Happy Town of Christmas, Florida

Welcome to Christmas Postcard

Welcome to Christmas Postcard

Permanent Christmas Tree Display

Permanent Christmas Tree Display

Close-up of Christmas Tree

Close-up of Christmas Tree

Sign Beside Christmas Tree

Sign Beside Christmas Tree

Nativity next to Christmas Tree

Nativity next to Christmas Tree

Christmas Post Office

Christmas Post Office

Christmas Postmark

Christmas Postmark

Letters are Mailed to Christmas, Florida, from Around the World

Letters are Mailed to Christmas, Florida, from Around the World

Letters to Santa Mailbox

Letters to Santa Mailbox

The town of Christmas, Florida, is very popular this time of year!  People travel from all around to have their mail postmarked at the community’s single post office.  The town is located east of Orlando, and has a Christmas display set up year round.  The sign beside the Christmas tree reads: “The permanent Christmas tree at Christmas, Florida is the symbol of love and good will – the Christmas spirit every day in the year.”  Santa jokes that it is much warmer in Florida than in the town of North Pole, Alaska.  A bulletin board inside the post office is decorated with letters to Santa from around the world.  This happy town is a fun place to visit!  And if you like hiking and bird watching, the Orlando Wetlands is located nearby (http://orlandowetlands.org/about.php).

Click Here to Read Article about Christmas Florida

Florida: Orlando Eye Complex

Orlando Eye Observation Wheel

Orlando Eye Observation Wheel

View at Top of Wheel

View at Top of Wheel

View East with Lockheed Martin in Foreground. On a clear day without haze you can see east to Atlantic Coast and VAB at Kennedy Space Center.

View East with Lockheed Martin in Foreground. On a clear day without haze you can see east to Atlantic Coast and VAB at Kennedy Space Center.

View of Big and Little Sand Lakes Looking West Toward Orlando Theme Parks

View of Big and Little Sand Lakes Looking West Toward Orlando Theme Parks

View Looking West with Round Dome of Spaceship Earth Visible at Disney's Epcot

View Looking West with Round Dome of Spaceship Earth Visible at Disney’s Epcot

Zebra Moray Eel at SEA LIFE Aquarium

Zebra Moray Eel at SEA LIFE Aquarium

Wolf Eel Guarding Ball of 10,000 Eggs

Wolf Eel Guarding Ball of 10,000 Eggs

Green Moray Eel

Green Moray Eel

Queen Triggerfish

Queen Triggerfish

Lookdown Jack

Lookdown Jack

Goliath Grouper

Goliath Grouper

Grey Reef Shark

Grey Reef Shark

Giant Pacific Octopus

Giant Pacific Octopus

Green Anemone in Pacific Rock Pool

Green Anemone in Pacific Rock Pool

Moon Jelly

Moon Jelly

Steve Jobs Figure at Madame Tussauds Wax Museum

Steve Jobs Figure at Madame Tussauds Wax Museum

At 400 feet tall, the Orlando Eye is the tallest observation wheel on the East coast of the United States. It opened in 2015 and offers a beautiful 360 degree view of Central Florida. Thirty glass enclosed air-conditioned capsules are suspended from the wheel and slowly rotate at 1 mile per hour, completing the circle within 20 minutes. The wheel is lit up by 64,000 LED themed lights at night.

Other activities at the Orlando Eye Complex include the SEA LIFE Aquarium and Madame Tussauds Wax Museum. The aquarium is active in the local community with marine conservation, rescue, and protection. Madame Tussauds’ brand has been in business for over 200 years. Each wax figure in the museum takes up to 8 months to complete, and is accurate down to the placement of each hair on the head. Clothes that the figures wear are either donated by the celebrities or accurately reflect what the celebrity owns. It is a fun place to visit, especially with guests. More info is at: https://www.officialorlandoeye.com/

Florida: Fun LEGO Exhibit at Vero Beach Museum of Art

LEGO Exhibit

LEGO Exhibit

LEGO Boy Looking at Reflection

LEGO Boy Looking at Reflection

LEGO Colorful Skulls, Arm with Pointing Finger, and Baseball Player

LEGO Colorful Skulls, Arm with Pointing Finger, and Baseball Player

LEGO Man with Heart

LEGO Man with Heart

LEGO Couple Kissing

LEGO Couple Kissing

LEGO Man Peeking Out

LEGO Man Peeking Out

LEGO Dog

LEGO Dog

Recently we enjoyed viewing the LEGO exhibit at the Vero Beach Museum of Art, Florida.  This award-winning traveling exhibit is called “The Art of the Brick”, and was created by New York-based artist Nathan Sawaya.  If you would like to know more about the artist and the exhibit’s worldwide schedule, go to:  http://www.brickartist.com/schedule.html

Florida: National Elephant Center

National Elephant Center Open House

National Elephant Center Open House

Elephant Trunk in Air

Elephant Trunk in Air

Elephant Eating a Pumpkin

Elephant Eating a Pumpkin

Elephant Picking Up Grass with Trunk

Elephant Picking Up Grass with Trunk

Elephant Enrichment Sign

Elephant Enrichment Sign

Hurricane-Proof Elephant Barn

Hurricane-Proof Elephant Barn

Elephant Chow

Elephant Chow

Elephants Love Oranges

Elephants Love Oranges

Elephant Treat:  Marshmallow Bliss

Elephant Treat: Marshmallow Bliss

Elephant Portrait in Black and White

Elephant Portrait in Black and White

The National Elephant Center opened its doors to elephants in May 2013 in Fellsmere, Florida (only 4 miles south of our home). The center provides both short and long-term care for elephants in need, and is dedicated to advancing elephant care in North America. An open house was held recently, which was a real treat since visitors are not usually permitted. The next open house will be held in summer 2015 (for members only – join at http://www.nationalelephantcenter.org/).

African elephants are the world’s largest land mammal (the biggest on record measured 13 feet tall at the shoulder and weighed 12 tons). Elephants are very intelligent and have excellent memories. They are social creatures that exhibit a wide range of emotion. Their soft feet and 7-foot trunks are exquisitely sensitive, and can be used to detect subsonic rumbles from elephants several miles away. Their hearing is excellent too; they can even flap their ears during hot weather to stay cool.

Trunks play a vital role in the life of elephants. A trunk is so strong that it can push over a big tree, and so delicate that it can pick up a small berry. The trunk is essentially an elongated nose and upper lip that is used for smell, taste, and even as a breathing snorkel underwater. The trunk is also used for eating and drinking. For eating, elephants use their trunks to pick up food and bring it to their mouths. For drinking, elephants use their trunks to suck up water and squirt it in their mouths. The trunk can also be used to spray water or dust onto the skin to protect it from sunburn and biting insects. Trunks can even be used to trumpet alarm calls to the herd. But most endearingly, trunks are twined together during greetings or used for caresses (elephant “hugs”). Mother elephants use their trunks to stay in constant touch with their babies – helping them, bathing them, and even picking them up to go over obstacles. A baby elephant sometimes follows its mother by using its trunk to hold onto her tail. Baby elephants have to learn how to control their trunks, and can only make little squeaks with it when they are small. And just as human babies get comfort from sucking their thumbs, elephant babies get comfort from sucking their trunks – too cute!

Currently the center has two elephants living on the 225 acre site. Twenty acres are now fenced, and the hurricane-proof barn can hold up to 9 elephants. Over the long term the facility could be expanded to hold up to 70 of these magnificent animals (it is even possible that rhinoceros could be added to the mix). Elephants at the sanctuary are free to forage and roam on the land, which includes a watering hole and mud wallow. Their natural diet is supplemented with nutritious pellets and fruit. Every day an elephant eats 165-330 pounds of food, and drinks 20-50 gallons of water.

Keepers tell a wonderful story about the first time the elephants found the abandoned orange grove on sanctuary land. The matriarch female pulled down her first orange and tasted it. She got a look of utter joy on her face, and then started gobbling down oranges as fast as she could. Orange season just started here again in Florida, so the elephants are happy!

Elephants are taught to come over to the vet daily at the barn for health inspection, and when they do so, they are given a special treat. We were told that an elephant’s idea of utter bliss is to eat a big mouthful of soft marshmallows.  Me too!  A news video by NBC’s Today Show about the National Elephant Center is at: http://www.today.com/video/today/53380016#53380016   A touching story by the PBS show “Nature” about elephant emotion is at: http://www.pbs.org/wnet/nature/echo-an-elephant-to-remember-elephant-emotions/4489/

Florida: Port Canaveral and Jetty Park Beach

Back View of Iridescent "Sail" of Exploration Tower

Back View of Iridescent “Sail” of Exploration Tower

Exploration Tower Entrance

Exploration Tower Entrance

Top of Exploration Tower

Top of Exploration Tower

Exploration Tower at Sunset

Exploration Tower at Sunset

Color Wand Lit Path Around Tower

Color Wand Lit Path Around Tower

Exploration Tower at Night

Exploration Tower at Night

View of Port Canaveral from Top of Tower

View of Port Canaveral from Top of Tower

Recycled Art in Tower Atrium

Recycled Art in Tower Atrium

Recycled Glass Jellyfish in Atrium

Recycled Glass Jellyfish in Atrium

Recycled Glass Mobile

Recycled Glass Mobile

Ron Jon Surfboard Display in Tower

Ron Jon Surfboard Display in Tower

Disney Dream Cruise Ship Departure

Disney Dream Cruise Ship Departure

Jetty Park's Wide Sandy Beach

Jetty Park’s Wide Sandy Beach

Kitty Cat Drawing on Sand

Kitty Cat Drawing on Sand

Jetty Park's Long Fishing Pier

Jetty Park’s Long Fishing Pier

Sea Turtle by Fishing Pier

Sea Turtle by Fishing Pier

Dolphin Swimming by Pier

Dolphin Swimming by Pier

Seagull and Waves at Sunset

Seagull and Waves at Sunset

Seagulls Flying Overhead

Seagulls Flying Overhead

Vintage Poster of Jetty Park

Vintage Poster of Jetty Park

If you visit Central Florida, be sure to stop by Port Canaveral and Jetty Park near Cocoa Beach on the Atlantic Ocean. Exploration Tower acts as a Welcome Center for the area. The building opened in November 2013, and is meant to evoke the image of a sailing ship. The architecture is stunning, especially at night. From the tower’s 7th floor Observation Deck there is a bird’s eye view of Port Canaveral, Jetty Park, the Atlantic Ocean to the east, and NASA to the north. It is an excellent place to view rocket launches (check schedule at: http://spaceflightnow.com/launch-schedule/).  Info about visiting the tower is at:  http://www.explorationtower.com/.

A fun thing to do is to watch the cruise ships go out to sea. They exit the port past Jetty Park, with people waving and cheering all the way. Popular times to watch are Thursday and Sunday afternoons around 4 pm (a full schedule of departures and arrivals is at: https://www.portcanaveral.com/Cruise/Cruise-Lines-Schedules.  Port Canaveral was named America’s Best North American Cruise Port in 2015 by CruiseCritic.com.  The ship “Carla C” that inspired the TV show “The Love Boat” visited the Port in 1979.

Jetty Park’s wide sandy beach is especially nice for families. It is popular year round. If you walk onto the fishing pier, be sure to look for manatees, dolphins, and sea turtles in the water below. You’ll probably see egrets and pelicans “fishing” too. And don’t forget to bring bread to feed the seagulls – it is a family favorite. More info about visiting Port Canaveral is at: http://visitportcanaveral.com/.   Details about Jetty Park Beach and Campground are at:  https://www.portcanaveral.com/jpc  and  https://www.portcanaveral.com/Recreation/Jetty-Park-Beach-Pier

DisneyWorld: 2014 Epcot Flower and Garden Festival

Epcot Flower Beds and Floating Gardens

Epcot Flower Beds and Floating Gardens

Flower Beds near Future World Pyramid

Flower Beds near Future World Pyramid

Flower Beds Around Lake

Flower Beds Around Lake

Great Blue Heron on Floating Garden

Great Blue Heron on Floating Garden

Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, and Dog Pluto Topiaries

Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, and Dog Pluto Topiaries

Donald Duck Swatting Bee Topiary

Donald Duck Swatting Bee Topiary

Bambi, Thumper, and Skunk named Flower Topiaries

Bambi, Thumper, and Skunk named Flower Topiaries

Butterfly Topiaries

Butterfly Topiaries

Lady and the Tramp Topiaries

Lady and the Tramp Topiaries

Kermit and Miss Piggy Topiaries

Kermit and Miss Piggy Topiaries

Norway Troll Topiary

Norway Troll Topiary

Cinderella and Prince Charming Topiaries

Cinderella and Prince Charming Topiaries

There are currently over 100 topiaries on display at the 2014 Disney World Epcot Flower and Garden Festival.  Over 70,000 flowers surround the lake, and 220 mini-gardens float on the water.  The effect  is quite stunning!  Spring is here, and the weather is warm and sunny in Florida.  More info is at:  http://www.wdwinfo.com/wdwinfo/guides/epcot/events/ep-flower-garden.htm

 

Vintage Space Art Christmas Cards at the Air Force Space and Missile Museum

Card 1 Missile Land Florida.

Card 1 Missile Land Florida.

Card 2 Cape Canaveral

Card 2 Cape Canaveral

Card 3 Kennedy Space Center

Card 3 Kennedy Space Center

Don Mackey Newspaper Biography

Don Mackey Newspaper Biography

Card 4 Atlas Santa Claus

Card 4 Atlas Santa Claus

Card 5 Peace

Card 5 Peace

Card 6 Shuttle Launch

Card 6 Shuttle Launch

These vintage space art Christmas cards are currently on display at the Air Force Space and Missile Museum at Cape Canaveral, Florida.  They are part of the personal collection of the museum’s Director, Emily Perry.  I have always enjoyed the whimsical space art of Don Mackey from the 1960s and 1970s.    Look closely for details in his work that will make you smile.

Card #1 Missile Land Florida by Don Mackey features Santa on a sleigh pulled by eight reindeer (including Rudolph).  The reindeer are wearing space helmets and have air canisters on their backs.  There is an alien in Santa’s sack, and two more aliens on the back of the sleigh.  Banners say “Merry Christmas from Missile Land Florida” and “Happy New Year Moon”.  Two astronauts are waving from orbit.

Card #2 Cape Canaveral by Don Mackey shows a Moon station receiving Christmas carols from Earth with the banner “Merry Christmas from Cape Canaveral”.  Outside the glass window, a whimsical alien family sings carols, while the youngest alien makes funny faces.  An astronaut points toward Earth while standing next to mountains on the Moon.

Card #3 Kennedy Space Center by Don Mackey is a simple black and white drawing of the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) at Kennedy Space Center with a Christmas tree in the center, and a banner that says “Merry Christmas from Kennedy Space Center, Florida”. 

A newspaper article from Florida Today dated 12/11/08 gives a brief biography of artist Don Mackey (click on the picture to read details).

Card #4 Atlas Santa Claus shows an old photograph of an Atlas rocket decorated like Santa Claus for Christmas, with the description:  “An Air Force Museum tradition for the Christmas Season, the Atlas Santa Claus.  Once a weapon for defense of the U.S., the Atlas Missile now serves mankind in an entirely different role, the peaceful exploration of space.”  I am guessing that this picture was taken in the 1970s at the Air Force Museum in Dayton, Ohio.

Card #5 Peace features a drawing of the moon and an American flag with the Earth and star in the distance, with the caption “We came in peace for all mankind”. 

Card #6 Shuttle Launch by artist Bernard P. shows Santa on a sleigh with his reindeer watching a space shuttle launch from Kennedy Space Center, Florida. 

Cards #1-3 are now in our personal collection; they were purchased on eBay.  More information about the Air Force Space and Missile Museum is at:  http://www.afspacemuseum.org/

A previous post with more Christmas cards by space artist Don Mackey is at:  https://naturetime.wordpress.com/2012/12/19/vintage-space-art-christmas-cards/

Florida: Beautiful Butterfly World

Butterflies of the World Display in Insect Museum

Butterflies of the World Display in Insect Museum

Piano Key Butterfly

Piano Key Butterfly

Malachite Butterfly

Malachite Butterfly

Birdwing Butterfly

Birdwing Butterfly

Giant Owl Butterfly

Giant Owl Butterfly

Jaboticaba Fruit Tree

Jaboticaba Fruit Tree

Tropical Rhododendron

Tropical Rhododendron

Passion Flower:  Passiflora Royale

Passion Flower: Passiflora Royale

Monkey's Brush Tree

Monkey’s Brush Tree

Queen's Wreath Flower

Queen’s Wreath Flower

Scarlet Macaw

Scarlet Macaw

Lady Gouldian Finch (male)

Lady Gouldian Finch (male)

Yellow-Legged Honeycreeper

Yellow-Legged Honeycreeper

Esmerelda Clear-Winged Butterfly in Insect Museum

Esmerelda Clear-Winged Butterfly in Insect Museum

Butterfly World is the largest butterfly park in the world!  This attraction is located in Coconut Creek, Florida (north of Miami).  The park contains 10 acres of botanical gardens, aviaries, and research facilities.  A minimum of 3,000 butterflies (of at least 50 different species) fly year-round inside the botanical gardens, and most of them were raised on-site.  The park also contains the country’s largest free-flight hummingbird aviary, and one of the largest collections of passion flower vines in the world.  Top missions are conservation and education.  This place is a true delight!  More info is at:  http://www.butterflyworld.com/

Florida: World’s Biggest Gator Buildings

Swampy, "World's Largest Gator"

Swampy, “World’s Largest Gator”

Gator at Entrance to Closed Jungleland Zoo

Gator at Entrance to Closed Jungleland Zoo

Gator Jaws Entrance to Gatorland

Gator Jaws Entrance to Gatorland

Florida is famous for its alligators!  We like them so much that we model some of our buildings after them.  The “World’s Largest Gator” is Swampy, a 200-foot-long structure in Christmas, Florida.  It is part of the entrance to Jungle Adventures.  Another alligator building sits in front of the now-closed Jungleland Zoo in Kissimmee.  It features a gator biting a jeep with a man hanging in mid-air. The most-photographed structure is the gator jaws entrance at Gatorland in Orlando.  People used to walk through the open jaws to enter the park.  During a fire in 2006, flames actually shot out of the mouth!  The jaws amazingly survived, and it is now the first stop for pictures at the park.

Florida: Surreal Dali Museum

Dali Museum's Unique Glass

Dali Museum’s Unique Glass

Glass Side View with Reflection

Glass Side View with Reflection

Enigma Glass Bubble

Enigma Glass Bubble

Glass Atrium

Glass Atrium

Atrium Spiral

Atrium Spiral

Tampa Bay Waterfront View

Tampa Bay Waterfront View

Painting on Display

Painting on Display

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/

Nellie the Dolphin’s 60th Birthday!

Vintage Postcard of Nellie's 20th Birthday Celebration

Vintage Postcard of Nellie’s 20th Birthday Celebration

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

UPDATE:  Nellie passed away at the age of 61 on May 1, 2014.  The previous May (2013) Nellie was given an honorary Ph.D. in health science and longevity by Jacksonville University.

Florida: Inside Beautiful Bok Tower!

Base of Bok Tower

Base of Bok Tower

Entrance Through Golden Brass Door

Entrance Through Golden Brass Door

Tree Cutout Peephole Above Lock

Tree Cutout Peephole Above Lock

Mr. Bok's Gravesite in Front of Golden Brass Door

Mr. Bok’s Gravesite in Front of Golden Brass Door

Inside Founder's Room Looking Out Golden Brass Door

Inside Founder’s Room Looking Out Golden Brass Door

Inside Looking Up at Soaring Pink Ceilings (capstone is in middle and lantern is at top)

Inside Looking Up at Soaring Pink Ceilings (capstone is in middle and lantern is at top)

Wrought Iron Lantern (spider web base and birds encircling top)

Wrought Iron Lantern (spider web base and birds encircling top)

Wrought Iron Lantern in Front of Carved Marble Window

Wrought Iron Lantern in Front of Carved Marble Window

Fireplace Mantel

Fireplace Mantel

Florida Mural Above Fireplace

Florida Mural Above Fireplace

Tile Floor with Star of Life

Tile Floor with Star of Life

Colorful Animal Tiles

Colorful Animal Tiles

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:  https://naturetime.wordpress.com/category/florida/gardens-florida/bok-tower-gardens-gardens/

Baby Giraffe!

Baby Masai Giraffe Melvin

Baby Masai Giraffe Melvin

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/

Tiffany Collection at Morse Museum

Tiffany Chapel

Tiffany Chapel

Tiffany Stained Glass:  Feeding the Flamingoes

Tiffany Stained Glass: Feeding the Flamingoes

Tiffany Stained Glass Window

Tiffany Stained Glass Window

Tiffany Pottery (octopus bowl on right)

Tiffany Pottery (octopus bowl on right)

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/

Florida Ice Sculptures!

Ice Santa and Sleigh

Ice Santa and Sleigh

Ice Santa with Cookies and Milk

Ice Santa with Cookies and Milk

Ice Deer in Woods

Ice Deer in Woods

Ice Nativity

Ice Nativity

Ice Manger Scene

Ice Manger Scene

Ice Angel with Stars

Ice Angel with Stars

Ice Choirs with Angel

Ice Choirs with Angel

Ice Choir Closeup

Ice Choir Closeup

Ice Angel with Stained Glass

Ice Angel with Stained Glass

Ice Snowman

Ice Snowman

Ice Christmas Tree with Kitty

Ice Christmas Tree with Kitty

Ice Alligator

Ice Alligator

Ice Surfing Santa with Flamingo

Ice Surfing Santa with Flamingo

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

NASA and “I Dream of Jeannie” TV Show

"I Dream of Jeannie" Display Memorabilia

“I Dream of Jeannie” Display Memorabilia

"I Dream of Jeannie" Display Lunchbox

“I Dream of Jeannie” Display Lunchbox

NASA Administration Building that was Model for Major Nelson's Workplace

NASA Administration Building that was Model for Major Nelson’s Workplace

Former Cocoa Beach Street Sign in Honor of Show

Former Cocoa Beach Street Sign in Honor of Show

New Cocoa Beach Sign Dedicated to Show

New Cocoa Beach Sign Dedicated to Show

Cocoa Beach Fire Department T-Shirt: Guardians of the Genie

Cocoa Beach Fire Department T-Shirt: Guardians of the Genie

Cocoa Beach Fire Truck Logo with Jeannie Bottle

Cocoa Beach Fire Truck Logo with Jeannie Bottle

New Jeannie Display at the Air Force Space and Missile Museum

New Jeannie Display at the Air Force Space and Missile Museum

Barbara Eden "Jeannie" Autographed Picture

Barbara Eden “Jeannie” Autographed Picture

Barbara Eden Touring Air Force Space and Missile Museum in June 1969

Barbara Eden Touring Air Force Space and Missile Museum in June 1969

Comic about Jeannie's Bottle (click to enlarge)

Comic about Jeannie’s Bottle (click to enlarge)

Jeannie Race Sign in Cocoa Beach

Jeannie Race Sign in Cocoa Beach

Cocoa Beach Half Marathon Medal 2015

Cocoa Beach Half Marathon Medal 2015

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 stars 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).   A compendium of references to Cocoa Beach in “I Dream of Jeannie” is at:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eqh90e1kDWE

Jeannie is so beloved in Cocoa Beach that the firefighters use her for their fire station t-shirts.  A Jeannie bottle is also featured on their fire truck logo. 

A display dedicated to the show is located at the U.S. Air Force Space and Missile Museum at the Launch 26 Blockhouse (http://www.afspacemuseum.org/displays/Jeannie/). 

It can be viewed on an early space tour by Kennedy Space Center (https://www.kennedyspacecenter.com/explore-attractions/behind-the-gates/cape-canaveral-early-space-tour).  In October 2015 the Jeannie display was temporarily on exhibit at the nearby Air Force Missile and Space Museum at Port Canaveral (http://capemuseum.org/).

In May 2013 Barbara Eden put a letter in a time capsule at Cape Canaveral.  It describes her experiences and feelings about NASA and the show.  You can read it by scrolling to page 16 at this link:  http://www.brevardcounty.us/docs/default-source/Files/indian-river-journal-2013-spring-summer.pdf?sfvrsn=2

UPDATE:  On October 25, 2015, Barbara Eden returned to Cocoa Beach.  She was given the key to the city, gave out medals in the shape of Jeannie bottles to winners of the first Cocoa Beach Half Marathon, and oversaw the lookalike contest. The half marathon will continue as an annual event every Fall:  http://cocoabeachhalfmarathon.com/

Florida: Marineland

Marineland 1938 Sign

Marineland 1938 Sign

Vintage Dolphin Statue

Vintage Dolphin Statue

Vintage Dolphin Wall of Fudge Kitchen

Vintage Dolphin Wall of Fudge Kitchen

Vintage Neptune Statue

Vintage Neptune Statue

Vintage Photo:  Dolphin and Sunbonnet Lady

Vintage Photo: Dolphin and Sunbonnet Lady

Vintage Photo:  Dolphins and Songbook

Vintage Photo: Dolphins and Songbook

Vintage Marine Studios Sign

Vintage Marine Studios Sign

Three Dolphins Jumping

Three Dolphins Jumping

Marineland Entrance Sign

Marineland Entrance Sign

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

UPDATE:  Nellie passed away at the age of 61 on May 1, 2014.  The previous May (2013) Nellie was given an honorary Ph.D. in health science and longevity by Jacksonville University.

St. Augustine: Fort Castillo de San Marcos

Fort’s Outer Coquina Rock Walls

 

Fort’s Entrance Over Dry Moat

 

Fort’s Inner Courtyard

Fort’s Lookout Tower

Fort’s View of Matanzas Bay

Fort’s Upper Level with Cannons

Fort’s Assorted Cannons with Cannonballs

Fort’s Row of Cannons

Cannon’s Fish Handles

Cannon with Face

Cannon with Intricate Spanish Design

St. Augustine is our nation’s oldest city.  It was founded by the Spanish in 1565.  Planning is already underway for the city’s 450th birthday celebration in 2015.  St. Augustine’s most important historic structure is the Castillo de San Marcos.  This fort was built between 1672 and 1695.  The fortress walls are made of blocks of fossilized shells (coquina rock).  The fort’s cannons are particularly interesting and beautiful.  Castillo de San Marcos was built to protect the city of St. Augustine and its harbor (our nation’s first seaport).  A battle was never lost.  The Castillo de San Marcos was preserved as a National Monument in 1924.  More info is at:  http://www.nps.gov/casa/index.htm 

A quote I really like by the real Saint Augustine is:  “The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page.”

Bok Tower Gardens: Favorite Flamingo and Pelican Carvings

Bok Tower: Flamingo Feeding Time Carving

Bok Tower: Pelicans with Fish Carving

Bok Tower: Pelican Pair Carving

My favorite stone carving on Bok Tower is the one showing feeding time for the flamingos.  The pelican carvings are also wonderful.  It took exceptional skill to carve the pink marble with such exquisite detail. 

Bok Tower Gardens: Beautiful Ceramic Tile Windows

Bok Tower and Palm Trees

Top of Bok Tower

Bok Ceramic Tile: Adam and Eve

Bok Ceramic Tiles: Tree of Life

Tree of Life Closeup with Baboons

Bok Ceramic Tile: Fish

At the top of Bok Tower are mosaic tile windows that encircle the carillon bells.  Each open-air window has a cast-iron filigree base that is covered with ceramic tiles.  The windows all have a Biblical theme.  The middle tile window with a balcony shows Adam and Eve with the serpent in the Garden of Eden.  The top tile windows show the Tree of Life, along with nesting birds, baboons, wood storks, and other wildlife.  These massive windows measure 35 feet tall by 10 feet wide.  The bottom tile windows show creatures that live in the sea.  The detail work on this tower is incredible!

Bok Tower Gardens: Words to Live By

Bok Tower Gardens Entrance

Bok Tower Gardens Quote: Make the World Better

Bok Tower Gardens Quote: Give the World the Best

Bok “What is Blooming” Display

Pansies in the Garden

The “Singing Tower”

Bok Tower (when swans were in the reflecting pond)

Bok Tower Gardens has a wonderful quote over its entrance:  “Make you the world a bit better or more beautiful because you have lived in it”.    A table nearby always shows what is blooming in the garden.  It is a beautiful walk from there to the “Singing Tower” at the top of the hill.

Sea Bean and Beachcomber’s Festival

Glass Floats at Sea Bean Festival

Beachcombing Treasures at Sea Bean Festival

Polished Sea Coconuts at Sea Bean Festival

Jewelry at Sea Bean Festival

The International Sea Bean and Beachcomber’s Festival is held every Fall in Cocoa Beach, Florida.  People come from all over the world to talk about everything that washes onto the beach (including sea beans, sea glass, seashells, fishing floats, and even plastic toys).  Special lectures in the past have been given by oceanographer Curtis Ebbesmeyer and Dr. Beachcomb.  The displays at the festival are always interesting.  Particularly fun is the “show-and-tell” among participants about the beach treasures they’ve found the past year.  More info is at:  http://www.seabean.com/symposium/

Disney World – Epcot: “Behind-the-Seeds” Tour

Plant Tissue Culture at Epcot

Hydroponics Garden at Epcot

Shrimp Aquaculture at Epcot

World Record Tomato Tree at Epcot

Sign Describing World Record Tomato Tree

Sign Describing World Record Tomato Tree

Foot-Wide Pummelo and 9 Pound Lemon at Epcot

The Behind-the-Seeds Tour at the Disney World – Epcot Land Pavillion is excellent!  A graduate student led our group on an hour-long walk through Disney’s experimental gardens.  We got to see plant tissue culture, hydroponics, aquaculture, and world record setting plants.  The Guinness World Record tomato tree in the garden produced 32,000 tomatoes, with a combined weight of half a ton over one year’s time!  Recently a single lemon in the garden weighed over 9 pounds.  Crops are harvested for use in Disney’s restaurants and hotels.

Disney World – Epcot Flower and Garden Festival 2012: Topiaries

Mickey Mouse Fantasia Topiaries

Bambi’s Butterfly Garden Topiaries

Dancing Ostrich Topiary

Daisy Duck Topiary

Pooh Bear with Balloon Topiary

There are over 100 topiaries on display throughout the Disney World – Epcot Flower and Garden Festival 2012.  Over the 75 days of the festival, nearly 30 million flowers will have bloomed!  

Disney World – Epcot Flower and Garden Festival 2012: Flower Displays

Epcot Flower Display by Lake

Epcot Flower Display by Pyramid

Epcot Flower Display by Globe

Epcot Floating Flower Display by Monorail

Epcot Peacock Flower Display

The Disney World – Epcot Flower and Garden Festival 2012 is outstanding! It takes nearly half a million flowering plants to create the beautiful flower displays throughout the park. The effect is just stunning!

Weeki Wachee Mermaids

Weeki Wachee Springs State Park

Weeki Wachee Mermaid Sign

Mermaid Swimming in Spring

Mermaid Diving in Spring

Weeki Wachee Springs is one of Florida’s newest state parks.  It is also one of Florida’s oldest tourist attractions.  Visitors have been watching the mermaid shows in the underwater theater since 1947.  For a mermaid to pass the final exam and earn her tail, she has to hold her breath for 2 1/2 minutes and dive 120 feet into the spring!  I was breathless watching her!  My favorite part of the show was when a turtle joined the mermaids in their underwater ballet.  More info is at:  http://weekiwachee.com/

Bok Tower Gardens Bromeliads

Pink Bromeliad

Yellow Bromeliad

Bromeliad "Wall"

Bromeliad "Wall" Close-Up

The bromeliads at Bok Tower Gardens are stunning!  You eat a bromeliad fruit every time you eat a pineapple.

Bok Tower Stone Lantern

Bok Tower Stone Lantern

Bok Stone Lantern Dove

Near Bok Tower is a stone lantern that was given to the sanctuary by a Japanese gardener from Tokyo in 1955. The doves encircling the lantern symbolize the hope for world peace.

Lu the Hippo

Lu the Hippo

Lu the Hippo

Lu the Hippo lives at Homosassa Springs State Wildlife Park. Lu was born in 1960, and has lived there most of his entire life. He is one of the oldest hippos in captivity! In his early days Lu was a TV star on shows like Daktari and the Jack Linkletter Show. When Homosassa Springs because a Florida State Park in 1989, people worried that Lu would have to leave the park because he is not a native Florida animal. They told the Governor how much they loved Lu and didn’t want him to go. The Governor made Lu an official citizen of Florida so that he could stay in the park. For more about Lu’s 59th birthday in 2019, go to:  http://www.tampabay.com/hernando/lucifer-americas-oldest-hippo-confronts-his-age-in-homosassa-springs-20190214/

Homosassa Springs Wildlife Park Fishbowl

Homosassa Springs Fishbowl

Homosassa Springs Fishbowl

At Homosassa Springs State Wildlife Park there is an underwater observatory called the Fishbowl that was built in 1963. It was slid into position using banana peels for lubrication, since oil or grease would harm the wildlife in the spring. The variety of fresh and saltwater fish in this natural aquarium is amazing!  And if you are lucky, you’ll even see a manatee swimming by!

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