Wednesday, December 24, 2008


Big Cypress Gallery

Venice Gallery & Studio

May your Christmas be filled with enough love
and joy to overflow into 2009!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Evening Campfire

Now that the weather has gotten cold enough to knock down the mosquitoes, we are getting back to having our campfire pot-luck after work with our employees.

Perhaps there is something primeval about a campfire...something that reaches into the depth of our being, but there doesn't seem to be anything as pleasant as sitting around a campfire enjoying the company of people we care about...and of course those yummy chocolate, S'mores!

Gathering around the table for those wonderful (?) hot dogs!

Jeff Ripple joins Clyde cooking hot dogs.

The whole gang around the campfire...
Niki, Jeff, Clyde, Debby, Norm, Julie, Rick

...and the first to cook the S'mores!

With full stomachs and the fire dieing down to an ember,
we sit around and tell stories until bed time.
A relaxing evening had by all.

photos by Niki & Rick Cruz

Monday, November 24, 2008

Fisheating Creek

John Brady, Kevin Barrier, Clyde and Rick Cruz
(snap shots are taken by Kevin, Rick, and Niki)

John Brady and Kevin Barrier invited Clyde, Rick and I to join them at Fisheating Creek for a day of photography. Kevin said a couple of his 'red-neck' friends told him the river was low...however, none of us believed it! That was a mistake! There was almost as much walking as canoeing! Let this be a lesson...learn to listen to folks who live where you want to travel!

Rick and John getting a good start...

We even get a good start...
and then...the boating part of the trip went down hill fast! Although, I must say, I still enjoyed myself...ha ha!

This is one of Clyde's favorite areas along Fisheating Creek. He has photographed here many times. Do you notice on the trees where the high water mark is located?...the last time Clyde photographed here he couldn't get out of the boat. The water was up to his chest. Neither of us has seen Fisheating Creek this low, so we were amazed at all the new photographic opportunities surrounding us!

Everyone set up their cameras and began "staking out" their spots. It was entertaining to me to watch everyone and see what angle of view they each thought was the best. It always amazes me that a group of photographers can be presented with the same scene and not one of them sees it the same!

Rick Cruz photographing

Kevin Barrier getting ready to take a soon as Clyde gets out of the way...

Clyde setting up to shoot a crowd of Cypress Knees

John Brady photographing

Rick and John waiting for the right light

A 'gaggle' of photographers...all of their photographic discussions sounds like a 'gaggle' of geese making a lot of noise...but it's fun being around folks who have a passion for what they do!

The hike out of the area and back to the boats

In this image the river looks full of water...the problem was that it ranged between 6 inches and 2 feet! That made it difficult to get up to 'speed'. Due to the lack of water, the cypress knees were exposed, which made floating down the creek a primival wonderland.

Rick and John zoomed around the corner...yeh, right...more like bumped around the corner...leaving us behind while we stopped at this incredible cypress tree to take pictures.

Kevin stopped with us and also took a few images.

and then Kevin took some pictures of Clyde and I...thank you Kevin!
Then we took off in search of Rick and John and found them under a tree ready to have lunch.

Niki, Clyde, Rick, John, Kevin

Near our pic nic area was a very large beautiful cypress tree.

...and then we continued bumping down the creek...

No boat trip is complete without engine trouble!

After the engines were fixed everyone went back to photographing.

...and then there was the "Who's the muddiest?" competition...
Seemed like Kevin won until...

John showed off his legs! And, no, John does not have black hair on his legs. He is blond...that is mud!
I think John won the contest!

As we left for the return trip we actually managed to get up some speed!

We stopped along the way for more photography

The Gang
John, Rick, Kevin, Clyde

...and then, the long, long walk home...

It was a great day, with good companionship and great photo opportunities!

Film -- Big Cypress National Preserve: The Western Everglades

Left - Right
Rick Cruz, Sammy Tedder, Elam Stoltzfus, Joe Browder, Clyde Butcher, Bob DeGross

For many years, Big Cypress National Preserve has needed a new film for their visitor center. The film that is now showing was made shortly after Big Cypress became a National Preserve in 1974! Thanks to the effort of Elam Stoltzfus of Live Oak Production Group, Bob DeGross of Big Cypress National Preserve, Friends of Big Cypress (who donated $20,000) and others, which can be found on Live Oaks website, a new film is now being made!

During the past 15 months, Live Oak Production Group - Elam Stoltzfus, has been filming the Big Cypress Swamp and Big Cypress National Preserve to create two films. One film will be an hour long PBS documentary on the Big Cypress Swamp and the second is a short film for the Oasis Visitor Center. For more information on the film check out Elam's website:

Some of our past blogs have been stories of joining Elam in filming. A few weeks ago we joined with him again while he interviewed Clyde and Joe Browder in the swamp. Joe was instrumental in creating a movement in the late sixties to stop the development of a major international airport project within the heart of South Florida, in what was to become Big Cypress National Preserve. During that time he was honored (?), along with Senator Bob Graham and Governor Chiles, with having a "Wanted Dead" poster plastered all over the 'glades by the opposing faction...the real estate speculators who owned property in Big Cypress. They hoped to profit if the airport were developed and Big Cypress were drained. They made death threats, and also distributed materials threatening to blow up buildings. Joe is filled with great stories (he should write a book!) and a lot of history regarding the entire Everglades ecosystem. The conservation movement in the sixties ultimately resulted in the creation of the Big Cypress National Preserve. We are forever in gratitude to his, and all those other folks, endurance as they fought the good fight so that we would have this beautiful piece of paradise left untouched.

Filming Joe as he makes his way through the watery grass of Big Cypress

Joe and Elam going over footage

Clyde enjoying a talk with Bob DeGross, Chief of Interpretation for
Big Cypress National Preserve

Clyde and Joe having a lively discussion while waiting for the film crew to set up

filming Clyde & Joe

Elam, Joe & Clyde in their favorite place...the swamp!

...and then the rest of the guys jumped in too!
Bob DeGross, Elam Stoltzfus, Joe Browder, Clyde Butcher, Rick Cruz, Sammy Tedder

Followed by a great lunch in Everglades City at Camilia Street Grill with a enticing desert of great conversation, stimulating concepts and solving the worlds problems!