Gary, my brother-in-law just bought a new (to him) Harley Street Bob and according to research, got more than a fair deal on it.  "JimBob" is not very experienced, mileage wise, so we thought an initiation run to Florida would be appropriate.

Early Wednesday, we headed east with intentions of meeting up with my wife, sister-in-law, grand kids and nieces and nephews in Destin for a brief visit.  We thought it would an amazing trip to cruise down the beach roads, wind in our beards, sun on our faces and feel the spirit of the open road.  All that seems nice until you run into summer beach traffic and feel the heat as you stop at every other traffic signal from Waveland, Mississippi to Destin, Florida riding along US Highway 98 even through Gulf Shores, Alabama.

After a few hours of stopping and starting we agreed we should have only ridden a portion of the beach road and taken I-10 a part of the way.  Oh well, we will just have to chalk that one up to experience.

Destin was really nice but there were lots of people and traffic.  Heck, we even saw a beach wedding.  We had no clue as to who they were.

The next morning, we arose early and hit the road toward St Joseph Peninsula State Park, near St Joe, Florida.  We probably chose that location because it looked interesting on the map but I can honestly say, were it not for the ocean, it would not come close to competing with the State Parks of Louisiana.  Nevertheless, we pitched our tents for the afternoon and a night under the stars.

As you can imagine, the peninsula was the home of a lot of wildlife, including noisy Crackles (a type of blackbird), coons, pigmy rattlers, salamanders and mice.  Mice were everywhere.  I was told that the Oldfield Beach Mouse is on the endangered list and is protected by the government so we dare not lay a malicious hand on one.  I say one man's beach mouse is another man's baby rat.  Rats!...but they nor the snakes didn't bother us.  Perhaps they afford Harley riders, professional courtesy.

One redeeming thing was amazing sunsets for which many campers came out to witness.

Young and old, they brought their boards and chairs.  That was great and worth the mosquitoes!

Hearing news of nasty weather brewing in the gulf, Gary and I struck our tents early Friday morning and came home in one day.

The trip was a thousand miles.


Venus Transit 2012

Venus transit.  Venus' path crossed the sun today.  It won't happen again for another 115 years.
Here are some shots taken here in Alamogordo.
I don't know if the locals were really concerned or just suspicious but I had a guy in a pick-up truck stop and ask me what I was doing.  He seemed satisfied with the answer about Venus and the Sun and moved on.  Just as I was leaving a deputy sheriff was coming down the road too but made no attempt to stop me.  


If you notice on this blown up version, Venus is that tiny dark spot located approximately at the 3:00 O'clock level in the sun.
 You know, in the grand scheme of things, we aren't all that big are we?


As the days get longer...

..there is a lot more daylight now, so after work Friday, I drove up to Sunspot, NM.  Sunspot sits on the plateau above Alamogordo and is the home of the National Solar Observatory.

(clicking on the photo will enlarge them)

My intent was to get there, find a spot overlooking the White Sands National Monument and photograph a sunset but due to recent fires in the Gila National Forest and lots of clouds from a light cool front, visibility was limited.  I had also hoped to do some timed photos that would create circular star trails, but that's for another time.

Even though I was a bit disappointed that the clouds and weather were not cooperating, wildlife was everywhere.  This is a protected area so the animals aren't all that spooky if you don't come to a complete stop and/or get out of the car.  Forgive me if I have this wrong but I'm thinking these are Mule Deer.  I know I've never seen one in Louisiana and never claimed to be an expert.                    

(Update!  A knowledgeable friend tells me, he's pretty sure they are Elk.)

A young doe.

On the way back home (the hotel) I pulled off onto a less than wonderful road to check out cactus flowers under the approaching full moon.

And from the opposite direction, a sunset.

Probably, it wasn't a great idea getting too far off the pavement in a VW Passat rental car (National Car frowns on those activities) but it's not because I didn't want too.