Salvation Mountain: One Man’s Monument to Love

Salvation-mountain-and-sign-1024x682-1-2Salvation Mountain is an eye-popping burst of color in an otherwise desolate landscape two hours east of San Diego. As I visited Salvation Mountain, I stood in admiration of Leonard Knight’s unwavering faith and determination to single-handedly build this extraordinary monument over almost 30 years. He was just planning on staying in the area a few days but decided to stay eternally. It took endless buckets of adobe clay, 100,000+ gallons of paint, thousands of hay bales painting, and long 10 hours days to paint the Christian scriptures and Bible verses on a clay hill in scorching 118 degree weather.

Salvation Mountain

Salvation Mountain

The crimson heart in the center of the mountain with a simple prayer: “Jesus I’m a sinner please come upon my body and into my heart,” stands as a true expression of devotion to people and to love itself. In Leonard’s own words: “This is a love story that is staggering to everybody in the whole world.”

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In 1994, the LA times wrote an article about the county’s attempts to turn Slab City into a fee-based campground but were unsuccessful because Salvation Mountain is a religious monument. The county claimed the yellow paint used on the design of the mountain was toxic. But Leonard hired his own soil engineers to test the soil which conclusively found nothing but clean soil.

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After the article was published, word of Salvation Mountain spread. It was featured in Sean Penn’s film “Into the Wild” his mountain and has earned the recognition of The Discovery Channel and National Geographic..”  California Senator Barbara Boxer described it as “a unique and visionary sculpture… a national treasure… profoundly strange and beautifully accessible, and worthy of the international acclaim it receives”.

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In 2010 Leonard Knight’s hearing and eyesight failed him, forcing him to leave his beloved Salvation Mountain. Leonard Knight died on February 10, 2014 at convalescent hospital in eastern San Diego County where he had been a resident for more than two years. He was 82 years old.

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Cute Baby Animals

Here are some cute baby animals for you to enjoy.  All of the photos were taken in or around Circle B Bar Preserve in Lakeland Florida and Pine craft Park in Sarasota. 

Baby Barred Owl

Baby Barred Owl

Gator Baby

Gator Baby

Great Blue Heron Baby

Great Blue Heron Baby

Baby Fawn

Baby Fawn

Anhinga and Chicks

Anhinga and Chicks

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Brilliant Indigo Buntings

Male Indigo Bunting

Male Indigo Bunting

Its brilliant blue color accompanied by its unique song make the Indigo Bunting a highly prized wild bird. Sometimes nicknamed “blue canaries,” these brilliantly colored yet common and widespread birds whistle their bouncy songs through the late spring and summer all over eastern North America.

bunch indio During breeding, indigo Buntings eat small spiders and insects such as grasshoppers, bugs, beetles and caterpillars. They also eat seeds of grasses, herbs and berries. In winter, Indigo Buntings eat small seeds, buds and some insects. Their main sustenance is small seeds of grasses. They can also be found at feeders and in rice fields consuming rice seeds. They do not drink often but obtain adequate water from the food they eat. They feed alone during breeding season and with flocks during winter.

sharper indioIndigo Buntings migrate at night, using the stars for guidance. Researchers demonstrated this process in the late 1960s by studying captive Indigo Buntings in a planetarium and then under the natural night sky. The birds possess an internal clock that enables them to continually adjust their angle of orientation to a star—even as that star moves through the night sky.

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Beautiful Buntings

 

Male Painting Bunting

Male Painting Bunting

With its blues, reds, oranges, yellows and greens, the male painted bunting is a feathered rainbow. You almost have to see it for yourself to believe that a bird is this colorful The Painting Bunting is nicknamed “Nonpareil”, which in French means “without equal”, which I think is highly appropriate for such a spectacular bird.. I was lucky enough to have seen these beauties each time I have visited Felts Preserve in Palmetto, Florida.

Female Painted Bunting

Female Painted Bunting

Painted Buntings are found in the United States in the spring and summer, and migrate south to spend their winters in Cuba, Mexico, and Central America.  Florida is the only state that consistently has a breeding population in the spring and summer (in northeast Florida) and a wintering population (in central and south Florida).

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 Painted buntings are not listed by any government agency as either endangered or threatened, but the International Union for Conservation of Nature considers it “near threatened” through loss of habitat and capture for the pet trade.

pbMale Painted Buntings are often surprisingly difficult to spot despite their plumage because they are shy. They  spends much of their time hidden among dense cover outside the breeding season. If you would like to attract Painted Buntings, consider purchasing a caged feeder which is a tube-type feeder surrounded by a wire cage that allows small birds through but keeps bigger birds from accessing the seed.  Another alternative, especially in the breeding range is to provide several feeders with plenty of space in between them.

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Raptors of Fort De Soto

Fort De Soto  Park  is becoming one of my  favorite  spots to see wildlife. Ospreys seem to be flying everywhere you look with fish grasped in their talons and  spoonbills are foraging through shallow waters, sweeping their bills from side to side. But my favorite birds to see are the great horned owls.

Great Horned Owls
Great Horned Owls

The great horned owl is one of the most stunning and powerful of the owls.  Their range includes most parts of North and South America. Great horned owls raise their young in the abandoned nests of crows, hawks, and eagles.

DSC_0398Ospreys are one of the most common raptors can are  found on every continent except Antarctica..Ospreys eat a diet that consists almost entirely of fish. This earned them the nickname “sea hawk.”

Osprey

Osprey

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Beautiful Wildlife of Robinson’s Preserve

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 Yellow Capped Night Heron Mid Shake

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Adorable Juvenile Night Heron 

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Juvenile White Ibis

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Circle B Bar Preserve

Located in Lakeland Florida, Circle B Bar Reserve is among the best birding and wildlife viewing spots I have been to in  Central Florida. The preserve is a  former cattle ranch that today features impressive numbers of ducks (Black-bellied Whistling-, Mottled, Blue-winged Teal and sometimes Ruddy Ducks) and shorebirds (Long-billed Dowitchers, Wilson’s Snipe and both yellowlegs) in winter and wading birds are present all year long. 

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Circle B Bar Preserve

Barred Owl

Barred Owl

 

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Beautiful Great Blue Herons

The Venice Rookery is one of the country’s  best  destinations for Bird Photographers. This bird sanctuary sits quietly amidst the busy strip malls.  During nesting months (usually beginning in December and lasting through May), you can see a vareity of birds cincluding Great Blue Herons, Great Egrets, and Anhingas  building nests, courting, and raising chicks.

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Enticing Everglades

Everglades National Park is one of the largest and most well-known of America’s national parks. It covers  1,506,539 acres, it is the third largest national park in the lower 48 states,  only Death Valley and Yellowstone National Parks are bigger. The park contains sawgrass marshes, hardwood hammocks, mangrove swamps, and lakes.

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 Everglades National Park is the only ecosystem in the world where alligators and crocodiles co-exist side by side.  Alligators do not eat human beings.  But, they will protect themselves, attacking humans if they get too close or endanger their young.

Alligator

Alligator

The Everglades name is synonymous with birds.   In the 1800s, the well-known naturalist and artist, John James Audubon, wrote during a visit to South Florida, “We observed great flocks of wading birds flying overhead toward their evening roosts… They appeared in such numbers to actually block out the light from the sun for some time.”   Over 400 species of birds have been known to occur in southern Florida.  Birds are usually placed in one of three groups:  wading birds, land birds, and birds of prey.   One of the prettiest wading birds is the purple gallinue seen below. 

Purple Gallinue

Purple Gallinule

A common land bird found in the Everglades is the Red-bellied Woodpecker.  The red-bellied woodpecker often creates “caches” of food by drumming rows upon rows of small holes and wedging a single nut or seed into each one.

Red-bellied woodpecker

Red-bellied Woodpecker

The little blue heron  is unique among  herons as it is the only species with two distinct colour morphs for mature and immature birds, with the adult bird being mostly blue and the immature almost entirely white.

Little Blue Heron

Little Blue Heron

And best of all we saw Bigfoot and his son pulling into the Everglades!

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Beautiful Beer Can Island

Beer Can Island at LongBoat Key is one of my favorite places to visit when I am in Florida. Please enjoy a few photos of this beautiful area.

 

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron

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