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)

 

Lake Apopka Loop Trail: Orange County

A couple of weeks ago we rode the Lake Apopka Loop Trail, a new bicycle trail for us. Starting at Lovell’s Landing, the trail follows the road for a short distance before reaching the crushed stone trail which bordered the lake.

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While overcast, the weather was otherwise perfect, cool with light wind. Several reviews of the trail made mention of the need to bring bug spray because of the mosquitoes, but our February ride proved to be bug free.

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The bellows of gators could be heard throughout the ride and several of the large creatures laid in wait along the trail’s edge. Not only were signs posted with the traditional Florida alligator warnings, but yellow “In case of emergency” signs were posted at regular intervals as well.

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At the four mile mark, we stopped for lunch at the picnic pavilion located near the old pump house before continuing another five miles down the path.

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The trail provided great views of Lake Apopka, Florida’s fourth largest lake which is rebounding after being poisoned by pesticides. Not only can alligators be found in abundance. The area is known as a birding destination.

In fact, the 4th Annual Lake Apopka Wildlife Festival Birdapalooza was held in early February, and while we saw a variety of birds, most were camera shy making it hard to photograph many. But there was no shortage of birders with binoculars, check lists and cameras with massive lenses…the tools of the Birdapalooza crowd.

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The most interesting find on the ride was the skeleton of a large gator just feet from the trail. Can’t help but wonder what happened to this big guy.

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The Lake Apopka Loop Trail was a nice, although rough, 15 mile out and back trail, but there’s talk of connecting it to the West Orange Trail which would make it possible to ride around the 50 square mile lake. That would be quite a ride.

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.

Take a Daycation

It’s easy to get caught up in the ordinariness of life and get stuck in routines. Work. Household chores. Lawn care. Errands. An endless list of “to do’s”. But it’s important to make time for fun.

One of my favorite ways to do this is by planning and taking Daycations. These daycations require only a single day, little planning or expense and always begin and end by waking up in my own bed and returning to sleep at home.

Here’s a list of some of my favorite ways to spend a daycation.

Visit one of Florida’s State Parks.

 

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Rent bicycles or take your own and ride one of the wonderful bike trails located in the state.

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Kayak, canoe or float down a river. You can find lots of information about paddling trail from the Florida Paddling Trails Association.

Attend a festival or other special event. Festivals celebrating art, music, food and history take place every week and are good opportunities to get out, walk around and enjoy some fun. You may even want to partake in an offbeat event like a Possum Festival or Grape Stomp. Here’s a great list of Florida Festivals and Events to give you some ideas. Search by month or location to find something close to home.

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Go for a swim. Beaches on the Atlantic and Gulf, springs, and lakes are perfect places to spend a day.

 

There are so many opportunities to make any day a one day vacation. Less than 24 hours…less than $100…including gas and meals. These daycations rejuvinate without the stress or expense of planning a vacation.

Plan a getaway. Take a daycation.

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Mom