A Trio of Florida Parks

Recently we visited a trio of parks all within walking distance of each other in Maitland, Florida. Our excursion began at Minnehaha Park. This seven and a half acre facility overlooks a lake with a scenic boardwalk through a wetland forest. A playground, exercise stations and picnic tables dot the open landscape. Restrooms are available.

 

A side path takes you to a tunnel that dives under the road and crosses to Covered Bridge Park. Here is the tunnel view from the Minnehaha side.

   

Here is the view from the Covered Bridge side looking back at the other park. This park doesn’t have much except a walking path in a viewable loop and the bridge. But if you cross this bridge, you come to the Jim Houser Azalea Garden.

This oasis offers bushes in full bloom during season, which unfortunately we’d just missed. Still, the winding path made from recycled tires was pleasantly relaxing.

We’d also visited Sanlando Park in Altamonte Springs on another excursion. This offers a nature walk through forested land, also with picnic pavilions, a playground and restrooms.

Oak Haven Farms

We took a break from isolation to visit Oak Haven Farms & Winery to pick our own strawberries and roast hot dogs over a fire. It was a fun excursion, about a forty-minute ride from our new house. We parked in the dirt field then poked our heads inside the gift shop, café and wine tasting room. A staff member told us to go out in the field and someone would give us a crate to fill with fresh picked berries.

Sorrento Florida    Oak Haven Farm

We stooped to pluck the strawberries off the stems. When tired of bending, we gave up and headed into the shop to have our bounty weighed so we could pay.

u-pick strawberries    Nancy in field    fresh-picked strawberries

Then we bought hot dogs that came with rolls and a forked tool. We wove the meats onto the tines and went outdoors to cook the hot dogs in an open fire. I loved the charred taste.

  roasting hot dogs    charred hot dog

Then we went back inside to order a strawberry shortcake with whipped cream for dessert. It was a treat and enough for two to split.

We skipped the wine tasting that cost extra as we are not fond of fruit wines or the Florida grape varietal. But if you’re interested, you can indulge.

   

If you wish to visit, check online to see their schedule first. Strawberry season is limited.
Oak Haven Farms, 32430 Avington Rd, Sorrento, FL 32776 or http://www.berriesandwines.com/

Excursion to Oak Haven Farms #Florida #strawberries Click To Tweet

I’m looking forward to warmer weather so we can get out more and explore the many sights of Central Florida. Suggestions are welcome!

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Return to Scottsdale

We returned to Scottsdale via a scenic route, staying overnight at Flagstaff again. Along the way, we admired the fall foliage in the higher altitudes.

    

We stopped for lunch at Lake Powell. It was just as startling as the first time to see this stretch of water in the middle of the desert.

On Thursday, we headed back to Scottsdale. We stopped at Forscher German Bakery to buy pastries, The Honey Stand and Timeless Antiques in Pine, AZ where I purchased some Thanksgiving decorations.

Then I got a text message from our daughter that made my pulse race. “You have get an earlier flight,” she wrote. “The doctor said I’ll need to have a C-Section within 24 hours.” We knew she’d been scheduled for a C-Section as her baby was breech. But it had been scheduled for Oct. 22. This was Oct. 10.

Once back at my cousin’s house, I changed our flight from Sunday to Friday. Early the next morning, I got a message on my phone. Our daughter was at the hospital waiting for surgery. Hours later, our beautiful grandson was born. And so began our new journey as grandparents.

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Bryce Canyon

Nothing can prepare visitors for the majesty of Bryce Canyon in Utah. The power of speech escapes you at the sight stretching to the horizon. Words can’t describe the sense of awe. Although the visitor center offers an explanation for how the canyon was formed, it’s as though the hand of God carved the rocks into these magnificent formations.

Some of them looked like people, making us wonder if a civilization had sinned and God had turned the citizens into stone. Certainly nature alone couldn’t have worked these wonders.

We drove from one viewpoint to the next, each with magnificent vistas.

Our final spot to visit was this Natural Bridge. I loved the trees with golden yellow leaves that sparkled in the sunlight.

An unusual sight was the number of vintage vehicles we met along the way.

We ate lunch at Bryce Canyon Lodge, stopped at the Visitor’s Center, and then returned to Ruby’s Inn to spend the night.

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Coming Next: Return to Scottsdale

Bryce Canyon City

We drove to Bryce Canyon City on Monday. It took us most of the day to get there. Our views along the way were one spectacle after another.

Lots of hotels, gas stations, and eateries populate this town that borders on Bryce Canyon. We stayed at historic Ruby’s Inn and ate dinner our first night in the lodge restaurant. The gift shop at Ruby’s Inn has about every souvenir you could want plus a fully stocked food market for campers.

The next evening, we attended Ebenezer’s Barn & Grill for a country music dinner show. It was a fun evening with better food than the night before.

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Coming Next: Bryce Canyon

Road Trip to Flagstaff

On Sunday morning, we began our road trip from Fountain Hills to Flagstaff, Arizona. My cousin drove, while her friend Carol accompanied us. We were excited to see parts of Arizona we’d never visited before. The scenic drive took us through curvy mountain roads and evergreen-lined forests as we reached higher elevations.

mountains desert

Flagstaff sits almost 7000 feet above sea level. It’s a historic town, and we toured the downtown district. Here you’ll find a bounty of restaurants and cafes mixed among gift shops and boutiques. You might have to walk slower if you’re not used to the altitude and get short of breath. The area has many things to do if you’re able to stay. We were passing through, so we couldn’t take advantage. This was merely our overnight stop on the way to Bryce Canyon.

 

We crossed into Utah the next day at the Glen Canyon Bridge. Unaccustomed to seeing any waterways in the dry desert, we marveled at Lake Powell glistening below our vantage point. Inside the Carl Hayden Visitor Center, we read the history of the region and stared through big glass windows at the dam below. Like the Hoover Dam in Nevada, the Glen Canyon Dam was a sight we wouldn’t forget.

Carl Hayden Visitor Center

Glen Canyon

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Coming Next: Bryce Canyon City

Arizona 2019 – The Journey Begins

Our trip to Arizona began in Scottsdale and ended abruptly with an early flight home. When we first arrived, we were met by my cousin Janice who whisked us to her lovely house atop a hill overlooking a mountain. My husband and I had a casita to ourselves where we enjoyed the expansive views.

View from Casita

I couldn’t help marveling at the lack of grass, the tall saguaro cactus, the wildflowers, and the distinctive shrubbery. Here’s a sign that caught my fancy and brought home visions of the Wild West.

Posse Headquarters

We’d been to Arizona before and were stunned by the scenery and magnificent landscapes. I wrote about it in Peril by Ponytail, my mystery novel that won third place in the Arizona Literary Awards. Marla Vail, my hairstylist sleuth, meets her husband’s extended family for the first time and discovers family secrets no one wants exposed. It was a blast to write with so much material about this amazing state.

Peril by Ponytail

On this trip, I planned to take no notes and to completely relax. It almost worked, except for the frantic finale which I’ll get to later. We spent the next few days at leisure, shopping and dining while adjusting to the three-hour time change. One day at lunch found us at CopperWynd Resort in Scottsdale. The view from the terrace was amazing.

CopperWynd Resort Scottsdale

Fate led us to dinner at an Italian restaurant where we ran into my cousin’s friends. The talented musician playing there that night was son to one of these ladies. We enjoyed the food, the ambiance, and the music by Scott Hallock.

Dinner in Scottsdale

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Coming Next: Road Trip to Flagstaff

Epcot Flower Festival

We spent a couple hours at the Epcot Flower & Garden Festival the other weekend. Construction is going on at the front entrance, so we veered around the barriers to the package inspection station. From here, we headed into one of my favorite spots, the building with free cola drinks from around the world. I like the raspberry-flavored one the best.

Epcot Flower & Garden Festival

Next we ventured outside and to the right toward Canada. One of our party had the Citrus-Poached Salmon at the Flavor Full Kitchen. I tried the Roasted Beets with Cashew Cheese. It was delicious. Between this dish and the beets we ate recently at a Publix cooking class, I could make a meal from this vegetable.

salmon

At the Honey Bee-Stro, we sampled the Roasted Cauliflower with Carrot Puree, Rice Pilaf and Asparagus. It was good, but I like my roasted cauliflower recipe better. Also from this booth, a member of our group had the Honey Tandoori Chicken Flatbread. It looked good, although maybe not as crispy as I like flatbreads.

flatbread

Our kids sampled the Fruit Sushi called Frushi from Hanama in Japan and a few other items. By now, I was too hot to eat any of the meat dishes and the heat had sapped my appetite. We finished our rounds and left for the day.

fruit sushi

Later, my husband and I visited Disney Springs. We had lunch at Paddlefish. While enjoying a lovely view of the lake, we ate New England Clam Chowder and the Crabcake appetizer with corn relish that was more than enough for a meal. We watched the amphicars glide past from the Boathouse Restaurant.

clam chowder

amphicar

Others meals we had were at Seasons 52 and Bahama Breeze. And now that we’re home, it’s time to go back on our healthful diets.

Seasons 52   Bahama Breeze

National Zoo

On Thursday, May 2, we took the Metro to the Smithsonian National Zoo exit in Washington D.C. We hadn’t realized there would be an uphill trek of considerable distance to the zoo entrance. By the time we entered (free admission), I was hungry for lunch. We wandered down the shady path, wider than at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, where various offshoots led to different animal exhibits.

Our first stop was a fast-food place for a quick lunch. Then we headed downhill to view the elephants. We spotted two of them. One was in the forefront, and you can note the other fellow peeking out in the background.

Next we headed farther downhill to the lower zoo but stopped when we realized we’d have to climb back up. No, thanks. We reversed position and headed to the panda exhibit. This led indoors to an air-conditioned space. The pandas are SO cute. I already have a panda doll in my collection, or I might have been tempted to get one. They’re adorably cuddly creatures.

We stopped by a section that held zebras and a prowling panther.

zebra

After all the climbing up and down hills, we Floridians were tired and ready to retreat to the hotel. The return trek back to the Metro stop didn’t seem so bad, maybe because we were going downhill.

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National Postal Museum

The Smithsonian National Postal Museum was built in 1914 and served as Washington D.C.’s post office through 1986. It houses a research library as well as exhibit space and gift shops.

The museum portion opened in 1993. You can get to it by taking the red line Metro to Union Station. This was one of the most interesting museums I’ve visited. Our niece accompanied us.

Postal Museum

The history of the U.S. Postal Service was presented by means of staged displays, a mail train car, a stagecoach, vintage airplanes, postal trucks and much more. We could sit in the driver’s seat of a truck or check out a mail train car, stare at Owney, the preserved mascot dog, and see a variety of uniforms.

mascot

I found the postal police section very intriguing. I didn’t realize we even had a Postal Inspection branch that investigated related crimes.

A gift shop and stamp shop are present, plus historic examples of stamps through the years. No café, though, but you’re right across the street from Union Station with its food court and restaurants. We could have spent more time here browsing through the exhibits and reading all the informational signs, but it’s a lot to absorb in one day. Be sure to put this on your list of places to visit next time you’re in our capital city.

  

Outside, we trundled past the gleaming capitol building to view the United States Botanic Garden. We arrived at the Garden Court entrance and veered to the right with a section on Rare and Endangered plants.  We walked through sections with orchids, tropical foliage, medicinal plants, desert cacti, Hawaii, and other collections. While amazed that this conservatory could be built in the middle of our capital city, I’m spoiled by the many gardens in Florida.

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