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Visiting an Ancient Spanish Monastery — in Florida??

00 Ancient Spanish Monastery (36)

How could an old Spanish Monastery be located in North Miami Beach?  Herein lies the interesting background of this story.  

This Monastery was built between 1133 – 1141 A.D. near Segovia, in Northern Spain.  It became known as the Monastery of St. Bernard de Clairvaux. — St. Bernard was a Cistercian monk and influential church leader, and the founder and abbot of the Abbey of Clairvaux.  Cistercian monks lived in this Monastery for nearly 700 years.  After a social upheaval in the 1830’s, the Monastery’s Cloisters were seized and converted into a granary and stable.

 Ancient Spanish Monastery, North Miami Beach

Ancient Spanish Monastery, North Miami Beach

Enter legendary American publisher, William Randolph Hearst (of California’s Hearst Castle fame).  In 1925, Hearst purchased the Cloisters and the Monastery’s outbuildings (the church was not part …

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“Pic of the Week”, October 18, 2019: A Swirl of Color

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I walked past this scarlet macaw preening itself, and had to stop and enjoy a display of nature’s palette.  Scarlet macaws are amazingly beautiful birds!  In the act of cleaning itself, the bird’s multicolored feathers were moving and beautifully displayed.  I tried to capture some of this brilliance in these images — hopefully with at least an element of success.

(Click on thumbnails to enlarge photos, right arrows to advance)

 

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“Pic of the Week”, October 4, 2019: White Ibis, Florida

01 White Ibis

I’d never seen White Ibis before visiting Florida years ago.  It’s a rather common bird in the Gulf Coast region, extending from the Mid-Atlantic coast to Mexico.  The white ibis prefers living around marshy and swampy ground.  It’s obviously a white bird, with pale facial skin and pink beak and legs.  Apparently the legs turn scarlet during mating season.  Males are larger and have longer bills than females. 

Their diet consists primarily of small aquatic insects and fish, including crayfish, although these freeloaders were enjoying a meal provided by Flamingo Gardens.

(Click on thumbnails to enlarge, right arrow to advance slideshow)

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.All Trips / Florida / North America / Southeastern USA

Space View Park, Titusville, Florida

00 Titusville (8)

Situated on Florida’s east coast, 15 miles from the Cape Canaveral launch pads, is the small town of Titusville.  Titusville sits on the Indian River and has a lovely park on its waterfront called “Space View Park”, wherein we stopped while making our way to the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge for some bird-watching.  The park is a lovely shaded spot with some wonderful views towards the Kennedy Space Center and, to our delight, had a great monument to the earliest American astronauts, the Project Mercury team. 

I was a schoolboy during the great era of space travel that President Kennedy’s challenge spawned in the 1960s.  “We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do other things not

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“Pic of the Week”, December 1, 2017: Disney World’s Swan and Dolphin Resort

31 Disney World Swan Resort

I attended a medical meeting at Disney World not long ago which was held at the award-winning Dolphin and Swan Resort complex.  I’d never been to these hotels before and found them to be pretty impressive.  Very massive modern structures, with over 2000 rooms between the two of them, they had interesting architecture, sitting beside a man-made lake.  The resorts are near the Disney Boardwalk and very close to one of Disney World’s entrances.

Boat services on the lagoon allows guests to get from the resorts to various water-based destinations around Disney World, such as Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios.  Each hotel has many restaurants and those I tried had excellent (albeit not cheap) food.  

I was a little surprised that …

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“Pic of the Week”, November 17,2017: Palmetto

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The most common palm tree in the United States is the saw palmetto, a hardy plant capable of growing in habitats as diverse as sand dunes to swampy wetlands.  It is a fire-resistant and attractive low maintenance plant commonly used in landscaping, and is slowly growing and capable of living hundreds of years.  

Saw palmetto can be low to the ground, like a bush, or grow into a tree 25 feet tall and 7 feet wide.   What I and others find attractive about the plant are its leaves which earn the plant its name, being edged with small but sharp spines that can tear skin and cloth.  Saw palmetto blooms from April to July, producing white flowers that ripen …

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“Pic of the Week”, August 4, 2017: Amphicars, Florida

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You might recognize these cars from the movies, like Inspector Clouseau, but if you want a chance to see and ride one you’ll need to head to Florida’s Disney World, where I spotted this bunch.  I’d never seen an Amphicar before and it was fun watching them drive in, around, and out of a large lagoon.

Amphicars were the first mass-produced vehicles to be driveable both on land and water.  The car was designed by Hanns Trippel and production began in Germany in 1961.  The Amphicar’s 4 cylinder engine was mounted at the rear of the craft, driving the rear wheels.  For use in the water, the same engine drove a pair of reversible propellers situated under the rear bumper.  Once …

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.All Trips / Florida / North America / Southeastern USA

Orlando’s Harry P. Leu Gardens

070b Leu Gardens, Orlando

If you’re in Orlando and grow tired of visiting the many theme parks, with their attendant crowds and long lines, then consider a visit to a beautiful southern garden.  In my research, the most recommended garden in Orlando was Harry P. Leu Garden, donated to the city by Mr. and Mrs. Leu in the 1960s.

Situated on 50 acres just north of downtown, the Leu Garden did not disappoint.  It’s truly lovely, with a beautiful assortment of shade trees including gigantic ancient oaks draped in Spanish Moss (which have survived a number of hurricanes over the years).  Orlando’s climate is conducive to a variety of temperate and tropical plants which the gardeners have arranged in a number of themed regions you can visit (a …

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