Winter in Florida (After the Orlando and Cuba Adventures!)

larry and penny’s memorial park & campground

While staying at Larry and Penny’s Memorial Park campground there were wonderful hiking and biking trails leaving right from the park; no need to drive anywhere!.
From the park it followed the path in the previous picture past this beautiful lake (with the obligatory lawyer signs about dangers of alligators of course!)
This path went about 9 miles towards Biscayne Bay along this channel; beautiful!
With lots of wildlife along the way including these cute Iguanas! Lots of them!

everglades national park


This amphitheater area was completely wiped out; much rebuilding to do. The campground was also closed for renovations.

The boardwalk continued out to the coast where it’s supposed to loop back. Notice all the barren trees?
Unfortunately Mother Nature didn’t think it should; blocked off from storm damage!
We doubled back and went around the other way; same thing!
This walkway made from Trex® was no match for the hurricanes fury! Instead of breaking and splintering like wood, it just succumbed by twisting and bending from the force of the storm surge!
But the wildlife remains!

hillsborough state park

This was a nice park that was very close to our campground in Thonotosassa.
This tree was hollow inside but still growing!
I took this shot by pointing my camera up inside the tree with the flash on to show that it truly was hollow!

Stuff grows just about anywhere and everywhere!

As you can see, a beautiful path; although not well marked, we got lost a few times!
Very tropical and jungle-like, don’t you think?

visiting my sister and joe in naples

We went to visit them just before Christmas at their home in Naples. Their home miraculously survived the hurricane with little damage but they said many trees in the area were uprooted and destroyed along with some structures.
The view from their Lanai.
At the entrance to their neighborhood there are these beautiful bronze horses!

our time in the tampa area

Bok Tower Gardens was beautiful! This bell tower has 60 bells ranging from 16 pounds to nearly 12 tons! It is the focal point and they have daily Carillon (bell) concerts; such a beautiful sound!

These iron gates by the tower were interesting too!


The layout of the property.

Mr. Bok’s reasoning for opening up this property to the community!
This hand laid patio at the visitors center was amazing! Each flat stone was laid on edge in this mesmerizing pattern!


The courtyard of the visitors center.

There was this beautiful Pinewood estate mansion on the property as well to explore. It’s a 1930’s 20 room estate; each room was a different style of architecture and design by request of the original owner, Charles Buck; very interesting!
his office
One of the sitting rooms.
And the main living room
The master bedroom.
With Mr. Buck’s Rum and cigars of course!

thonotosassa (northeast of tampa)

Our campground was an okay place, nothing noteworthy, other than these two local residents. They run the park! So much so that they put bronze ones at the entrance!

visiting friends and family while in thonotosassa

Barb and Zach came and stayed in Clearwater while we were in the area. We went over a few times to visit and enjoy the beach with them.
Zach just chillin’ at the beach soaking up rays!
Even their cat Mimi seemed to like the beach from the safety of her cat carriage !
The view from their condo.
The shockingly white sandy beaches of Florida!

Barb enjoying(?) the chilly water!

A passing sailboat.
Claude and Hope came out to the area for their annual trek to see the Phillies Spring training. We took this Manatee dolphin tour with them. We saw plenty of Dolphin but unfortunately no Manatee.
Harbor fun- boat names!
The captain has a good sense of humor!
A Coast Guard buoy tender.

On our way out!
Can you see these two chasing us?

Old Glory!
Harbor residents.
Some pretty pricey homes and boats along the shores down here!

This mangrove island is a bird sanctuary (and it smelled like it has been for quite awhile !
The boys.
After a lovely lunch!
We met my sister Anne and her husband Joe at a halfway point one last time before we left Florida at Hurricane Charley’s in Punta Gorda for lunch.
Some leftover hurricane memorabilia?

goodbye florida! on to new adventures!