AirToob Lightning

Tags  →  florida


“Sailor's Delight” by the Florida artist Laurie Snow Heign

One of many grateful snaffles over the years from the fine pages of Jerry.


If you like this...

[Try clicking the boats tag - just a suggestion!]



"Islamorada, FL" © by the Massachusetts based photographer Don Bullens
(worth seeing full size, and Don's other work is well worth checking out)


Palm Island, Florida, March 2017

Palm Island is somewhat hard to find on a Google Map (you can find it here (map link)). It's actually the northern end of Don Pedro Island.

We spent two weeks in this very nice place during the first 100 days of Trump's presidency (a holiday with our American family, booked before Trump's election), living in a very pleasant bubble of unreality.

As far as visitors and locals there were concerned, it seemed, nothing political was happening. TVs in bars and restaurants showed only sports and weather. Nobody talked about Trump. It sometimes felt like there was an elephant in the room, but nobody was discussing it.

I hope you enjoy the elephantless photos below (I kind of like "elephantless" - it's an adjective that can be applied truthfully to so many things!).

If you would like to skip the photoblog, then (as usual) click the chevrons (>>) below to move on to my next “normal” post



There is only one way to get to Palm Island with a car... the (expensive) ferry. No real food shops on the island, and none reachable by boat, so it saves money to bring most of your provisions with you.


A very short distance to cross - you can see the arrival ramp just across the water, in front of the tallest tree


The communal pool area at our rental, the Pigeon Toed Pelican, right across from the beach


Our rental is across the road, behind that clump of trees


Large Gopher Tortoise, after it very slowly crossed our road


Cold front... (luckily we weren't staying further north in the USA)



Osprey nest near the beach. High winds and storms have no effect on this!


"Our" beach, still rough after the cold front


Many examples of beach art - liked this one






Photo of a print on the living room wall at our rental (I can now at least recognize snook and grouper)
(taken from below and to the side to avoid reflections, then cropped and perspective-adjusted)


Kids skimboarding at Boca Grande (map link), the "Large Mouth" at the southern tip of Gasparilla Island, where inland waters meet the Gulf of Mexico


The replica of the Niña, passing by...


...the Boca Grande lighthouse (several iguanas around here)


Fast opposing currents, definitely no swimming!


Sunset on "our" beach



Loved the evening light





Junk boats with real junk (permanently moored)


Fun way to travel


We met many of the locals...


...who often turned up when anything interesting or appetizing was going on


Stump Pass (map link) with new sea wall being constructed. (is that a person snorkelling in the middle?)


Enormous floating work platform...



...whose rusty sides were an amazing palette of colours





Many trees around here were killed by salt water raised by the last hurricane. I suspect these were among them.


Evening trip (by boat) to Leverock's (map link), our favourite nearby restaurant


Evening view from Leverock's restaurant (part of a hotel complex, I believe)


Creek behind the rental


Loved the patterns cast by solar lights on the path to our creek

If you like this...

[Index of all my photoblogs]


Florida - Jensen Beach and Stuart, February 2016



Some posts about our recent visit to Florida appear below (or click either picture to go there).

If you are interested, here are the direct links to each section:

[Florida Sunsets]
[Stuart - Atlantic Coast]
[Jensen Beach - Indian Riverside Park]
[Stuart - near St Lucie River]
[Savannas Preserve State Park, near Jensen Beach]
[Moss Park, near Orlando Airport]

I have also made a major update to the place information on my Florida Map.

If you would like to skip the photoblog, then (as usual) click the chevrons (>>) below to move on to my next “normal” post



"Myrtle Beach Sunrise"

Wishing everyone a happy, prosperous and peaceful New Year...

Fantasy of Flight, Florida

This is a superbly restored North American Aviation P-51 Mustang, undergoing routine maintenance. When fitted with Merlin engines (manufactured under licence in the USA), the P-51 Mustang was generally reckoned to be the finest fighter plane of WW2.

If you saw Steven Spielberg's superb film Empire of the Sun, you will remember the extraordinary scene where American planes shoot up the airfield next to the internment camp. Jim dances on the block roof, all the sounds of battle fade away, a plane passes him in slow motion, the pilot waving cheerily to him - and Jim, exalted, shouts: "P-51! Cadillac of the sky!"

This picture comes from my photoblog on Fantasy of Flight, which includes the story of the Rolls-Royce engine that literally changed the world (with the help of some very brave pilots). If you're interested, click the picture!


Even if you have been to Florida several times, you may not have discovered a wonderful attraction called Fantasy of Flight.

This place is not a theme park and it is not the work of a corporation. It is the lifetime achievement of one extraordinary man, the billionaire aviator Kermit Weeks - a man with the spirt of the legendary Howard Hughes.

Among other things, it houses the greatest private collection of aircraft in the world, all of which are, or are in the process of being, restored to full flying condition. It includes an airfield, many hangars and workshops, and a lake from which flying boats take off and land.

We had a fascinating day there, including visits to the workshops where dedicated enthusiasts think nothing of undertaking restoration projects lasting 10 to 15 years, or even more. If you like working in wood (many of the planes have wood and fabric frames), or any kind of craft where the joy is in doing something right, then the workshop tours are a don't-miss.


One of the most beautiful aircraft ever made, the Lockheed Constellation. I once crossed the Atlantic as an unaccompanied minor in one of these - it had shiny TWA livery then!


The PBY Catalina, one of the most successful multi-role military aircraft of all time. Used extensively in WW2, it was not retired from military service until the 1980s, and is still used today all over the world for aerial firefighting.


A 1944 Short Sunderland flying boat, the last airworthy example of its kind. It is not as big as Howard Hughes' awesome Spruce Goose, but it saw considerably more service!


This is an engine that literally changed the world. It is the Rolls-Royce Merlin, a specially-supercharged V12 engine of incredible performance and reliability. Each of its 12 cylinders develops the power of an average family car. Rolls-Royce kept running it at full power until something failed, and then redesigned that failed part - a strategy that eventually allowed it to be run at full power for eight-hour bombing missions, and made it one of the most reliable aero engines in the world. The unique supercharger gave it unparalleled high-altitude performance.

Although it was used in many WW2 aircraft, including American aircraft, the most famous application of this engine was probably in the Supermarine Spitfire. Without this engine, and the bravery and skill of the pilots who flew the aircraft in which it was fitted, the world would be a very different place today.



These are two superbly restored North American Aviation P-51 Mustangs, undergoing routine maintenance. When fitted with Merlin engines (manufactured under licence in the USA), the P-51 Mustang was generally reckoned to be the finest fighter plane of WW2.

If you saw Steven Spielberg's superb film Empire of the Sun, you will remember the extraordinary scene where American planes shoot up the airfield next to the internment camp. Jim dances on the block roof, all the sounds of battle fade away, a plane passes him in slow motion, the pilot waving cheerily to him - and Jim, exalted, shouts: "P-51! Cadillac of the sky!"


The Ford Tri-Motor that many people have seen in the movie "Indian Jones and the Temple of Doom". (The blue object in the foreground, BTW, is a flying car... like most hybrids, it does neither job well. It is not good at flying, and not much good as a car, but it does work!)


A top view of a classic helicopter, the Bell 47. We saw one of these every week on our TV screens for what seemed like years, as the medevac chopper in that wonderful series M*A*S*H.


There are many ways in which Kermit Weeks uses Fantasy of Flight to pass on his passion for aviation and personal achievement. This is the hang-glider simulator which is part of the educational and entertaining children's area. It is simple (no thermals) but extraordinarily realistic and effective, as you fly it exactly as you fly a real hang-glider (I know because I snuck onto it at the very end of the day, when the last kid had gone!).

On the day we went, a cold front was going through Florida, with winds just too high to permit flying - hence no flying photographs - sorry!

If you do visit this inspiring place, be prepared to spend a long time. And if you get a chance to meet Kermit Weeks in person (we didn't, but he was around) then take full advantage! He's the guy with the pony-tail and moustache...

More details on this attraction will be found here.

[My "Florida" page]
[My "Flight Simulator" page]


(Originally posted: June 14th 2008)




This is the southern-most end of a (very) long and (slightly) winding road - the other end of U.S. Route 1 is more than 2,000 miles away at Fort Kent, Maine at the Canadian border!

This end of the road is in Key West. I was here with my extended family (12 of us) as part of a wonderful vacation in the Florida Keys. Several photos follow!





I love these banyan trees. Hemingway lived near here. Also near here is Kelly's Caribbean Bar Grill and Brewery, which I can highly recommend. We had an absolutely wonderful meal there, with great service and good wine, for $60 a head.





A relatively quiet evening (I'm told) in Mallory Square, where people gather nightly at the southern-most point of the mainland USA to watch the sunset.

This band was performing great Island versions of Neil Diamond hits.











I swiped this one from my brother-in-law!













There are sometimes better things to do than watch the ships go by...





I really like my wife's little Sony Cybershot! It's light, inexpensive and it lets me take hand-held pictures like these after dark, without a flash. It's the only camera that we used on this holiday.

[This trip continues in the post below. Also see where this place is on my Florida Map.]
[Continuing the trip in the post above.]



This is the Dolphin Research Center at Grassy Key. We liked it very much - it's quiet, education-based and very different from other entertainment-oriented marine parks. As the staff keep pointing out, the visitors are here to entertain the dolphins, not the other way around (actually, it's thoroughly mutual).

We were here to fulfil a life-time ambition of my wife's, which was to swim with dolphins. Before you get to do that you have to attend a half-hour class (relatives and friends of swimmers can attend too). I'm glad I didn't miss it, as I learnt more about dolphins (and these particular dolphins) than I have every done previously.





This is probably Pax, although I'm not absolutely sure. Like the other dolphins he is quite capable of jumping out of the lagoons into the rest of the Gulf of Mexico, but he stays here because it's an easy and enjoyable life and he wouldn't be able to cope in the open ocean. Many of the dolphins here are rescue dolphins, or were born in captivity to rescue dolphins.





Being given the once-over by Tanner (again, I'm not absolutely sure, it might have been A.J.)





This and the following pictures of my wife's dream coming true were taken by a pro photographer down on the dock. (I was taking zillions also, but I won't inflict them on you here.)




My wife with A.J. and Tanner.
It's obvious from watching that nobody who has had this experience will ever, ever forget it.








In return for some nice scritching, the dolphins produce some amazing sounds (the dolphins at this center can imitate almost anything, using their blowholes). In this case one couldn't help feeling that the dolphins just like being scritched!

[This trip continues in the post below. Also see where this place is on my Florida Map.]

[Continuing the trip in the post above.]



On this trip we (12 of us) stayed here at Cannon Point at Marathon Key. It's a great spot if you have a large family and a boat, situated in a narrow strip of waterway between the Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico (both very shallow around here, typically only 7 feet of water under the keel until you get well out).

Just a few photos (the last in this series!) to give some flavour of the place...





Kayaks provided with the place... Those who got up early to explore the creeks from kayaks saw the occasional iguana on the banks under the mangroves, but there is plenty of other wildlife around here.










It was nice at this time of day, when the heat had cooled off... (Another picture swiped from a family member)








"Allah does not subtract from man's allotted time the hours spent in fishing."
In the case of my cousin, it's just as well!



That's it, you'll be glad to hear... If you're mad enough to want to see all 153 photos of this trip, including Key West, all the dolphin pics and many mug-shots of my family, send me a PM and I'll email you the album link!

[You'll find more Florida stuff on my Florida Page. Also see where this place is on my Florida Map.]




This is a picture that I took of Rievaulx Terrace, Yorkshire, England, on a not-too crowded day in June 2001. A long way down the steep bank to the right, people are admiring the Abbey, but a quiet walk and a picnic up here is hard to beat!

The picture comes from a section of my family web site which is a record of places where we have enjoyed life, and which other people might enjoy also. At present these places are in England, Italy, Corsica and Florida.

In the Italy section of these pages you will find a description of a magical week that we spent on the shores of Lake Maggiore - made magical because of the community of people there. If you like this description then you are definitely my kind of person, but rest assured that the converse is not true!