September 12, 2019 – Morning, Monument Valley

I am at a loss for words to describe Monument Valley. It is called Monument Valley because it is MONUMENTAL!!! Large portions of the road are terrible and Andy cussed and fussed whenever we got to a bad spot. I had a blast driving through. Though he swayed back and forth, rattled our teeth, and seemed to be shaking apart, Scamp seems to have made it through unscathed. I have gone overboard with pictures on this post.

The Sisters

This one is just an everyday huge boulder alongside the road.

Elephant
The Thumb

Sorry, my pictures simply do not sufficiently show the enormous size of these rocks.

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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.

Anhinga

We continued on out the pier.

Pier on Lake Griffen
View to Left
View to Right
Pickerelweed

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.

Grebe

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.

Barn

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

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.

Anhinga

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.

Limpkin

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.