Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Ringling Museum - Sarasota

I know I brought my daughter to the Ringling Museum but is was in a time before I carried a camera everywhere I go. I have other photos from our "Tour of Old Florida" trip way back 10 years ago on her high school break. I have actually been revisiting many places in recent years from that trip.


This particular stop is still vivid in my mind like the colored glass that makes up the entire back of this incredible house. It was for some reason a place my daughter enjoyed fully.


I'm not sure if it was the beautiful house and furnishings, the outdoor sculpture garden, or the gigantic ancient paintings in the galleries I was not allowed to photograph.  This was actually a last minute choice as I discovered pre-internet our original stop was closed mondays. All I remember was my daughter and I spending way more time than originally allotted.


It was the same on my latest trip. What was supposed to be a quick visit and on to other things turned instead to an all day event and barely catching the sunset at our final destination.


There was a new tour added since my visit many years ago. The Private Places Tour. I did not take that tour but I should have. It was only $10.00 more than the guided tour and I am seriously thinking of driving back to do it. But on a Monday as normal admission is free for Florida residents.


I am actually old enough to remember a Big Top circus show. Seeing the entire circus life laid out in this model really made me think how lucky I was to have caught the very last performances of this kind. Of course the circus still lives in smaller venues but it's the Big Top that has passed on to history.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Lady of the Lakes Renaissance Faire - 2016

I began a quest in May to visit my friends all across the country performing in various medieval faires. Well.... life. Not always the best facilitator of a well conceived plan. So I have regrouped and changed my focus to Florida Faires I have never yet attended. First stop on this re-imagined adventure - The Lady of the Lakes Renaissance Faire.


The last two faires I attended and the one I missed are huge. That has a certain appeal and plenty of variety. It also comes with crowds and a lack of interaction. I have other places I go for that type of activity.


I have over the last 20+ years made quite a few friends but friends that travel. There are shows I can no longer get a front row seat or spend time in conversation with the people I know and the people I will soon know.


Case in point is the Flight of the Raptor show. It has been many years since I have been in the front row with camera ready and right after been able to chat with the performers.


It has always been my goal to feel like part of the show rather than a far off spectator. At one point the falcon returned to center stage passing inches over my head. They do not make a sound by the way, just a puff of air as the pass by.

This is the reason I am choosing to pursue the smaller venues this season.  It's great to see old friends, recent friends, and make new friends. It is especially gratifying seeing old friends in new roles and marveling at the depth of their talents. 


I have several more Florida festivals planned so stay tuned. Or better yet join me.



For the rest of the photos from this festival [click here]

Monday, November 14, 2016

Tavares FL, America's Seaplane City

If you have been following along, I was in Mount Dora almost two months ago. We arrived  in Tavares on the Orange Blossom Cannonball, the vintage train that runs along Lake Dora. There was an event at the time but as we were enjoying that, I watched a seaplane launch down a boat ramp and take off.


There was not enough time on that trip to do it so I made a special trip just to fly. I have to say, there is a huge difference in this town between a festival day and a national holiday. I did not book ahead so I was taking a chance but I also only live 3 hours away and weather is a factor.


We had an event scheduled for the weekend so we took our chances and booked a room at the Key West Resort on Lake Dora. Perfect choice. The hotel is so new it's not quite completed. Actually a lot of the downtown was newly renovated or receiving those last minute final touches. When we arrived - it was a ghost town. We managed to walk right up and book one of the two planes. Total wait time - nothing.


There are several flights available from Jones Brothers at various prices so check ahead to decide what fits for you. We picked the middle of the road flight of $99.00 for a 30 minute tour of the lakes. Any longer would have exceeded my budget, but any shorter and I would have been right back in the office to fly again.


The plane flies low enough you can see every detail on the ground. We even skipped off a lake for that added thrill. You just have to say "This is better than an airboat ride" apparently. Our pilot was very accommodating. He even swung past the event were were going to the next day. I can not tell you how much I want to take flying lessons right now.


Sunset on Lake Dora is a magnificent site. This is now my third for the year. The locals tell me it never gets old. Speaking of which, this little daytime ghost town became a happening place right after the sun went down. There is plenty of parking which filled to the brim around 8:00 PM.


Sunrise from our hotel was far more spectacular than my cell phone could capture. Puddle Jumpers is right there in the photo. They made our lunch, dinner, and evening entertainment a truly special event. The manager took a special interest in us..... we seemed a bit lost when we were wandering around looking for a lunch place. It's not so much the place that's special in these tiny towns, it's the people.

The seaplane base is just a half block away. The train station just a bit farther. Everything we found of interest was a short walk. This was the perfect escape from our big town lives. Huge thanks to everyone who made us feel welcome.

Stuart Air Show - 2016

My goals this year were simple. Enjoy the show. Get good photos. I certainly enjoyed the show. I'll let me fans decide if the second goal was achieved. For the rest of my photos of the event,
[click here].












Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Mount Dora - Florida

Nothing says happy retirement like a mini vacation. I have had quite a few and many more planned in the upcoming months. Not all are worth writing home about. Especially the ones I've already done multiple times.

Now that my Disney Annual Pass has run out, I really wanted a total relax-ication. Away from the crowds, theme parks, roller coasters. Something peaceful and laid back. But with great food and something to occupy my time. I found that in Mount Dora.

I have been here before but with my daughter on one of those trips we took when she was in highschool. Not much more than a dinner and a sleep over. That was about 7 years ago.

This trip was more of an adult get-away with fine food, a boat trip, train ride, and almost a seaplane flight. Late planning fail on my part. Not to worry. I'm already looking into it for my next trip.

For the ultimate in convenience and old time charm, I stayed in the Lakeside Inn right on Lake Dora. The boat, train, and seaplane are right on the doorstep and all of downtown is just across the train tracks. The staff is the friendliest I've experienced in a long time and yes I made 10 separate trips to Disney in the last year so my standards are pretty high.

The biggest problem I had was picking a restaurant. That happened no less than 6 times and every time was a winner. We even found a great coffee/ice cream shop and a hidden away wine bar. There was live music scattered around the town but honestly I was not a fan of much of it. Still very enjoyable to sit and give a listen with a beer in hand and not a care in the world in my head. That was pretty much the goal of this trip and it was mission accomplished for 3 days.

While I was there I learned of a Steam Punk festival which I missed but I did attend the Rifles and Rails event. In talking with some of the Civil War re-enactors, I found there is a much larger event in my own area. There are events all through the year which will be bringing me back to Mount Dora.

One of the great things, all throughout our stay we had conversations with people we just met. No one was texting, they were talking. It's just one of those places where people put their phones down and just live. Probably why it's taken me so long to post in my blog. Oh - and stay for the sunset. It happens every night like clockwork and it is definitely something to write home about.