May 10, 2013 2 Comments
McKee Gardens is especially gorgeous in May. What a beautiful time of year in Florida!
Nature Photography by Pam & Richard
May 2, 2013 4 Comments
This year marks the 500th anniversary of Ponce de Leon’s landing in Florida (“Land of Flowers”). In celebration, a replica 16th century Spanish tall ship named El Galeon is stopping at ports along the state’s Atlantic coast. It is on a path similar to that taken by the explorer. The ship is currently at Port Canaveral from May 1-12. It is a real beauty! The ship is 170 feet long and weighs 495 tons. The anchor alone weighs over one ton. The ship has 6 decks, and 3 masts with 7 sails. Most striking is the wood, which is found throughout the ship and is gorgeous in scale and detail. Below deck are interpretive displays. Tour info is at: http://www.vivaflorida.org/About-Viva-Florida/Viva-Florida-500-Galeon-Tour
April 14, 2013 12 Comments
The Dali Museum in St. Petersburg, Florida, has been called one of the most beautiful museums in the world! The building opened in 2011 and was designed by architect Yann Weymouth. This hurricane-proof fortress features 18-inch thick walls, a 12-inch thick concrete roof, and impact-resistant glass. Dali’s priceless art is protected behind storm doors and a vault on the upper floors.
The most striking feature of the building is the glass. It forms two free-style bubbles named Enigma and Igloo that project out from the side of the building. The bubbles are composed of 1,062 unique triangular pieces of glass. Visitors look out of Enigma’s glass bubble as they climb a helical staircase to the art galleries on the third floor.
Salvador Dali had a fascination with spirals and the double-helix structure of DNA. He described himself as a fish swimming between “the cold water of art and the warm water of science”. The unusual shape of the museum perfectly complements his surrealistic art. This collection is the largest one in the world outside of Dali’s hometown museum in Spain. More info is at: http://thedali.org/home.php
April 5, 2013 2 Comments
Cute little northern bobwhite quail have been coming to our front yard recently. The top picture was taken through our dining room window. The bird’s call sounds just like its name – BOB-WHITE! If I whistle the song, they whistle it right back to me. If you don’t know the song, it is here: http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/northern_bobwhite/sounds
March 8, 2013 9 Comments
Every evening this week a screech owl has been singing from a palm tree in our yard. She is very good at hiding, so this picture is from the past. You can listen to her song at: http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/eastern_screech-owl/sounds
February 27, 2013 9 Comments
Today is Nellie the Dolphin’s 60th birthday! She was born at Marineland, Florida, on February 27, 1953, to mother Susie and father Happy. She was famously in several television shows in the 1950’s and a Timex commercial in 1961. In 1970 she became the mascot for Jacksonville University, and was awarded a master’s degree in marine science. Nellie is doing very well and is loved by everyone who visits her. The picture shows a vintage postcard from Nellie’s 20th birthday celebration. Marineland’s birthday tribute to Nellie is at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NTIAnCfaoC8
February 26, 2013 10 Comments
Great Blue Herons are nesting now in Florida! Nest building can take up to 2 weeks. Generally, a male blue heron will bring sticks to the female, and she will build the nest. These majestic birds usually nest in colonies. We counted at least six active nests recently at the Viera Wetlands.
February 20, 2013 8 Comments
Recently I attended a special member’s only tour of the Founder’s Room on the first floor of Bok Tower. The Founder’s Room was created as Mr. Bok’s private study. It was exciting to finally go inside the tower! Access to the top of the tower is extremely limited, but we were told that a man had just proposed to his fiancé there, and she said yes!
The only entrance to the Founder’s Room is the golden brass door. The color was chosen to enhance the glory of the 32 Biblical scenes of Creation on the door. The door weighs 1,000 pounds and is polished monthly. A cutout tree on the door serves as a peephole, and a giant brass key opens the door. Notice the small square of white flowers in the grass in front of the door. That is Mr. Bok’s gravesite situated at the base of his beloved tower.
Once inside the Founder’s Room, you notice the soaring pink marble walls, intricate marble windows (each one carved in place from a single block of stone), hanging wrought iron lanterns, massive marble fireplace with Florida mural above, and elaborate tile floor.
The nature theme of the garden and tower are continued throughout the room. The wrought iron lanterns have birds encircling the top, and spider webs on the bottom. The wrought iron stairway leads to a second level, and from there an inner stairway ascends the tower. Alternatively, an original 1928 Otis elevator (the oldest in Florida) escorts people to the top. The eight levels of Bok Tower are (1) Founder’s Room at ground level; (2) Chao Research Center (archival room); (3) Storage and Mechanical Equipment Room; (4) Maintenance Workshop; (5) Carillon Library; (6) Carillon Player’s Office; (7) Carillon Bells and Soundproof Keyboard Playing Cabinet (bells are too loud to play directly beside them); and (8) Roof Top (statues, finials, and lightning rods).
The soaring ceiling is bricked over with a capstone in the middle. This marks the spot where the heavy carillon bells were hoisted up through the tower. Since the bells were too large to fit through the brass door, they entered the tower through the side. That location is now marked by the fireplace on the inside, and the sundial on the outside. The fireplace mantel contains a marble engraving of bell ringers beneath a quote by Bok’s grandmother, “Make you the world a bit better or more beautiful because you have lived in it”. An elaborate mural over the fireplace shows an engraving of the State of Florida with Bok Tower in the middle, a sunrise above, flamingoes and alligator below, a figure blowing the wind and compass star on the left, a Spanish galleon on the upper right, and Neptune riding his horses in the sea at the bottom. Spectacular tiles cover the Founder’s Room floor. At the center of the colorful floor is the Star of Life. The six points of the star are said to symbolize the six days of Creation in the Book of Genesis in the Bible. Surrounding it are various kinds of animal tiles.
One visit per year to the ground floor Founder’s Room is granted by appointment to sustaining members of Bok Tower Gardens. It is well worth the trip! A video tour of the inside of the tower is at: http://www.youtube.com/user/boktowergardens?feature=watch
All of our posts on Bok Tower are at: http://naturetime.wordpress.com/category/florida/gardens-florida/bok-tower-gardens-gardens/
February 11, 2013 5 Comments
Today our local Brevard Zoo announced the birth of a male Masai giraffe six days ago. The baby’s birth weight was 159 pounds! When the baby reaches adulthood, he will be 19 feet tall. Since he is not yet on public display, this picture shows a previous baby giraffe named Melvin by the same parents. More info on the award-winning Brevard Zoo is at: http://brevardzoo.org/
February 8, 2013 7 Comments
Look who just flew in from Brazil – a pair of purple martins ready to start the nesting season! The male is in the gourd on the left, the female is sitting on the gourd on the right, and a plastic decoy sits on top. Spring is on its way! Current purple martin sightings are tallied at: http://purplemartin.org/scoutreport/
February 4, 2013 5 Comments
Myakka River State Park has the only canopy walk/observation tower in the state of Florida. It was the first public treetop trail in North America, and the only one in the world in a subtropical forest! The park is located inland from Sarasota on the west coast of Florida. The 76-foot tower provides a 360-degree view of the wild and scenic Myakka River basin. Scientists have already made important discoveries about life in the oak and palm canopy. The bird’s eye view from the top of the tower is terrific! More info is at: http://www.myakkariver.org/index.php/activities-a-attractions/canopy-walkway
January 21, 2013 4 Comments
Dragonflies are amazing! They are one of nature’s fastest flying insects. They can fly up, down, and backward, and even hover like a helicopter. They only eat while flying, and can catch hundreds of mosquitoes per day. Their eyesight is exceptional. Their eyes have 30,000 lenses each, and they can see in almost every direction. Although modern dragonflies have a wing span of less than 8 inches, fossilized dragonflies had a wingspan of up to 2 feet. The details of the wing pattern are incredible!
January 7, 2013 7 Comments
The Morse Museum (north of Orlando) has the most comprehensive Tiffany collection in the world! Objects on display include glass, pottery, jewelry, and paintings. Of special interest is the complete Byzantine chapel interior that was created for the Chicago’s World Fair in 1893. A personal favorite of mine is a stained glass window called “Feeding the Flamingoes”.
Tiffany’s life-long inspiration was nature. He described his Favrile glass as having “brilliant or deeply toned colors … iridescent like the wings of butterflies”. At the end of his career he summed up his life as a “Quest for Beauty”. More info on this spectacular collection is at: http://www.morsemuseum.org/
December 19, 2012 10 Comments
These vintage Christmas cards were created by NASA space artist Don Mackey in the 1960s and 1970s. I got the cards on eBay. Look closely for some really fun details.
Card #1 Missileland features a houseboat called the Indian River Queen. The flying saucer is powered by Florida swamp gas. The artist himself is on the porch beside the pelican, and he is painting the missile launch. A Christmas tree is inside. Santa is on the roof in his long underwear playing cards with the aliens, and his outfit is hanging on the clothesline. On the lower right are leprechauns and an alligator in a Santa hat!
Card #2 Spaceport and Moon shows Santa with two aliens in a Model T sleigh with a surfboard on back. A sign on the Moon says “Snoopy was Here”! Running away from the reindeer is a little dog in a space helmet. The two aliens are digging up gold. The astronaut on the right has a box of Moon gold, and the astronaut on the left is filming the scene with a TV camera. Perched on his back is a parrot in a space helmet.
Card #3 Spaceport and Capsule shows three aliens wearing Santa hats in a sleigh that says “Wide Load”. The astronauts in the capsule are waving, and one of them is filming the scene with a TV camera. At the back of the capsule is an antennae with an owl perched on it!
December 16, 2012 3 Comments
Yes, Florida has ice sculptures too! Even when it is a warm sunny day outside, ice sculptures are on view inside at the Gaylord Palms Hotel in Orlando. It takes a month for artisans to carve the ice for the holiday exhibit. This year marks the show’s 10th anniversary. These sculptures are a few of my favorites over the years. More info is at: http://www.gaylordhotels.com/gaylord-palms/christmas-in-orlando/index.html
December 14, 2012 2 Comments
As a kid I sat entranced as I watched man take his first steps on the moon in 1969. I watched that fuzzy image on TV all day long and just couldn’t get enough. Then I found a television show that I fell in love with and still enjoy to this day – “I Dream of Jeannie”. The comedy starred Barbara Eden as a genie named Jeannie, and Larry Hagman as an Air Force astronaut named Major Tony Nelson. The series was set in Cocoa Beach, Florida, and centered on activities at the nearby Space Center.
In honor of this fame, Cocoa Beach recently erected a sign at Lori Wilson Park (it replaced the former I Dream of Jeannie Lane sign). There is even a display dedicated to the show at the U.S. Air Force Space and Missile Museum at the Launch 26 Blockhouse (http://www.afspacemuseum.org/displays/Jeannie/). You can view the display on Kennedy Space Center’s Cape Canaveral: Then and Now Tour (http://www.kennedyspacecenter.com/cape-canaveral-then-now.aspx).
December 13, 2012 4 Comments
NASA is currently offering rare access tours in celebration of its 50th anniversary.
The Launch Pad Tour takes visitors to the highly restricted area of Launch Pad 39A, where shuttles were launched into space and Apollo missions were launched to the moon. The public has never been invited here before. So much history!
The Launch Control Center Tour takes visitors inside Firing Room 4, which controlled all space shuttle launches since 2006. It is where the Launch Director polls engineers for “go/no go” for launch. The room’s iconic windows were designed by architect Martin Stein to “see mankind’s future”. Public access has not been granted since the 1970s.
Both of these tours are only offered for a limited time. More info is at: http://www.kennedyspacecenter.com/launch-pad-tour.aspx
December 10, 2012 11 Comments
Big Talbot Island State Park has the only beach in Florida that is covered in driftwood! The wood comes from trees that have fallen from the eroded bluffs above the beach. Over time the wood is polished by the sand and surf. The bleached-out trunks have given rise to its popular name “Boneyard Beach”. More info on this unique beach north of Jacksonville is at: http://www.floridastateparks.org/bigtalbotisland/
December 8, 2012 2 Comments
Marineland was one of Florida’s earliest tourist attractions. It debuted in 1938 as the “World’s First Oceanarium” (south of St. Augustine). The attraction’s original name was Marine Studios, because it catered to both tourists and film studios. Movies and television shows filmed there include Tarzan, Creature from the Black Lagoon, Sea Hunt, and Benji (which featured the first scuba-diving dog).
In 1951 Marineland was rated number one in Florida tourism. I can’t help but smile when I look at those vintage photographs. Marineland’s beloved dolphin Nellie was born there in 1953, and is now 59 years old. She is one of the world’s oldest dolphins!
Although the facility fell on hard times in the 1980s, the future looks much brighter now that it was bought by the premier Georgia Aquarium. I especially like Marineland’s authentic feel. Besides, where else can you feed a dolphin for $29? More info is at: http://www.marineland.net/index.html
December 4, 2012 6 Comments
The Loggerhead Marinelife Center is a sea turtle hospital, research facility, and education campus in Juno Beach, Florida. Sick or injured sea turtles are brought to the center for veterinary care. Turtles receive treatment and are rehabilitated for release. Visitors are welcome to view the exhibits, watch veterinary care, and get a close-up view of current patients. More info is at: http://marinelife.org/
December 3, 2012 Leave a comment
Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse was first lit in 1860. It was built to warn ships of the reefs offshore Jupiter, Florida. The 108-foot tower sits on top of an ancient Indian shell mound. The view from the top is quite scenic! A live inlet beach webcam is at: http://www.evsjupiter.com/main.htm
December 2, 2012 2 Comments
Wind and high tide brought spectacular salt spray plumes today to Blowing Rocks Preserve on Jupiter Island, Florida. In fact, it was hard not to get a bit wet! We had been so excited by a recent visit that we had to return again for more photography.
December 1, 2012 8 Comments
Blowing Rocks Preserve has the longest and most dramatic stretch of rocky coastline in Florida. This preserve on Jupiter Island contains a rock terrace at the water’s edge of Anastasia limestone that is tinted red with iron. During high tide or stormy seas, waves pound the eroded terrace and “blow” through holes in the rock. Salt spray plumes can reach up to 50 feet in the air!