Lavender's Travels travel blog

The view at our campfire

Wild orchid on the ranger walk

Sunset from the birdwalk

Chris and peter join us for a hike to deep hole

Reflection along the road

Another fabulous fungus from a ranger walk

Dairy farm that uses commercial ice cream at cafe

Looking for scenes for janet to paint

Marriage equality arrives in Florida

Along the trail

Moonrise bike ride

Good morning from Myakka City.

The big news of the week, of course, is the arrival of marriage equality in Florida, the 36th state. Just a year or two ago it would have seemed impossible that this would occur. I spent yesterday morning sitting at the park outpost next to the wifi watching wedding postings with tears in my eyes. Finally, loving couples, together for decades are joined in legal marriage. I am sorry not to have been in Key West for the midnight celebration. Our best wishes for continued joy have been teleported to all the newly weds.

We spent two weeks at this 38,000 acre state park weeks 3-4 of this trip and looked forward to our return. In addition to our enjoyment of the park this trip is enhanced by the presence of cousin Neil and wife Janet and my elementary school friend Chris and her husband Peter. In addition to the vast wonder of the park, the ranger staff and volunteer crew are especially friendly and active.

We joined Chris, Peter and Peter's sister Wendy for a bike ride on the legacy trail over through Venice toward the beach. It was a great bike ride along the intercoastal/railtrail. In a week, when we move to Oscar Scherer State Park, we will be camped next to the legacy trail and look forward to many more bike rides with Chris and Peter. We followed the ride with a dinner prepared by Chris and also shared with her parents, who winter in the same community. A wonderful dinner and day. It is a treat to have time to spend with a friend of more than 50 years.

Another day Chris and Peter joined us at the park. We were able to get passes to hike down to the deep hole preserve. Only 30 people are allowed to enter the preserve area per day, so we we happy to get the passes. It is about a 2 1/2 mile hike to deep hole through an area of restored open prairie. Deep hole is a sink hole at the south end of lower myakka lake. The sink hole is 140 ft deep and heavily populated with alligators and birds. We have been seeing numerous roseate spoonbills this week in addition to the more usual wading birds, great blue herons, white and glossy ibis', various egrets and herons, black necked stilts, ruddy turnstones, barred owls.

On our ranger led walk one morning we spotted a wild boar family with three piglets. The piglets were quite adorable, but as adults they are very destructive and aggressive. Since they are an invasive species they are trapped and hunted in the park. We will make at least one more trip into the preserve this week.

We met Neil and Janet for dinner one evening and we were all amazed to have a delicious healthy dinner at a reasonable price at Bonefish bar and grill. We had a lovely evening, in spite of my walking into a glass wall at an auto fuel stop on our way to visit. Janet joined us another day for lunch and a walk to gather photos to fuel her painting imagination. It was a girl only walk and we had lots of fun looking for good natural framing to photograph. We found a group of very cooperative ibis' who posed and posed with calm composure.

A monthly highlight here in the park is the full moon bike ride. 12 riders met at the visitor's center and slowly rode through the park with frequent stops to observe sunset wildlife activity. We rode to the birdwalk where camp volunteers had set up a fire pit and light refreshments as the group watched the sunset and listened to the night sounds. After sunset and before moonrise we slowly rode back through a darkening park to the canopy tower. It was quite dark when we arrived at the canopy tower, leaving our bikes to walk through the forest to climb the tower 76 feet with a view of the top of the canopy and the stars. I actually made it to the top, but decided I would be more comfortable watching moonrise from a somewhat lower position sitting on the tower stairs. Tom stayed at the top. The forest canopy is now considered to be it's own separate ecosystem, and of great importance to the health of the rest of the ecosystems. It was a spectacle to watch that full moon rise over the canopy and riding back to our campground in the dark, just the two of us was a brilliant experience.

We drove over to the huge sarasota farm market, but it was so busy that we were overwhelmed and ended up at whole foods for our shopping. We prefer the phillipi market which is smaller, calmer and closer. In fact we head there as soon as I finish this posting.

Otherwise we attended a park New Year's Eve ice cream social, two camper breakfasts, a program on burrowing owls in the park(they have just returned after a more than 10 year absence and they are they only burrowing owl in North America, and a daytime hunter), laundry, some plumbing issues in the camper (no details will be provided), a stop at the huge Dayton dairy farm for ice cream ( ice cream not made with their own milk𯘔), preview visits to 2 campgrounds where we have upcoming reservations in the area, and quite a bit of hanging out watching the black vultures soaring overhead and fighting with each other(there are extensive population of black vultures in the park to watch).

We continue to be very grateful for being on the road, meeting with good friends and family, meeting new friends and finding new and interesting places.

Sending lots of Bisous to you, love tom and debbi.

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