Clearwater Beach Sugar Sand Festival

Just the other day my wife and I went to The Clearwater Beach Sugar Sand Festival at Pier 60. I believe this was the third year we attended this event. Every year there is a different theme. Last year was a Celebration of Musicians which you can see here. This year’s theme is  Celebrating America. The eleven sculptors come from all over the world. The artists do not use molds. It’s all done using brushes, utilities tools and other instruments.

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Mount Rushmore

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Salty Fishermen

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Wall Street

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Edgar Allan Poe

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Abraham Lincoln

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Louis Armstrong and Charley Patton

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Holiday Road

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Lighthouse

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Route 66

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Monroe and Chaplin

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Casey at the Bat

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America’s National Parks

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Recent Read: The Deep Blue Good-by

The DeepThe master of Florida noir, John D. MacDonald was admired by writers like Stephen King, Lee Child and Dean Koontz among many others. MacDonald’s most famous character was Florida’s dark-knight Travis McGee.  In his first adventure, there were 21 books in the series, McGee willingly helps out, he called himself a “salvage consultant,” a young woman recover illegal funds her father stole and smuggled back home during the war.  His fee is fifty percent of what he recovers.

Travis’ methods of getting information are not always, I guess you can say legal. In this book, he strips one drunk guy, ties him up in a shower, hits him with cold water to sober him up, and then with hot scorching water to get him to talk. That said, McGee can be introspective, philosophical, sometimes cynical, and does have his moments of charm with women. Florida isn’t all fun in the sun.

 

Pelicans at Sanibel’s J.N. “Ding” Darling NWR

Earlier this week my wife and I took a short trip to the Naples area  of Southwest Florida. Included was a short day trip to the Ding Darling WLR on Sanibel Island where we were greeted by a small pod of Pelicans. Here are a few of my photographs.

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The Wrath of Hurricane Irma Comes to Florida

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 It’s been a stressful week for everyone in Florida lately and it has been getting worst with each passing day. This morning, Hurricane Irma made landfall in the Florida Keys as a category 4 with wind gusts up to 130mph. Last week, it was on course, according to hurricane trackers to head up the east coast. However, as the week went on, it has continuously moved in a more westerly direction and is now creeping up the gulf coast side of the state. My wife and I, and our cats, live just north of Tampa and are now almost in the storms projected path. At best, we are hoping that Irma weakens as it travels on land and gets down to a Cat. 3, even better a Cat. 2. We can only hope.

All week we have been making plans: buying non-perishable foods (healthy, and not so healthy stress relief stuff, stocking up on water, batteries, etc., and putting up shutters, thanks to some amazing help from my neighbor Larry.  

Rollo Hunkering downWith the outdoor furniture in the house, Rollo has hunkered down and taken shelter from the storm.

Currently, it about 1:30 PM and the rain bands have picked up. Unfortunately, this is only the beginning. Irma is the first Category 4 hurricane to hit Florida since Charley back in 2004. It’s also the first time that two category 4 hurricanes (Irma and Harvey) have hit the U.S. back to back. Dubious distinctions to say the least.

Fortunately, we are far enough away from the coastal waters that we do not have to worry about storm surge which is expected right now to be 5 to 9 feet. Many folks like to live right by the water. I understand that, it’s beautiful and serene, but there are risks. It doesn’t take a category 4 or 5 for storm surge to come rolling into your neighborhood and home. We are not that far away from the ocean but just enough to be out of any flood evacuation zone.   

For us here, the weather folks are predicting the worst part of the storm will arrive later today and continue overnight before things begin to improve on Monday. Hopefully, without much or any damage.  The entire state is under Irma’s siege. It’s a massive storm leaving nowhere in Florida safe from its wrath. 

One final note. Today (September 10th) is generally considered the “peak” of the hurricane season. Hopefully, it quickly goes downhill from here, but it last until November. Floridians stay safe.

    

Lucy of Largo

Lucy Screech Owl-CW (1 of 1)Last week we took a drive down to the George C. McGough Nature Park which includes the Largo Bird of Prey and Exploratory Nature Center. Inside the Nature Center, at the front desk, we were introduced to Lucy, a Screech Owl who has become the Center’s official greeter. Visitor’s love Lucy and I got the impression Lucy liked all the attention she receives.

Lucy Up CLose (1 of 1)Unlike the other birds of prey at the center, Lucy is completely healthy. So you  may be asking, what is she doing at the center? Why isn’t she out in the wild? Well, according to the  volunteers we spoke to, Lucy was stolen as a chick from her nest by someone who decided the owlet would make a good pet. She was so young, her eyes were still closed at the time. When she eventually opened her eyes, Lucy’s first sighting was that of the human who took her from her natural home. This person began posting photos on their Facebook page which was discovered by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission. The owlet was confiscated and the individual was given a hefty fine. Lucy, who only knew humans,  could not be released into the wild. She taken to the Largo Bird of Prey and Exploratory Nature Center where she is happy being among her own kind….people.

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Egret in Black and White

I photographed this egret at a nearby rookery a few years back and never did anything with it. Like so many photos, as you continue to shoot more and more, older works sometimes get buried and forgotten about. Originally shot in color, I finally decided it worked better as a black and white. Here is the final results.

You can see more of my work by clicking on John Greco Photography.

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Sarasota National Cemetery

sarasota-natl-cemenatry3-cw-1-of-1Back in January, we drove down to Sarasota to visit two local parks, Myakka River State Park and the Oscar Scherer State Park. Driving along State Rd. 72 on our way to Myakka, we passed by the Sarasota National Cemetery, 295 acres run by the Department of Veteran Affairs. We stopped and I  took a few photos.

The cemetery is less than ten years old. Groundbreaking began in 2008 and the first burials occurred in 2009. Among the more than 15,000 buried there are Florida native, Rick Casares, Korean War Veteran, and professional football player in the 1950’s and 60’s. Casares played for both the Chicago Bears and Washington Redskins in the NFL and the Miami Dolphins, then part  of the AFL.  Also buried there is Hal White, a World War II U.S. Navy Veteran who saw action in the Pacific, and was a major league pitcher for the Detroit Tigers, St. Louis Browns and St. Louis Cardinals.

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