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Orlando Wetlands Park

Not long ago, David, Jeff and I got up early on a foggy Sunday morning and set off for Orlando Wetlands Park.

Fog-shrouded marsh

Jodi:  Not long ago, David, Jeff and I got up early on a foggy Sunday morning and set off for Orlando Wetlands Park.

David:  This land near the community of Christmas in east Orange County was purchased by the City of Orlando in 1986. The various wetland ecosystems on site – forested and non-forested – remove excess nutrients from reclaimed wastewater treated at the Iron Bridge Regional Wastewater Treatment Plant near Oviedo.  I had wanted to visit the park for a long time and was glad to finally get the chance.

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Sandhill Cranes with chick

J:  I was so excited to see the ‘Cranes and their baby!  We kept a close but respectful distance as we watched them disappear deep into the tall grass.

D:  Sandhill cranes are impressive even to a “non birder-type” like me.

We kept a close but respectable distance as we watched them disappear deep into the tall grass.

Closer view!

D:  A number of bird species can be observed at the park.  Judging by comments we overheard from the few other visitors we came close to this day,  bird watching seems to be a very popular activity here.

Caspian terns

...and to their right

…and to their right…Roseate spoonbills!

J:  Ibis rookery??

Roseate spoonbills

D:  Ummm…think pink with a more unusual bill.

J:  Late night or bad hair day? You be the judge.

Great blue heron looking a little disheveled

D:  If you’re like me and scales and scutes trump feathers you won’t be disappointed.  This place boasts a “robust” population of alligators.

As the sun rose higher into the sky, we realized we too were being watched!

American alligator

J:  As the sun rose higher into the sky, we realized we too were being watched!

D:  It was a little intimidating to be watched by so many pairs of crocodilian eyes…just sayin’

I see you lookin'!

I see you…

J:  So I’m on this path and I see a pretty flower with a dragonfly…photo op!

Pickerel weed blossom and dragonfly

J: Camera in hand, I’m backing up, and backing up, and Jeff says, “STOP, stay right there, don’t move”.  Why? I’m not done.

Uhhh you guessed it... I almost stepped on an aligator. Oops!

J:  Uhhh, you guessed it… I almost stepped on an alligator.  Imagine you’re an alligator laying on the bank.  You’re watching this crazy lady as she keeps backing up and about to step on your tail. Do you wonder how fast she can run? Or how fast you can swim to get away from her?!?  Oops!

On a serious note, this park is a great place to bring the relatives from up North who just want to see an alligator.  We lost count of how many we saw in our short hike.

D:  Robust  population

Alligator bulldozing through the filamentous algae

D:  Can’t forget about the plants

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Thistle

Star rush

D:  A nice feature at the park is the Oyler Overlook.  It is an earthen mound with a gradual incline that takes one to an elevation about 30′ above the surrounding landscape.  It’s a great spot to take some pictures, survey the landscape or just take a moment or two break from the hike.

One view from the top of Oyler Overlook

One view from the top of Oyler Overlook

...and another direction

…and another

J:  We spent 2-3 hours leisurely walking the approximately 6 mile trail. Next time we plan to bring our bicycles to check out a different trail. If you would like to see the property for yourself, we recommend that you check their website before making the trip out as they are closed at some times during the year.

D:  Right…the Park is closed from November 15th through January 31st of each year.  There are opportunities for bike riding and there is also a tram operated by volunteers – “Friends of the Orlando Wetlands” (www.orlandowetlands.org for more info on the tram and events).  I thought the tram and offer of a ride were mighty tempting when we were about 2 miles from the end of our little adventure.  We “toughed it out”, but all bets are off for next time.

Now it’s your turn to get out and Hike Central Florida and beyond but remember to always, ALWAYS watch your step!

Until next time…

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Quest for Success at UCF

Almost a year ago David and I started this blog to share our adventures as we Hike Central FL and Beyond.  To some of you (especially Dave) I have been noticeably absent for the last couple months.  So I feel compelled to give you an explanation.

In addition to starting the blog in January, 2014, I also embarked upon a personal adventure of my own.  In an effort to cross off a bucket list item, I registered at the University of Central Florida (UCF). I became a ‘Knight’ and I am attempting to finish my bachelor’s degree in accounting.  (I know…a far stretch from nature.)  At this point I’m three semesters in and I can consistently find my car (that was a concern for me on day one). My grades have been fairly good.

My latest semester ended last month and it was the worst of my entire academic career.  So as I struggled and struggled, I became less and less available to work with David.  Being the trooper that he is, he carried on without me.  Thank you for understanding Dave!

Now being the photographer that I am, I would like to share with you a little gallery of my last 12 months at the second largest university in the nation.

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UCF has been one of the most challenging and rewarding adventures of my life.  So from time to time I will update you on my progress.  Our next post will be back to hiking and showing off the beauty of Central Florida and Beyond.

Until then…Charge on!

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