Weekly Photo Challenge: Merge

Sun Rise on St George Island, FL
Sun Rise over the Gulf of Mexico on St George Island, FL

It didn’t take me as long to come up with an image for “merge” this week as a part of the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge (Merge), but it also looks like one of the more popular posts from the traffic as well. A sunrise might be a little more cliché than my previous posts, but we just got back from the beach, and this is what you shoot at the beach. I also have an extreme fondness for sunrises and sunsets. Twice a day we get such a unique view of God’s creation, and no two are ever the same. Last year I watched two sunrises and almost three sunsets in about a 24-36 hour period when I flew from Atlanta to Africa (which I actually don’t think I have posted yet).

I love the topic of photographically showing merge. There is no better way (to me) to photographically exhibit the topic of merge than a sunrise or sunset over the ocean, except perhaps a heavy fog. The night merging into the day. All the colors merging and blending all into one. Then the horizon disappearing or reappearing, marking a change in time from one day to the next. This shot was taken yesterday looking out over the Gulf of Mexico from St. George Island, FL just about 30-45 minutes after sunrise, just about the time all the color in the sky and water faded into dull blues. It was just as peaceful in person as it looks in the photo above.

I’m going to do another post later with just photos from St. George, so for now, here is my version of “merge” for this week. Be sure to check out some of the other entries below.

Other Related Posts:

  1. Weekly Photo Challenge: Merge « Ruth E Hendricks Photography
  2. Weekly Photo Challenge: Merge | Four Deer Oak
  3. Weekly Photo Challenge: Merge | Denise discovers…
  4. Weekly Photo Challenge: Merge… | Mirth and Motivation
  5. Weekly Photo Challenge: Merge « City Life Picture

Heat of Apalachicola and St George Island :: Friday Feet

Today we had a very last minute invite to St George Island, right across the bay from Apalachicola. This had to be our fastest trip ever down to the coast, no wait, second fastest… we once drove down to our Orange Beach marina for Thanksgiving in 2007 only to find out their wifi was not working and then made the 4-5 hour drive right back. We were there for about 60 minutes. This time we were down there for about 20 hours. It was plenty long enough to bake in the blasting heat, read another chapter in the Bonhoeffer biography (which is incredible), take a few pics for today’s Friday Feet, and make it back home.

Hard to believe how long it has been since Deb and I have been down to the gulf. We use to go down there about once a month but it’s been almost two years since we made the drive down there. I was instantly reminded why we use to go down there in December through February. The 100% humidity and 100*F weather going on right now was enough to make you run for cover.

Pacific Coast Sunset in Orange County :: Friday Feet

Sunset on the Pacific Ocean




This is hardly where I spent most of the day on Friday, but then after Catalyst West Coast was over I was so exhausted I decided to drive over to the coast to watch the sunset.  I ended up down near the Balboa Peninsula on the PCH and walked out to the beach just in time.  I have been in Southern Cal for 4 days, it has been cold and cloudy the whole time (after it was 100* the day before I got here) and late on Friday the skies just opened up.  It was one of the most beautiful sunsets I had witnessed in a long time and I will make it my Friday Feet post for this week.

For those looking for Catalyst West Coast images… I will start to post some of those when I get back. I am on my way to the airport right now, thanks to everyone at Catalyst and Mariner’s Church that made this week such a inspirational time.

Photos From Gulf Shores State Park Beaches

Tent at Night in Gulf Shores

Birds on the Beach

Sand on the Beach

Shells on the Beach

Water and Shells

Shell on the Beach

I finally got around to editing some of the photos from our camping trip last weekend.  We stayed at Gulf State Park in Gulf Shores Alabama, just down the road from where we use to live in Orange Beach at Bearpoint Marina.  This state park is one of the larger ones, but a little less on the “camping” side and a little more on the RV side of camp grounds.

We have visited this park several times before and it is a very well developed area just on the other side of the main road from the beach.  It does border the lake that is in the area and there is a golf course in the park as well, but if you are looking for a camping spot on the actual beach this is not it (nor were we expecting it to be).  It does have great access to the Gulf State Park beaches which are starting to get a little crowded at this point.  If you want an empty beach in the same area, same beautiful white sand, just take a short drive down to the National Seashore in Florida called the Gulf Islands National Seashore (though they don’t allow pets on the beach).

One thing about this area is the hurricane damage that is still present in the tree line.  Several years ago a hurricane topped all the tress around here so if you look at what is normally a pretty full pine tree forest type area, you see sort of a tree trunk grave yard. Pretty weird looking but some of the photos below are a few trees that made it among all the ones that were topped, and the smaller ones that have emerged.

We have been to all these beaches and most of the restaurants in the area so many times that we will probably make our way east next time toward Panama City where we haven’t spent so much time.  All in all it was wonderful and relaxing as always, and I did get to take a few photos while we were there.  You can see the complete slideshow of photos here on flickr.

On the Beach Again with the Whole Family :: Friday Feet

Scott, Deborah, and Ebby on the Beach

Scott, Deborah, and Ebby on the Beach

Scott, Deborah, and Ebby on the Beach

Scott, Deborah, and Ebby on the Beach

Last weekend Deb and I went back down to Gulf Shores for a quick camping trip.  Of course, being that we were camping we had no Internet access (at least non-cellular) which was weird, so I have some catching up to do on my blog.  I haven’t missed a Friday Feet post since I started it last year so this post-dated version was from last Friday.

Always an interesting weather time weather wise down here where thunderstorms usually start to roll in and winter still tries to hang on.  One day it is freezing and the next is it hot.  Thursday we arrived to a blustering tornatic frontal system and Friday it was sunny and hot.  It was still a great time to relax away from the computer and start thinking about Holy Week coming up.

I have several posts coming up on photos from that weekend, a few book reviews, and many more, stay tuned.  Have a great Holy Week this week.

An Empty Beach in Outer Banks North Carolina

Empty Beach in North Carolina

Empty Beach in North Carolina

This is just one of probably 5,000 images I have of an empty beach. People often tell me they can’t find any beaches without big crowds anymore, especially here in the continental U.S., but I beg to differ. More often than not, Deborah and I find ourselves on a beach with less than 10 people in a 5 square mile area.  This beach is one of our favorites.  In North Carolina you can go to the Outer Banks and find empty beach after beach.

Of course one of the keys to finding an empty beach is going when everyone else doesn’t want to go.  This may sound stupid, but if you want to get a tan and lay in the sun, then go where everyone else is going.  If you are interested in walking on a place like the photo below, go in the off season, it is great.  So far, we have been able to find empty beaches in North Carolina, Georgia, Florida, and some incredible ones in Alabama.

They are certainly nice places still left, you just have to look. This is one of our favorites spots, and it is usually empty all year long with white sand and no trash. It is COLD in the winter winds, but still a great place to spend an afternoon, and today, it is the image of the day.

Walking on the Beach is My Favorite Exercise

coldplay is what's on my ipod

All the bad weather stayed well north of us today and left us with the most beautiful Saturday we could have asked for. Partly cloudy, 82° with a slight breeze, and enough humidity to remind us we were actually on the coast. Probably the nicest weather we have had since Deborah and I started coming down here more than a year ago.

We had breakfast at one of our favorite morning diners, Waffle House, then went over to a local public beach access point so I could get in a good walk on the beach. I was going to walk to where I knew the beach was blocked by a pier construction, then walk back. The pier was about 4 miles away, with a nice state park beach about 2 miles from my starting location.

Walking is Great Exercise

I have walked on this beach many times before, and sometimes it can be a fast walk, sometimes, very slow. It depends on the tide and how deep you sink into the sand. Today it was a slow walk that really works the legs, especially since I was walking in my jeans for some dumb reason.

I walked the 4 miles to the pier, then back 2 miles to the state park pavilion and decided I had had enough at 6 miles. I text Deborah who was happily knitting at my starting point and she came and picked me up. It was a 6 miles walk that felt like 10, but it was good exercise and I enjoyed it very much. Nothing relaxes the mind like a beach, a walk, and an iPod.

Flipper’s is Now Opened

A new restaurant opened that we were hoping would be good, since it is right near the boat. It has been several other establishments prior to Flipper’s but it opened yesterday and today lunch was good. I had a grilled Mahi Mahi sandwich with sweet potato fries, both of which were GREAT. Deborah is going to try out their hamburger for dinner. Hard to mess up one of those but we have been to many places that did.

Nature in View

Today with the walk on the beach I had an hawk or eagle fly over head, dive in the water and catch a fish with its talons. It flew within about 50 feet of me, I could almost see what kind of fish the bird caught. He flew off across the beach, road, and back to his nest I guess. Beautiful bird. No dolphins yet today, but there are some really loud party goers two slips over and if I was a fish I wouldn’t be anywhere near this place right now. Maybe later.

Dinner at LuLu's Homeport and the Bama Breeze

bama breeze

We drove down to the coast today. We try to come down to the gulf coast as often as we can since this is where our sailboat is located (see this blog under the category coastal or tagged under sailboat). This is actually getting more of a challenge with the price of gas now close to $4.00/gallon down here, but it is still reachable, just would be nice in some gas friendly car.

Who knows, I may look back at this post in 6 months and the price may be $5.00/gallon by then. Makes our trip to Colorado in late summer a load of fun, gas wise.  Either way, we love it down here and we try to come as often as we can (which seems to never be enough).  Our favorite time to come down to the gulf coast is in the off season, you never have to wait for a table and the beaches are always clean and empty.  Of course one thing we love to do while we are down here on the coast is eat, and Orange Beach and Gulf Shores has no shortage of good places to eat.

There is Some Great Food Down Here

There are several restaurants we love eating at down here. Tonight are going to LuLu’s at Homeport, which is a localish restaurant (meaning it is half touristy and half locals) and tonight should be a great set by John Reno and The Half-Fast Creekers.

John Reno andthe half-fast creekers

The band played longer than we stuck around but they played a nice mix of their own music and the usual known pop most bands play for the tourists. I guess those here for their vacation expect to hear Cheese Burger in Paradise at some point when they come down here. Deborah and I enjoy hearing songs we know, but we do like hearing the original music each band creates, they all have their own flavor.

His music can be defined as trop rock – a mixture of rock-n-roll with an island theme. John Reno and the Half-Fast Creekers have been described as Hoagy Carmichael meets Toby Keith in Margaritaville! LuLu’s

One reason we love to go to LuLu’s when we are down here is for the live music. It isn’t the most quiet place in the world for sure, and probably not the cheapest, but if you are in Alabama’s gulf coast, stop by and have their open faced crab melt sandwich and enjoy some local music.

Nature in View

Down here there is always something going on. When we got back from dinner we had a nice pod of dolphins that were having a feast on the fish they had pushed into the cove across from our sailboat. We watched them jump, play, and eat for about 30 minutes and then sat in the cockpit of our boat and listened to them until we went to sleep.

There is always the Pelican, Sea Gull, and all the other water birds constantly flying around but we also have a pesky Gray Heron that seems to think our slip is his domain. He squawked at me several times trying to get on the boat and then again as he reclaimed his territory. The dolphins were kicking up so many fish that he was just waiting to pounce and he several nice dinners.

Other Images

A few other images from LuLu’s last night. The Bama Breeze (from the song of the same name, but I am pretty sure this is not the original) is just off the sand mound from LuLu’s and for the previous year we had been coming to this restaurant we didn’t even know it was out there. There was also another photographer there last night, she was shooting some private party but we shot her shooting them (really cool dreds too).

Scott at LuLu's at Homeport

The wait for a table in the summer time is supposed to be very very long, but we have never had to wait for a table, not once. Of course we have been there mostly in the winter and early dinner in summer but, still, no wait at all.

What You Do in January in a Cold Marina

View of the Sunset from the Marina

Deborah knitting on the boat in the marina

Now that the cold weather is here this is what you do, sit and knit. It is now to cold to sit outside in the cockpit for any extended period of time but we can still come down for the weekend and enjoy being here. Here is Deb sitting under a bunch of blankets knitting on the boat. Surprised she doesn’t have on her mittens and ear muffs but we did get the heater working this summer, thank goodness.

There will be warmer days but we still had a nice weekend down on the boat. Once again we were treated to wonderful sunsets, right off the transom but it was a little to cold to go outside and do much. What I should be doing right now is getting a list of all the things I want to do on the boat when it gets warmer but who can get motivated in this cold.

We did take several trips over to the beach where I could do some much needed walking and DK could knit, in the shelter of our tent. Photos of that will be coming soon, pictured above are two shots I took with my iPhone, not bad for a phone camera.  The first is of Deborah of course, knitting on the boat in the heat, the second was taken from the cockpit, both with my camera phone.

Pitching a Tent on the Empty Gulf Shores Beach

The weather is wonderful. It is cooling down, finally, and we found this fabulous tent thing at the dollar store. Can I hide out here forever? Scott says no, so tomorrow it is back to the house and back to our day jobs.

When we arrived at the boat there was a pod of dolphins, about 50 to 100 individuals, there to greet us. They were chasing schools of fish toward the shore and having a feast. Fascinating! Today we are off to the Shrimp Festival in Gulf Shores. Scott loves shrimp. Me, not so much. But I did spot a corn dog vendor yesterday while we were touring the arts and crafts part of the festival, so I’m set.  I love sitting on the beach with not another person around.  The photo here is just about what it is like here right now, empty on this beach.  It is October and everyone is doing other things.