My Fabulous Day Yesterday!

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The Naiad, Inspiration for the Undine in Swamp Ghosts
I swiped this photo from the St. Johns River Eco Tours FB Page
Go there to book a tour for yourself, and see how much fun it is.

You folks who know me best, know I’m very seldom out of the house these days. In a frenzy to tell my stories while I still remember what words are, I mostly spend my days at the computer, writing or researching. But yesterday, they LET ME OUT! Woohooo! The wonderful Captain Jeanne Bell of the St. Johns River Eco  Tours and her wildlife  photographer husband,  Doug Little, invited me to go along on TWO of their tours. And what a great time it was!

The weather was sunny and beautiful. Okay, I was hot, since it was well over 80 degrees out, but you can’t go by me. I haven’t been cool since 1972, and I mean that in every sense of the word. But most people were very comfortable, and the blue skies and brilliant green spring foliage made the trip simply breathtaking. And we saw it ALL, folks. Lots and lots of alligators, from some no more than a foot long, to a few truly big, big boys, and every size in between. All the usual wading birds were out–white ibis galore, little blue herons, great egrets, snowy egrets and quite a few giant wood storks. We even spotted a purple gallinule on the morning tour. But the highlight of the trip for me was when Doug called up several barred owls who came when he whistled, and put on a show for us. It was spectacular, and something I’d not seen him do on any of my earlier trips.

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And of course, because they are so supportive and understand the benefits of networking to each other’s mutual benefit, Doug did his spiel about how he and Captain Jeanne were the inspiration for my book, Swamp Ghosts, and I had a chance to address each group and talk a bit about my book, and my experiences in tackling writing and self-publishing at my age, with no prior training in either. We had a drawing after each tour, and the winners got a copy of my first book, Wake-Robin Ridge, plus an assortment of my custom tea blends I’ve been making up and naming for characters in my books. I sold and signed some books, and all in all, consider the day to have been everything I hoped for, and more!

We’ve been chatting a bit about building local readerships, and I just wanted to share one way to make it work. Here are a few pictures of things we saw, though these weren’t taken yesterday. If I get any that were, I’ll pass them along. (I was too busy having fun to take pics myself.)

THINGS WE SAW

American Alligator and Turtle on Log in Apalachicola River-L

Lots of these.

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A few of these.

Large Gator on Silver River

Even a few of these…

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But none of these! (Read Swamp Ghosts, and you’ll find out why not.)

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Some of these.

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More of these

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Kajillions of both of these…

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But only ONE of these.

We saw a whole lot more, but I have to stop somewhere. To see for yourself, check out

St. Johns River Eco Tours. You’ll have a fantastic time!

23 thoughts on “My Fabulous Day Yesterday!

    • Guess that means you’ll have to come back! 🙂 It is truly a great way to see a large piece of the river system, and a lot of the critters that live along it. I’ve canoed a LOT of miles on central Florida rivers, and I can say with absolute honesty that this tour is well worth it. Now that my back protests if I sit in a canoe very long, I do the tour every few months, just to get out and enjoy the river. It’s so peaceful and relaxing, and Captain Jeanne knows her stuff. I’m pretty good with birds and animals, which she & Doug are as well, but I bow down to her knowledge of the history of the river. And it’s a very interesting one, too.

      Hope you get to do this someday. Hope EVERYBODY does. No one who lives in Florida should miss it. This is the REAL Florida, at it’s best.

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    • Thank you, Leiah! So nice of you to reblog. This is just one of the reasons I love central Florida more than any other part of the state. My heart might be in the mountains of North Carolina, but the rest of me is HERE, so I cherish the things that make it special. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

        • Hope you’ll enjoy them, Leiah. As I say, those mountains touch my heart in ways I can’t even describe…though, of course, I TRY to in my Wake-Robin Ridge series. Though I’m a Florida native, and have lived most of my life here, I have a sense of coming home every time I return to the mountains. Just thinking about spring coming to those hills makes me smile…carpets of bluebells, and dogtooth violets, and acres of trillium, including the blood-red one known as the wake-robin. *sigh* And don’t even get me started on autumn in the mountains! Someday, I want a cabin up near Lake Lure or Bat Cave, just like Sarah’s in my book…only without the sad and violent history. 😀

          Liked by 1 person

  1. I would have loved to see the owls! And, I never thought I’d say this, but those baby alligators are SO cute. What a fabulous day! They seem like very nice people. That they’re willing to help you build a local readership is just icing on the cake. And I love your idea about making tea with your character’s names on them. You go, girl!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sue, I have these owls nesting across the street on our block. Their calls are amazing, and guess what? I can do it. When I hear one and call it, it will fly into my yard and check me out, then leave in a huff when it realizes I’m not a rival owl. 😀 But I’ve never seen anyone do what Doug did yesterday. More on that another time. Here is a link so you can hear what they sound like. I mention these birds in Wake-Robin Ridge, along with their “Who cooks for you-all” call.) The first one of these is the typical call, though I’ve heard them make all of these noises from my oak trees. http://www.learner.org/jnorth/tm/spring/OwlDictionary.html

      Couple more interesting things: this is the only dark eyed owl in the east, though I’m not sure about out west. All the rest have yellow eyes. And it is an owl that is often seen in the daytime, like yesterday, rather than only at night. Plus, they aren’t “eared” like the great horned owl, so their round head is distinctive for big owls in these parts. The term “barred” owl comes from the horizontal bars of brown across their breast area. There. Now you are an expert. 😀

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      • Forgot to say that Jeanne Bell and Doug Little inspired my characters in Swamp Ghosts and were acknowledged in the book in two places, plus I included links and contact info for them. They reciprocated by telling folks about my book, and then Doug incorporated it into his tour, by reading the blurb on the back, and letting folks know he’s my hero, Gunnar Wolfe’s, alter-ego. It’s become a fun thing for them, and I’m very happy to include slides of them in my PowerPoint presentation, and steer folks their way. The two tours I was on yesterday came about because one of the folks in the audience at my last presentation went straight to the marina and booked her whole social club of 40 folks for the tour.

        So this is a case of finding a way to help each other build our businesses (not that they were lacking in riders…they’ve been doing this a long time). But if I can return the favor by telling folks about them and their very excellent tour, then I’m so happy to do it. They have been wonderful to me, and yes, they are very nice people. It’s a win/win, for sure, and I hope reading about this will inspire other writers to look for similar opportunities in their communities. You never know when a chance might come along to build your readership while participating in something mutual like this. And it’s just plain fun!

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    • Funny thing…the temperature dropped 25 degrees today! I’m more comfortable, myself, but it’s a bit of a shock after yesterday, for sure. I’ll send you some pics soon…I’ll make you DROOL over the scenery! 😀

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  2. You’re most welcome, Christy. I wish I could take credit for the photos, but they aren’t mine. Just ones I found that were a good representation of things we saw on the tour. NEXT time, I’m going to take my own. Maybe. 😀 I get so busy scanning for birds with my binoculars, or watching the gators go by, I forget about photos. Glad you enjoyed it.

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  3. Those are some beautiful pictures! I saw an albino at the aquarium in SC when I was down around Labor Day last year, but mine aren’t anywhere half as good as that beaut. Woof! Also, just received “Swamp Ghosts” and goodies Friday evening. THANK YOU! I started reading it late yesterday and haven’t gotten very far yet. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • Just to be clear, those are not my photos. I wish they were! I do have photos of a pair of albino gators I saw at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm, but they aren’t anywhere near as beautiful as the photo of this one. Glad you received Swamp Ghosts, and also very glad the inspectors hadn’t confiscated your goodies. 😀 You are very welcome, and I hope you’ll really enjoy it!

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    • Thanks for sharing, Skye! Hope some of your followers will like this idea. It’s one more good way to build a local readership, and do some solid networking with businesses in your area. And it is fun, no matter the venue, but I confess, being able to do it aboard the Naiad was HEAVEN!

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