Motoring Across America

With James "Alex" Alexander

with James "Alex" Alexander



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Travel Blog 280: On to Venice (Florida, That Is)

Except for business trips to Atlanta, Orlando, and Boston, we have been hanging out in the beautiful Florida weather.

Venice Rookery
One morning with cloudy skies good for photography, we loaded up the Jeep and headed to the Venice Rookery. We had been there several weeks back, but the eggs and small chicks have been replaced by big babies with really big appetites. Take a look at the great blue heron family and the big baby cormorant challenging for a snack. Also, here is a shot of a great egret bringing in nesting material and another great egret fanning.

Feeding Time

Feeding Big Baby

Cormorant

Nesting Time

Fanning Great Egret

We added to this very nice day by having a picnic in the Myakka State Forest. Life is good.

Old Trucks
Here are three old trucks from my Old Truck Reserve.

Old Truck 1

Old Truck 2

Old Truck 3

See you next time.

Travel Blog 279: Beach Boys (and Girls)

The weather continues to be awesome-plus in Punta Gorda…sunny and low 80s except for a couple days of rain and high winds.

We are very fortunate to have the Charlotte Environment Park just one mile from our campground. Most mornings we head over to take a hike on one of the many trails. So far we have seen eagles, hawks, osprey, owls, vultures, woodpeckers, cardinals, robins, alligators, wild pigs, and a river otter. Just gorgeous.

Venice Dog Beach
One of our favorite things to do is take an early morning trip to Venice to hang out on the Dog Beach. Lots of good pups and nice people—both Mitzy and Jack really like it. Jan found a bottle with a message in it. I rubbed it several times, but no genie appeared. Kind of cool. The high winds had kicked up the seabed—lots of interesting shells. Below is a shot of Janny holding “sea jewels.”

Sea Jewels

Message in a Bottle

Happy Sochi

Rowdy Lab

Run, Jack, Run

Run, Jack, Run II

Surfing Pup

Old Trucks
Here are three old trucks from Jim’s Salvage.

Old Truck 1

Old Truck 2

Old Truck 3

See you next time.

Travel Blog 278: Down to Punta Gorda

Back at the Loop
One last time this season we had the chance to do the Loop.

Blue-Winged Teal

Don't Talk Back

Little Bird

Little Blue on Branch

Mystery Bird

Tri

Yawning Night Heron

Lake Apopka

After our six-week stay, we packed up and headed southwest to our campground in Punta Gorda.

Orlando NW Orange Blossom KOA to Gulf View RV Resort

Venice Dog Beach
Less than an hour away is a dog beach in Venice. The pups just loved it. We will be going back.

Beach Pup

Do Not Mess with Mitz

Dog Beach

Hoss

Little Beach Pup

Run, Jack, Run

Run, Jack, Run II

Structure

Venice Rookery
We stopped by the Venice Rookery. A little early in the season, but we saw one great Blue with a couple young ones.

Mom and Babies

Old Trucks
Here are three old trucks from Jim’s Salvage.

Old Truck 1

Old Truck 2

Old Truck 3

See you next time.

Travel Blog 277: Back on the Loop

Florida Sunshine
Back in Florida we have been enjoying the nice weather, friends, and relatives. It is nice to be in one place for a few weeks.

Apopka Wildlife Loop
At least a couple times a week we drive the 7 minutes to the gate of the Loop and spend a couple hours or so slowly driving, stopping, and shooting wildlife. Primarily birds of all feathers, but also a gator now and then and the occasional otter. Jack and Mitzy are dutifully at their stations with heads out and sounding alerts when appropriate. Here are a few pics including a close-up of Mitzy.

Anhinga Reflection

Baby Duck

Eastern Phoebe

Gallinule

Gator

Glossy Ibis

Hunting Great Egret

Kingfisher

Least Bittern

Lesser Yellow Legs

Little Blue

Night Heron II

Tri Close-Up

Tri II

Mitzy Close-Up

Old Trucks
Here are three old trucks from Jim’s Salvage.

Old Truck 1

Old Truck 2

Old Truck 3

See you next time.

Travel Blog 276: Quick Trip to Rome

Orlando to JFK

JFK to Rome

Roman Holiday

The day after Thanksgiving we flew from Orlando to New York’s JFK, and then on to Rome, arriving mid-morning Saturday. Everything went smoothly, and we arrived relatively well rested after our 8-hour-and-16-minute flight.

We zipped through passport control and customs, and after a 20-minute cab ride, we arrived at the Hotel Artimedes, strategically located within walking distance of most of the major sites of the city. We checked in and took a stroll in the sunlight to reset our biological clocks, start to take in the sites, and absorb a little of the culture of the 2,300 years of this historic city.

Borghese Gallery
The crazy rich art lovers of the Borghese family decorated their villa (really a palace) with the finest art produced in Italy and beyond to entertain their guests. Among the thousands of pieces of art were sculptures and paintings by Bernini, Canova, Caravaggio, Correggio, Rafael, and Titian. Just an amazing two-hour visual treat. Sadly, photos were not allowed.

The Vatican
Bright and early one morning we took a small-group guided tour of the Vatican Museum, the Sistine Chapel, and St. Peter’s Basilica.

Vatican Museum
This lavish papal palace displays some of the finest art from a 5,000-year period. During this eight-mile walk, we viewed rare (mostly priceless) statues, urns, marble floors, friezes, stuccoed ceilings, tapestries, paintings, and maps.

Vatican Museum

St. Peters Basillica from Vatican Museum

Entering the Vatican Museum

Vatican Museum II

Vatican Museum Ceiling Shot

Raphaels School of Athens

Sistine Chapel
Next, we viewed the Sistine Chapel. Small by Vatican standards, this chapel shows off Michelangelo’s ceiling and his famous painting, The Last Judgment. Wow! Sadly, no photos allowed—check out this website if interested: www.italian-renaissance-art.com/Last-Judgement.html

St. Peters Basilica
Wow, again.

Bernini Bronze Canopy

Michelangelo Dome

Dome Close Up

Michelangelo, The Pieta

Ancient Rome
Another day, we took another small-group, private tour that started with Palatine Hill, followed by the Forum, and ending with the Colosseum.

Palatine Hill
Palatine Hill overlooks the Forum. It is the area where emperors and other wealthy important people preferred to live. Mainly ruins, but one is able to get a feel for the place. Here are a couple of shots from Palatine Hill overlooking the Forum.

Forum Ruins

Forum Pigeon

The Forum
For almost 1,000 years, the Forum was the heart of Rome--the seat of government and the center of trade.

Forum Arch of Titus

Just Another Temple

Temple of Antoninus Pius and Faustina

Colosseum
Up to 80,000 spectators at a time, lured by free wine and the promise of grand spectacles, were entertained by to-the-death gladiator fights, the roars of exotic animals from far parts of the empire, and executions (by beheading, crucifixion, or being devoured by wild beasts). Below the surface, over 1,000 slaves and their master worked in the underground in dark, dank, smelly, and crowded tunnels guiding participants into “elevators” of trap doors that allowed them to surface above ground. Unbelievable place.

Colosseum

Colosseum Main Level

Colosseum View of Underground

Colosseum Watchers

Pantheon
The Pantheon is Rome’s best preserved monument and a wonder of engineering.

Pantheon

Pantheon Entrance

Pantheon Oculus

Pantheon Alter

Ostia Antica
We took a day trip via train to Ostia Antica, the ancient Roman port.

Ostia Antica Arch

Ostia Antica Cat

Cooking Class
My friends love to cook with wine…sometimes they even put some in the food. I had a very fun evening watching Jan and friends participate in an Italian cooking class. My job was to watch the activities, drink wine, make idle comments, take a few photos, and eat the results. Very nice event.

Another Cooking Class

Jan in Cooking Class

Cooking Class

Odds and Ends
Driving in Rome
Personal experience confirms that the blood of the ancient chariot drivers still flows through the veins of present day Rome taxi drivers. A personal example was a ride where a steely-eyed Antonio used his mind-reading skills to anticipate the movement of buses, autos, scooters, and pedestrians to spurt to the left, jag to the right, and bolt down the middle of the road while strategically using his horn and occasionally communicating his thoughts with his hands. In his care, his stoic Mercedes transformed itself into a high-performance Maserati, screaming around turns, cutting off the competition, thus making a half-hour journey in 15 minutes. DO NOT ATTEMPT TO DRIVE IN ROME…RIDE CAUTIOUSLY…WALK WHEN YOU CAN.

Random Photos

Street Shot

Trevi Fountain Trio

Cathedral View

Pigeons in Ruins

Old Trucks
Sorry…I found no old trucks in Rome.

See you next time!