Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Elmo Zumwalt

Today we got to sit of the breakwater rocks and see seeing something REALLY different - we got to watch the USS Zumwalt (DDG-1000) coming into Mayport.  The Zumwalt is the first of its class - a guided missile destroyer for the United States Navy and the first ship to be named for Admiral Elmo Zumwalt.

The Zumwalt has stealth capabilities, having a radar cross-section akin to a fishing boat despite her large size. On 7 December 2015, Zumwalt began her sea trial preparatory to joining the Pacific Fleet. The ship was commissioned in Baltimore on 15 October 2016 and is now on her way to her homeport in San Diego, California. She cost $1.4 billion dollars to build and the Zumwalt's commanding officer is Captain James A. Kirk who attracted quite a bit of media attention when he was first named captain, due to the similarity of his name to that of the Star Trek television character Captain James T. Kirk, played by William Shatner. Shatner wrote a letter of support to Zumwalt's crew in April 2014.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Sunny Ships on Sunday

Wow weeeeeeeeeeeeeeee - it was a beautiful 70 degrees this morning even and it was so bright and sunny - Mom of coarse was rugged up like an Eskimo - she thinks anything below 85 is freezing! We managed to drag Dad out too - and had a wonderful long walk on the beach and we got to watch a couple of ships come in. The green one is a petroleum carrier and the red one is actually a dredging ship.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Bark Ranger Patrol - The cost of clean up

We had a pawsome day today - first we went to the beach and we are happy to report it is starting to look more normal. The king tides have pushed all the sea grass up high on the beach - hopefully to make the base for future sand dunes. The Dweeb was pretty pleased with himself when he found a nice smelly horseshoe crab - personally I like the rotting sea grass better for stink factor :)

Then Mom said we had better head off of do some Bark Ranger Patrols and check on my other parks. First we went to MY Abbey Hanna Cowspotdog Park - sadly many of the boardwalks have been damaged and the one path through the sand dunes you could take to the beach was just swarming with surfers going to and from the surf. Now personally they don't bother me at all but Dweeb sees those surf boards and just freezes on the spot - way to scary for him. The path we take to the lake was also closed due to all the tree damage so we didn't really get to check out much of this park at all.

Next we headed to MY Dutton Island Cowspotdog Preserve - we didn't even get past the gate here as the road crosses a causeway and it had been severely damaged and is unpassable - sigh.

Mom said we would give one more park a try and we headed off to MY Fort Caroline Cowspotdog at the Timucuan Preserve. The Fort itself seemed to have survived just fine but there was a lot of tree damage and there was only one trail was open.  This is also where the Spanish Cowspotdog Pond is and that too was completely closed due to storm damage.  So all in all....... MY parks have not feared very well but thankfully my trusty staff are hard at work and I am sure MY parks will be back to normal in no time.
Denny found a crabby patty
Rotting sea grass smells better !
Visiting Fort Cowspotdog
Picture perfect with the fort behind us
The Bark Ranger Board of FAME!
YES - there we are!
Inside the Fort
Fort Cowspotdog seems to have survived the storm

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Wordless Wednesday

Ho hum - Just another perfect day :)

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

The forces of nature

Since Hurricane Matthew went through we have been seeing many changes to MY beaches - especially this week as there have been SUPER king tides occurring with the full moon (in fact for this whole past week and even this morning and the next few mornings too). A lot of the sea grass is either being pushed up the beach or just washed back out into the ocean. (I must point out in the high 80's temps we have been getting it is starting to smell REALLY pawsome - although Mom doesn't seem to find it so appealing)

Because so much sand has washed away what use to be the high tide mark has now changed and it is about 20 foot higher up the beach.  After our walkies on MY beach Mom decided to go and check out Little Talbot State Park (Yes that evil place that doesn't allow doggies on the beach - why she would consider going there is beyond me!)

Anyway - when pulling up to the gate to the park the Park Ranger told her only boardwalks 1 and 3 were open. The other 6 boardwalks were all so badly damaged in the storm that they can't be used and as you can see from the photo below - even boardwalk 1 took a pretty good beating (which is sad as they had only just finished this a few weeks ago). What shocked Mom the most at Little Talbot was how much sand had washed away - 8-10 feet of it going back 200-250 feet. All the palm trees and shrubs that use to line the edge of the sand dunes are now gone - as too is the beautiful white sand - which is now grey and even dark black in places. So much sand washed away that is even uncovered an old pier that use to be there some 30 years ago! Sadly too - Mom could see that many many shells had washed up but they have just been smashed to pieces in the relentless waves.
This was the brand new boardwalk 1
Plenty of stinky sea grass
Changes in the beach at Little Talbot
The top of that pile is where the beach use to be!
Uncovered - part of an old pier
Another view of the old pier
Little Talbot a few weeks ago before the storm

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Sunday morning beach walkies

Sea Urchin Shells
We went for an early morning walk on the beach  and it was the highest tide we had ever seen (we think the full moon probably helped). There was still a lot of sea grass on the shoreline but that is pawsome because look at the treasure "I" found for Mom today - lots of sea urchin shells.

Do you know - we found out something about all that sea grass - they push it up high on the beach so that it acts like a trap for sand and over the years (providing we don't get any more bad storms for a while) - the sand dunes will eventually build up higher thanks to that base of sea grass - pretty cool huh!

In one of the pictures below you can see me stood in the gap where one of the sand dunes use to be - it gives you an idea of how much sand was moved. We also got to watch the strangest looking Navy ship coming into to dock. We couldn't see any identifying number or name but we did find out it is a USNS - (T-EPF-4) Spearhead-class expeditionary fast transport ship. We also got to sea lots of Albatrosses - they didn't seem to like the windy conditions this morning and we also found some washed up beach treasures. 
A little windy today
MY sand dune has washed away
Debris on the beach
Spearhead-class expeditionary fast transport ship
Mr Albratross
Washed up treasures

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Checking on MY beach

We headed down to MY beach this morning to see what had happened and were pleasantly surprised - instead of lots of sand being washed away - LOTS of sand got washed up (or maybe it was the sand dune that got washed down and covered the beach). There was LOTS and LOTS of sea grass stalks that got washed up too (wonderful stinky rotting sea grass I might mention)  but all things considered not a lot of debris. We did find a big piece of wood from someone's dock and sadly we even found a dead deer (a four point stag) amongst the sea grass. We are not sure how he got there but are guessing he got caught in the storm surge somewhere and was washed out to sea.

Mom was disappointed not to find even a single shell -  but we did meet a lovely lady on the beach who Mom stopped to talk too. She worked as a meteorologist for the Navy for 22 years and she came over to say hi because she had a sheltie a few years ago and recognized us. She told Mom that they only opened the beach to the public again yesterday because of the strong rip currents and storm surges this past week. She also told Mom she went down on Sunday and saw LOTS of shells washed up but the military police wouldn't let anyone on the beach and of coarse they have all washed back out to sea or been buried under the sand now.

We took LOTS of photo's today and remember you can click on them to see them bigger. We also got to see a submarine leaving the base today - it was flying a flag Mom didn't recognize and an American flag so we are not sure where it is from. Mom was also happy to see the "Mayport Feral Kitties" all survived - we saw a couple sitting on the breakwater and found they rest of them over near the RV park.

Oh we forgot to mention - around our neighborhood most of the damage is just tree and fence related. Mom says the fence builders must be rubbing their hands with glee at all the work they are going to be having for the next month of so. A lot of houses lost roof tiles but only small amounts like 10 or 20 tile each although we did see a couple of places that had half to three quarters of all their tiles gone. The neighborhood across the street from us still doesn't have power but they will hopefully by the end of the day. The big problem with the power was the amount of tree limbs and trees that fell breaking the lines. Not having had any real major storms for the last 10 years - trees have been busily growing bigger in all that time and they hadn't really done a good job of keeping them trimmed and away from power lines - lesson learned as the CEO of the power company said on the news last night.
Lots of sea grass washed up
Looks like a piece of someone's dock
So many good smells in this stuff
Comeon Mom - this stuff is great to roll on!
Still windy here - the birds are grounded
Poor dead deer - mmmmmm salted venison jerky!
What happened to my sandy beach near the breakwater?
Getting to the rocks isn't easy
This use to be a sand dune !
Mayport Kitty - just chill-laxin
Submarine leaving the Mayport Base
Another view of the submarine

Monday, October 10, 2016

A Bloody Battle

Looking down the battlefield
While out and about the other day we came across the Horseshoe Bend National Military Park and discovered this was the site where on 27 March 1814, Major General Andrew   Jackson's army of 3,300 men attacked Chief Menawa’s 1,000 Red Stick Creek warriors - killing 800 of them. You can read more about it here - although Mom is of the opinion that Jackson (yes the same one our hometown of Jacksonville is named after) pretty much slaughtered the Indians for their land. This "great" victory helped him on his path to the White House where he became the 7th President. Thankfully the only battle we saw when we were there - were turtles battling for poll position on the rock :)
The battle plan
Along the battle trail
Horseshoe Bend River
Battling for poll sunning position on the rock

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Mountain dogs!

Today we hiked all the way to the top of Smith Mountain to see the fire tower and the awesome view over Lake Martin - we didn't climb the stairs up the tower as Mom said it would be safe for us BUT I know I could of made it! I am Reilly the MOUNTAIN goat dog!

The fire tower was originally built in 1939 and restored in  June 2012.  Visitors hike up the half-mile trail from the parking area to the tower where they can climb up to the top of the tower. They can also sign the guest book to show they made it - which we did.  The view from the tower, which is 80 feet above the top of Smith Mountain, is spectacular and offers panoramic views of Lake Martin.  The tower is surrounded by a native longleaf pine forest, large granite deposits and is open to the public sunrise to sunset, seven days a week.  The best thing of all though - dogs are welcome!