Monday, December 12, 2016

Trees for Charity

Triangle Christmas Tree Challenge

While my sister Mary and I were in North Carolina this past weekend for a visit with my parents, we went to Downtown Durham to see the Christmas trees at the Triangle Christmas Tree Challenge display. The Christmas Tree Challenge is a fund raiser for non-profits. Dozens of non-profit companies compete for prizes by designing and decorating trees that represent their mission.

We discovered the trees a few years ago when we’d gone to Downtown Durham for dinner and ice skating. The trees were beautiful at night, lit up in different colors. But I think I enjoyed them even more in the daytime when I could see all the details. Each tree was so creative. The tree for Teach for America was decorated with pencils while the ornaments on Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina’s tree were made from plastic forks and spoons. We got a laugh out of the tree for First Tee of the Triangle, which had stuffed toy gophers (think Caddyshack) nestled among the golf balls and flags. Hee hee :-)

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Swimming with Manatees at Homosassa Springs

Two manatees at Homosassa Springs

Last week instead of fighting the Black Friday crowds at the mall, Ron and decided to do something completely unique to Florida – swim with manatees. Although manatees look fat, they actually have very little body fat and can’t tolerate cold water. So in the winter months when the temperature of the Gulf of Mexico drops into the 60s, manatees make their way to the warmer waters of Crystal River and Homosassa Springs. Since it had been a warm November, I was a little worried that there wouldn’t be many manatees at the springs yet. But before we’d even finished launching our boat at the boat ramp, I spotted a couple swimming up the river. A good sign!

Monday, November 28, 2016

Key West 2016

Key West sign

Friday

This trip couldn’t have come at a better time. My tooth was still hurting from the root canal I had a few weeks ago, and all the ugliness dredged up by the election was really getting to me. I needed a few days of sunshine and mojitos in a city whose philosophy was “One Human Family”. If there is any place where people embrace each other’s differences, Key West is it!

We didn’t do much on Friday since our flight didn’t get in until mid-afternoon. By the time we’d settled into the house and made a run to the grocery store for beer and perishables, it was getting dark. We walked down to the waterfront and ate dinner at Schooner Wharf Bar, sitting on the upper deck where there was a nice breeze. I had my first mojito of the trip and my tooth was feeling better already. :-)

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Pumpkin Safari at Safari Wilderness Ranch

Safari Wilderness Ranch entrance

On Sunday, Ron and I spent the afternoon at Safari Wilderness, a 260-acre ranch located in Florida’s Green Swamp near Lakeland. The ranch is home to over 50 species of exotic animals from Africa and Asia, including antelope, deer, water buffalo, Watusi cattle, zebras, llamas, and even a wart hog. In 2012, the ranch opened to the public for tours, but it is not a zoo or a theme park. The animals roam and graze freely around the natural Florida landscape.

Most people visiting the ranch take the Vehicle Safari tour, which is offered twice daily for $75 a person and lasts about two hours. But this month the ranch is celebrating its annual Pumpkin Safari with shorter tours leaving every hour from 1 PM to 6 PM on Saturdays and Sundays for $39. The Pumpkin Safari also includes a free pumpkin to carve or give to the animals for enrichment.