Venetian Gardens

We drove to the house mid morning, but no one was there. We walked around a bit anyway and then stopped by the grocery store for some fruit before heading back to the motorhome for lunch. Since there was no one to watch working, we decided to explore Venetian Gardens.  We have passed it a number of times and often said we would have to check it out one day.

Venetian Gardens is a city park in a cove off Lake Harris. It turned out to be quite nice.  Just inside the entrance is a large playground with a water-park for small children.  I didn’t get a good look, but I think it was mostly sprinklers and no water depth.  Good idea for the little ones.

We drove through the park and out the other side looking at the large older homes among gigantic live oaks on the lake front.  Then we turned around and parked in a parking area inside the park.  It is called Venetian Gardens because there are canals and bridges, a la Venice.

We followed the walkway along the big water.

The place is alive with water birds.

Reddish Egret

I was surprised to see an Anhinga.  I think of them as Everglades birds. That is not eggs under the wing; it is a pile of snail shells.


There were several bridges and islands among the canals.

The gap in the trees in the distance is the opening to the main body of Lake Harris.

Tricolored Heron

We found a nice bench overlooking the lake and that ended our walk, except to get back to the car.

Great White Egret

There are a good number of cypress trees in the park.

Cypress Trees

The bird we saw most often today was the Common Gallinule.  This bird is very dark, appearing black to me.  I thought it was a Common Gallinule until I got it on the computer.  It is a Purple Gallinule.  I should have known by the white forehead.

Purple Gallinule


We’ll go back to Venetian Gardens again for future walks.


Unwriting, unwriting, and more unwriting!

Editor Patricia is finally getting around to giving me some more feedback.  Big Creek is WAAAAY too long.  I knew that.  Two days ago, Patricia told me to cut 20,000 words.  It’s not really too hard as I had so much material.  It is time consuming though. So that is what I have been working on the past few days.

I am a compulsive volunteer.  At our first Middle Keys Concert Association performance, they announced that they needed a volunteer to help with some record keeping.  It turned out that they needed someone with spreadsheet experience and I am the spreadsheet Queen. It was a perfect match.  The concert, by the way, was The New Xavier Cugat Orchestra. It was a great Latin music performance featuring the music of Cugat and Desi Arnaz.  They even wore those huge frilly sleeves. We were also treated to some Latin dancing. Very sexy.

We have been affected by the great blizzard.  The second week our performers, Trio Solisti, were unable to fly out of New York.  They are fabulous and I am sorry that their schedule will not permit them to appear this year.  All was not lost.  Violinist William Hagen, scheduled for the third week, was already in the south and was able to come a week early.  He played some amazing Mozart, Prokofiev, Tartini/Kreisler, and Ravel.  The whole audience jumped up and cheered when he finished “The Devil’s Trill” and again after “Tzigane”.

We’ve still been taking our walks, which refresh me.  I’ve taken some pictures too. We’ve had some brilliant blue skies obscured by clouds.

b Blue Sky Obscured by Clouds
Blue Sky Obscured by Clouds

We have a lot of cats in the RV park. They stare at us as we walk by.
b Cat 1

I don’t know why I have not taken pictures of them before.

b Cat 2

The hibiscus (or is that hibiscusi? No, it is hibiscuses. I think you can also just say hibiscus.) have burst into bloom again.  Many RVs have some blooming in front of them.

b Pink Hibiscus

I don’t mind the clouds; they keep it cooler for walking.
b Clouds Over Water

One windy day, we had a flock of birds at the end of the canal.  Here are a Great White and a Snowy Egret. I noticed that the Snowy did not chase away his larger cousin.    There were also two pelicans, but their photos did not turn out very well.

b Great Egret and Snowy Egret

We took a short walk at Sombrero Beach the other day.  It was cold and windy.  I was wearing jeans and my new “dark orchid”, fleece-lined, raincoat as a windbreaker.  I could not believe all the people lying on the beach with nothing on but swimsuits. They must have been Canadians or Germans, or English. Those folks are tough.

b Sombrero Beach
Sombrero Beach

We came across a man blowing bubbles with one of those wands made with two sticks and some twine. It was too windy and most of the bubbles burst quickly. This one was huge!!

b Huge Bubble
Huge Soap Bubble

This one stayed together longer.

b Bubble
Soap Bubble

The heron was close to the seawall, so I got a portrait. The float in the background is not so great.

b Tricolored Heron Portrait
Tricolored Heron
b Desert Rose
Desert Rose

Martin and Betsy suggested having lunch at the Marathon Ocean Park.  We ate in this tiki.

b Lunch Tiki
Marathon Ocean Park Picnic Pavilion

I don’t know why I even noticed this iguana basking in the sun near the peak of the roof.

b Iguana on Tiki Roof
Iguana on Tiki Roof

Martin and Betsy posed for a picture for me in a smaller pavilion at the water’s edge. We sat and chatted for a long time and it turned into a very long lunch break.

b Martin and Betsy
Martin and Betsy
b Orchid 2
b Orchid


November 30 – Home from Disney World

For Andy and me, the trip to Disney World was more about getting together as a family than exploring Disney. We stayed in the Saratoga Springs Resort area, spread out in four suites. Andy and I spent a good bit of time simply walking around the resort. The day after Thanksgiving, we took a four mile walk around Lake Buena Vista while the children and grandchildren went to the Animal Kingdom section of Disney World.

One side of the lake, across from our resort used to be called Downtown Disney, but now there are several sections with different names. It is all shops and restaurants. And, it was very crowded.  We weaved our way through the crowds and made our escape at the far end. We did stop to see several cars driving around the lake.

b Car Boat on Lake Buena Vista

We took some time to watch the water birds along the shore. This one of a Common Moorhen in the grass is my favorite picture even though it could be sharper.

b Common Moorhen

We came to a putting green and the golf course on both sides of of the canal that connects the lake to the rest of Disney.

b Golf Course

This squirrel was next to the sidewalk near our room. It was surely accustomed to tourists taking pictures; it did not even flinch while I snapped a picture just a couple feet away.

b Squirrel

On Saturday, the grandparent generation and adult children went to Epcot while Joanne and the grandchildren spent the day at the pool with cousins. There were seven of us moving at a glacial pace. We couldn’t decide what to go see.  Then we had to discuss where we were going to eat lunch.  Andy and I decided to go wherever Mike wanted and he chose Germany. The large buffet was a delicious choice.

We walked around the lake some more and came upon a stage where a four-person a cappella group was singing Christmas songs.  Margaret and I stopped to listen.  Andy and Andy found a park bench farther away. The next group was a gospel choir dancing and singing Christmas carols in the hip hop fashion.  I really enjoyed their high-energy performance, but Andy said they were just screaming.

b Hip Hop Christmas Carols

Son Andy suggested that we take a boat ride across the lake.

b Roof in China Venue

b Spaceship Earth Across Lake

It didn’t take me long to figure out that he was aiming for the Italy exhibit.  He had voted for it for lunch.  They have the most charming pizza ovens named, from left to right, Stromboli, Vesuvio, and Etna. One of the pizza chefs told Kathy that they are 800 degrees F.

b Pizza Ovens at Italy Epcot

We saw plenty of birds around the lake within the resort as we walked on Sunday.
b Great Blue Heron

b Great White Egret

b Osprey on Top of Building

Many of the turtles had come up on shore to bask in the sun.

b Turtle on Grass Bank

We loved to walk across this foot bridge across the lake within the resort.

b Bridge Over Lake

We drove to the Grand Floridian resort inside Disney for lunch.  This is one of the most beautiful hotels.  They set up this gingerbread house in the lobby every year for Christmas. There was a line of people buying stuff from the two sales ladies inside the house.  Maybe they were selling gingerbread cookies.

b Gingerbread House

When Paul lived in Orlando, he went to the Grand Floridian cafe often.   All the staff came over to greet him. This is our waitress Rola, who is from Lebanon.

b Paul and Rola

This was my lunch view out the window.

b Lunch View at Grand Floridian

Monday was the day for our seven-hour drive back to Marathon. Before we hit the road for the long trip, we stopped in nearby Kissimmee to visit Ken Brooker. He was a campground host in the Cataloochee Valley section of The Great Smoky Mountains National Park. We drove over the mountain to visit him, but he was not there.  He drove over the mountain to visit us in Big Creek, but we had gone out for groceries.  We could not call ahead because we did not have a phone signal in the mountains. This was our day to actually meet each other in person.

We were admiring the huge Live Oak trees in Ken’s neighborhood and he took us into the back yard to see a large tree, part of which had fallen on his house during Hurricane Charlie. Andy was the first to notice the bear that had been carved into the stump of the section that broke off.

b Andy and Bear Tree

Andy stood close by for scale. Here is a closer look at the bear.

b Bear Carved in Tree

Then Ken and Andy posed for a picture before we went inside to swap stories about campground hosting in The Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

b Ken Brokker and Andy

It was a great, if short, visit. But, we had a long drive ahead of us. We vowed to visit each other when we are both in the park next June.

We got home after nine o’clock that night.

November 24, 2015 – Ocean Park

I spent most of the morning working on personal business rather than THE BOOK.  We met Ruth Olsen at the tax office to transfer the title of my Sunfish sailboat to the yacht club educational association.  Banana Split will now be used to teach children to sail.

b Ruth and Andy at Tax Office

I spent and hour or two reading and signing the contract to get the book published.  That is self-published.  I did not think it worthwhile to attempt to go the traditional publishing route. I did work on THE BOOK for a couple hours, but still did not get anything accomplished. Then, I spent several more hours extending the RV extended warranty.

We found a new place to take a walk today and I can’t believe we had not checked it out before now.  Ocean Park is behind city hall.

There is a very nice, if short, nature trail with many plants and trees identified.  I was fascinated with the red water in the solution hole.

b Red Water in Solution Hole

A solution hole is an indentation in the limestone that is naturally lined with vegetable matter and does not drain the water out the bottom. We saw bright red water like this in the botanical garden in Key West last year.  I don’t recall which plants cause it though.

The picnic table pavilions are right on the water’s edge.

b Picnic Tables on Ocean

This is where we are going to eat our lunch tomorrow.

b Picnic Table on Ocean

Four or five large birds were wading on the flats and eating their lunch.  I zoomed in to get a Great Blue Heron and a Great White Egret in the same picture.

b Great Blue Heron and Great White Egret

After watching the birds for a while, we walked along a canal to find the kayak launch. It is a great floating dock very close to the water’s surface with railings to hang onto while climbing in and out of the boat.

b Kayak Pier

There is even a board in the water at the end of the slip to hold the kayak steady in the process.

b Out of Canal

There are also a couple of picnic tables overlooking the canal.

b Picnic Table on Canal

While I was standing on the pier, a white bird flew close by me.  I thought it was one of the great whites and zoomed the camera to the end of the canal for a picture.  It turned out to be an ibis joining the others on mangrove roots.

b Ibis on Magrove Roots 2

They were so cute that I took another picture when one more landed.

b Ibis on Mangrove Roots

There is also one piece of sculpture in the park. A fisherman with a trap and a bucket of lobsters. He is not life-size but maybe three or four feet tall.

b Lobsterman Statue

We’ll have to wait and see if there is anything else for me to take pictures of tomorrow.