Photography Portfolio Gallery 3

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Photography Portfolio Gallery 2

This gallery contains 99 photos.

Gallery | Leave a comment

Photography Portfolio Gallery 1

This gallery contains 19 photos.

Gallery | Leave a comment

April Fools’! (and apparently there are a lot of fools out there)

This last Tuesday was April 1st also known as April Fools’ day.  I was at work at station 22 in the morning waiting for my partner to show up who happened to be a new hire I had not met before coming from another station.  As we were standing in the bay talking, in walked this young guy carrying a firefighter helmet that was beyond destroyed.  The young man carrying it had a look of death on his face.  These guys are on probation for a year and can get in serious trouble or terminated at will so his concern was understandable.  The reality is he isn’t losing his job over a destroyed helmet.  It will just come out of his pay and he will get the nickname of “Flat top” out of it.

It turns out that the helmet blew out of the back of his truck and got caught under the car behind him grinding the top of it off.  He said that he tried everything to get the old woman to stop her car, but she refused.  He could hear the grinding and see sparks flying.  Eventually the helmet wore away enough that it flipped out the back of the car where he could go retrieve it.  That little event is cause for concern.  If he could hear it then that driver ignored her car shuddering and grinding and continued on while someone tried to warn her of something wrong with her car.  Wow!

So anyhow he walked into the bay with this:SAMSUNG

I have never seen damage like this to a helmet before.  That is impressive to say the least.  We all snapped some pictures of it and were talking about it when our driver/engineer made the comment that it looked like one of our local medical helicopter rotors sliced it off (company name withheld for reasons I will explain in a little while).  Bing! That  gave me an April Fools’ idea.  I posted pictures of the helmet on facebook with the caption along the lines of  “Don’t forget to duck while loading patients into the (name withheld) helicopter.”  I got the predictable comments of “That must be some headache” to a coworker who immediately posted “It is odd that all these close calls happen on 4/1”.

I also posted these pictures just to stir the pot a little more:

The new guy modeling his newly modified helmet

The new guy modeling his newly modified helmet


Then just to make sure nobody could say this wasn’t our department or that it was photoshopped, I posted a picture of our very own Andy posing with the helmet.


Then it went viral.  Everybody wanted to know if the firefighter was ok. What happened to the helicopter involved?  I saw that the photo got shared in other departments here in West Central Florida and even got shared as far away as New York and Ohio.  I got phone calls, text messages, and Facebook Pm’s asking if the story was real.  Once I told the inquirers the real story they laughed realizing that they had been pranked.

What I never expected was that the photo and phone calls would get to the CEO of (name withheld) medical helicopter company.  They were not as amused with my April Fools’ joke.  When the company I used to make my story sound real denied being involved people started calling other medical helicopter transport companies in the state.  This April Fools’ joke got around.  I can only imagine the CEO’s reaction when all of a sudden his phone got lit up with people asking about the firefighter one of his helicopters killed.

Then my Chief got a phone call.  At home.   I need to say, I have a good Chief.  He stood up for me without even having to talk to me first.  I was accused of slandering the company. Talk about no sense of humor.  In the short time while he was on the phone with the company representative they received four phone calls inquiring about the firefighter whose helmet had been sliced in half by the helicopter rotor and this was late in the evening.  I got a phone call asking me to take the post down.

Chief then got on Facebook thinking everything had died down… only to find that our logistics officer had done the same thing taking his own pictures totally unrelated to me and not knowing I had played the same prank!

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Who finds a hundred year old barge in the middle of the woods?

My wife has been hiking Croom Tract of Withlacoochee State Forest for a very long time.  She knows many of the out of the way places that most people don’t go.  She likes to take her morning runs with the dogs deep in the forest where she won’t be bothered by people.  Fifteen years ago she was running through the old mining pits and found a structure that she thought was interesting.  She took me back a few months later.  The problem was the few months in between consisted of torrential rains that flooded the mine covering the structure she found under water.

We make trips there on occasion and keep an eye on water levels.  The droughts from fifteen years ago have not returned and the water levels have never receded enough to see much more of the structure… until now.

Christa and I took fellow adventurer Joe Dunn and his wife Sunny back to see the location and it just happened the water levels exposed more of the structure.  The remains were exposed enough that we think we have figured out what that structure is.

It has always been an enigma.  Why would a structure be built sixty feet or more below the ground level in the bottom of a mine?  If it floods now it surely flooded one hundred years ago.  The answer came when Joe researched some of the phosphate mining practices.  The phosphate mines took advantage of the flooding and used drag lines and dredges mounted on barges.  The structure has every indication that it is in fact a dredge barge.  We intend to do some more investigation before the summer rains come and it disappears again.

The following four pictures Christa took years ago when the mine pit was dry.

DSCN0436 IMG00037-20101230-1120 IMG00038-20101230-1121 IMG00315-20110321-0949

This black and white photo is an archive photo of the Buttgenbach mine which is now the Croom Motorcycle Park.  It shows a dredge on a barge which shows that this type of equipment was operated in the area.  This site is only a few miles south of where Christa found the structure in the other photos.

Hard rock phosphate mine, Buttgenbach & Company, Croom.  Flor...

This photo is of the Buttgenbach Mine which is currently the Croom Motorcycle Park. It shows a dredge barge in operation a few miles south of where Christa found the remains of what we believe to be another dredge.



The remains partially exposed above the water


The assumption is that these large slats of metal supported the beams that would have in turn supported the dredge bucket rigging.


This bent bar may have anchored the thick wires that would have counter balanced the dredge bucket. Christa remembers there being another one on the near side at one time.

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A few videos from the Everglades trip

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Coming soon

I know I have been behind on posting.  I have found two turpentine camps recently and will be posting those photos and videos.  Along with another fellow explorer we found a cabin out in the woods.  My wife and I have located an old railroad line and I will post some photos of that.  My wife and I also found what we strongly believe to be a temple mound, I will probably talk about it, but won’t divulge its location.  I have found an old prison site with just a few buildings left. There is some interesting history there so that will be a post.  I also visited Yulee Sugar Mill.  I recently took a ride with a couple from West Palm Beach so that may be a ride report.  This weekend I am going on a 700 mile motorcycle trip to the Everglades so there should be a good ride report out of that.  Man, I am way behind on posting here.  I promise to catch up soon.

Some future places I intend to explore are a crane at the bottom of a mine that flooded.  I intend to dive that and get some photos.  I found an abandoned primate sanctuary.  There is a creepy old feed plant that I want to get access to.  I also am working on getting access to private property to explore a homestead and mill.

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