The Last Seal of Winter

By Vladimir Brezina

We saw plenty of wildlife—dolphins, turtles, sharks, birds—last month in Florida. But no seals.

So yesterday we paddled down to Swinburne Island, where seals have never yet failed us, during the winter months. But spring is now, finally, upon us, with temperatures warming dramatically—time for the seals to return north, to their summer homes in Maine and Canada. We may have left it too late…

We paddled around Swinburne a couple of times, sat and scanned the water, waited expectantly… Nothing.

Then, just as we were about to leave, a lone seal head popped up.

The last seal of winter…

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Monument

By Vladimir Brezina

This week’s Photo Challenge is Monument.

… there is an attraction, a special charm in the colossal to which ordinary theories of art do not apply.

Gustave Eiffel

He had a point there. It certainly applies to Eiffel’s own Tower; in fact I believe that was his answer to those who questioned why his tower had to be so big. And it applies to Bartholdi’s Statue of Liberty, which would be an unremarkable sculpture if it weren’t for its monumental scale—

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And here are some other monumental sculptures, beautifully scattered in a monumental landscape of hills, forests, and fields, in the Storm King Art Center, about an hour’s drive north of New York City—

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We found ourselves there, almost accidentally, in late November 2012. The raw strength of the sculptures fit well into the bare landscape. But no doubt the sculptures will also complement, in a different way, the fresh green leaves that will soon cover the trees all around them. We’ll have to go back this Spring…

Of course, the monumental scale can also be misapplied—

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Travel Theme: Clean

By Vladimir Brezina

Ailsa’s travel-themed photo challenge this week is Clean.

Many are incredulous that the waters around Manhattan are clean enough to swim in.

But it’s true.*

MIMS 2012
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MIMS 2013

These are photos from the last three years of the Manhattan Island Marathon Swim, a world-class, 28.5-mile swim around Manhattan, organized by NYC Swim every June or July. (Stories and more photos are here, here, and here.) This year on June 14, June 28, and July 12!

*Of course, you should still probably get your shots first ;-)

Everglades Challenge, Segment 3: Magic Key to Indian Key

By Johna Till Johnson
Photos by Vladimir Brezina

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Nap on the beach

Start: Magic Key, Estero Bay, Monday, March 3, about 4 PM.
Finish: Indian Key, Ten Thousand Islands, Tuesday, March 4, about 10 PM.
Distance: 52 nautical miles (60 land miles).
Paddling time: 24 hours.
Rest time: 6 hours.
Average paddling speed: 2.2 knots.

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Everglades Challenge, Segment 2: Cape Haze to Magic Key

By Johna Till Johnson
Photos by Vladimir Brezina

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Along the Intracoastal Waterway

Start: Checkpoint 1, Cape Haze Marina, Englewood, Sunday, March 2, about noon.
Finish: Magic Key, Estero Bay, Monday, March 3, about 9 AM.
Distance: 45 nautical miles (52 land miles).
Paddling time: 19.5 hours.
Rest time: 1.5 hours.
Average paddling speed: 2.3 knots.

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Everglades Challenge, Segment 1: Fort De Soto to Cape Haze

By Johna Till Johnson
Photos by Vladimir Brezina

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Sparkling in the sun

Start: Fort De Soto Park, Mullet Key, Saturday, March 1, 7:00 AM.
Finish: Checkpoint 1, Cape Haze Marina, Englewood, Sunday, March 2, 2:10 AM.
Distance: 55 nautical miles (63 land miles).
Paddling time: 18 hours, 10 minutes.
Rest time: 1 hour.
Average paddling speed: 3.0 knots.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Threshold, Take Two

By Vladimir Brezina

This week’s Photo Challenge is Threshold:

“A threshold is a point of entering; that point just before a new beginning — that split-second moment in time, full of anticipation. All the hard work is over; relief is palpable.”

But then, as often as not, an unanticipated trap springs shut and your life spins in quite a different direction…

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This post was inspired by 2812 Photography’s “Threshold” post and the questions it asks.

The first, more benign, “Threshold” post was here.