TBT: 16 in 16 St. Petersburg Daycation

As part of our 16 in 16, we decided we wanted to go on more day trips. Short daycations within a couple hours of home.

The first of these trips took place in St. Petersburg. On a warm and sunny February day we rode the city trails and visited several of the museums, starting on the trail behind the Morean Center for Clay. Since I “don’t do traffic”, I was somewhat reluctant to ride in the city. Fortunately, a concrete barrier divided the trail in the city from the traffic, so it was no problem.

We rode past Tropicana Field, through downtown, to the bay  toward Treasure Island until we reached an end of the 17 mile trail.

But we did more than go for a ride, we stopped at the Chihuly Collection at another of the Morean Arts Centers located on the city’s waterfront. A 20 foot sculpture located outside the center ushers guests into the building that was specifically designed to display the glasswork.

Our bundled ticket included a visit to the Morean Galleries as well as to the Glass Studio and Hot Shop which turned out to be an especially enjoyable part of the day.

A day of bicycling and art…just one of many successful daycations of 2016.

And a visit to St. Petersburg made our list for 17 in 17. This year it’s a visit to the Dali Museum. Who knows? It may turn into another daycation.

16 in 16:

  • Jackson Browne Concert
  • St. Petersburg Daycation

2 Down; 14 To Go

In January, we checked off the first item in our list 16 in 16 when we attended a Jackson Browne concert. On Monday, February 22nd, we finally found the perfect day for another of the planned events for 2016 when we spent the day in St. Petersburg for a Daycation.

We waited for a warm and sunny February day because our plan was to bike ride the city trails and visit several of the museums. We started the ride on the trail behind the Morean Center for Clay, one of the museums on our list and rode in to the city. I was somewhat reluctant to ride downtown because I “don’t do traffic”. Fortunately, a concrete barrier divided the trail in the city from the traffic. We even had stop lights to make for a smooth flow downtown.

Traveling past Tropicana Field, through downtown, to the bay and then before the end of the day toward Treasure Island until we reached an end of the trail due to construction, our 17 miles on the bike met our goal for the active part of the day.

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Parking at the Historic Seaboard Train Station, our first stop was a tour of the Morean Arts Center for Clay.

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Here we were surprised to find the center closed on Mondays, but when a staff member realized we’d driven two hours, she permitted us to walk through the facility where artists were working in the shared spaces. Actually, we enjoyed looking at the art outside as much as the displays inside the center.

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From the train station we rode our bike downtown to see the Chihuly Collection at another of the Morean Arts Centers located on the city’s waterfront. A 20 foot sculpture located outside the center ushers guests into the building that was specifically designed to display the glasswork. The price of admission includes a docent led tour, but we decided to enjoy on our own instead of traveling from room to room with a crowd.

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Next, we stopped for lunch at Fresco’s Waterfront Bistro with margaritas overlooking the water.

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We purchased a bundled ticket which included a visit to the Morean Galleries as well as to the Glass Studio and Hot Shop with our ticket to the Chihuly Collection. Unfortunately, the Morean Galleries were in the midst of changing out the exhibit so we saw more cardboard boxes than art. Next time we’ll know to call ahead since this information is not provided on their website.

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But while the galleries were a disappointment, the highlight of the trip was the time spent in the Glass Studio and Hot Shop where we sat in bleachers watching David Sturgeon create a piece of glass art with the assistance of the narrator, Jeremiah. For fifty minutes, the glass was shaped, colored, twirled, heated, cooled, heated, cooled, and heated and cooled some more until the piece was completed.

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A successful daycation of bicycling and art. Not the first of the year and certainly not the last.

Costs: $106

  • Gas $16 (about 8 gallons at $2/gallon
  • Tickets for Chihuly Collection, Glass Studio and Hot Shop $40 (tickets for two)
  • Lunch $50 (2 margaritas accounted for half this cost)

 

Big Bugs Everywhere

On January 15, the Big Bug Invasion took over Leu Gardens. An army of enormous ants meet visitors as they enter the gardens.

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Created from natural materials, the creatures lurk around every corner.

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Despite the fact the insects may stand over twenty feet tall, many remain hidden among the plants.

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While others, like the lady bug remain in the open, ready for photo ops.

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The 200 pound assassin bug was quite a specimen.

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But I have an affinity for spiders and this one camouflaged among the bamboo may have been my favorite sculpture.

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The Big Bug Invasion continues at Harry P. Leu Gardens in downtown Orlando until April 15 so there’s plenty of time to get acquainted with the garden’s newest inhabitants.

February in Florida: Citrus County

Who cares about Punxsutawney Phil’s predictions about the coming of spring when you live in Florida?

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On the first day of February we launched the boat at Pete’s Peir and then spent the day on the water. We started the morning playing hide and seek with the fish. The fish won.

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Then we played a little Marco Polo with the dolphin as they would surface and hiss before disappearing.

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Next, we played Peek-a-boo with the manatee as they’d quickly peek their snouts above the water but then slide beneath the surface before I could snap a satisfactory picture.

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Finally, we quit playing games and headed to Three Sisters Spring where we knew we’d find manatee we could photograph.

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And we weren’t disappointed. Dozens of the swimming potatoes were moving out of the spring in the warm weather to feed before the next cold front chases them back to their warm, protected hideaway.

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The spring area also housed numerous manatee in the roped off portion of the river. A river congested with swimmers, boaters, photographers and people kayaking.

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Only in Florida is it possible to enjoy  what those living in other states would consider summer fun in February.

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Daycation: Crystal River

 

Wekiwa Springs Trails: Orange County

We started last week with another daycation. This time to Wekiwa Springs State Park.

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Upon entering the park, we received a list of twenty-five ways to enjoy Wekiwa. Of course, we started at the spring and were a little surprised to find several people swimming on a cool January morning.

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A short walk on the “wet-to-dry” nature boardwalk, (number 9) on the list was the next order of business.

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We then checked out the trail map and selected one to hike (number 2) and saw more than a few deer tracks on the trail (number 19).

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On such a beautiful, cloudless morning, there was no doubt we’d take lots of photographs (number 15). And since a controlled burn was in progress, it was no problem finding evidence of recently burned areas (number 21).

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Before leaving the park, we ate a picnic lunch (number 7) at one of the pavilions, making it easy to leave our stresses behind and relax (number 25).

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Seven of the Top 25 Things To Do at Wekiwa Springs State Park, only 18 to go! We also took a selfie, something not on the park’s list.

Daycation: Wekiwa Springs State Park

 

Ginger Ale Spring = Creepy

Florida’s home to nearly four dozen major, publicly assessable springs. However, there are numerous smaller springs throughout the state. Located on Markham Woods Road just north of State Road 434 is Ginger Ale Springs, one of the creepiest places I’ve seen.  The first clue? The green creature tucked in the corner of the sign marking the path to the spring.

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The main pool of Ginger Ale Springs is enclosed in a circular concrete wall. A large sand boil and several smaller one are visible. The water cascades out of a rectangular opening in the side of the wall flowing into a sandy stream to the Little Wekiva River.

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It’s hard to concentrate on the beauty of the spring once you notice the dolls, toys, stuffed animals, plastic flowers, clothing and signs adorning many of the surrounding trees.

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There were too many faces staring at me to want to remain near the spring for more than a few minutes.

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When I saw this open mouthed, wide-eyed mask peering at me from across the spring run, I’d had enough and turned to head back toward the car.

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How can such a lovely spring to be home to so much creepiness? Maybe Ginger Ale Spring should be added to the list of Florida’s unusual roadside attractions.