The St. Marks Refuge Association is the Friends group of the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge. We support the refuge by managing the Nature Store, maintaining a membership, soliciting donations and gifts, writing grants, and volunteering for refuge events. Our proceeds enable us to contribute to Visitor Services, Biological Research, Environmental Education, and Wildlife Conservation. We are a 501 c (3) non-profit organization and all gifts and donations are tax deductible to the extent allowed by law.
The Fernbank Four met in California in early May, 2015, for a wondrous trip and stay on the Northern Coast! We had fabulous food everywhere we went and beautiful views from three lighthouse sites: Point Reyes, Point Arena and Point Cabrillo. An overnight in Mendocino gave us a chance to explore more and spend a morning at the Mendocino Botanical Garden. The coast holds many secrets including mountain roads, lots of cows, beautiful wildflowers and migrating whales! Spend a few days if you get a chance especially in the spring!
July 15, 2014, the Cape San Blas Lighthouse and several Keeper's Houses were moved to Port St. Joe, Florida. Ducky Johnson House Movers from Grand Ridge, FL accomplished this feat in nine hours. Lots of power, cable and telephone lines had to be moved to let the big convoy proceed. Rain fell during part of the move also. Several days later the houses were placed on piers in their permanent location in George Core Park in Port St. Joe. The lighthouse was raised the following week and will be a permanent attraction for this coastal town!
In early October 2012 the Fernbank Four met in Denver to begin their trip to Dixon, New Mexico. Our leader and host, Ginny, had an adventure-packed schedule lined up for us! Driving through southern Colorado we stopped at the Great Sand Dunes National Park. What a wonder to see! The next day we were on to NM and our adobe La Casita. We took day trips to Taos, Santa Fe and a wonderful train ride through the desert to Lamy, a nearly deserted town. The aspens in the mountains and cottonwoods along the rivers were yellow everywhere we traveled. A pueblo village in Taos and a cathedral in Santa Fe were highpoints of our stay in the great Southwest! Enjoy!!
Every summer while we vacation in Maine we go to the Topsham Fair which is a small town country fair with animals, carnival rides, good food and harness racing. I love the ox pull, something I've never seen anywhere else. This gallery shows the first day of competition which included the youth groups and younger teams. The oxen are not harmed and are trained just for these contests of strength.
Saturday, March 10, 2012, the Florida Park Service, District 1, held Volunteer Appreciation Day for CSO members and other volunteers who had given many hours of their time to support their state parks. This wonderful day was held at the Orman House Historic State Park and adjoining Chapman Botanical Garden in Apalachicola, Florida. Many Friends organizations and individuals received awards for their contributions to state parks in the past year.
The reenactment of the Battle of Natural Bridge takes place on the first weekend in March every year at the historic state park near Woodville, Florida just south of Tallahassee. The original battle occurred on March 6, 1865, as the war was drawing to a close. Reenactors dressed in the Blue and Gray skirmish on Saturday and hold the full scale battle on Sunday. Visitors can view authentic Confederate and Union encampments during the weekend.
The Fernbank Four gathered in Chicago in May 2011 to experience the delights of the Second City. Host Jeanie had everything set for a wonderful and comfortable adventure by the shores of Lake Michigan. The weather was chilly but we bundled up and enjoyed seeing the sights around town. We rode buses, the L train, the Metra train, riverboat, and a plane to get there! Saw the Bean, the Crown Fountain, the Chicago Symphony and the Frank Lloyd Wright House in Hyde Park. A good time was had by all!
Melinda with family and friends created a fabulous birthday party for Pete on his BIG 50th Birthday! Their garden courtyard was beautiful with tiny white lights and a huge Happy Birthday banner. Son Louis and friend Wyatt cooked a roast pig all night to a tender sweetness which was enjoyed by all. Jessica made a big cake with extra cupcakes so all could celebrate with Pete. Friends old and new came by to wish Pete "many more."
The Forgotten Coast of Florida lies along the Panhandle. It is bounded on the West by Mexico Beach, St. Joe Beach and Port St. Joe. Going East you come to Simmons Bayou, Cape San Blas, Indian Pass, and The City of Apalachicola on the banks of the Apalachicola River. Continuing east you come to Eastpoint, St. George Island, Carrabelle, Lanark Village, St. James Island, St. Teresa Island, and Alligator Point in Franklin County, FL. As you cross the Ochlockonee River on Highway 98 you enter Wakulla County, FL and Ochlockonee Bay, Mashes Sands, Panacea, Live Oak Island, Shell Point and St. Marks. The St. Marks Lighthouse and nature preserve is the easternmost place on the Forgotten Coast. Each area is different, and all are uncrowded Natural Wonders.
The Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens are located in Boothbay, Maine near Boothbay Harbor, a popular vacation destination. The Gardens include numerous areas filled with blooming plants and trees as well as walking trails, ponds and a new children's area that will thrill the young ones.
We visited in mid August and enjoyed the shady trails and the many opportunities for photographing blooms and butterflies. The coastal humidity and the care given by the staff have made a beautiful spot to visit in Midcoast Maine!
The Fernbank Four spent a week on a boat in sunny San Diego in March 2010. Side trips were made to tour San Diego on the Old Town Trolley, Imperial Beach, Balboa Park (twice), the Scripps Aquarium in La Jolla, Henry's, El Patio, and the Del Coronado. Good friends, good food and great scenery! These landlubbers made out okay on La Solana. Thanks Karen and Terry!
During our summer vacation we took a day trip to Monhegan Island which is ten miles off the coast of Maine. It has always been a favorite destination of artists and those who want to get away from it all. Unfortunately the lighthouse was being restored but the lighthouse museum was open and very interesting. It was a beautiful day and we enjoyed walking around the island taking in the beautiful flowers and scenery.
On July 19, 2009 my husband and I took a guided trip to Machias Seal Island off the coast of Cutler, Maine. The day started off foggy, but all participants were excited and anxious to get underway. Our captain, Andy Patterson, got us safely on to the island where we were ushered to a blind for an hour and a half of photographing these unusual and rare birds. Puffins have the orange bill, razorbills have the thick black bill and the taller black and white birds are murres. It was a thrilling day!
We had a great time visiting with my brother Paul and his family in Maine this summer! After a lovely cruise on Casco Bay some were brave enough to try the chilly waters off Harpswell. Then Ellen and the girls cooked up a delicious dinner. Our Dad left us a legacy of wanting to spend summer in Maine!
The Battle of Natural Bridge occurred on March 6, 1865 near the end of the Civil War near Woodville, Florida. Union ships landed near the lighthouse at St. Marks and troops advanced on the east side of the river until they reached the natural bridge. Confederate troops were waiting there and the battle raged all day. The Rebels were able to repulse the Yankees and Tallahassee was saved as the only southern capital never taken during the War.
The Alligator Farm is a fascinating zoological park filled with alligators and crocodiles from all parts of the world. But the best part is the outdoor lagoon where hundreds of wading birds come to nest every spring. They seem to know that the gators keep other predators away from their nests. Occasionally a chick may fall and become a snack but the percentage of chicks that mature is far greater than the average in other unprotected rookeries. It's a photographer's dream!