

 

From the top of our glacier hike you can see much more glacier beyond towering high above, and to the other side the river and lake from the glacial melt. There are holes and cracks throughout the ice, beautiful little pools of blue, just be careful where you walk.

After Fjallsjokull we went to the Diamond Beach, a black sand beach covered in chunks of ice, a striking contrast.

Across the street from the Diamond Beach is the Jokulsarlon Lagoon. There’s a bridge over the lagoon that leads into the ocean and you can see the icebergs floating through to wear they end up on Diamond Beach.


I saw Common Eider in the water, and a Harlequin Duck. Arctic Tern fly all around, seemingly setting up to nest in the fields nearby.

After all of our glacier adventures we hit the road, hoping to get some miles in before bedtime. At one point we stopped at this beautiful beach but didn’t explore. Check out the little waterfall flowing into the beach.

It got extremely foggy and difficult to see the way, so we never made it to a campground and ended up having to stop at a picnic area for the night, with our own little waterfall! While this was right off the Ring Road another car seldom went by. We had only a couple other campers stopped with us.