Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Weeki Wachee Springs and Sumter Oaks

The official name is Weeki Wachee Springs State Park and was our destination tour for the day.  Located roughly 35 miles from our home base, we enjoyed the bike ride there and back under beautiful blue skies and warm sunshine.  Ahhh, Florida! 

Front entrance to one of Florida's oldest and most unique roadside attractions.  In 1946, when Newlon Perry first opened his mermaid show, US 19, above, was two lane.  All other roads were dirt and nothing lived there but bears and alligators.  The spring was full of rusted out appliances and old cars. He cleared out the trash, built a 18 seat theater 6' under water and created this underwater breathing system--free flowing air hoses supplied oxygen by an air compressor.

The park was decked out for their Halloween Party.  Duane thought this kind of off looking.

In 1959 ABC bought the spring and built the current 500 seat theater 16' under the water and started the themed shows. 

In 1982 Buccaneer Bay water park opened with water slides and white sand beaches.  This view is from the spring overlook, an outdoor cafe eating place.

Inside the theater with the curtain down. 

We saw two shows here.  The first is Hans Christian Andersons' The Little Mermaid.  Here is one of her sisters.   

The camera didn't capture the colors, but the little mermaid is wearing shimmery green.

A dance to celebrate her birthday.

Rescuing her new bf The Prince

Her friend the sea turtle

Dancing with her prince after she gave up her tail for legs.

The evil sea witch claimed the mermaid's voice but still won't let them live happily ever after.  True love prevails, however, and she is banished to the depths of the sea, sans the little mermaid's beautiful voice which was returned to her.

We went to the misunderstood animal show in the Riverside (open air) Theater.  This was in one corner next to the stage.  Note the Wicked Witch of the East's feet sticking out under the window.

One of the most misunderstood animals--the snake.  This one is a FL pine snake.

A king snake.

and of course the alligator.

Peacocks have the run of the place.

Baby peacock.  If you look really hard you can see the little feathers sticking up of the top of its head.

View from the Wilderness River Cruise--the Wicki Wachee River meanders 12 miles to the Gulf.  Here it is a couple of feet deep, then goes to less than a foot in depth closer to the gulf.  Every day 117 million gallons of 72 DF 98% pure water bubbles up from the spring and flows to the ocean.  The green is on the bottom of the river.

There are many old cypress trees.  They grow slowly, about 1 inch in diameter every year. 

This satellite school sits on the river bank.  School kids spend the day here  learning about their state wildlife.  Older kids are taught to kayak the river while they learn.  I would have liked that!

Eagles' nest.  This nest has hatched 2 bald eaglets every year for the last 4 years.  The nest is added onto each year and some become quite large and weigh up to 2 tons!

There is a fine line between brave and stupid, especially when the water is 72 DF.

The second show highlighted the history of the park. 

Demonstration of breath holding activity

Drinking and

eating an apple under water.  Performers need to replenish their energy during performances.

The air compressor.  The air hoses come from here and rest on the underwater stage.

One of the graceful moves perfected by the earlier mermaids.  It takes 1 1/2 years of training to become one of these performers.  Their final test is to swim 117 feet down into the spring and back again without breathing--about 3 minutes.  Keep in mind these facts:  the bottom of this spring has never been found by scuba divers,  the limestone basin that forms the theater is 100 feet wide and 16-20 feet deep, the current in the basin is 5 mph and the performers have to be able to maintain their positions while swimming against it, and that the surge down within the spring is strong enough to rip the masks off the scuba divers faces, and, oh yes, don't forget the 72D temperature.  Now you can really appreciate the athleticism of these performers!

The grand finale--God Bless the USA

From Astor we had a short day's drive of about 80 miles to our winter home.  We will start working here in November and be done at the end of March. 

Office, clubhouse, laundry

Our setup looking west

and north

Cypress swamp on the south

Yes gators do come here and sometimes into the park, but none have been seen or heard recently.  The drought has the water level down to a few inches.

A  beautiful old oak

Donkeys on the east side of the park.

Common garden spider, usual size.  In Ohio they are yellow and black.

Deer are often seen in the cow pasture on the west side of the park.

Red crested herons are often seen here as are white ibis and other water and wading birds.

Shuffleboard court.

Nice indoor pool, 82 DF.  A little chilly for most folk, but I am a dedicated swimmer.  I'm glad it's not 72!  As it is I swim for 40 minutes and my internal body temp is usually 1-2 df lower!

Outside of activity center--front right is pool, windows on left behind brown door are great room, behind the great room are pool (game) room, tv room, library, craft room, and telepone room.

We are spending the next 5 months here and intend to do a lot more touring, so stay tuned

Till next time
Louise and Duane



Friday, October 19, 2012

Daytona Biketoberfest

On Thursday we headed out on the bike to go to Daytona for the Biketoberfest motorcycle rally. We started out by stopping at a little restaurant down the road from our campground. After a really breakfast  we were off for a day of adventure.
The diner 
                                              These cranes were in the yard of the diner.

Nearing Daytona

From the Harley Museum brochure:
"The first unofficial speed records in 1907 along with beach racing, created the momentum that kickstarted Bike Week in 1937, the largest motorcycle event in the world." 
The racing started on the beach and eventually ended at the Daytona International Speedway.  

The first sight of the beach

We were planning on going to Harley Owners Group pin stop first. The pin stop is where you can pick up a token event pin to put on your vest or jacket. Guess what, we couldn't find it. After driving around for a while, I decided to head to the local Harley dealer. There were bikes everywhere!! They had people directing traffic in and out of the parking lot. This complex includes the Harley dealership, J & P Motorcycle Parts, an outlet store, and several other motorcycle related stores. There were a lot of  tents set up selling all sorts of related items.

The inside of the Harley store had a bunch of old motorcycles on display on a shelf around the store.

We bought some raffle tickets on this truck and bike combo.

The Harley shop was all decked out for Halloween

Some of the bikes in the parking lot

We asked at the dealers where the pin stop was and took off in search of it. Somehow we missed the street we were suppose to turn on and ended up way past the place. I stopped for gas and ask a biker  where it was, he got me headed right.

On the way back we stopped at another parking lot that had a bunch of trikes on display as well as the "Ride Like A Pro" school demo. This is the school that most of the police departments send their motorcycle police to learn to control their bikes. They put on a really good demo.

Then it was on to the pin stop!! When we turned on the street where it was the view was bikes and more bikes. Our first stop was the pin booth. We walked down the street stopping in most of the boothe's to see what they had. I bought a couple of little souvenir items and a tee shirt.

People everywhere
Louise liked this low rider bike

She really liked this trike being ridden by a rather small lady.
By mid afternoon the temperature was up around 90 and we were getting really hot and tired. We decide to head back to the trailer. The ride back was nice and cool at 60 miles an hour. Louise and I both thought it was a fun day, not sure if we would go back again. I think if it had been a cooler day, we would have spent more time there. We passed up a bunch of stops because of the heat and the crowds. Oh, who am I kidding... I would go back in a heart
Today we have moved on down the road. We are now at Sumter Oaks, the campground we will be working in this winter. We don't start working till Nov. 4 so we will have time to explore the area before starting.
Till next time
Duane and Louise