April 3, 2019 – Bourlay Historic Nature Park

I have a goal of exploring all the parks in this region and today it was Bourlay Historic Nature Park right here in Leesburg. Buddy Bourley III donated this 88-acre property to the Lake County Water Authority in 1999 to honor his parents. Buddy is a descendant of Evander Lee, the founder of Leesburg. The land was first settled in 1843 by Leesburg’s first homesteader, Thomas Robertson. However, he moved away and the town was named after Lee, who moved to the property in 1857.

This old “Cracker House” was moved to the property and serves as the visitor center. A cracker house is an old house from early settlers in Florida. People still refer to Florida natives as crackers or Florida crackers.

Bourlay Historic Nature Park Visitor Center
Visitor Center Interior
Cracker House Kitchen
Founder of Leesburg Evander Lee with wife

Our next stop was a park information kiosk.

These beautiful, fragrant, and bee-laden flowers are growing on a small tree (or large shrub) next to the kiosk.

We walked along a trail to this chickee (palm-frond roof) stage with benches for the audience.

It is right next to Lake Griffen.

Coral Bean

This pier was just a few yards farther along the lakeshore.

I stopped to take a photo of this anhinga before we startled her away. Sure enough, she took flight just as we stepped on the first board.


We continued on out the pier.

Pier on Lake Griffen
View to Left
View to Right

We sat in a corner bench built into the pier railing and watched a group of osprey fishing.

Waterlily Leaves

We watched one osprey swoop down to the water’s surface but didn’t think it caught a fish. Then, it flew by right in front of our faces with a fish nearly as big as the bird. Of course, it was yet another fantastic photo opportunity missed. Neither the camera nor I were fast enough to get the bird focused and in the frame before it flew by. I did get another one searching for a fish though.

We also spent a lot of time enjoying this small grebe diving in the lake. It only spent about three seconds on the surface before the next dive, so it took a number of tries before I got this picture.


This is the old Bourlay house on the lakefront. It was built in the 1930s. It is now occupied by the person who takes care of the property. Nice job perk!

Here is a wider view showing the lake behind the house. The house and yard are surrounding by fencing and No-Trespassing signs.

We continued on past the house parallel to the shoreline and came upon a heavily-laden tangerine tree. I picked one and peeled it. Andy thought it was over-ripe. I thought it was tasty.

Tangerine Tree

I learned that Bald Cypress grows all over Florida except in the Florida Keys.

Bald Cypress Branches

I looked and looked, but could not find the name of these flowers.

I found these with Google Images and they have a dozen names. I’m sticking with Spiderwort.


I admired this shiny magnolia leaf on the ground in the parking area.

December 29, 2015 – Coral Gables and Key Biscayne

Andy and I got to George and Jennifer’s room at 7 am so we could watch the boys while they went to the gym.  Here is Andy reading to the boys.

b01 Andy Reading to Cam and Owen
Andy Reading to Cam and Owen

While George and Jennifer were getting ready to go to the beach at Bill Baggs State Park on Key Biscayne, we took the boys and their remote control trucks down to the rotunda. This picture should have been a video.  Cam was trying to pick up this truck, but was holding the switch on the controller and couldn’t catch it.

b02 Cam Chasing His Car
Cam Chasing His Truck

Andy was reading the newspaper while the boys played.  Owen was using the black tiles as roads for this car.

b03 Andy and Owen with Car
Andy Reading and Owen Driving His Truck

Cam could make his car go forward and backward, but didn’t get the hang of steering it.  He gave up the controller and got down on his knees to push the car in the old fashion way.

b04 Cam Pushing Car on Tile Road
Cam Pushing Truck on Tile Road

Owen, who is four and two years older than Cam learned to drive his truck very well.  After he got the hang of it, he was having a lot more fun.

b05 Owen Driving Car
Owen Driving Remote Control Truck

We spent several hours on the beach at Key Biscayne, along with thousands of other beach goers. I spent most of the time in the sand and water and did not take any pictures until we were packing up to leave. Jennifer stopped to pose for a picture for me with Cam.

b06 Jennifer and Cam on Beach
Jennifer and Cam on Beach


December 20, 2015 – Year in Review

I was inspired by oy30’s drawing Summary of the Year on oy30’s Blog – A Mexican Boy’s Site

I can’t draw that well, so I went to the pictures folder and picked one out for each month.  It was really hard to do! There are so many to choose from and just one does not represent a whole month. Then, there are eleven more days in December.  What if something earth shaking happens and is left out of the Review?  Oh well, here goes:

We were here in Marathon, Florida for the month of January. This is our view of the Atlantic Ocean at the end of the road in our RV park. Those yellow things floating on the water are designed to keep sea grass from floating into the canal.  There are bubblers under the water to make little waves to keep the grass from floating in the smaller entrance. It works well.

2015 01
Atlantic Ocean from Key RV, Marathon, Florida

This was my favorite picture in the February folder.  It is of red mangrove blossoms. Red mangroves are the ones that grow in the water and have those gnarly prop roots that make a mangrove forest impassable. The blossoms are small and not usually noticeable.

2015 02
Red Mangrove Blossoms

One memorable thing that represents March 2015 was inviting a number of friends to the Marathon Yacht Club to eat French dip sandwiches for lunch about once a week. We called ourselves The French Dippers and it was always a good time.

2015 03

We hit the road for our summer trip in April.  Here is Sao, our motorhome, parked for the night in a vineyard in Fort Pierce, Florida.  That was our first night out.

2015 04
Endless Summer Vineyard, Fort Pierce, Florida

May was our first month in Big Creek in The Great Smoky Mountains National Park. This is the swimming hole in the picnic area.  We walked out onto that pedestrian bridge several times a day to look at the creek and to watch picnickers, campers, and hikers cooling off in Big Creek. We also regularly saw fish in the pool under the bridge.

2015 05
Big Creek Picnic Area Swimming Hole

We were in Big Creek for June as well. This view is up the creek from the pedestrian bridge.

2015 06
Big Creek

We moved on to Maryland in July and parked in my sister Barbara’s driveway.  I only got one picture of the three grandchildren, but their beautiful faces are not showing.  I still like the picture. We took them for a hike on Sugarloaf Mountain, about an hour northwest of Washington, DC

2015 07
Andrew, Elizabeth, and George Misovec on Sugarloaf Mountain

In July, we moved on to Mequon, Wisconsin, just north of Milwaukee. That’s grandma heaven.  Owen and Cam have just turned four and two in November and December. They would come out to the motorhome every morning to wake me up and push me out of bed. I took so many pictures of them, it was tough to choose. They call me Baba Yaga because my house moves, though not on chicken feet.

2015 08
Owen and Cam with Baba Yaga

September was full of sights with visits to seven national parks: Arches, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, Grand Staircase Escalante, Bryce Canyon, Zion.  It could be overwhelming to pick a picture from there, but this one is of me with my son Christopher on the north rim of the Grand Canyon.

2015 09
Dinata and Christopher at the Grand Canyon North Rim

We headed back home in October, stopping to visit friends Paul and Sheri Brindle in Lake Havasu City, Arizona. We visited the beautiful beaches of the Florida panhandle. We also visited friends: Cissy Betz in Palm Harbor, Bill and Pam in The Villages, and Joe and Linda Coffey in Port Charlotte, Florida. I can’t leave out our stop at Alliance Coach, the RV repair shop in Wildwood, Florida. We seem to spend a lot of time there.

2015 10
Andy on beach in Topsail Hill Preserve State Park

We were back on our RV site in Key RV in Marathon in November. We set up our screen room and I planted my garden.  Then I got to work on my book about Big Creek.

2015 11
Sao in Key RV, Marathon, Florida

Andy has been busy straightening up the space behind our storage shed in December.  We had “stuff” piled up back there.  He put the kayaks up against the shed, got a bike rack for the bikes (in the lower right corner) and set up a table and two chairs overlooking our little mangrove forest.  We like to sit out there with our coffee and gaze into the swamp when the no-see-ums are not biting.

20150 12
Behind the Shed

December 6, 2015 – Snowman in the Keys

Two years ago, we went to Wisconsin in December for my exceptional grandson Cam’s birth. While there, we went to Discovery World Science and Technology Center.  Just inside the door was a snowman made of plastic cups. Here is Daughter Jennifer holding newborn Cam and admiring the snowman.  I was charmed.


Log Plastic Cup Snowman

I vowed to make a snowman for myself, even though I think it is silly to have a snowman in the Florida keys.  We came here to get away from cold and snow, after all. This is the year.  We drove to Key West, to the restaurant food store, and bought some plastic cups.  Then I started stapling them together until I got a cramp in my hand.

I am not a craft person!  My snowman is uneven and crooked.  He tilts forward. Some of the cups stick out uneven with the ones around it. The three sections don’t match up very well. He was pathetic. But after I painted the bottoms of some small cups with Magic Markers to make eyes, nose, and buttons and then put a scarf around his neck.  He looked great!

b Snowman Day

We stuck a rope of lights in the top of his head and this is what he looks like at night.

b Snowman Night

Andy named him Cuppy. He is about 40 inches tall, bigger than I expected him to be.

It has been raining for days and days.  My garden is growing.

b Garden

We have a large crop of tiny green tomatoes. I just hope they make it to harvest.  The iguanas are a problem here.

b Green Tomato

November 22, 2015 – Mickey Belin’s 98th Birthday

Today was Andy’s 79-3/12 birthday, but he didn’t get a cake. The oven has not been repaired yet. The man came to look at it and said he needed to order a part.  We haven’t heard from him since.

It was our neighbor Mickey’s 98th birthday yesterday.  They had a party for him over at the Dockside Bar.  Sunday night is open mic night and Mickey is a regular over there with his trumpet. He was a professional trumpet player with the big bands back in the day. He is also a World War II veteran. A big crowd turned out for his birthday and he was greeted like a big-time celebrity when he arrived.

Everyone wanted to take his picture and to have their picture taken with him.  Eventually he got up to play and sing.  And, as is his custom, he told a few raunchy jokes before he started.

b Band at Dockside

b Mickey Belin Playing Trumpet

He’s still got it folks.  Everyone in the place was hoping for his longevity and vitality.

Happy Birthday Mickey!



November 19, 2015 – Sombrero Beach

I spent four hours working on THE BOOK in the morning and then we went to Sombrero Beach for lunch and a walk.  We invited a man and woman to sit at our picnic table with us and ended up having a great visit. Joe and Tina Moore from Savannah, Georgia are here for a two-week family Thanksgiving vacation and had just arrived today by boat. They have rented a house and the rest of the extended family will be arriving over the coming week.

Sombrero Beach is a city park used by tourists and locals alike. For some reason, I did’t take many pictures and the ones I did take were not all that good. We’ll be back there often enough to get more before the season is over.

This is a Little Blue Heron, but was very red.  I spent a lot of time Googling images comparing it to the Reddish Egret, but couldn’t decide.  So, I decided the default is Little Blue Heron.

b Little Blue Heron

The tide was high for our walk again today.  I must have seen this before, but today noticed that a sea grape is growing out of the base of this palm tree.

b Sea Grape Growing on Base of Palm Tree

I worked four more hours on THE BOOK after our walk.

October 26, 2015 – Cross Florida Greenway

We are waiting for parts so Sao did not go into the shop today. After lunch, we went on another exploration. This is something that I wanted to see for a long time.  Not because it is anything particularly spectacular to see, I was just curious.

When you drive on Interstate 75 near Ocala, Florida, you go under an overpass with trees on it. I thought it might be part of the corridor system for wildlife movement.  Florida has a number of corridors, greenways, and preserves. Well you just don’t see that many highway overpasses with trees growing on them. We looked it up and it is part of the  Marjorie Harris Carr Cross Florida Greenway, a 110-mile long band of green across the middle of Florida from Palatka, near the east coast, to the Gulf of Mexico. It is about a mile wide in most places. The land is part of an unfinished barge canal to link the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic ocean proposed by King Phillip II of Spain in 1567.  Yes, 1567. Andy found the trail head that would take us to the overpass, called the Land Bridge. And we were off on an adventure.

We had not even reached the trail head from the parking lot when we were awed by a Live Oak tree.  Just LOOK at those branches!


I asked my scale model Andy to stay where he was while I walked closer to the tree to take a picture of him by the three long branches. They are amazing.


We headed on into the forest and saw more Live Oak trees. It was a surreal environment.

b03 Live Oak Limbs

Andy suddenly veered off the trail.

b04 Andy Under Limbs

I soon realized that he had found a good place to sit down and re-tie his shoes.

b05 Andy Tying Shoe on Limb

The next odd sight we came to was a tree on the ground. It looked like a giant wooden octopus ready to grab us.

b06 Splayed Tree

After passing under some branches and getting to the other side, we realized that a huge tree had been split in half.  The half on the right was dead.

b07 Tree Broken in Two

The half on the left, that we had just passed under, was alive and well and had grown a little forest.  What were once branches are now upright trees.

b08 Forest Growing on Downed Tree

The effect of those huge trees hanging over the trail was beautiful.

b09 Trail Under Trees

We came to an area that was clear of underbrush.  Andy figured it was low lying land and is wet some of the time.

b10 No Undergrowth

Here is something else I have never seen before.  Two separate trails were running alongside each other.  There are three trails leaving the parking area and going to the land bridge.  One is for hikers, one for bicycles, and one for horses.  The hiking trail goes the shortest distance, pretty much straight, well a very curvy straight.  The other two trails meander back and forth and cross the hiking trail four or five times. There is also a service road. At this point, the trails were along some private property.

b11 Parallel Trails

Another strange place in the woods was deep in pine straw.  I love pine straw, but this area was just a bit creepy.

b12 Pine Needles Cover Forest Floor

The trail is only 1.1 miles long from the parking lot to the land bridge.  We could hear the traffic on I-75 well before we got to it. I was surprised to see stone walls leading to it. They are the planters for the trees and shrubs. This is the bridge, a one-lane dirt road.

b13 Land Bridge

I widens into a courtyard at the center of the interstate and there are overlooks.  They must be for people, not the animals.

b14 Courtyard on Land Bridge

I-75 was busy as usual.

b15 Overlook on I-75

I noticed two cameras mounted on a post at the beginning of the land bridge and bent over to take a picture of them.

b16 Cameras at Land Bridge

When I stood up and turned around, Andy was posed with his walking stick like a golf club aimed at my behind. He figured that when the wildlife people see a picture of me bent over taking a picture of the camera, they will get a good laugh. That man has a strange sense of humor.

There was a bush loaded with Beauty Berries near the land bridge too.  I was just reading recently that although they are edible, the birds and other animals don’t like them. They don’t eat them unless there is nothing else available.

b17 Beauty Berries

This was a photo op.  The horse trail was crossing our trail  right in front of two big trees.

b18 Horses Crossing Trail

This was a group of five or six trees splayed out over the trail.  We had to climb over them at the base.

b19 Splayed Trees

That was a great walk.

Someone had posted a link to a web site showing how to make rose shaped apple treats made with a can of crescent rolls.  I bought the rolls and an apple and decided to make them tonight.  That’s when I realized that I don’t have any cupcake tins.  I thought I did, but can’t find them.  They are probably under the futon couch under other stuff.  So, I decided to roll them up.

I didn’t follow a recipe; I just put in slices of apple, brown sugar, butter, cinnamon, nutmeg, and toasted pecans. They were super easy and a right tasty. Here they are when I took them out of the oven.

b20 Apple Crescents

Here is one on a plate because that’s the way those food blogs and magazines show their food. I just didn’t have a fancy plate or utensil or table cloth for drama.

b21 Apple Crescent