Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Need your comments folks!

Ok folk, I've come up with another idea for a film project. I'm getting pretty bored with my other film projects, working two jobs, organize next years vacations, writing my novel and planning my campaign for the 2012 presidential election. So I've decided to do a travel video about the off the wall (but cool) places in Florida. Places that are unique, odd, fun or interesting in their own way. So, for all of you that live or spent any time in Florida, please send me your favorite places or places you think would be interesting to other people. Everyone knows Florida for it's theme parks, but there is so much else that is worth a mention (skunk ape).
I look forward to your comments :)

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Mounds House on Estero Island

This is the Mound House on Estero Island. I thought it would be something pretty cool, but when I got there the visuals were pretty dull. However, the history is kind of cool, even if there isn't much to look at. This location hosted the first house on Estero Island and it sits on an old Calusa mound. For all who are unfamiliar with the Calusa people - they were the originally inhabitants of Florida. They've found evidence of villages and mounds buildings dating back to 4000 BCE. The mounds on which this house sits on was started approximately 100 BCE. It is thought that the Calusas abandoned the Estero Island Mound approximately 700 CE. In 1906 the first Europeans settled here building a small tudor cottage. In 1909 a brick bungalow was added to the collage and in 1921 it was expanded. The city is currently working to bring the house back to its 1921 glory. In the meantime, its a pretty dull place to visit.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Koreshan Unity Settlement Historical Site

Ok, I admit I came here thinking that it was going to be cannon fodder for massive mocking (spoken with the arrogance of someone educated after the boys landed on the moon of course!) However, with the exception of the twisted science, these people were incredible impressive! The mocking will be kept to a minimum. Click on the picture for a larger view to read to plaque.

Getting the mocking out of the way
After accidentally electrocuting himself, Dr Cyrus Teed had a "vision" and started a religious movement based on that vision. In the vision he was shown that the earth was a hollow sphere. The sun and moon were in the center of the sphere and that the stars were reflections from discs that circulated around the sun and moon. Totally whacked. Even in the late 1800's this idea was a little out there.

The Arts Center
Things that were kind of cool:

Along with the hollow earth, Dr Teed also had these crazy ideas about living in a Utopian community with communal living, equality between men and women, and believed heavily in education and the arts. In 1894, Dr Teed and a bunch of his followers moved to Florida and worked their butts off in snake and mosquito infested swamps to build their settlement. They built an Art Center, school, general store, communal dining room, various residential buildings, and work buildings. They had the first symphony in the area and had regular plays and concerts.
It was like the first fairly successful hippy commune. Most of the followers were upper or upper middle class people that were looking for an alternative to the city life that the Industrial Revolution was presenting. Dr Teed promised a life free from crime, tobacco (like that's a good thing?!?!) and drugs. He promised they would always have jobs, a place in the community and would be taken care off. In turn, they donated all their worldly possessions to the community. Sounds hocky, but it worked. These people worked hard and thrived for a good many years. If "celibacy" wasn't part of their doctrine, they may still be around today.

Among the frequent local visitors to the community were Henry Ford and Thomas Edison. They both had summer houses in close-by Ft Myers. Henry Ford enjoyed exchanging exotic plants and flowers with the community. Thomas Edison had this new fangled thing called "electricity" that he was trying to find new and creative uses for. The Ft Myers townspeople were afraid of this "electricity", convinced that it would poison the cows milk or make the chickens stop laying eggs. However, the Koreshians thought it sounded like a wonderful thing and they set the whole community up for electricity. They had a "Generator Building" that provided electricity for the whole community.
The community was run by 8 women who served as the Planetary Court (Dr Teed was very much into astrology and at the time there were 8 known planets that were visible with the technology of the time). Because the outside world still didn't respect women, they had male counterparts to deal with the outside community in matters of law and politics.
Many of the original structures still stand. In 1961, the last 4 remaining members deeded the settlement and 305 acres to the state of Florida. Now it is a State Historical Site.

I saw a gopher tortoise while I was there. He was munching on grass and having a good ol' time before he saw me and gave me this dirty look :)

Monday, October 13, 2008

Hunting the Florida Skunk Ape

As most of you know, I work stupid hours and I get very little time to do fun things. It's the price you have to pay when you want to do the big fun things (like international travel). But I decided to do something fun and exciting this weekend and knock off one of my Weird Florida attractions. I figured it was about time to go check out the Skunk Ape research facility. I didn't get to see any skunk apes, but I bought a corny video (it was so corny my friends and I were forced to watch it twice as it was too much mocking for a single viewing) and a t-shirt. The mythology of the skunk ape is somewhat intriguing, but the video was not a great supporter of the cause. However, I believe it may turn into a standard watch.

Besides the skunk ape, they have a small petting zoo in the back. The guy that gave the tour was very knowledgable and I very much enjoyed my conversations with him.
I've seen people hand feed animals before but this is the first time I've seen a person mouth feed an animal. Oddly, this is the way this parrot prefers to get his cashews. If you'll notice in this picture, the parrots cheeks are a little pink. Apparently he only does that when there is a girl around. He's a big flirt and reacts immediately when there is a girl in the vicinity, regardless of the species of the girl.

I'm not experienced with birds much but he was a perfect gentleman and fluffed his feathers and would occasionally impress me with his limited vocabulary. It took about 5 minutes for this big bird to get overly heavy, but I very much enjoyed the experience.

This bird was the most affection bird I've ever seen. I didn't realize that birds like to cuddle! He curled right up into me and lifted his wings so he could get petted. He was the sweetest bird ever. If I had the time and energy, I'd be tempted to get one of these types of birds. He was very impressive.

I also got to hold this 3 year old gator. He was about 12 pounds and very docile. I got a rubber band around the nose just incase though, lol. It was still kind of fun to hold up an alligator.

There were a lot of snakes there also. I decided I didn't want to pet these though. Although my guide brought out quite a few for me to get a closer look at. The bunch he's holding in his hand below are all the same type of snake but they are different colors. Together it looks very cool.

While visiting Ochopee, I thought I'd make another quick stop at a famous landmark - the worlds smallest post office. It's still up and active, but considering Ochopee has a population of 11 (at least according to my Skunk Ape DVD) I suspect it works just fine.

Costa Rica June 2008

Here are some great photos from my latest trip.

This first set is the view from our hotel:

Here are some of the cute critters we saw:

Here are the monkeys that ran around out hotel all the time. There were also howler monkeys in the jungle but they never came into view - although you could here them periodically throughout the day and night. We had some that would start howling around 3am everymorning. Oddly enough, after I figured out that it wasn't a dog being beaten (yeah, thats what a howler monkey sounds like) it didn't really bother me much.

Iguanas were everywhere around the hotel. They liked hanging out at the bar where people might drop pieces of tomato. Since I strongly believe that all tomatos are evil (unless processed into BBQ sauce or ketcup) I happily shared mine with the critters. They made me nervous when they ran around though, because I was afraid I'd catch their tails under my rocking chair. I think all bars should have rocking chairs.

When we took a tour of Manual Antonio National Park, there was a part of the beach that was thick with Iguanas and Spiny Tails. They were beautiful and amazing. I forgot my camera that day, so none of those pictures.

If you look really close here you can see slices of leaf. These are being carried by leaf cutter ants. There are all over the place and amazing to watch but difficult not to step on.

Pretty poisen dart frogs! Oddly enough, if you take them out of their native habitat, they aren't poisonous anymore. Apparently their diets create the toxins that make them poisonous. Hmmm, maybe I'll get one for my nephew some day, hehe.

This is a bird eating snake. I don't know if it has another name or not - but that is what our guide called it. I liked its tiny non-viper head. It was very long and graceful but the light was bad in the rainforest, so this is really the only good pic we got.

The above photos are of the 2 toed sloth and the 3 toed sloth. Can't remember which is which. Both sleep high up in the trees and the blond one has an unpleasant disposition.

Monkeys Monkeys Everywhere!!!

There aren't any caves in Costa Rica, so the bats sleep hanging from trees! You can't tell from the photograph, but they are about 100 feet up the tree. Our guide had a wonderful telescope that we could utilize to take close up pictures with. Nearly all the guides had them and it allowed us to get photos we wouldn't normally be able to get.

This is a South American Agouti. It's basically a giant rodent. They are cute and quiet and forge for nuts. About the size of a pit bull, but less cuddley. We saw one about 6am from our balcony before the rest of the resort was active. This one Tina photographed while we were hiking in Manual Antonio.

Sleeping snake. Don't remember what type it was, but it was pretty as long as it stayed sleeping up in the tree!

Here are some pictures of some of the great activities we did!

I love zip lining!!! My friends were terrified for about 5 minutes until they discovered the total coolness that zip lining is. Nothing better than flying 300 feet above the canopy on a zip line!

Rappelling down a waterfall is much more difficult than it looks. We did two waterfalls. The first was the "practice" at around 300 feet. The second was much more difficult at around 500 feet. I'm glad I did it, but unless I learn to rappel well on dry land, I probably won't be trying this again.