Thursday, December 18, 2014

More Fun in Florida

We’ve been enjoying our stay in Florida and haven’t been in a hurry for anything. It seems that when I have plenty of time I get less done because I allow myself to procrastinate. So I’ll try to hit the highlights of the past week.

Today we met Nick and Terry Russell for lunch at one of their favorite places, Green Garden restaurant in Clermont, FL. Our lunch was so good, I think it’s become one of our faves, too. Not many Chinese restaurants become a favorite of mine, but this one definitely qualifies. And Don loves any place that has Peking Duck on the menu!


The best part of lunch, though, was being able to sit and chat with these wonderful friends. It has been a long time since we’ve seen them, and it seems like we’re all usually busy with something and rarely have the luxury of visiting for very long. Our lunch stretched into more than 3 hours, and the restaurant staff (who know Nick well enough that he doesn’t have to place his order) allowed us to relax for as long as we wanted. We told them we might just stay for dinner, but we did leave before that happened!

Last Saturday we went to Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park with Lonnie and Becky. She wrote a great blog about the day – please click the link to read it as she got some pictures I didn’t, and you can read her point of view.

We took a 20-minute boat ride from the visitor’s center to the park entrance. The day started out a bit chilly, so we were grateful for the sunshine and slow speed of the boat.


Becky took this picture.

DonSharonLonnie in boat

The water was so calm, we got lots of mirror-effect pictures. It was hard to tell the dividing line between trees and water in some places.



This turtle sure enjoyed sunning itself.


This sign advertises one of the primary reasons we came – to go under water to see fish and manatees.


When we came to this fountain inside the entrance to the park, we mistakenly followed the sign pointing to the left for the manatee program, scheduled to begin in a few minutes. It turns out the program was being held in a different place today! Oh, well, we caught the program later in the day when it was repeated.


We made our way to the unique underwater observatory, which includes the above-water deck, and went downstairs.


Through windows blurred from 20 years of algae being scraped off, we could see thousands of fish!


Some views looked like a huge dark cloud because there are so many fish in one place!


Returning to deck level, we were better able to see the manatees, but it was hard to get good pictures because of reflections in the water.


We spotted a mother and baby, and at times as many as 11 manatees at once. In the picture below you can also see fish swimming amongst the manatees.


The park is home to many types of wild animals. One of the most interesting is Lu the hippopotamus.


Lu (aka Lucifer) will be 55 years old next month. If you’d like to attend his birthday party, it will be held on January 26, 2015. He has an interesting history – he’s been in movies, and he’s the only non-Floridian in the wildlife park. Here’s what the signboard says:

“Lu was born at the San Diego Zoo in 1960, and has been a resident of Homosassa Springs since 1964. In his youth, Lu was part of Ivan Tors Animal Actors and starred on television and in movies. When the State of Florida purchased the former attraction in 1989, it set about finding homes for the exotic animals. Hundreds of letters were sent by local residents to the then Governor, Lawton Chiles, asking him to allow Lu to remain at the park. The Governor declared Lu to be an Honorary Citizen of the State of Florida so he could live out his days at the park.”

This sign needs no explanation.


Lu weighed 90 pounds at birth and now exceeds 6,000 pounds. Some days I feel like I’ve grown at the same rate…let’s see, 8 lbs at birth, now I would be over 500 lbs – thank heavens that’s NOT true! And Lu got that way as a vegetarian!

The rest of the wildlife park was equally interesting, but in order to keep this blog post from getting way too long, I’ll just add some more pictures for your enjoyment.

Alligators in the sun.


Baby alligator having lunch so he can grow as big as the one above!


Pelican with an interesting bump on its bill.


Flamingoes. Lots of flamingoes – after all, it IS Florida. But the real thing is so much prettier than the ones in people’s front yards.





Black bear.


Bald Eagle.


Finally, I’ll close with a picture of my latest craft. It helps make the motorhome seem more festive, since we left all our Christmas decorations in Benson.