The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.
Here’s an excerpt:
A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 1,800 times in 2011. If it were a cable car, it would take about 30 trips to carry that many people.
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Alberto Santos-Dumont was a wealthy Brazilian who, following his first ride in a hot air balloon in Paris in 1897, became thrilled with flying. He became an inventor and excellent self-taught engineer and craftsman. Santos-Dumont went on to design several early dirigibles, gliders, and airplanes.
In 1908 Santos-Dumont built and flew his third airplane called the Demoiselle. It weighed and cost less than a motorcycle of the day, and has been described as the world’s first ultra-light airplane. The Demoiselle was a monoplane constructed of canvas and bamboo with three bicycle wheels for landing gear, and powered by 28 horsepower flat twin Darracq engine. The plane could be disassembled, carried in the back seat of a car, and reassembled when the owner wished to fly. Nicknamed the “infuriated grasshopper,” the Demoiselle flew well with small pilots, could reach speeds up to 60 miles per hour, and held the world’s altitude record at one time.
The aircraft in the accompanying photos is a flying replica of the Santos-Dumont Demoiselle. The primary difference between the replica and the original is the substitution of metal tubing for the bamboo in the airframe construction. The photos were taken during an antique aircraft fly in hosted by the Wings Over Miami Air Museum located at the Kendall-Tamiami Airport near Miami, Florida.
The National Key Deer Refuge is located in the lower Florida Keys encompassing 25 islands, the largest of which, is Big Pine Key. The habitat consists of a patchwork of pine and mangrove forest, hardwood hammocks, freshwater wetlands, and marine estuaries.
Key Deer, the smallest sub-species of White-Tailed Deer, are found on these islands. The small size of these deer is a result of the limited availability of food and freshwater on the islands. The deer are about the size of large dogs with bucks averaging 80 pounds and does about 64 pounds. Key Deer are listed as endangered by the Federal government because their population is low and remains under threat of extinction from human interaction. The current population is estimated to be between 600 and 750 deer. Speed limits on both Big Pine and No Name Keys are strictly enforced to protect the deer. Even so, 10 to 15 percent of the population may be killed by cars in any single year.
The deer are best observed at dawn or dusk at the far end of Key Deer Blvd. and along Long Beach Road on Big Pine Key or along Watson Blvd. on No Name Key.
The Niagara Falls are the most powerful waterfalls in North America. They are located on the Niagara River which drains Lake Erie into Lake Ontario and forms the international border between Ontario, Canada and the state of New York.
I grew up within an hour’s drive of the Falls, and had the opportunity to see them numerous times from a variety of vantages such as Goat Island at the very lip of the Falls, the Maid of the Mist boats at the base of the Falls, and from the cockpit of a light airplane while taking family and friends up for rides.
The Niagara Falls are well-known for both their beauty and as source of hydroelectric power. Visitors from around the world come to see the Falls during the summer months enjoying the spectacle both during the daytime and after dark when they are illuminated by colored floodlights. The Lewiston and Robert Moses hydroelectric power plants downstream of the Falls supply electricity to nearby parts of Canada and the United States.
One of the photos captures a view of the American and Bridal Veil Falls in the foreground, and the Horseshoe or Canadian Falls in the background. The other photo depicts the Horseshoe Falls from the deck of the Maid of the Mist.
Pumpkin and Spudnick are residents at the Southern Florida Wildlife Rehabilitation Center, Inc. in Homestead, Florida. Aside from rescuing and rehabilitating local wildlife, the center specializes in caring for abused and negelected big cats.
Pumpkin is a female panther who had been kept illeagally by her previous owner. During her time with this individual, she managed to escape from her cage on one occassion. Following her escape, her previous owner took a hammer and broke the bones in her left front paw as punishment. As a result, Pumpkin is very distrustful of humans, and does not like people touching her. With the help of some of the center’s volunteers, her previous owner was successfully prosecuted for animal cruelty, and sent to prison for 2 years.
Spudnick is a male panther who had been confiscated from his previous owner by animal control authorities, and brought to the center. His previous owner had used him to fight up to 3 pit bulls at a time while gambling on the outcome. Spudnick was in very bad physical shape with 14 bite wounds when he arrived at the center, and still does not trust people. For a time, he was placed in a cage with a female panther named Elsie in order to help socialize him. Both cats were thought to have been neutered/spayed however, this was discovered not to be the case when Elsie subsequently had 3 kittens: April, Indy, and Miri.
Built in 1825, the Cape Florida Lighthouse is recognized as the oldest structure in South Florida and was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1971.
It became the only lighthouse to have been attacked by Native Americans when a band of Seminole Indians attacked and burned the tower in July of 1836. The threat of further attacks prevented reconstruction for more than ten years and, the lighthouse remained out of service until 1847, when it was rebuilt. A U.S. Army base was later built nearby to protect the land and sea from subsequent attacks. Later in January 1861, Florida seceded from the Union, and one night in August of that year, the lamps and burners were removed from the lighthouse and the center prism of the lens was smashed so it could not be used to help the Union sailors controlling the surrounding waters.
After the Civil War, Cape Florida Light was repaired, but in 1878 it was extinguished, this time because the offshore Fowey Rocks Light had replaced it. By the 1920s the coastline had eroded so much that the lighthouse, originally 100 feet from shore, now stood only 10 from the water. Tropical storms had also destroyed the keeper’s house and cookhouse.
The lighthouse was finally purchased, along with the tip of Key Biscayne, by the State Cabinet in 1966. Following the opening of Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park, named in honor of the news editor who spearheaded the campaign to save the lighthouse, it underwent its first restoration in 1967-70. One hundred years after Cape Florida Light had been extinguished, it was re-lit on July 4, 1978. The rest of the station was also brought back to life, as the keeper’s dwelling , outhouse, cookhouse, and cistern were all rebuilt. However, following Hurricane Andrew the light and keeper’s house had to be restored a second time in 1992-96.
The lighthouse is open for tours at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m., Thursday through Monday. While the 109 step climb is not for the faint hearted, the fresh breeze and beautiful views from the tower’s top are well worth it. Inside the lighthouse property, you will also find a replica of the keeper’s cottage burned by the Seminole, which contains displays depicting early life on the island.
These harbor seals were photographed just offshore of Monterey California‘s Cannery Row. Harbor seals are found in coastal areas of both the North Atlantic and North Pacific oceans. They typically exhibit two color phases, light and dark. During the winter months, harbor seals spend most of their time at sea feeding on fish, octopus, and squid. They breed and molt during the summer months; and are often seen in groups hauled out on sand bars, beaches, or exposed intertidal reefs.
Mount Rainier, an ice-clad volcano rising 14,411 feet, is the highest point in the state of Washington. A striking landmark in the Pacific Northwest, its cap of glacial ice makes the mountain doubly impressive. Currently dormant, Mount Rainier is not considered extinct. It belongs to the class of exploding volcanoes, similar to Mount St. Helens, and could one day re-awaken.
Mount Rainier’s 34 square mile of glaciers constitute the largest single-peak glacial system in the contiguous United States; with 26 glaciers extending down the mountainside. Forests cover the mountainsides up to 5,000 feet, gradually transitioning to alpine meadows of wildflowers and grass up to the timberline at 6,500 feet. Deer, bears and mountain goats inhabit the forests, meadows and ridges. These photographs of the mountain and its summit were taken October 1998.
Khan was a male African lion that I had the privilege of helping to care for while volunteering at the Southern Florida Wildlife Rehabilitation Center, Inc. in Homestead, Florida. Khan was brought to the center by animal control authorities after having received a severe beating from his trainer at a traveling circus.
As a result of his injuries, Khan was never able to be kept again with other lions, and spent his remaining years enjoying his retirement at the center. In spite of the mistreatment that he had received at the hands of humans, Khan was one of the gentlest big cats I’ve ever worked with. He always enjoyed having someone brush his huge mane, and would delicately take food when being hand fed. Khan eventually reached the age of 23 before passing, which is about twice the life expectancy of a lion in the wild.