Category Archives: Beach

Great Stories

One of the great things that has come from working on the project to preserve the St. Johns River Ferry is the stories we’ve heard from people for whom the ferry has been a very important part of their lives. There’s been some discussion of a “Story Corps” type of booth to get more of these in an archive, but for now, it’s kind of catch-as-catch can.

At the FlashCog Saturday, I was introduced to Uma Orr, who back in 1950 was one of the first people to ride the Ferry … a ride that took place on a cold December night at midnight.

Here’s Uma’s story …

The response to the efforts of the task force has been very positive. We’re looking forward to another 50 years of this unique river crossing.



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Filed under Beach, Beach Living, St. Johns River Ferry

Beach At Midnight

Last night, at the peak of the Geminid meteor shower, we were on the beach. Yeah, it was midnight, and there was work to be done today. But there we were none the less, staring up into the night sky.

Stars  I know, that looks like a mostly black rectangle. Click through to the larger version on Flickr. I was really impressed with the sharpness of the stars I was able to capture.

In any event, it had been cloudy and foggy most of the day. The beach gets like that in the wintertime. Cool air riding across the still-relatively-warm water of the ocean, picking up water vapor and starting to squeeze it out in the from of fog. as we walked down to the beach, the fog bank was hanging just offshore, and we were treated to an hour of near-perfect meteor viewing.

Meteors are teases, really. I was spending time setting up the camera, and occasionally I’d see a little streak of light from the corner of my eye. The Geminids are one of the year’s best meteor showers, and Sunday night didn’t disappoint. We hadn’t been on the beach more than a couple of minutes that we’d seen a couple of shooting stars … small particles of rock burning themselves out in the Earth’s atmosphere. I opened up the camera lens hoping to catch a random streak across the frame … no such luck.

FL Blvd NorthI eventually gave up on shooting the sky and just lay back on the sand to watch it. Getting on towards 0100, the clouds that had been hanging in through the entire day started to push back to the east, obscuring our view. Just before we lost it entirely, we had our night’s grand finale. Almost due east, and relatively low on the horizon, the brightest meteor of our night fell on a what appeared to be a nearly vertical trajectory towards the ocean. It went from white to bright white to blue-white before vanishing. And then the clouds made further viewing impossible.

FL Blvd South

Because I was on the beach in the middle of the night with my camera, a tripod, and a remote shutter release, I had to get a couple of my favorite shots. The low clouds and fog gave the beach an almost eerie feeling. As the clouds moved overhead, they reflected more and more light from the town just over the dune, giving us an almost-twilight feeling in the wee hours of the morning.

So many people enjoy the beach during the day, and I do as well. But one of the privileges of living at the continent’s edge is the chance to experience the beach in all seasons, in all her moods, at all times of the day. At night, when it’s quiet but for the dull crash and hiss of the surf, with the spectacle of a meteor shower, it is a very, very special place.



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Filed under Beach, Beach At Night, Beach Living, Photographs, Photography, Thoughts

Beach Still Life

Life should be still at the beach, right? Jenni went home today, which is always my least favorite day of the year. The good news is, there are only three of them a year. But yesterday, we finally got a nice day to go to the beach. The weather the past 10 days has just been so iffy, with rain nearly every day. but Tuesday was one for the Chamber of Commerce … of which I’m a member.

Beach Chairs

I wanted to shoot some inanimate things. Still Life, if you will, but of everyday things at the beach. Here are our chairs, umbrella, cooler and towel. This is life at the beach. You can see hundreds of such setups at beaches not only up and down the Florida coast, but pretty much anyplace there’s sand and surf. and maybe even a few where it’s just the sand. No matter where you find sunshine and water, you’ll find beach chairs, towels, and coolers.

I love shooting scenes like this one. There’s a simplicity to them, and it’s certainly not perfect or staged. It’s just what life is at the beach. Empty chairs because the occupants are out enjoying the sun.

flip flops

Another ubiquitous beach icon is flip flops. I can’t tell you how many pairs of these simple shoes I own. I got married on the beach in flip flops. Nice, leather “formal” flip flops, mind you, but flip flops none the less. The good news is, there are very few places at the beach you can’t go wearing flip flops. Most restaurants don’t look twice if you come in mostly barefoot. It does give one incentive to keep one’s toenails clean and trimmed. Nothing like the benefits of a nice pedicure, but that’s definitely another post. Just suffice it to say that I do enjoy a pedicure.

I can’t show you the school of brown rays that were cruising the surf as we played in the waves. I didn’t have the correct camera, and the vis was pretty awful in the surf. But they look like brown paper bags floating just under the surface, until they come a little closer and you can see the white underside of their wings. I stepped on one, very much by accident, and Jenni was a little startled when she saw one coming right at her. But they’re very docile fish, really, and it was very cool to see them just a few yards off shore.


But perhaps the most iconic symbol of the beach is the lifeguard stand, often containing a lifeguard. The yellow flag flying meant there was a moderate risk of rip currents, and I had to coax a couple of youngsters out of a mild runout yesterday afternoon. A runout forms when an underwater feature allows water to rush out to sea as waves are coming in. They’re pretty easy to spot, as the water carries a lot of sand and the color is distinctive.

In any event, these two kids, not more than 6 or 7, were being pulled slowly but steadily out to sea. I was watching them struggle, trying to swim back to where their mom was calling them, and making no progress against the current. Jenni and I were standing in very calm water just a few feet from where the brown water was churning out towards the ocean. In any event, I told the kids to swim towards me, parallel to the shore, until they were in our calmer water. One was pretty open to the idea, but the other, who had a boogie board, thought he was going to swim right back to shore. He finally got the idea and we got him back to shore.

So that was it. Just another day at the beach. Interesting pictures, sea life, and kids. I didn’t have a lot of time to spend with Jen this time around, though working from home gave me some flexibility I wouldn’t have had otherwise, and Aero News was very flexible with me. But I’m thinking that with this new found flexibility, I might just have a few more opportunities to enjoy the thing that drew me here to live in the first place.

Mother, mother ocean … I have heard you call …




Filed under Beach, Beach Living, Ocean, Photographs, Photography, Photos, Thoughts

Learning to Work from Home

And it’s not as easy as you might think.

For the past three days, I’ve been drinking from the fire hose that is  You’d be amazed at how much aviation-related news there is to wade through.  News released, tips, re-writes, research.  It’s already an amazing education into an industry to which I used to pay a lot of attention.  But maybe the most difficult thing about this has been the entire concept of working from home.

It’s not as easy as you might think.

All my working life, I’ve been going someplace else to work.  A radio or television station, cable station, someplace.  I’ve usually had a desk or a cubicle, or more recently an office.  But every morning, I got up, sometimes incredibly early, and went someplace else to work.  Not anymore.

I’ve joined that cadre of people who get up, make a pot of coffee, hot up the bitgrinder, and start writing.  It requires discipline, and I’m one of those people who can be pretty easily be distracted.  So far, I’ve done pretty well.  I’ve gotten stuff cranked out, not in the volume that I’ll need to down the road, but I’ve gotten stuff cranked out.  But eventually, you’ve got to look up and treat it like work.  Today, I took an hour out to hit the bike.  Sometime tomorrow, I’ve got to get the lawn mowed, because it’s not going to wait until the weekend.  The good news is, I’ll be here to do it.  But I also have to remember that this is work and I have to treat it as such.

Then, too, I have a whole new writing style to learn, I’m feeling like  rookie again.  And that’s an odd place for me to be.  They want some personality in the writing, and that’s the very antithesis of 99% of the writing I’ve done for the past 15 years.  A little of me found it’s way into some of the television stuff, but not a lot.  Straight ahead, factual writing has been how I’ve made my living.  This is going to be very, very different.

So it’s a steep learning curve.  The discipline of working at home, and the changes in writing style.  In the end, it should make me a better writer, but for now, I’ve got to get myself past feeling like I’ve never really done this before.

And then I get to learn about paying quarterly taxes.  Oh the joy …



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Filed under Beach, Beach Living, Thoughts, Working at Home, Writing