You can take the GRITS out of Florida, but you can't take Florida out of the GRITS!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

The Hunt for the Ghost Orchid and more!

After procrastinating forever, myself and 9 other geocachers met up in the Fakahatchee Strand to hunt for a cache called "The Ghost Orchid". As we stood around gathering our thoughts and supplies, a few of us heard a deep, low growl coming from the north side of the road. By unanimous agreement, it had to have been a panther, especially since the very next day, our friends Chris and Misti (who hid the cache) were out there and SAW a panther and took some awesome pictures of it! Check out if you want to see them.

Our team consisted of MuldernScully, Shade's Brigade, Lj&Co., Spazzler and his crew, Longerdog and Silly Gilley, who after going to this cache a couple other times, tagged along to be our videographer.

Off we go!

We saw quite a few orchids, but no Ghost Orchids. I believe this one is a native butterfly orchid. None of what we saw was in bloom, so it was kind of hard to identify things. The area was very dry.

A vanilla orchid? Maybe?

The only wildlife we saw was this beautiful owl. He wasn't frightened of us at all and posed for several pictures. I need a better camera!

Much of this area would normally be underwater, but our lack of rain has left it very dry. It was hard to call it a "swamp"!

Gilley at a gator slide taking some pics.

Another orchid.

This cracked me up. It's a tree with a built in drink holder! Susan and Gilley...

Taking a break. We were deep in the swamp at this point.

Our total mileage that day was 5.5 miles. It was rough going, but we just went slow and steady. It wasn't nearly as bad as I thought it was going to be.

Orlando, Lee and David at Ground Zero! We found it!!!

It was a long walk back down this tram road to our vehicles. Well, not really...only 1 1/2 miles, but my feet were screaming the whole way!

There were several old hunt shacks along the tram road. Some looked prettty good, but others were falling apart. When we popped out of the bushes, we were surprised to see three very nice elderly people sitting off the road at a table and chairs. I guess they owned one of the nicer shacks and were out there to get away from people for the weekend. Sorry we kind of ruined it for them...

There were a couple of old, delapidated vehicles out there, too. This one appeared to have been a tourist-type tram car or had an old rack on the roof that made it look very "safari-like". Interesting stuff!!

Before meeting up with everyone at Joanie's Crab Shack, I had to go into the Picayune State Forest to check on a cache of mine that was possibly missing. Lj came with me and Lee and his kids followed in their jeep. We made it out to the cache site to find the tree had been trimmed and the cache missing. Oh well! We turned a corner to head out and there was a big Black Bear in the middle of the road!!! It sort of bounced off the road into the woods as I was laughing and getting very excited. I stopped and waved Lee up next to me. He rolled down the window and I said, "Did you see that bear!?!?!?!?!?" "No. There was a big white truck in front of us."

Now yesterday, there was a geo-event at Oleta River State Park. Eventhough it's in Miami, I had never been there before.

Seeing friends and having a chance to go kayaking made for a perfect day. That's my oldest in front and our geo-friend, Erik, in the back hading out in search of 3 caches.

The brains behind this event, CaneDNR! (and the back of objet's head)
AIdan had a blast playing with the kids. He actually had some of the adults playing hide-n-seek and running around, too. He was asleep before we even made it out of the park. A tired kid is a good kid!

Dennis decided to hide a cache up in the rafters of the shelter we were at. Emily went up to help him. I think this would be a 1/5?

Just hanging out laughing and having a good time!

I took my son's kayak out and it handled great! The hub rented one and said it wasn't too bad, either. We paddled and explored the mangrove was nice, but kind of weird. You feel like you are far away from everyone and isolated, yet you hear constant traffic! Yuck! Paddling back we were against the wind for a bit and it was rough. I was so surprised to wake up this morning and NOT be aching! Come to think of it, I didn't ache after the Ghost Orchid, either. Hmmm...not bad for an old fart (with MS, too!!!!)
These are just two examples of why I LOVE geocaching!
Adventure, friends and being outdoors!


Prem Subrahmanyam said...

The orchids you have posted photos of are the Florida Butterfly Orchid (Encyclia tampensis), Oblong-leaf Vanilla (Vanilla phaeantha) and Rigid Epidendrum/Zigzag Orchid (Epidendrum rigidum).

The Native Orchid Blog

SwampAngel65 said...

THANK YOU for the orchid IDs!!!! I'm just happy I got two of the right.

Sandcastle Momma said...

That cache hunt looks like fun! I had visions of wading through waist deep swamp water - which I would not consider fun LOL
And you saw a bear? That's really cool. There are bears all over where we cache and I've never seen one.
The cache event looks fun too. They're having one close to here that I would love to go to but it's on Easter Sunday and that day is reserved for family. The last one was on Halloween and that's a family day too. I wish they'd have one on a non-holiday LOL
Glad you weren't sore after your kayak trip - you aren't as old as you thought you were!