Christmas Over the Rainbow

Lights seem to be mandatory at Christmas, but since we’ve strung lights for three weddings this year, we decided viewing others hard work would be the best way to satisfy the need for a festive light display.

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In addition to lighted trees, reindeer and toy soldiers, for the first time I saw a rainbow featured prominently in a Christmas display, but I guess a rainbow isn’t any stranger than a toy soldier. Especially since we were at Rainbow Springs State Park.

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This was much better than driving through neighborhoods. Mainly because we walked with my parents through the park instead of sitting in a car, but I am glad we were able to avoid the long line of children waiting to see Santa.

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Thanks to all of the volunteers who lit up the park and provided a night of holiday spirit.

First Day Walk: 2015

Year three of the first walk tradition! This year’s walk on January 1st, was a repeat of last year…only better, thanks to the weather!

January 1st, 2014 we and a handful of brave souls bundled up in raincoats, hats, gloves, and scarves to walk at Rainbow Springs State Park. This year with the temperature in the 50s, I counted more than three dozen cars in the the parking lot, quite a bit better than the three there last year. Visitors walked, canoed, and surprisingly swam on the first day of the year at the park.

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The idea of a first walk is promoted by the state parks as a way to start the new year being active while enjoying the outdoors, and hopefully getting acquainted with one of Florida’s state parks.

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Rainbow Springs is a perfect place for us to start the year since it also gave us an excuse to drop in on my parents to wish them a happy new year. A 45 minute walk following a picnic lunch, not a bad way to usher in 2015, and we even stopped by the Dunnellon Bridge Trail for a short bike ride after leaving Rainbow Springs to check out the recently built connector to Blue Run Park.

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Thursday was a good day for the first walk of 2015 and a good opportunity to take a first selfie of the year as well.

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Wandering through Waterfalls

Last year was all about the beach, fishing and sea turtles and in 2012 the focus was bats and caves. This year has been the year of water…rain, rivers, springs, and waterfalls.

On the first day of 2014, a cool, rainy day, we started the year at Rainbow Springs State Park walking through the gardens and man-made waterfalls.IMG_2002Falling Waters State Park, the home of the 100-foot deep Falling Waters Sink, is an impressive Florida waterfall we visited later in January.

Then this summer waterfalls dominated our trip to North Carolina. First at Deep Creek, Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

And then at Panthertown Valley, Nantahala National Forest.

“There is a hidden message in every waterfall. It says, if you are flexible, falling will not hurt you!”
― Mehmet Murat ildan

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A New Tradition

According to my friend, Kay, if you do something two years in a row, it’s a tradition. Using this standard, participating in a First Day Hike is now officially a tradition.

On January 1, 2013, we started the day hiking the LaChua Trail at Payne’s Prairie. The easy three mile hike provided ample opportunities for upclose alligator encounters. In addition to alligators, we observed wild boar and wading birds on our first day hike.

This year we kicked off 2014 with a First Day Hike at Rainbow Springs State Park. Despite the rain, we managed to hike the three mile yellow trail.

The fourth largest spring in the state and a popular park for swimming, snorkeling, canoeing, kayaking, and picnicking, Rainbow Springs was nearly deserted on the first day of the year with only three other cars of visitors braving the less than perfect weather.

Originally we planned to rent a kayak and paddle for a couple of hours but decided against sitting in a puddle on a cool January morning. We’ll leave that for another day.

Taking a First Day Hike…a new tradition!

Happy 2014!

A new year…some traditions to follow!

First, it’s time to make a New Year’s Resolution. While I don’t believe the first day of the year is the only day to make resolutions, I’ll be making some today.

  1. Read at least 30 minutes daily.
  2. Don’t work during lunch. In fact, if I read during lunch, I can take care of two resolutions at once.
  3. Write in my journal at least weekly, hopefully daily.
  4. Maintain 2013 weight.

    First read of the new year.
    First read of the new year.

Second, last year we started the year at a state park for a “First Day Hike” at Payne’s Prairie’s LaChua Trail. This year we’ll head to Rainbow Springs State Park for a “First Day Hike”.

First Day Hike 2013 - LaChua Sink
First Day Hike 2013 – LaChua Sink

Finally, today’s the day to establish our 14 in 14 list. Can’t wait to sit down with John to compare our lists for the new year. I wonder where the list will take us.

What a great way to start 2014!

Happy New Year!