Tarpon Springs Florida home to historic Sponge Docks

During our travels in Florida over the years we have been fortunate to enjoy Tarpon Springs, Florida, a quaint and pretty town north of Clearwater and Tampa on the Gulf. When we were actively engaged in Flea Market business in Central Florida, Tarpon Springs became one of our favorite spots for R&R.

Statue honoring the Greek sponge divers. Note the sponge diving boat tied to the dock.

Tarpon Springs is famous for the Sponge Docks where diving boats still sail to the sponge beds and hard hat divers collect the sponges. This industry began here in Florida in 1905 when John M. Cocoris from Leonidion Greece started the now flourishing sponge business.

Sponge diver in a beautiful tile mosaic

Memorial to the founder of Florida’s Sponge Industry

 

 

 

 

 

Dodecanese Blvd. is the main street that houses multiple shops and businesses. The shops offer everything from fresh tea and spices, hand made cigars, souvenirs, freshly caught fish shops and of course several shops selling sponges collected by the Greek divers.

Locally collected sponges of all sizes for sale

Also of note in Tarpon Springs are the marvelous Greek Restaurants! Talk about authentic Greek cuisine, you’d have to go to Greece to get any cuisine that is more Greek. We have enjoyed several restaurants and bakeries in this wonderful spot on Central Florida’s Gulf Coast.

We have not yet seen any reports of Tarpon Springs suffering damage from Hurricane Ian. We hope that the Sponge Docks and the town were spared.

The Berlin Wall in Rapid City, South Dakota

Original wall sections, note the tank trap in foreground

Having just seen some of the statues of US Presidents in downtown Rapid City we continued just driving around checking out the town. Sher spotted a sign in a park next to the convention center that said “The Berlin Wall”. There we found a memorial to the history of the divided city and the ultimate fall of Communism and the tearing down of the wall in November of 1989. Remember Reagan’s speech to the Soviet leader? “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!”

There are two sections of the original Berlin Wall displayed along with information filled plaques, signs and even old tank traps that were once used at Check Point Charlie, the only gate between East and West Berlin during the times of the divided city.

Original sign from “Check Point Charlie”

If you travel through the Rapid City area on your way to Mt. Rushmore, take a few minutes and go see this memorial. It is worth the time.

Wyoming’s Ten Sleep Canyon

The scenery in Wyoming is absolutely stunning. On one of our trips West we were driving in Wyoming on Highway 16 through the Big Horn Mountains. We were heading from Buffalo on our way to Yellowstone National Park. On the way we found ourselves climbing up to and descending from the Powder River Pass (elevation 9666) which was frankly at times a white knuckle affair!

Blue skies over the rocks

Massive limestone cliffs

 

 

 

 

 

We soon came to beautiful and awesome Ten Sleep Canyon. The glacially formed cliffs had nearly vertical walls that we later learned were popular for rock climbing. There were wide shoulders to the road which enabled us to stop and take in the view.

Sher enjoying the break from mountain driving. The exit from the canyon is in the “V” in the distance.

Just past Ten Sleep Canyon is the little town of Ten Sleep, Wyoming. With a population of about 250, it is at the junction of Nowood and Ten Sleep creeks. Historically it was a Native American rest stop, called that because it was 10 days travel, or “10 sleeps,” from Fort Laramie (southeast), Yellowstone Park (west-northwest), and the Indian Agency at Stillwater, Montana (northwest).

St Joseph Center in North Little Rock

We stayed here for free as part of Harvest Hosts. A treat to have not only a sustainable farm but an historic site too.

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Original 1910 orphanage

We found a wonderful and historic location in North Little Rock, Arkansas. The St. Joseph Center is a non-profit organization based on a historic building that was once a children’s orphanage run by the Catholic Church.  The impressive structure was built in 1910 and currently there are several Artist’s Studios inside the spacious old building that houses other functions.

Currently the St. Joseph Center is an educational and working farm. The grounds are really beautiful. The first thing Sher and I did was to take a stroll around the main building, enjoying the old statuary and flower beds. We also got our first look at the garden plots. Turns out that there is a large citizen garden space  where locals can come and, for a modest fee, have their own personal garden plot.

Bull, right and cow

Recently sheared sheep

The Farm Stand, in other words the…

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We named her Wilma

The Pileated Woodpeckers are some of the most exciting birds to observe. We’ve been blessed with some great sightings!

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Sher and I were thrilled a couple of days ago when we saw for just a second a stunning Pileated Woodpecker who came in and landed on our tree. Almost immediately it took off.  Yesterday, however, another (maybe the same?) Pileated female came in and ended up feeding from one of the suet cages.

Notice the little Nuthatch that photobombed the video? The size of Wilma seems to have spooked it from the suet cage.

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Could have been embarrassing

Here’s a live action shot of a not so coordinated squirrel. We thought it was worth a replay.

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Sher and I see it everyday: squirrels hopping from tree to overhead lines and back again. This morning we saw a juvenile squirrel almost miss.

This fellow was going from the tree branch to the immediate left over to the wire. Usually a small stretch is all that’s required. He missed getting his back legs on the wire, and he ended up in the position you see.  A little struggle and he was successfully on his way down the wire.

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Austin’s Lady Bird Lake at night

We really enjoyed this family outing on Lady Bird Lake. Read on to see and learn about the “different” buildings in downtown Austin.

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The Colorado River runs through Austin’s vibrant downtown. Flanked by parks, bike and hiking trails and entertainment venues, the river also widens and slows, prompting the name Lady Bird Lake after LBJ’s First Lady.

Striking view at dusk

Groupon led us to Lone Star Riverboat cruises, offering a chance to enjoy a sunset cruise and beautiful views of the remarkable and interesting architecture of Austin’s skyline. Lone Star has both a double deck “paddle wheeler” style boat. Sher and I and our son, daughter-in-law and granddaughter chose to ride the open air pontoon boat for our sunset cruise.

Center building is either an owl or a nose hair clipper: locals laugh about it

Curved building is the new Google Headquarters, far right is one that looks like a thumb drive

We thoroughly enjoyed our slow paced tour up and down the waters. Our Captain of the craft gave a…

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Wild strawberry or COVID virus??

This discovery in our yard was quite a shock, actually.

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Took a picture of a couple of mushrooms yesterday.  Within the image was a little red wild strawberry. Once the photo was enlarged and the red berry zeroed in, the details of the berry came into focus.

That looks eerily close to COVID

Immediately the  shape of the berry looked very familiar. Yes, that shape has been displayed just about everywhere since, oh, sometime around March 2020. It does look way to much like the renderings you see of that damned COVID-19 virus.

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James Whitcomb Riley, The Hoosier Poet

Hoosier poet James Whitcomb Riley is an Indiana treasure, visit his home in Greenfield.

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“When I see a bird that walks like a duck and swims like a duck and quacks like a duck, I call that bird a duck.” We know you’ve heard that saying before. Did you know that is a quote from James Whitcomb Riley, know as The Hoosier Poet? Riley was born in 1849 in Greenfield, Indiana.  His home is preserved and is open for tours.

Riley’s birthplace in Greenfield

Front door signage

Riley was noted for his down home use of dialect that epitomized rural Indiana. He first wrote under a pen name (farmer Benj. F. Johnson, of Boone) for newspapers in Anderson and Indianapolis. As a boy Riley worked as an assistant to traveling patent-medicine hucksters.

Historic Marker outside the home

Riley is famous for his remarkable volume of poems. He wrote and published over 1000 verses. His most popular are “Little Orphant Annie”, “The Raggedy Man,” “Our…

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