Florida / North America / Southeastern USA

“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

03 Amphicar 11-2015

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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.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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