Barbara…look familiar?

In April 1977, my college roommate Barbara and another friend, Jill joined me for a Spring Break trip to South Florida. I don’t remember if Jill had been to Florida before, but Barbara hadn’t been out of her home state of North Carolina (with the exception of Myrtle Beach) until she accompanied me on trips home from Western Carolina University.

So I really shouldn’t have been surprised when she was excited by the pretty blue bubble floating next to her in Biscayne Bay. As John was maneuvering his Hobie Cat to pickup Barbara from the middle of the bay after she flew off the trapeze of the boat, he started yelling to Barbara to stay away from the blue bubble…don’t touch it…it’s a Portuguese Man-of-War…it will sting.

So yesterday, 40 years later, when we encountered more of those blue bubbles, this time on Flagler Beach, John and I enjoyed reminiscing about the first time he took me sailing.

I’m glad Portuguese Man-of-War washed up on the beach today to bring back memories, but I didn’t touch those beautiful blue bubbles…they really do sting!

Sunrise Sunset 2017: One of 17 in 17

Make it five years in a row! Yes, for the fifth straight year, we awoke on the east coast of Florida to watch the sunrise over the Atlantic Ocean and then ended the day by watching the sun sink into the Gulf of Mexico.

This year we began the day at Hillsboro Inlet watching the sunrise only minutes from the house I lived in while in high school.

Boats parading through the channel and a lighthouse were an extra bonus, and the sunrise did not disappoint.

Cooking and eating breakfast on the picnic tables at Hillsboro Inlet Park served as fuel for our cross state road trip.

Next stop: Corkscrew Swamp for a stroll among wild things on the boardwalk cutting through the path of Landmark Cypress.

Then on to the island for a bike ride, walk on the beach

and obligatory sundae at Dairy Queen.

Waiting for sunset included a few casts and even a couple of trout.

With waves washing over our feet, the sky changed from gold to orange and finally pinks and purples as 2017 Sunrise Sunset came to an end.

Where would you suggest we plan this adventure in 2018?

Nurture Your Talents: A Look Back

Yesterday we received word that John’s 91-year-old uncle passed away, so it seems like reposting a blog written in January of 2014 in which I reminded you to nurture your talents.

I’ve always known that Uncle Bud is a talented artist. In fact, one of his sketches and one of his paintings hang on the walls of our house, but when I entered his apartment, it was obvious that creating art brings him great joy.

IMG_2219A painting of three girls caught my attention first, but as I looked more closely, I realized Uncle Bud created much of the artwork on the walls.

Paintings of flowers and scenes from nature

IMG_2222as well as a sketch of his mother.IMG_2221It served as a great reminder that we need to make time to sharpen our skills and share our talents with others.

IMG_2224 Paint, draw, write, sing, dance, play an instrument, take photographs, cook, sew, garden, design. Be like Uncle Bud and nurture your talent.




Parking Headaches

Why have parking meters become so complicated? I’d read articles in the newspaper recently about the confusion caused by the new parking meters in downtown Ocala. My first thought, what’s wrong with these people? Can’t use a parking meter?

Then a couple of weeks ago, I had my first encounter with the new meters. To start, I nearly walked right past it. I exited the car and didn’t notice the meter. When I passed a second meter, it occurred to me that parking along the street in front of Brother’s Keeper is no longer free. I returned to the meter to see a list of payment options. I finally decided that searching for a couple of quarters would be easier than figuring out the other choices.

Upon returning to my car, a woman approached me and asked if I could help her with the parking meter. She’d deposited money but couldn’t determine how much time she’d paid for or if perhaps she’d paid for the wrong space (easy to do since each meter manages two spaces).

Another meter, another problem…this time at Hillsboro Inlet Park. The sign reads: pay with your phone, download the app, pay by web, use apple pay, and warning that if paying with cash, no change would be given.

A couple of years ago, we came across a similar meter in Miami and were happy to download the app, Pay by Phone. This is a great idea. Paying for parking will be so much easier.

But then, on the same trip a different meter required a different app, this time Park Mobile. Grumbling, we downloaded a second parking app, set up another account and paid for parking.

Not long after, another trip, another city, and you guessed it, another parking app, Green Parking. And, yes, we downloaded yet another parking app.

However, when the parking meter required a fourth app, we decided against it. Instead, we dug around the in the car and the bottom of my purse until we found sufficient change to pay for parking.

Of course, the meters at Hillsboro Inlet are connected to an app we don’t have, and we’re done with app managed parking. We now carry a change purse full of quarters.

Going to the beach on Sanibel or Captiva? No app required. And quarters won’t do the job. Instead, pay the $4.00 per hour fee with a handful of one, five, ten or twenty dollar bills ($4.00 minimum, no change) or just insert your credit card.

I really don’t mind paying to park. Just make it easy.

Explore a Different Kind of Corkscrew

In the heart of the Everglades ecosystem, the Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary is home to the largest old growth Bald Cypress forest in North America making it a worthy stop on a cross Florida road trip.

Located 30 minutes east of Naples, The Sanctuary is home to not only a magnificent cypress forest, but a wide variety of plants and animals. Of course, you’ll see alligators and a wide variety of birds.

But, this is also panther habitat so visitors are encouraged to be on the lookout for prints of the endangered cat as well as prints and scat of bobcats and bears. Unfortunately, we didn’t see any of evidence of these mammals.

The 2.25 mile boardwalk winds through the Bald Cypress forest with trees which reach as high as 130 feet and a circumference of up to 25 feet. Their branches are covered with moss, lichens, bromeliads, ferns and even the elusive ghost orchid.

As part of the Florida Birding Trail, songbirds, wading birds, woodpeckers and raptors are visible throughout the trail.

We were even lucky enough to see two young barred owls.

Of course, the cypress trees are the stars, with the Landmark Cypress marked along the trail. Named for environmental heroes, trees bear the names Muir, Roosevelt, Calusa (home of a ghost orchid) and Hemenway, named for Harriet Hemenway who worked tirelessly to convince women not to wear feathered hats.

Three of the Legend Cypress

It’s hard to call a visit to the Corkscrew Swamp a hike. With the numerous stops to view the flora and fauna, take pictures, and learn about the Landmark Cypress, it’s more likely to be a stroll through the forest.

This Audubon Park is open seven days a week from 7:00am to 5:30pm and is well worth the admission price of $14 per person.

Thanks to John for sharing his pictures.