Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Aligators, and iguanas, and geckos, oh my!

As a rule, I generally dislike the state of Florida. I fail to see why thousands of people have migrated there over the years, especially from the north, even if the weather is warmer year round. The summers are incredibly humid, and unless you enjoy living all your life inside of an air conditioned environment, I don't see the attraction.

Then of course, there is the fact that a vast tract of the state is pure swamp. This does have its natural wonders in terms of wildlife, and certain vistas, but on the whole, the state is incredibly flat and uninteresting. (Sorry, my opinion only, other may vehemently disagree.)

This being said, I must admit that this trip down to visit the in-laws, plus and an old and dear friend of mine was by far one of the better ones. Case in point: Solomon's Castle

When my MIL first described this place, quite literally in the middle of nowhere, my first thought was, "You've got to be kidding?" But since the wife was very interested in going, my options were limited at best. So, off we went, into the hinterlands, and to my great surprise, I was quite taken by this artist and his self-contained habitat, built by himself, with no apprentices. It is one thing for a person to build his own home. It is another to build his own home, a restaurant built like a pirate ship, and other buildings by himself. His artwork, though eclectic, (which is really too weak a word to describe it) is undeniably fascinating, and brilliant all at the same time. He is also quite a paragon to self-reliance.

Adding to my surprise, was learning that he was originally from Rochester. The amount of talent that springs forth from this place still never ceases to amaze me.

Now, on the grounds of his castle abode live various creatures. One must steer clear of the fire ants, that if one gets too close, will give you some really nasty bites. I did however watch a fascinating battle for survival, as a honeybee that got too close to the ant hill was swarmed by this army of miniature Terminators. The bee was rolling around on the ground, desperately trying to get his attackers away from him, but as we left, I suspect that it probably was to no avail. The ants wanted lunch, and he was on the menu.......

Now, Zoe is rather fond of newts, as they populate her garden in Brussels. She treats us who visit her blog to pictures of them every now and then, so I thought she might appreciate some of their cousins that inhabit Florida:


Now this little gecko, seen in between the two posts, did not speak with a Cockney accent, nor did it try to sell me car insurance, but it did remind me of dear Zoe.

On the larger end of the scale, we had this big boy on the castle grounds:


He was a 22-year old iguana, that is very protective of his food. Probably a kissin' cousin of the newt, but prefers being out of the water.

No alligators seen on this trip, though there were plenty "Beware of Alligators!" signs wherever you went. If you want to catch some, you could always make a stop for some bait at your local Wal-Mart:


.........and I thought I had seen everything, until that.............

Addendum: I just realized that one might have seen such a thing as "Live Bait" growing up in NYC, but, it usually referred to the Mafia victims that were thrown into Jamaica Bay....

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

I really like the blog. I have been to florida but never really had a chance to explore. Someday I hope to be able too do just that.

Mr. Nighttime said...

Anon,
Thanks for stopping by. Yeah, there are nice parts of FL, but they are all away form the east coast, unless you are a big beach dude/gal. the Keys are quite lovely though, a definite tropical feel......

Holly said...

I'm glad you're having fun in Florida. I'm with you in not liking it all that much--not only is it hot and humid (I do prefer a dry it), but it's FLAT. I like a bumpy skyline. But the trip you made to Solomon's Castle sounds pretty great.