Monkey Island & Circle B Bar Reserve

monkey island

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.

 

 

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Tom and I being silly, the others did this too all in fun!

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.

 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

leaving Fla

All My Best,

Heart and Soul ❤

 

Florida Vacation Part II: Silver Springs State Park

 

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Tom and his sister Mary

 

While visiting Florida on the west coast, Tom’s sister Mary and our brother in law Joe brought us to Silver Springs State Park in Ocala, Florida. This park was the first tourist attraction in this state, before the iconic Disney Magic Kingdom became the place to go.

 

 

 

 

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Joe, Tom and I

 

 

 

It’s a magical place of tropical ferns, wooded jungle like scenery with walking paths and ornamental gardens along the way. As you enter the park, a fountain sprays water, peaceful and serene. Fountains are good luck and paved the way for a really nice walk. Boardwalk paths weaved through the park overlooks lush plantlife, where the old Tarzan movie was once filmed.

 

 

 

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The water was from the Crystal River, sporting a bluish green hue ,resembling a lagoon. Butterflies fluttered on a bright orange flowering bush and black Comorans sat around the edges. Amid the swampy rivers edge, an alligator hump floated but never moved. Further up the river, a small gator sunned on a log for all visitors to gawk at and perhaps some to shy away from in fear.

 

 

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I highly recommend the boat ride if you ever visit the park. We rode on a glass bottomed boat on a little tour. The tour guide was informative and talked in a true southern drawl. “ Take a good look, folks” he kept saying as the boat coasted across the river and spun in circles for good viewing. We saw many fish, small and much larger. We went over five or six Springs, one about fifty feet down below. Much fresh water bubbling up and contributing to the crystal clear river.

 

 

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It was cool to see three unique statues below. They were in the filming of the James Bond movie Moonraker starring Roger Moore in 1979. The movie takes place in space, Italy ,Venice and Rio De Janeiro. Tom and I look forward to seeing it to spot the familiar scenery and say, “ We’ve been there before!”

 

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To the right,amid the seaweed lies three statues filmed in Moonraker.

 

 

We saw geckos in the park and our brother in law revealed a new talent he has, he’s the gecko whisperer! Joe was making noises to get them to flap their throats forward in response. Haha, a little entertainment emerged on our trek.

 

 

The bent palm tree, the horseshoe, on a wooden dock was supposed to give you good luck for five years if you touched it. So, of course we joined the fun and the poses were great photo ops! Tom humorously said that we had to come back in five years to continue our luck! That man cracks me up!

 

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The tall statue was of Osceola, an influential leader of the Seminole tribe. It looked important and was beautiful to look at, overlooking the river. We couldn’t pass up a photo with it in the background.

 

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Our second day in the sunny state drew to a close. The next day we met Tom’s mom, Theo, his other sister Pam and our brother in law, Jim. My next post, part III will focus on Monkey Island and Circle B Bar Reserve.

 

 

If you’re currently on vacation, I truly hope it’s as wonderful for you as it was for us! It’s amazing how a few relaxing days can brighten your life and make you look forward to the days ahead!

 

All My Best,

Heart and Soul ❤️

 

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Florida Vacation Part I

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We were excited about getting off the plane and seeing Mary and Joe.

An adventure of firsts sprung upon us after a few months of planning. Suddenly  our excursion to Florida to visit family was really happening! It was our first vacation in years. The first get away since our boys left our nest and ventured on their own journeys and Tom’s first jet plane ride.

 
We arrived in Tampa,Florida on Saturday and Tom and I were greeted with warm friendly smiles. Right away I knew that we were far from home…warmth was a stark opposite of chilly New Hampshire Weather. Tom’s sister Mary and our brother in law, Joe greeted us enthusiastically with smiles and hugs to begin our stay.

 

 

 

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Doesn’t Tom look so happy?

 

 

 

Their adorable home is on an approximately 2.0 acre lot adorned with palm trees in the back. A beautiful lot and yard, it’s a comfortable and welcoming dwelling and we both can understand why they love it. Joe’s done much carpentry work inside and out and made a front and back deck. It’s incredible that he has remodeled all the rooms! This self sufficiency and talent reminds me of Tom, two men cut from the same cloth in many ways.
We toured their beautiful home and then visited Fort Gulf Beach in Crystal River. Just a short ride brought us to a sandy beach, many palm trees and the Gulf Of Mexico. Many families were enjoying the beach and water on such a nice day. We walked past the beach to a boardwalk immersed in tropical greenery and Spanish moss hanging from trees. Besides the glowing sunlight, the palm trees dotted here and there and the gray stringy Spanish moss introduced us to the south.

 

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Standing on the dock, we looked over the never ending ocean, the Gulf of Mexico which is really part of the Atlantic Ocean. People fished from the dock as the four of us enjoyed the view and soaked up the sun. It definitely was a beautiful spot to walk, go fishing, swimming and sunning at the beach.

 

 

An afternoon of lounging in the pool ended with a lovely dinner of angel hair and breaded baked chicken. Mary’s daughter, our niece, Joanne and her family came to visit. It had been years since we had seen them…it was so wonderful to see her and her family and visit. Her boys are good kids and growing so much! God bless them as they grow.

 

 

We feel so blessed to have such a great, magical stay for a couple of days. Many thanks to Mary and Joe for their hospitality and love!

 

My next few posts will focus on our Florida stay, from visiting Silver Springs State Park to Circle B Bar Reserve and our stay with his sister, Pam and our brother in law, Jim and his mom, Theo. 💕It was an amazing few days all around and now we all have wonderful memories of it! I hope you’ll enjoy my posts and Tom’s photos! 

 

 

 

All My Best,

Heart and Soul 💗

 

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Long Forgotten Luggage

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Willard Beach in South Portland, Maine. A beautiful spot for a vacation.

 

 

Long Lost Luggage

 

In the midst of a dry and dark attic

lies long lost luggage.

Forlorn and forgotten somehow,

hidden among the moth balls and insulation.

Cobwebs tangled throughout.

Enveloped in a coat of aged dust.

Husband and wife dusts them off.

Regrets of non existent travel

linger thick in the air,

but are quickly replaced with

curiosity and hope.

Their dreams of a get away

turn the mundane into

extraordinary events.

Perhaps these suitcases will live again!

It’s their turn to travel to different places

and take turns on the tarmac.

Symbolic of journeys…

they remind us to

experience the adventure more often!

 

Hello readers, my husband and I are traveling to Florida soon for a get away to see our family. It’s our first trip without our sons and a milestone for sure. I believe that we are going to travel more now, possibly once or twice a year to new locations and adventurous experiences. I look forward to sharing our trip with you!

 

All My Best,

 

Heart and Soul ❤

 

What Beauty in NH!

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When you live in a place for years, it’s common that you and your family explore the surrounding area. I’ve lived in New Hampshire most of my life and know the North country pretty well. Despite this, it never gets old. I still relish in the beauty of the snow capped mountains and the winding roads  leading somewhere special and the wooded forests. Is it odd that I wake up every morning gazing at our landscape and appreciating all of nature’s gifts? I don’t think so…it’s a profound love for my home, New Hampshire!

The other day Tom and I rode through Twin Mountain leading to Bretton Woods and the Mount Washington Hotel, nestled at the base of the Presidential mountain range. What a beautiful sight with monstrous mountains, frosted with a dusting of snow. This grand resort was built by Joseph Stickney in 1902. It was a booming success for years until the Prohibition Era and then the Great Depression hit. In years following renovations were made and currently the hotel is open all year, unlike the days of old when it was closed for harsh winters. It was declared as a National Historic Landmark in 1986.

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We happily rode through Crawford Notch with good conversation humming and Dunkin’ Donuts coffee in hand. Tom and I both love gazing at the mountains and a few times I encouraged him to pull over so he could look with his binoculars.

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My favorite spot is when the road gradually narrows and you feel like you’re being encased by ledges. Twists and turns guide you through an amazing sightseeing show. The air drastically changes and even in the car you feel the temperature plummet.

img_2738Eventually we reached small quaint towns bordering fun North Conway. We slowly passed the hanging motorcycle ( see my previous post) and looked forward to an exciting day of shopping and lunch.

I would recommend you to visit Crawford Notch, where a few trails and campgrounds rest. Stop at the Willey House at Hart’s Location, a historic  landmark where a landslide struck in 1826. There’s Mount Willard, a wonderful hiking trail that boasts spectacular views of the Notch and makes you feel unbelievably free.

Lastly I wish to convey the importance of loving where you live. I’m fortunate that both my husband and I truly love our home and the White Mountains. Our souls belong here and that’s one of the reasons we are so happy and content in our lives. If you don’t feel love or peace where you live, maybe you’re not where you belong. Seek places that appeal to your sense of wonder. Live where you rise everyday with a passion for your home and pride to call it that, HOME!

All My Best,

Heart and Soul 💗

Eagles on the Ice🦅

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A sunny Saturday in the low 60’s in New Hampshire is a warm invitation for a little car ride. I wore short sleeves for the first time in months and had my special sunglasses for the glare. Windows rolled down, my husband and I rode around and watched snow melting in culverts and he observed the back road conditions, as it’s his job.

 

 

 

 

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We casually drove by Pearl Lake and glanced towards the water. A white Chevrolet was parked off to the right and a teenager was leaning out of the window looking through binoculars. It doesn’t matter what time of year, when you see a stopped car and binoculars you know there’s wildlife nearby. Locals as well as tourists excitedly dig for cameras and their binoculars for a chance to share in the amazing rare sight.

 

 

 

 

Two eagles were perched proudly out on the ice. Tom thinks there was a male or female, maybe setting up shop and nesting near the lake. There’s also the possibility that the larger one was a female and the smaller one her young. We are not sure how long eaglets stay with their mother so it’s just speculation.

 

 

 

 

 

Of course we weren’t prepared so we rushed home minutes away and hurriedly grabbed Tom’s binoculars and my iPad with its camera. When you leave a mesmerizing sight like that, there’s the great possibility that they’ll move on  before you hurry back but we took the chance and hoped for the best.

 

 

 

 

 

Racing back to the serene and beautiful lake, we spotted the twosome still. Tom said that there was a fish or two on the ice and they were chipping away at it and devouring chunks of them. A little quaint ice fishing shanty stood nearby. We speculated that ice fishermen may have left them or had the eagles pried them out of the ice? We will never know but we do know for certain it was a special occasion and something you don’t see everyday!

 

 

 

 

 

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After we gawked at the eagles for fifteen minutes, Tom and I decided to be on our way and let them be. If we happen to check the lake again, I’ll bring my Canon camera with a better zoom than my iPad. The pictures I took show the figures but not close up. I deeply apologize that I don’t have better ,sharper pictures to share with you so you’ll have to use your imagination to zoom in!

 

 

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What a beautiful day it was, in our corner of the world. Little did we know what magnificent sight we would stumble upon. That’s how wonderful a country ride can be…little unexpected surprises can happen anytime and you just have to be aware and looking for them.

 

 

 

All My Best,

Heart and Soul❤

A Lone Tree

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Taken from Pinterest.com

 

 

 

 

When my husband and I go for country rides on back roads, I always notice the lone trees. Usually the tree stands erect at the top of a hill, like a honorable man who has achieved so much and conquered his mountain of challenges. It’s perfectly tall and stretches its crooked branches like old wrinkly fingers, embracing the world.

 

 
There’s something majestic and spiritual about a lone tree.I feel quiet and humbled upon its sight and I always long to hike up to it to take in all it’s wonder. It’s beauty touches my heart and I feel a spiritual connection. Whenever I see an extraordinary lone tree, an emblem or picture, I wonder why it touches me so.It’s majesty is unexplainable! All I know is that I feel connected to it, it’s splendor and roots that dig deep in the ground.

 

 

 

 

The lone tree looks stately and pristine, resembling a proud grandfather overlooking his family from a distance. It proudly stands for strength and resilience…that tree, in its solitary state, has grown upward and out. Even though it’s all alone without a stand to thrive in with, it flourishes on its own accord. What a beauty it is!

 

 

Will you look at your neighborhood tree the same again? Do you notice the alone trees that you encounter?

 

 

All My Best,

Heart and Soul 💗

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Taken from Pinterest.com