Green Mt. Hiking Trip April 25, 2020

I went hiking with a small group of people from the meetup.com group that I’m in to Green Mt. in Claremont, NH. It was my first time there and I did not even know about the trail before the hike. I discovered its the mountain right next to the City of Claremont with the cell phone towers at the top. It’s so close to the city that I got some great photos from the top using my 300mm lens. As you can see from the old brick buildings, Claremont is an old mill town. Wikipedia tells us, “The water power harnessed from the Sugar River brought the town prosperity during the Industrial Revolution. Large brick factories were built along the stream, including the Sunapee Mills, Monadnock Mills, Claremont Machine Works, Home Mills, Sanford & Rossiter, and Claremont Manufacturing Company. Principal products were cotton and woolen textiles, lathes and planers, and paper.”

Green Mt Claremont NH April 25 2020-7

I was also able to get some panorama shots from the ledges near the top.

Green Mt Claremont NH April 25 2020-3

I really enjoyed the view of Mt. Ascutney on the right to Okemo Mt. and ski resort off in the distance on the left.

Green Mt Claremont NH April 25 2020-1

I zoomed in with the 300mm lens for a better view of Okemo Ski Resort, which is over in Ludlow, Vermont.

Green Mt Claremont NH April 25 2020-5

Key Largo Diving Trip February 26th, 2020

After two days of bad visibility at the dive sites off of Key Largo, conditions improved on Wednesday. Thankfully we went back out to Molasses Reef. I was thrilled to see a beautiful Reef Shark swimming along the reef. I was the only one in my immediate dive group to see it so I’m glad I got some video. Another small group that was on the same boat got to see the shark (you will see them in the video).

For the afternoon dive we went back to a couple sites on French Reef. While swimming through one of the grotto’s I spotted another Nassau Grouper.

Thanks to a couple of other guys in our dive group who spotted the turtle first, I had a great encounter with a Hawksbill Turtle.

This turned out to be my last dive of the trip since wind picked up on Thursday and the waves got bigger and Friday was my “dry day” before flying home on Saturday.

Key Largo Diving Trip February 24 2020

On Monday February 24, 2020 I was diving at Molasses Reef off the coast of Key Largo, Florida with Rainbow Reef Dive Center.

I had several good shark encounters. The second one was the best. I was able to intercept a large nurse shark swimming across the reef and got within several feet of it. The Florida Museum website says, “Large juveniles and adults are usually found around deeper reefs and rocky areas at depths of 3-75 meters (10-246 ft) during the daytime moving into shallower waters of less than 20 meters (65 ft) after dark.”

Later on I had a fantastic Southern Stingray encounter. According to the Florida Museum website at Stingrays tail “can be up to twice as long as their bodies, with a sharp spine that has teeth on either side of it.”

I also encountered a small Nassau Grouper. The Nassau grouper, which is endangered, is one of my favorite groupers due to their color and stripe pattern. The Florida Museum website says, “The Nassau grouper can change color pattern from light to dark brown very quickly, depending upon the surrounding environment and mood of the fish.” This one has the stripes that fade towards the belly. The faded colors did help it to blend in with the sandy and rocky section of the reef that it was swimming in.

It’s exciting to see the larger marine creatures like sharks and stingrays, but I like to slow down sometimes and appreciate some of the smaller fish. The Queen Angelfish is one of my favorites.

Another reef fish that is a pleasure to watch is the Banded Butterfly Fish. “The banded butterfly fish is also a predator, feeding on tube worms, sea anemones, corals, and occasionally snacking on crustaceans.”

 

Key Largo Diving Trip February 23 2020

During the last week of February I had some vacation time to use up and took a short trip down to Key Largo for some diving.

I have not been to Key Largo in February since 2017 and forgot how the weather could be. It was windy with cooler temperatures all week long with 4 to 6 foot waves on some days and 2 to 4 foot waves on the others. We had days where visibility was piss poor and getting back on the boat was a challenge.

But, I did have a few good days in the water and interesting sea life encounters.

On Sunday, February 23rd I was on a boat going to the wreck of the Benwood and French Reef. The boat crew had mentioned they had seen a lot of sea turtles and Jellyfish in the area. This made sense since sea turtles eat Jellyfish. Although I did not see any sea turtles that day I did see lots of Jellyfish.

For the second dive we went over to French Reef, which is close by. I was lucky enough to have a Nurse Shark swim right by me for a great video close encounter.

For the afternoon dive I was on a boat going to Molasses Reef. First I had an encounter with a young Goliath Grouper.

Right when I got back from chasing the grouper I encountered a Reef Shark in the same area.

I must say, I was fortunate to enjoy these marine life encounters.