The landscape around Tampa Bay is flat. Very flat. There's one place however where you can get a vantage point of a couple hundred feet above sea level and look at a wide sweep of the area. It's an observation platform built on top of a Mosaic Company "gyp stack." Mining of phosphate and production of fertilizer is a primary industry in this part of Florida. Gypsum in great quantities is a byproduct of this process, and the current environmentally-best practice is to pile it up in long ridge lines, sequester, cover with topsoil and plant grass. The end result looks a lot like reclaimed coal tailing ridge lines that I've photographed in Pennsylvania. When you see high ground driving around west-central Florida, it's almost certainly a gyp stack.
Ruskin, Florida (vicinity)
It takes special permission to get to the observation deck, but The Firehouse had the right connections so I was able to spend a couple hours beginning right after dawn making photographs as the morning fog rose. The stacks of the Big Bend power plant could be seen to the south, the view west across the bay showed quite a bit of tanker traffic, and by nine o'clock you could clearly see Tampa's port area across the bay to the north.
This is a bit of a mystery, I haven't figured out what the building was originally. The construction is robust and includes some fancy touches, but I don't know what the ruin was originally for. It's the only structure, or ruin, for quite some distance, in an area along the Little Manatee River.
As a technical side note, this didn't get into the recent "walk in the woods" post because there was unacceptable sensor fringing in the branches against the bright overcast sky. But today I was experimenting with the new and vastly improved "defringe" tools in ACR version 7.x (part of PSCS6). It occurred to me to go look up this file. The new tools easily changed false-color branches into believable-looking bright highlight areas.
This publicly owned open space along the Little Manatee River couldn't be much more different from the typical New England forest I'm used to. However, spending some time wandering around with a camera I got a familiar walk-in-the-woods feeling.
A few miles inland from the center of Ruskin, this residential area looks older than the fancier gated communities—some of them only half completed—closer to the bay. It seems to cater to older residents, and quite a few people were tooling around the streets and even crossing the highway riding electric golf carts.