Ramblings around: Peace River Wildlife Center

Ramblings around:  Peace River Wildlife Center

Nestled in the corner of Ponce De Leon Park is a quiet little wooden building with a modest fence and gate around it.  This little piece of property does wondrous things.  It protects injured and permanently disabled birds found throughout the county.  It is the Peace River Wildlife Center.

The Wildlife Center is not what you expect.  The Peace River Wildlife Center is not run by any Local, State, or Federal government.

It is run by volunteers and is funded completely donations.

What they’ve been able to do with these donations is amazing!

There are huge areas for each class of bird that are optimized for their comfort.

Those birds that can fly have room for flight.

Those that love to swim have ponds to swim in.

Those that need “houses” have “houses” to dwell in.

The birds are all survivors of some sort of accident.   Some have lost wings, some have lost legs, but through the help of the hard working volunteers.  These birds live long, happy lives.

The volunteers have helped me on several occasions as well.  Whenever tree trimming time comes at my day job there always seems to be one baby bird that falls out of the nest.  It is quickly picked up and hopefully put back in the nest.  Other times the nest is destroyed by a storm, an accident, or by predators.  That’s when I take the bird to the Wildlife Center.  The people take in the orphan, no questions asked, and will even offer a web address to follow the bird’s progress and, hopefully, release back into the wild.  They do ask for a donation if possible and gladly take $5.00; but they will also take the bird in without any monetary offering.

Being an program that subsists completely on volunteering and donations, the Peace River Wildlife Center has learned to be very creative in how they collect donations.

The Peace River Wildlife Center asks just $5.00 donation for a tour.

They gladly accept your empty soft drink cans for recycling.

They have a wish list of items for donation.

They have fundraisers through various businesses in the county.

You can “Adopt” a bird for $10 a month.

You can become a member.

There is a gift shop where a small percentage of the item price goes to the center.

All donations are tax deductible.

And they will even happily accept Coke Reward points to “buy” items used at the fundraisers.

If you don’t have money and live close by, you can volunteer.

Linda Harrison, who is in charge of the Peace River Wildlife Center let me know that they are in need of people who can paint and can swing a hammer or saw wood.

She also let me know that the two main things the Center needs are Hurricane shutters and an off-site storage facility.   A shed.  See, the Peace River Wildlife Center is both blessed and cursed by being part of the Ponce De Leon Park.  While they enjoy a greater chance of people discovering them due to their location, they are also land-locked and cannot expand.  They have optimized the space allotted to them, but have no place for bulk donations.  A shed, a garage, or a storage unit close by would be a boon to them.

If you would like to donate I’ll will have the link for you below.  But what I would ask of you is to spread the word.  Reblog this post, post it on Facebook, Tweet it, Google plus it, anything and everything you can do to get the word out.  Let the world know about this wondrous place and the good that is done there.  If you don’t want to use this blog, use their official website.  It won’t bother me one bit.  I have the greatest people in the world reading my blog and I know that you guys can do amazing things with just a click of a mouse.  So go crazy and let your spirit soar!  The Peace River Wildlife Center will be glad you did.

If you’d like to see more, you can check out their live web cams.  Just type GUEST under User Name and 3400 for the password.

Web address:  http://www.peaceriverwildlifecenter.com/index.html

E-Mail:  info@peaceriverwildlifecenter.com

Address:  3400 Ponce de Leon Parkway (old W. Marion Ave.) Punta Gorda, Florida 33950

Phone: (941) 637-3830  fax: (941) 637-3857

Directions: 

FROM I-75: TAKE EXIT 164 Turn left onto US-17 / South Duncan Road toward Downtown Punta Gorda. Continue to follow US-17 South, US-17 South becomes West Marion Avenue. Crossing over U.S 41 North and South, Continue on West Marion Avenue passing Fisherman’s Village.

FROM U.S. 41 US-17 / West Marion Avenue

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Daydreams of: Yogurt-gate

The President bends down to wipe off the freshly spilled yogurt. “That’s the price for campaigning. You get hugged on by one young college girl and spilled on by the next.  Oh well.”

A college girl quickly tosses her empty yogurt cup away.  “I can’t believe I got away with that!”  She thinks.  “That lady was right.  Now where is she and where is my money.”

The First lady bows her head to hide a satisfied smile.  “Perfect!”  She thinks to herself.  “That’ll remind him not to get too friendly with the voters.  Now where’s the campaign financer again?”

This friendly reminder to enjoy the lighter side of the election year is brought to you for the Trifecta Challenge.

Thoughts of: A bucket list.

I have to let you in on a little secret.  I’ve never done one of these.  Honest!  Sure I had things I wanted to see, but they weren’t, “Must do before I die” kind of things.  But now I feel I have to look deep inside myself and see what I do want to experience before I die.  Why now?  Is it some mid-life crisis or some deep rooted fear of the dreaded Mayan clock?  Nah.   It’s because Lesley Carter from Bucket List Publications is asking for people to submit their list.  One lucky person will get a chance to do one thing on their list with her help.  Sounds like fun, right?

So here’s my first quandary:  Do I make the list just for me or do I include my wife.  She is a big part of my life and we many things together, but there are something’s that I want to do that she wants no part of and vise-versa.

Quandary number two:  Do I put a twist on the bucket list and make it, ”Things my wife will kill me for doing.”  I don’t mean something as tawdry as having an affair, or anything similar.  I mean like learning how to ride a motorcycle and riding cross country, or learning to fly a Sport-light Aircraft (Bigger than an ultra-light).

Either way it could be fun and entertaining.  (Of course I’d blog about it as long as my wife hasn’t killed me in the meantime.)

I see also that Leslie would like the list to have local items on it.  That makes sense.  Air fare and hotels are pricey.  Choosing something local also helps the local economy via advertisements.

After thinking about it, I’ve decided to mix in a little bit of everything.  Some items will be for me; some will be for me and the wife; some will be dangerous as in my-wife-will-kill me dangerous; one or two will be long distance, and all will be fun.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you, my first official Bucket List!

*Not in any semblance of order

Take the fast boat to Key West

Visit Universal Studio’s Wizarding World of  Harry Potter

Take the standard course at Tom Brown Jr’s tracking school.  (Great for my hikes in the woods.)

2 Day driving school at Skip Barber in Sebring

Learn to ride a horse at Riding Star Ranches  (Western Style)

Take and ECHO Global Farm tour

Fly in a Piper Cherokee

Go Ghost hunting in St. Augustine

Rent a Porsche Carrera for a day and tool around Sarasota

I’m sure I could think of more if given enough time, but that’s a good start.  What’s on your list?

Witre one up and send it in to Lesley at Bucket List Publications.  Who knows?  You might cross one off sooner than you think.

Submit your bucket lists to: info@bucketlistpublications.com Put “Bucket List” in the subject line. Include your name, blog address, current city/town & country See http://www.bucketlistpublications.com/2012/02/09/2012-bucket-list-adventure-awaits/ for an example bucket list. 

Daydreams of: Confidence

The lone author looked deep into the computer screen.  A heavy furrow lined his forehead as he tried to decipher what he had just seen.  He had just finished watching a tutorial video dealing with the technical side of the internet and he was left feeling like he had just seen a communique from an alien world.  It made no sense.

Below his chair, just off to the side, lay his faithful companion, Sadie.  Quiet and calm for once, Sadie acted as if she knew how frustrated her friend was.

Shaking his head, the author looked down and took Sadie in his confidence.

“I have no idea what I’m doing.”  He confessed.  “Should I replay the video or just admit defeat and call the help desk and risk looking like an idiot because I don’t understand the tutorials? I gotta get this done sometime.  I already paid for the program.  I might as well use it.”

Sadie replied by stretching her body and grabbing the ball that was lying nearby.

The author laughed.  “You’re right.”  He said.  “I set it aside for a while and come back to it after with fresh eyes and a clear mind.

Sadie wagged her tail.

Part of my continuing saga of the Trifecta Challenge.

Thoughts of: The Wandering Turtles

Slogging through a muddy road, a lone pickup pushes its way forward.  With a slide in camper in its bed, the two explorers enjoy the challenge and regale the reader of exotic places, friendly people, and not so friendly situations as they travel from California to Tierra Del Fuego.

Meet Gary and Monika Wescott, Intrepid explorers of “The Turtle Expedition” since 1972.

I first discovered them while thumbing through an issue of Four Wheeler magazine.  That was in 1982, so they already had ten years of solo exploration before I heard of them.  Gary had even more experience and stories to tell when you count his time in the Camel Trophy challenges by Land Rover.

What hooked me was the fact that they were using something I saw on the road everyday as their own version of the USS Enterprise, discovering strange new worlds and seeking out new lives and civilization here on our own planet.  Yeah, the rest of the magazine had glossy pictures of tricked out trucks and hard-core off-roading thrills.  I didn’t care.  These two people were doing the real challenge.  Going from place to place where if you broke down, there is no walk out an hour away or taxi to call once you get to base.  They were on their own and had to be self-sufficient.  Sure, they could have stuck to the paved highways and side streets for their trips, but they wanted more than what the asphalt offered.  They wanted the secrets of the land that only the dirt roads and two-track lanes could offer.  They were sailors crossing the ocean in search of little known islands, but on land.

Their truck was there means to an end.  Compared to the over the top rigs splashed across the pages and cover of the magazine, the Turtle seemed positively mild.  Looks were conceiving though as I learned about the tan truck and what it was built for.  It had a mild lift, a change to the suspension to allow better clearance between the important parts of the underside and possible debris and rocks on the road.  The Turtle also had off-road tires, a brush guard, and winches to pull it out when it got stuck.

The Turtle also came with a shell; A camper shell to be exact.  It was a unique camper boasting a lightweight aluminum frame and a top that opened up another eight inches for walk around room.  When closed, that camper had such a low profile that it let the truck go places bigger trucks wouldn’t fit.  The low weight of the camper allowed more items of comfort and necessity to be carried without overloading the truck.  The Turtle was home, car, and fortress rolled into one.

And they took it all across Central and South America.  When they had finished, Ford was so impressed they offered the Wescotts a new pickup for their next adventure.  And what an adventure it turned out to be, for the next time the Wescotts looked east instead of south.  The Turtle’s next expedition was through Siberia during winter!  Over frozen lakes and through sub-freezing temperatures, Gary and Monika drove the Turtle from one end of Russia to the other and when they finished, pushed on until they explored Switzerland.

Today they are putting the finishing touches on their preparations for their next great voyage.  The Silk Road.  They will be driving their latest version of the Turtle from Portugal, through 26 countries and finishing inside China.  It’s been many years of planning and testing new equipment for this challenge and they are excited!

I am too.  The Wescotts have been a big influence on me as I grew up.  Their stories dovetailed neatly into my own local adventures.  Like them I prefer seeing Nature to the taillights of the car ahead of me.  I’ll look for that gravel road instead of the paved highway when possible.  And while my life choices have led to a more domestic lifestyle, I can still join Gary and Monika on their grand explorations.

I am reminded of a question a brilliant world traveler asked one time.  “Why would people want to read about my adventures when they can have their own?”  The answer was always simple.  Without those to inspire us, where would we get that spark of excitement and encouragement to go?  Reading and thinking of these two adventurers years ago cemented my own will to have adventures of my own.  I hope they inspire and encourage you to go have an adventure of your own.

If you’d like to follow them you can find The Turtle Expedition here.

http://turtleexpedition.com/

And their Facebook page here.

http://www.facebook.com/turtleexpedition

Daydreams of: Goldilocks and the three bears

A photograph of 3 teddy bears.

A photograph of 3 teddy bears. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The air flashed bright as lightning streaked outside the window followed closely by the crashing and moaning of thunder.  Wind whistled seemingly everywhere as branches clawed desperately at the house, trying to get in.

Alone in her crib, a young child witnessed it all, her eyes red with fear.  Hands gripping tight onto the soft blanket, she jumped yet again when the flash of light and the boom of thunder echoed around her.  But she did not cry for help.    Instead she looked across her crib to the three stuffed bears that looked back at her.

“I’m scared.”  She said to them.

The largest stuffed bear smiled and said, “Don’t be.  I’m papa bear.  I’m big and strong.  I’ll protect you.”

“You will?”  She said, amazed that the teddy bear talked to her.

“And I’ll help you too.”  Said the second bear, “I’m momma bear.  Just hold on to me and I’ll comfort your fears away.”

Goldilocks touched Momma Bear’s fur and cooed.  “Mmmm.  Soft.”

“I can help too!”  Came a cry from the third teddy bear.

“Who are you?”  Asked Goldilocks.

“I’m the baby bear.”  Replied the little stuffed animal.  “I’m small, just like you.  We can be brave and not be scared together.”

“I’d like that!”  Cried Goldilocks happily as she wedged herself between the group of bears.

Snuggling down ,she closed her eyes and murmured, “I’m safe.”

For my weekend entry of the Trifecta Challenge.

Ramblings of: Timeshares and other temptations

It’s a rite of passage here in Florida, the call of the timeshare.  It starts out innocently enough.  At events, trade shows, or even posted on billboards there is an ad offering a free cruise, trip, flight, or ticket to an exotic or not so exotic location.  All that is required is two hours of your time.  They’ll even throw in a gas card to cover your costs there as well.  Such a deal.

Or is it?

Having spent time at a few of these I can say it all depends.  Let me give you a few tips on what to expect before you jump in.

Number 1:  The trips are not free!  The main part might be, but you have to pay the taxes and if it’s a cruise, it’s an inside room and you’ll have to pay the docking fees as well.  The one time I didn’t have to pay taxes was for tickets to Disney.  The timeshare company buys them in bulk and the tickets are so cheap that the company can swallow the taxes easily.

Number 2:  They are going to point out all the pretty things first.  Just like an obnoxious 70’s car salesman, the person showing/selling the time share is going to show you the best/highest priced room/condo first.  Full of features and amenities, they dazzle you with the glitter.  Then as they go on, they show the middle and lower end rooms, all the while showing the newly built rooms and not the older models.

Number 3:  They constantly build and build upon the perceived value.  As you expend energy going from place to place and get tired from the script, the sales person keeps adding features that you might or might not use.  (I’m not a fan of pools myself, and the last thing I want to do is run on a treadmill when on vacation.  I think that all the walking around I’ll be doing is more than enough.)

Number 4:  They’re going to state the price then drop it, if you buy today.  Just like the old Ginsue Knife, buy today and save 25%!

Number 5:  The salesperson is looking to make money.  They like eating and this is how they pay for their food.  Expect them to try to get a sale.

Number 6:  If you’re lucky and in a large enough group, the salesman will ignore you and focus on the people who are the most interested.  The whole process of the sales pitch separates who’s really interested and who’s just there to get the “free” gift.  (See Number 1)

Now the real question you have to ask yourself is:  Is my time and mental energy worth the discount I am being offered?  The answer is up to you.  I’d rather pay for a day pass at Disney then deal with a time share, but a six night cruise costing $649 per person, not including taxes and port fees might be worth thinking about.

The second question you have to ask yourself is, can you afford it if you do say yes?  Many people out there went to these things just for the trip/reward and ended up buying the thing.  Is that possible for you and can you really afford it?

As I stated before, going to a time share sales pitch is a rite of passage for a Floridian.  In fact, you might get kicked out of the state if you live here long enough and don’t go to one.  It’s the Florida version of penance.  If you decide to try one, take a copy of the points above and see how many they hit.  It’ll help keep you grounded from all the glitter and give you something else to do when the sales team member groans on and on and on about the view and wallpaper.

Good luck!