Archives For Environment

construction triptych 

January 8, 2017

I’ve been wanting to stop and photograph some of the on-going construction of Universal’s Volcano Bay before construction is finished and everything is buttoned down. I decided to run these series of photos with the Olympus E-M10 and the 14-140 Mark II. I moved the color JPEGs from the E-M10 to my iPad Pro 9.7″ and post processed them with Snapseed. I them moved them up to my blog with the WordPress app. Unfortunately I once again had to go into the browser-based WordPress editor to finish this entry. I’m pretty much done trying to edit with WordPress on either iPhone or iPad. Now it’s time to move on to some other tool.

This is the water park meant to open next year and to replace the old Wet ‘n Wild water park directly across Univeral at I-4. I have no idea how much more work needs to be done or if it’ll open 1 June 2017 as promised. The last time Universal tried to open a park on 1 June, it was Universal itself in 1990, and it didn’t go well. I was one of thousands of contractors trying to get it open and operational. I was a contractor with a company named Kinetix (long since gone) and I worked on Jaws, Quake, and E.T. Starting November 1989 I started working 12 hour days, six days/week, until March of 1990, and then we went to seven day weeks. On the afternoon of 31 May I walked into the park and worked a solid 34 hours until I left the morning of 2 June. It took almost a month for me to get back down to a normal work schedule. I’ve not worked a schedule that long and that intense since.

I’m curious to see what will transpire over the summer.

Rush Hour

Taken at the Palm Parkway bridge construction site June 2012. I came across it in my Flickr collection while pulling photos to illustrate an earlier post about the finishing of that bridge. To some people it looks like a collection of beat-up earth moving equipment. When I first saw them lined up on the hill I immediately thought of Theodore Sturgeon’s Killdozer, a science fiction novella I’d read as a kid in elementary school. Now when I look at them I think of machines of the apocalypse, descending on us all.

I like this photo for another reason: it was taken with the Olympus E-P2 and the then-new Olympus 45mm f/1.8. The combination of light, subject, lens and modest 12MP sensor produced this image. I’ve since purchase more hardware, including the E-M5, but in good light nothing matches the combination of the Olympus E-P2 and 45mm lens.

watching nature die

May 13, 2014
former wetlands 2

13 May 2014

For nearly five years I watched a small section of nature be converted into a Wawa gas station on the north-west corner of University and Quadrangle Blvd. It started out as dense growth full of oaks and cypress. Over the next four to five years, from June 2009 until the present day, the living land was mowed down, dug out, and then filled back in before being covered in asphalt, a gas station, and a steak house. So much for progress.

My documentation stopped sometime in 2012, around the time my camera equipment was stolen. I made the mistake of leaving it in my car, parked in my driveway one evening. When I got out next morning my old red Prius had been pretty thoroughly tossed, with my E-3, and E-1, and my two High Grade Digital Zuikos, the 12-60mm and 50-200mm. That incident, combined with my ongoing battle with pain, put an end to my documentation of the area. But by that time the destruction was pretty well done.

To add further insult to what happened, the land essentially sat idle for another year-and-a-half until the end of 2013/start of 2014 before the final construction took place. All told, it took whoever owned the land nearly five years to completely and utterly destroy its uniqueness.

Call me paranoid, but I have, over time, wondered if someone associated with this bit of environmental destruction didn’t take my license plate, find out where I lived, and come by to steal my gear. I stayed off of the construction property, only taking photos from other locations, but I was still questioned by the construction bosses as to what I was doing a number of times. Tense moments, but I kept a quiet profile and continued my documentation. That question will always remain in the back of my mind.

Paving Another Part of Paradise

26 June 2009

Paving Another Part of Paradise

26 June 2009

Paving Another Part of Paradise

26 June 2009

Road Kill

15 April 2010

Continued Wetland Development

15 April 2010

More Development

22 February 2012

More Digging

27 February 2012


23 March 2012

Wide Shot 2

20 April 2012

Detail Digging in Wet Soils

4 May 2012

It's All Gone Now

18 May 2012

Finishing Up

18 May 2012

the blight expands

May 11, 2014

moon rise over desolation

And just a few blocks north on Palm Parkway, where Central Florida Parkway starts, is yet another construction site. For what, I have no idea. But progress continues unabated here in this corner of Central Florida.

ripped out

my bridge is open

May 11, 2014

my bridge is open

For the last two years I’ve been following the progress of a bridge being built to connect the south end of International Drive, across I-4, to Palm Parkway. It finally opened early March this year when I was on travel to Ft. Leavenworth.

Leveler Jr.

I stumbled across the soon-to-be bridge in March of 2012, a good two years ago. The area had just been cleared of trees and the trees were being ground up into mulch on site. I was reminded of the leveler in the movie FernGully. I’ll always remember that day of discovery because the piles of mulch were still fresh and wet, and I could smell the pine and cypress that had been torn apart.

The Artificial Pond

In less than a month the land was completely barren and sand had been banked up around the entire area on the Palm Parkway side. It was more rainy than normal that year and it quickly filled, becoming a shallow pond.

Steel Beasts at Attention
The Florida Henges

By May 2012 the water was gone and the sand leveled out yet again. Pylons had been driven into the sandy soil next to I-4 in preparation for building up the bridge on either side of I-4.

Palm Parkway Construction 2 June 2012

By June the ramparts on both sides had started to rise, in preparation for building the spans that would cross I-4. Then the pace of activity seemed to slow. I would drive by, looking for something interesting to photograph, but spotting nothing out of the ordinary I would drive on. It turned out that a good portion of the work was in punching through the road on the east side of I-4 that would connect directly to International Drive. My drive-bys were slowing down because my personal life was getting complicated. It was in November 2011 that I’d had my initial visit to the emergency room for my left knee; during 2012 it was further degenerating, growing too painful to manage through medication and physical therapy. I finally had it operated on in November 2012.

Even during my convalescent period after my operation, my wife and I would continue to occasionally drive by to check on the status of “my bridge.” During that period the Palm Parkway roadway near the entrance to the bridge was rebuilt, such that it was leveled and raised up at least a foot. The open intersection was created. The last time I checked, only to find it still closed, was right before my March trip this year. When I got back I found it had opened.

There’s a new sign near the bridge indicating big plans in store for the surrounding land. According to the sign, I-4 off ramps will be built sometime in 2017 to help support further development. Right now it’s just an overpass.

demarcation line

The destruction of woods and wetlands in Florida is a slow, relentless process. It suits the bean counters so that they can stretch out the funding, and it suits the developers because it slowly sneaks up on us until it’s way too late to stop it. We keep staring over the abyss at environmental disaster, while building bridges and other “infrastructure” to hasten our fall over the edge.