Bryan Lindenberger

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Sunday, September 29, 2019

Top 8 Nature Trails and Hikes Near Ocala: Marion County, Florida

Find this list at Google Maps.

Salt Springs Observation Trail

Salt Spring Observation Trail Entrance
This two mile loop through Ocala National Forest leads to an observation deck overlooking Salt Springs Run, connecting Lake George and Lake Kerr, fed by Saint Johns River.

It’s one of those nice places where there are always people – an attractive jogger on a morning run, a nice little family with their dog – but never crowds or noisy tourists.

The trail is short. You get back to your car after only 2 miles of hiking, but the observation deck can hold you for awhile watching boats and birds.

There are a few pines, but this area of the forest is mostly old growth with lots of leafy evergreens.

With so much else to see in the area, it’s a definite must stop.

Images and trail maps.

Silver Springs State Park

Silver Springs State Park Trail Entrance
Silver Springs State Park offers glass bottom boat tours, kayaking and more at the main entrance on East Silver Springs Boulevard, but your best entrance for hiking is the one mapped here.

It’s amazing how close to town you can be while still feeling away from it all for hours.

Trails include Sand Hill Trail near the entrance, Sink Hole Trail with plenty of signs to help you learn about and recognize local flora and fauna, and the River Trail and Swamp Trail which meet great views at Silver River.

Silver Glen Spring Recreation Area

Silver Glen at Salt Springs
Silver Glen Springs in Salt Springs, Florida, offers canoe rentals as well as snorkeling and swimming in some beautifully clear spring waters. We’re hear to talk about the hiking, and though the two trails are short, they’re worth the price for great views of Lake George and some wonderful wildlife viewing.

And why not bring along a swimsuit? After a hike, that water looks mighty inviting!

There are crowds at the springs in the summer, so I recommend waiting for a warm day some other time of year if you go for the swimming. The trails seem to never be crowded, so there is a good chance of seeing many animals without them being spooked by people.

Silver Springs Connector Trail

Silver Springs Connector Trail Entrance
Part of the Marjorie Harris Carr Cross Florida Greenway, this short, 3-mile there and back trail is great for a hike, jog, or a run any time of the year and not far outside of Ocala, Florida.

The look and feel of this subtropical forest of sabal palm and laurel oak will make you wish it were raining with its organic and earthy feel.

Just two and a half miles from Silver Springs Forest Conservation Area, in case you want to make more of a day of it, you’ll find the entrance with an easy to spot sign and ample parking just off of Fort Brooks Road (FL-40) on NE Highway 315 in Fort McCoy, just outside of Ocala.

The trail is easy to follow, and you will find yourself alone among the cabbage palm, laurel oak, and southern magnolia.

Silver Springs Forest Conservation Area

Pine Forest in Early Morning Fog
Dozens of miles of trails. Entrance is easy with plenty of parking either from either County Road 315 or from 326, and while the White Blaze Loop offers 6 miles of great hiking or biking from either end of the conservation area, there are many miles left to see.

Entrance is easy with plenty of parking either from either County Road 315 or from 326, and while the White Blaze Loop offers 6 miles of great hiking or biking from either end of the conservation area, there are many miles left to see.

In early morning hours I have spotted many deer and also a boar, so use sensible caution. The trails are ideal for either hiking or off-road biking. I did both and could hardly believe I was the only person there on a Sunday. If you want a great outdoor opportunity not far from town, this is ideal.

Chernobyl Memorial Forest Loop

Hiking Chernobyl Memorial Forest
This portion of the Ocklawaha Prairie Restoration Area at the south entrance offers a 5 mile loop great for hiking and horseback riding with opportunities to deviate from the main trail. I’ve provided my hiking map below which plots once such deviation, and I found it very worthwhile with great birding opportunities and a diversity of plant life.

You will access this portion of the restoration area from the south entrance parking lot (Google map below to get you there) rather than the north entrance. I prefer this Chernobyl Memorial Forest entrance for a day of hiking.

The trail is a mix of packed earth, short grass over packed earth, and some portions of sweet sand that may prove prohibitive to off-road biking unless you are up for a challenge.

Gore's Landing Unit WMA

Ocklawaha River in Ocala National Forest
You might confuse Gores Landing Unit WMA with the park just a quarter mile up the road from it, Gores Landing. Gores Landing, the park, offers fishing, picnic area, and amenities for only $5 per car with an additional $5 for overnight camping.

The Wildlife Management Area discussed here is purely for fishing, hunting, and of course hiking.

Starting at the main trail head, veer right at the first break you reach in a small clearing, and it will lead you to a very nice spot along the Ocklawaha River. I saw plenty of fish in summer and spring, and the view is beautiful with bird sightings year around. There and back will take you just under 3 miles, and there are other trails to follow.

Orange Creek Conservation Area, South Tract

Young Pine Trees at Orange Creek Conservation Area
On County Road 318 just east of Fl State 301 near Citra, this is one of those hiking and horseback riding areas that you are prone to drive by daily without thinking to make a stop. In fact, I did just that for close to year.

It’s an amazing area for hiking south of Hawthorne and Gainesville and north of Ocala once you do stop. If there is a downside, it’s that the trails are maintained by machine tilling up the soil which, in this area, creates a lot of soft, sweet sand to trudge though. But the trails are wide enough to walk along in the grass in these recently tilled area.

While the sand is too soft for enjoyable biking in the woodsy trails, a main dirt road will provide the workout you crave, and there are few better places for hiking or horseback riding in the area.

Locate and explore more hiking and nature trails at >> Live Florida Beauty.

Friday, June 28, 2019

10 Surprising Careers in Biology

When you think of careers in biology, pre-med or veterinary science might come to mind. Yet paths for biology majors are far more diversified and organic than you may realize.
Let’s take a look.

From feeding the world to beautifying our environment, the field of agriculture requires experts in biology. Career paths range from developing hearty hybrids for healthier cuisine to the study of pests destructive to our farms and management of agricultural firms.

Imagine yourself as an environmental scientist or consultant doing just that. Experts in biology are in high demand with careers ranging from coastal preservation and marine biology to stewardship of ecosystems found in forests and prairies.

If you like solving mysteries, a career in forensics might be just right for you. Crime Scene Investigation (CSI) meets entomology (the study of insects) in this important field, and a degree in biology from UWG can help get you there.

Biological Illustration
Some of the greatest minds in history have just as much talent for art as they do in science. Instead of choosing between the two, consider combining them with a career in biological illustration. A dual major or major/minor in art and biology can help you achieve your dreams as both an artist and a scientist.

Attorney-Patent Law / Environmental Law
For those pursuing a degree in law, the addition of a biology degree offers an array of lucrative career paths. From patenting of hardier, more nourishing crop strains and ornamental flora that embellish our surroundings to understanding the laws that help protect our delicate ecosystems, biology offers much for those seeking a degree in law.

Politics and Policy Development
Public policy touches many aspects of our lives, and the same goes for careers in biology. From regulating the foods we eat to balancing preservation with commercial growth, experts in biology are needed to shape the policies that affect our health and our environment.

Guide or Naturalist
If your ideal weekend is strapping on boots and a backpack, a degree in biology could turn your hobby into a career. Nature guides and naturalists are needed for state and national preserves, zoological parks, and botanical gardens in both the public and private sectors.

Fishery / Wildlife Biologist
We often associate a biology degree with a career in veterinary science, but a biologist can have a major impact on animal health and well-being beyond the family pet. Fisheries, ranchers, and state and federal reserves all need experts to monitor animals to keep them healthy and strong. You just might be the biologist who is needed!

Environmental Health Inspector
A healthy, nurturing environment is vital to personal success. Plants and animals need healthy environments to thrive, too, and biologists can help. Whether it’s limiting the impact of an invasive species or reinvigorating our forests through controlled burns, environmental health inspectors are required for making informed assessments.

Museum Curator
Becoming a teacher is just one way to share your knowledge of biology. But if the classroom isn’t for you, consider becoming a museum curator. This in-demand field requires a wide range of skills, from administrative planning for best community impact to research, acquisition, preservation and more.

The 10 careers listed above are just a small sample of the range of highly sought-after occupations awaiting those with a degree in biology.

For more information, [university contact info]

Originally written for University of West Georgia > College of Science and Mathematics > Department of Biology

Saturday, January 5, 2019

Top 5 Nature and Hiking Trails in Putnam County, Florida

Field of purple flowers

Top Five Trail Hiking and Nature-Viewing Destinations in Putnam County, Florida

We often think of great outdoor viewing and nature hiking as somewhere far away - maybe a place we'll visit on our next vacation. But every faraway place is someone's home.

Suppose your home is little Paltatka, Florida in Putnam County. Did you know of all the great and often overlooked trails there are to hike, right nearby?

I've explored many of them, and here are my top five.

5: Caravelle Ranch Wildlife Management Area

Tree in field of flowers 
Just a bit down the road from Caravelle Ranch Conservation Area on Florida 19, Caravelle Ranch WMA offers miles of hiking and biking opportunities! After pulling over into ample parking, you can grab a map that leads you through 8-10 miles of hiking loops through the woods with the longest, single loop being 4.5 miles. Whether on bike or foot, you will enjoy your time here and could likely spot deer, birds, and even bears. As always, take nothing but pictures and leave nothing but footprints. Visit Caravelle Ranch WMA page for hiking and destination map plus pictures!

bridge over creek in autumn

4: Ravine Gardens State Park

This beautiful destination would be higher on the list except that anyone in the area likely already knows it. Ravine Gardens State Park was the first conservation park I visited when I moved to the area, and it remains one I keep going back to. Some of the major pluses include clean and far less buggy trails, and the fact that scenery changes with every season. Best known for its colorful azaleas in February and March, you will find amazing changes in flora and fauna throughout the year. There is a welcome center, plenty of paved trails for biking, a playground and much more. Visit my location and trail map plus photos.

3: Dunn's Creek State Park

Lake with forest behind it
I've added a good number of lesser-known places to Google Maps, but here is an instance of a beautiful Florida state park where it took some convincing to get Google to believe it exists. And what a wonderful place it is! The park, just south of Satsuma, FL, is very well maintained with a short loop of a couple of miles, picnic benches both covered and uncovered, and even grills for family gatherings You'll encounter all manner of wildlife, including birding opportunities, but I have a fondness for bugs and turtles. Where the park really shines is with the very large Blue Pond accessible from two trail locations for great viewing and relaxing. Check out more pictures plus location and trail map!

2: Florida Trail at Buckman Lock

winding trail in foggy forest
Here's one off the beaten path! The trail back here has many beautiful views including several ponds and great hiking views, yet remained a mystery to me on initial visits. The trails are made of old roads shaped like a tiny neighborhood, yet I saw no homes, abandoned or otherwise. I have since learned this area is a failed and abandoned subdivision known as the Mondex Complex. It is comprised largely of wetlands with the ponds I saw intended as retention pools. The trail is easy to follow with orange markers and I understand leads to FL 20. I turned back after a few miles in, with a 7.2 mile hike round trip. Very peaceful and nice back there, and the ponds offer great viewing, especially if you like dragonflies! Check it out with location and trail maps plus pictures.

1: Rice Creek Conservation Area

frog resting on palmetto leaf

My favorite hike in Putnam County, an easy five-mile hiking loop with plenty to see in deep woods and across fields covering 4200 acres. After parking in the wide parking area, a dirt road continues beyond a simple gate and soon splits. Here you will follow a segment of the Florida Trail that takes you through canopy forest, marshlands and a creek that flows year around, with well-maintained bridges throughout, and even an observation platform. That "back to nature" feel comes with the downside of lots of mosquitoes and ticks. Banana spiders - big ones - build webs throughout the trail in summer, so carry a stick to clear the way. WORTH IT - so check out location map, trail map, and more pics at

More Nature Trails in Putnam County

Plenty of gorgeous hiking trails near Palatka and Interlachen did not make the list. Find more at my Putnam County hiking page and leave feedback on where you like to visit. Most importantly, get outside and enjoy. Often, the most beautiful places are the closest to home - you just have to look!

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Las Vegas: For the Locals

There's a reason Las Vegas, Nevada is my favorite city in the US and - if I were better traveled - the world.

It's that so many people think it has to be the most shallow place on the planet. From big-suited business leaders to self-professed intellectuals, everyone knows Las Vegas represents the lowest of the low-brow.

Let's crush that fallacy here.
Bonnie springs ranch railroad crossing sign
My first job in Vegas, early 20s, was as a porter. Which meant I'd do anything for a tip. One of the things I was told to do was dig holes and plant plastic palm trees. So cheesy. So lowbrow. How Vegas is that?

Thing is, I wasn't planting fake, non-indigenous trees and soon dressing them in lights for us.

I was planting them for you

Same goes for the gambling, magic shows, all-u-can-eat-buffets, 24/7 alcohol, strip clubs, faux city resorts and landmarks, and the A-to-Z "what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas" tongue-in-cheek naughty mentality. None of it is done for Vegas resident. It's for you.

Las Vegas is America without the facade of good taste, but that's done for you.

So what's it like living there? What were our off-hours amusements?

The arts. When it comes to film festivals or even independent films shown regularly at the local theater, I've never seen such quantity and variety outside of cities ten times the size of Vegas, including D.C. metro.

The outdoors. Ever ski and sunbathe on the same day? How about hikes that include Red Rock Canyon, Mount Charleston, Painted Desert, and others plus a beach with boating?

Culture. Food, festivals, community, and true diversity - I'm sure there are more truly diverse places somewhere, but I haven't been to any. Certainly not for under $800 rent.

Other recreation. Vegas's neighborhoods are well funded for their price thanks to tourism. I was surprised to find that similarly priced neighborhoods outside of Vegas don't offer a plethora of green zones, biking trails, sports courts, and other funday healthy activities within walking distance of the front door.

Blue collar intellectuals. Yes, you can philosophize with any urban professor about anything. I like people easily just as smart but with callouses. Within a few months of living in Vegas, don't be surprised if you're at a party with a construction worker, entertainer, top-notch chef, taxi-driver, photographer, and software engineer as well-read or better than your favorite college prof...but with a clue.

The tourist experience. Sure, it's fun to head downtown or to the boulevard once in awhile. Even locals like to get silly and behave like one of the more "cultured" outsiders too...eating, gambling, spending and acting the provincial fool. But not that often. It's an occasional thing. No airline tickets are required.

For my part, I found some of the best meals, arts, hiking, company, conversation, diversity, entrepreneurial inspiration, community, neighbors, and work while in Vegas.

I learned how to plant a plastic palm tree to make the tourists feel welcome and not take a whole lot too seriously.

Thursday, November 22, 2018

On Chaos and Determinism

Common Buckeye Butterfly

Hero of mine, chaos theory pioneer Edward Lorenz, gifted us with the term “butterfly effect.” Simple idea – the slight atmospheric disturbance created by the flap of a butterfly’s wings could, through a chain of events, result in a typhoon or hurricane 10,000 miles away.

What the meteorologist was attempting to explain was why long-term weather predictions were so infeasible.

Edward Norton Lorenz (wiki)

Popularly used in fiction including time travel stories, this “butterfly effect” has come to be construed as how the smallest thing, a single person, can change the course of history.

My interpretation is not only different, but contrary: deterministic.

The point isn’t that a butterfly’s wings “causes” a hurricane, but rather that conditions are set so that the slightest catalyst will put the wheels in motion. If not the butterfly, then the wave of a child’s hand or the sneeze of a mouse.

This is not to say there is no free will – I won’t argue either way – but the actions of an individual are more akin to tossing a pebble in a pond. It creates some ripples, the ripples spread but are absorbed by time...the pond itself. No one expects that tossing a pebble in a pond will cause a tidal wave.

(Massive forest fires are another example, where a “cause” is always attributed as an object of blame. If it’s not a lightening strike, it’s a poorly doused campfire. Or perhaps an indiscriminate smoker. But the conditions are predetermined; the catalyst is arbitrary.)

Reacquainting myself with events that led to the Great War, I’m struck by what I was taught in school, namely that there were two “causes.” First the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, which even my teachers didn’t take all that seriously. He had no legal heir to throne, there was not great uproar over his death. So to add some validity, the second posited cause was “ultra-nationalism” - nationalism being a common pariah among globalists.

Again, rather than a preventable cause, I see something more deterministic. If a vastly growing Russian army had been tolerable to Germany, the Franco-Russo Entente could not have been. Austria-Hungary and the feuding nationalists in the Balkans aside, virtually each day Germany found itself in a position where not to attack in a likely unwinnable war also increased the likelihood of – in the long run – being erased from the map.

Patterns on spider abdomen
To this second point, stunned again to rediscover how hard – in fact, how desperately – royalty among the eventual combatant nations (many of them related by blood or marriage) fought to avoid widespread conflict. For that matter, even the military elite, where you always find doves and hawks, tended to cancel each other out at worst and lean toward limited actions for the most part.

If Ferdinand had not been assassinated in 1914, war was still determined. Perhaps a few years later, but inevitable. Pebbles do not create (or prevent) tidal waves.

More bluntly, Edward Lorenz never argued that killing butterflies would prevent hurricanes.

Friday, November 16, 2018

Art beyond self-absorption?

Has gone on for years, listening to NPR to and from work. An hour each way in Florida, 11 minutes each way in Georgia. Six minutes in Nebraska.
Often some artist on, and always the same. "This is his/her or [most often] MY most deeply personal work."
About their lives, their loves, their loss. But always: "So-and-so's most deeply personal album [book, art exhibit, poetry collection] yet."
By being "personal" we assume the art is more genuine. Self-reflection is deep.
Then I suppose American pop culture would expect the deepest thinker, the truest artist in all time, to be Narcissus.
The tale of Narcissus has lasted a very long time in popular because there is a truth to it.
One of the better popular phrases to come along since "narcissism" is probably "virtue signaling." No other word or phrase cuts it, and I sure as hell do it too. The US flag in my Facebook moniker, for instance. There's certainly no political divide when it comes to virtue signaling. Or narcissism.
I think we have plenty of "personal" art. Political art too. That's never been an approach I've favored, and we've got a glut of self-absorption in most art, all media, and across the aisle.
If the market is full of something, spilling over the brim, if anyone with merely the means can do it, it's no longer art.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Random Text Jargon Generator - MBA in Marketing Edition

Confound your co-workers!
Astound your friends!
Sound in control despite having no idea what is going on!

Try out the Random Jargon Generator for Business and #Marketing.

Could be a raise in it, if you don't get fired first.

Those Monday morning meetings will never be the same.

Amateur, free, and just for fun. :-)