Gator Rips Arm Off 18-Year-Old at L.O.S.T.

Gator in Lake Okeechobee

An Okeechobee, FL, teen lost his arm after he decided to go for a 2 A.M. swim at Nubbin’s Slough, which empties into Lake Okeechobee, reported The Palm Beach Post on June 23.

Not surprisingly, alcohol was reportedly involved.

Arm not saved

The Post quoted a sheriff’s deputy as saying that an 11-foot alligator rose from the water and bit the teen, trying to drag him down.

He fended off the attack by grabbing an orange buoy in the water, the deputy said, but the alligator bit off the boy’s left arm below the shoulder.

Rescuers captured the alligator and found the arm in its stomach but the arm was too damaged to reattach.Gators at Nubbin\'s Slough

I’m not surprised to hear about the attack. I’ve counted as many as 25 gators in the 8-foot and longer category at Nubbin’s Slough.

Spring Breakers get lucky

The day I shot these at the Slough, a bystander said that college spring breakers had been running down and touching them.

They, obviously, had never seen a good-sized gator wheel around and grab something. Urban legend is that they can outrun a horse in a short sprint. I don’t know if that’s true, but shortly after I shot the gator at the top, he stood up on his tail in the shallow water and the top half of his body got about four feet of air.

I was very happy that I was shooting with a medium telephoto and not a wideangle lens. Continue reading “Gator Rips Arm Off 18-Year-Old at L.O.S.T.”

He’s Not Biking, But He’s Using a BOB Trailer

The weather was perfect in South Florida back in March of 2005, so I headed out for the Lake Okeechobee Scenic Trail (LOST). (Temps were 63 to 74, but the weatherman lied about 5 mph winds, decreasing to calm. They were really 5 to 7, increasing to 7 to 10, by my wind gauge.)
Steve Fugate repacks his modified BOB trailer
About eight miles into my ride, I saw something breaking the horizon. I figured it was another biker or hiker, but we didn't seem to be closing as quickly as I would have thought.

When I got closer, I didn't see a bike, but there was some kind of contraption on the ground and colorful stuff scattered all over the trail. Looked kind of like a rag bag had vomited its contents. The guy was busy stuffing the bits and pieces into waterproof bags.

Turns out I'd run into Steve Fugate from Vero Beach, who was on the last legs of his marathon hike around the country. Continue reading “He’s Not Biking, But He’s Using a BOB Trailer”

Matt’s First Bike Century — 100 Miles in Florida

My son, Matt, and I wanted to end off 2007 with something special – a cross-Florida trip from Hobe Sound, FL, on the east coast, to Ft. Meyers, on the west coast.

Ken & Matt get ready to begin their cross-Florida bicycle ride.The weekend of Dec. 9 turned out to be perfect: cool temps with a strong tailwind out of the east. By the time we got to Port Mayaca, though, the wind had shifted slightly to the north, meaning that our next leg would have a strong headwind component.

Our original plan was to pick up the Lake Okeechobee Scenic Trail (LOST) at Port Mayaca, and let it carry us north, east and west around the Okeechobee arc of the Lake. Then, we would jump on 78, a newly paved rural road with good shoulders and make it into Moore Haven. The LOST sits 30 feet above surrounding terrain with no windbreaks, so the prospect of headwinds wasn’t pleasant.

Matt checks the wind at Port MayacaA cheap Radio Shack wind gauge confirmed that the winds were 12 to 15 mph and gusting higher. We decided to ride south on 441 to pick up the LOST at Pahokee. We weren’t looking forward to this stretch, because the road is narrow and under construction. What shoulder there is is badly broken. As it turned out, the southbound section wasn’t as bad as we had feared. It wasn’t great riding, particularly with a strong crosswind that left my shoulders sore from trying to keep the bike straight, but I’d do it again in a pinch.

We stopped at Canal Point for a snack and to replenish our water. I had sucked down almost a whole Camelbak of water and would have been dry in another 10 miles or so.

The road improved once we got to Canal Point and the run into Pahokee was nice. We climbed back onto the LOST and scoped out the improvements being made to the Marina. The campground was mostly wiped out by the 2004-2005 hurricane seasons and a fleet of very nice looking trailers have been brought in for rentals. They look like a nice place to stay if you want to make Pahokee your fishing and biking layover.

Rocks along the LOSTThe trip south along the LOST was great except for the strong cross wind that would occasionally gust strong enough to almost knock you over. My brother, Mark, likes to lift his bike overhead to celebrate milestones. Matt, who rides a heavier bike, opted to just PRETEND he was lifting his bike when we chanced on this pile of rocks used to reinforce the dike. Continue reading “Matt’s First Bike Century — 100 Miles in Florida”

The LOST is on fire

I wanted to ride the south end of the Lake Okeechobee Scenic Trail (LOST) to shoot pix of the muck fire near Clewiston. It was hot, so I didn’t head out until about 4:30 P.M.. Even though the forecast was for winds out of the SW at about 6 mph, I could tell from looking that it was higher than that.

There didn’t appear to be any fire around South Bay, so I elected to put in at the Clewiston Marina, where there was a large column of smoke.

As soon as I got up on the dike, I could see cars in the picnic area watching the flames. I shot a couple of mediocre pix and then climbed to get on the trail.

It was blocked by a sign that said, Closed to the Public.

There was a guy in a pickup parked next to it, so I said, ‘I don’t see any signs, do you?

He said, “What signs?”

I lifted my bike over the gate.

I took a few more pix and, not wanting to hang around the non-sign (there were no signs on the WEST side of the gate) any longer, I headed west looking for good art.

The winds were blowing from the SW, so all of the smoke from the smoldering fire was being carried out to the lake, so there was none on the trail. The only smoke I could see south of the trail was coming from sugar cane burns miles away.

The more I rode to the west, the less fire I could see. There were acres and acres of burned vegetation, but no active flames.
LOST on Fire: Bird seaches for food in the ashes
What I did find, however, was that the winds were 8 to 10 mph sustained, as measured by my handy Radio Shack wind gauge. On top of the dike with nothing to break the wind, that’s a killer.

LOST on Fire: Fishermen ignore the burned-out area

I shot a few pictures of fisherfolks in boats with the smoldering muck fire smoke in the background and a few vultures that let me get to within about 10 feet of them. (That could have been a bad sign. They were waiting for lunch to come to them instead of the other way around. Continue reading “The LOST is on fire”