.All Trips / Florida / North America / Southeastern USA

Gatorland, Orlando, Florida

01 Gatorland 11-2015 (1) Classic entrance

Florida is home to lots of alligators, and there’s probably no better place to see your fill of them in one day than at Gatorland.

Gatorland was Orlando’s first large attraction, starting way back in 1949 when Disney and Universal hadn’t even thought of using the region for theme parks.  Back then Seminole Indians would wrestle the gators for tourists, and the classic gator jaws at the park’s entrance (top photo) were photographed tens of thousands of times.   Because of the extensive development of the Orlando region, there are many fewer gators around today but there’s still lots of them in the state.

Gatorland is a family-run, family -oriented place that reminded me a little of Knott’s Berry Farm in Buena Park …

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“Pic of the Week”, February 26, 2016: A Potpouri of Gators

Gatorland 11-2015 (50)

Alligators fascinate and repel me.  They’re amazingly graceful in the water, powerful and agile, and are obviously highly successful predators.  But it’s their predatory aspect I find repelling.  When one of them turns its soulless eyes on you, it feels as though you’re being sized up for dinner.  I’m reminded of the classic Gary Larson “FarSide” cartoon.  Two crocs with bloated bellies are lying on a riverbank, a broken canoe beside them.  One croc tells the other (and I’m paraphrasing) — “That was incredible.  No scales, no horns,  no fur — just soft and pink!”  We humans are those soft pink treats they seem to desire.

Alligators are quite photogenic.  Take a look at these shots from Orlando’s fun “Gatorland” park:

 

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“Pic of the Week”, January 22, 2016. Macaws, Orlando

Gatorland 11-2015 (97) macaws and parrots

Macaws are beautiful birds — although at times, perhaps, a little temperamental!  Watching a flock of them fly through the Amazon rain-forest is a sight you never forget, with flapping flashes of bright color against the green canopy.  And, of course, as easy as they are to see they’re even easier to hear as they’re quite chirpy.

The best place to study these beautiful birds up close is in an exhibit.  But beware those beaks — they can do serious damage to a finger pointed their way!

These photos were taken at Gatorland park in Orlando.

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.All Trips / Florida / North America / Southeastern USA

Disney World’s Boardwalk, Orlando

62 Boardwalk, Walt Disney World (56)

Few places do a better job of creating false reality than Walt Disney World.  When I recently visited Orlando, I attended a medical meeting within the theme park, not far from the”Epcot Resort” region.  This area is near Crescent Lake and includes the Beach and Yacht Club resorts and Disney’s Boardwalk.  While I was in a beautiful subtropical place, the area gave me the very carefully crafted impression I was somewhere else.  It’s one of the many aspects of the Disney parks I really enjoy.

The Beach and Yacht Club resorts are designed in the New England style and feature the top quality amenities you’d expect when staying at Disney — comfortable rooms, pools, a variety of eateries — but also …

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“Pic of the Week”, December 25, 2015: Christmas at Disney Springs

04 Christmas at Disney Springs

Merry Christmas everyone!  Today’s featured collection of pics looks at some of the seasonal decorations at Disney Springs (formerly Downtown Disney) in Walt Disney World, Orlando.

Visiting Disney theme parks is lots of fun but has gotten quite expensive, especially if you’re taking the family.  But there’s a few places you can park your car for free and walk around without paying admission at the Disney Theme parks, and one of the best is Disney Springs.  Here you can stroll up a street beautifully designed in the Disney manner, go window shopping, get a snack or a meal, catch a movie, go bowling, or perhaps see a concert or a Cirque Du So-lei performance.   And during the holidays the park dresses …

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.All Trips / Pacific Northwest / Washington

A fall visit to the Nishinomiya Tsutakawa Japanese Garden, Spokane, Washington

Fall 2008 031 Japanese Garden, Manito Park

One of the things I enjoy about blogging is sharing less commonly visited but interesting destinations.  The Nishinomiya Tsutakawa Japanese Garden in Spokane, Washington, certainly fits that bill.  A smaller garden, well known to locals but not to many tourists, it has its charms!  When I lived in Spokane I’d commonly stop by as it was midway between the hospital where I worked and the library I frequented.  I enjoy the calm nature and beauty of Japanese gardens.  They are places where nature, tranquility, gardening skills, and art merge.

The Nishinomiya Tsutakawa Garden sits on the site of the old zoo (closed in the 1930s).  The garden was designed by Nagao Sakurai, a master garden architect (who at one time was …

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“Pic of the Week”, November 13, 2015: Gator wrestling, Florida

05 Gator wresting

Alligators are fascinating animals.  Large, primitive, with alert eyes that, like any good predator’s, follow you wherever you go.  I must admit that when they fix their unblinking eyes on me, the hair stands up on my neck.  They are six inches long when they’re born, but as fully grown adults can reach a length of almost 20 ft (more than 6 meters).  Once a threatened species, they’ve recovered and you’ll find them in freshwater swamps and lakes of the southeast.

I recently visited Orlando with my father and one day was spent at the fun old-fashioned amusement park, Gatorland.  There are several shows at this venue, including one featuring alligator wrestling.  This is not a violent sport …

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“Pic of the Week”, September 4, 2015: Charleston Historic Post Office

02 Charleston Post Office

Charleston is one of America’s most walkable cities, especially the area south of Broad Street.  Compact enough to get around on foot, and with interesting architecture, gardening and history.   I’ve greatly enjoyed both of my visits to this city.

During my last sojourn to Charleston, we stopped by the historic U.S. Post Office and Courthouse, a grand building situated just south of Broad near the corner of Meeting.  It’s one of the oldest post offices in the United States and was completed in 1896 for the then staggering sum of $500,000.  It’s thought that construction of this building lead to a revival of the area that surrounded it, then already well over a century old.  The Historic Post Office is of …

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