It was a beautiful April day in Homosassa, Florida. The wind whipped more than usual, while the sun shined as it only can there. At the Homosassa Riverside Resort, on the Homosassa River, there’s a dock and a few boats alongside it. Imagine a pelican flying by and a heron hunting on the edge of the dock. Silent and still, it intently gazed at the water for its next meal.
Fifty yards away sits a diminutive island dressed up with a lighthouse and tree house structure built up high from the water. This just isn’t any island, for five spider monkeys inhabit it. Sassy, Ebony, Emily, Eve and Ralph entertain visitors, the show monkeys can only give. These primates swing and climb and bask in the sun. Sometimes they will approach the edge of water but don’t proceed because they don’t like water. Supposedly they scare any approaching alligators by throwing rocks in the water and seek the higher ground, the house. ( credit to abcactionews.com from Tampa Bay)
The Resort’s owners are the monkey’s caretakers, who feed them and take care of them. When hurricanes approach they keep a close eye on the monkeys and have an evacuation plan if needed. ( credit to abcactionews.com) I had to mention this because this worrying thought came to my mind and it immediately made me feel better that they were monitored and protected.
Tom’s mom, his sister Pam and husband Jim,his other sister Mary and her husband Joe, and Tom and I ate a nice lunch together at the Resort’s restaurant. Many of us enjoyed the fried Grouper fish sandwich while watching the monkey theatrics across the way. Good company and food brought us together, something we all don’t do often. The only sibling missing was Tom’s sister Bev and her husband Chris.
The monkeys were amusing as I watched closely. One laid out in the sun, stretched long while another sat up in the house. Two hung out together and it looked like one was being a mother hen and was picking off something off the other. I’ve read somewhere before that they have a tendency to groom each other, so that was interesting to watch.
We were planning on going on a boat ride but the captain called in sick. We went to plan B and enjoyed our lunch and it all was wonderful. Sometimes things don’t go as planned and in that case, I use my co- worker Laura’s thinking, plan B. If the first plan doesn’t work out, then no big deal, switch to an alternative option and if that doesn’t work, there’s plan C. Life has disappointments all the time and it’s up to us cope with it and make special moments anyway. ❤
Then it was time for goodbyes and hugs to Mary and Joe. It was the second leg of our journey…over to Central Florida in Lake Wales. Jim drove us all back to the house, about a two hour ride. Along the journey we were still amazed to see palm trees and orange groves. What we didn’t find were mountains like in New Hampshire. It was refreshing to spy different scenery!
Upon arriving, we toured Pam, Jim and Theo’s house. It’s tucked in a community called Tower Lakes with homes weaved around the park. The park has a few ponds, a community pool and hot tub, and walking road and bridge. Theo told us that an alligator was in the pond but when he gets big, they will get someone to take him out. Yikes!
Their home is lovely decorated and with a Florida and seaside theme. It was homey and comfortable and so nice to see it after a few years.We slept in their guest room, opening from the living room through French doors. They have a futon serving as a sofa and a guest bed.
The next morning after Tom shot pool with Jim and his friends, we visited Circle B Bar Reserve in Lakeland, in Polk County. This is a free state park open to the public. Paths lead by the lake, tropical forests and by swampy areas. Words are hard to do this place true justice, but I’ll try to describe it the best that I can. Tom’s wonderful photos may paint an accurate picture and can hopefully bring you right there and share our beautiful experience.
Once we got down the trail a bit it all started happening! Everywhere we looked, there were alligators and many times they were a few feet from the trail, lying on the bank. Hundreds were in the lake that day, heads out of the water swimming slowly. It definitely was the most alligators that Tom and I’ve seen and the rest of the crew too probably. We went on April 25th close to alligator mating season and that may be why we saw many of them!
Tropical birds were everywhere, as well as blue herons hunting their prey in the swampy water. A flock of pure white birds were spotted in the distance with a pink flamingo in the mix. An osprey busily dove into the lake for a catch and we spotted a few huge osprey nests on the trail.
What amazed us all was how mesmerized Tom was. Jim was very kind to lend Tom his digital camera with a zoom and let him try it out for the day. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen my husband that infatuated and inspired. As he walked, he slowed and snapped photos with a burning passion, probably the same deep feeling that I have when I write.
We were all happy for such a special walk ( one that was almost three miles) and the natural wonders that we were treated to, but especially for Tom’s amazement and wonder. At times I didn’t talk but walked and gazed at the Florida wildlife and soaked in my husband’s happiness like a sponge. When your spouse has these moments, you feel good about it and ultimately happy for him. I enjoyed it as well for the reserve had more birds, gators and turtles than I’d ever seen. I have to admit that I ran and jumped when I felt threatened by the gators. There’s nothing holding them back from crossing the trail so I felt excited but a little scared too.
Towards the end of our adventure, we all decided that we would stop and rest on benches by the water. No sooner had we sat down then we spotted a big alligator in the water a few feet away! At first I wasn’t worried but suddenly the big guy slithered out onto the grassy bank next to another bench. Tom wanted to get a good picture and boy, did he! He, Jim, and his mom hung out just a few feet away with a group of spectators, while Pam and I hit the high road! I’m not embarrassed to inform you that fear made me run, I love my limbs and didn’t feel like giving any up that day! It all ended okay after a few minutes of worry and excitement. After turning down our trail a bit and shocking everyone, this monster sized gator decided to retire in the water across the way and then the show was over.
That was the closest we’ve ever been to these amazing creatures and that’s enough for me! I’ll enjoy the pictures and remember my racing heart and cries for Tom as part of my vacation memories! Ha! We all enjoyed a lovely seafood dinner at The Port after we went to Circle B. Thank you, Theo for treating us to that!
If you happen to be in the Lakeland area, look up the Circle B Bar Reserve, it’s an outstanding natural habitat of wildlife to see and snap photos of!
The very next day it was already time to bid our goodbyes with hugs and a few choked up tears. Airports are really sad for me for some reason. Jim took this photo of Tom, Pam, Theo and I just before we checked in at Orlando International Airport. It was a great couple of days and we want to thank all three for making us feel welcome and for such a nice visit!
All My Best,
Heart and Soul ❤