Saturday, September 28, 2013

Gypsy Gold Horse Tour

Some time ago, Nathan and I were watching a movie with a horse in it.  He was quite taken with the horse and wanted to know the breed.  Yes, I said HE was quite taken with it.  I thought it was sweet looking but wasn't as enamored as he was.  He looked it up online and then shared about the Gypsy Vanner with me.  I still wasn't that taken with the breed.  Then I went to the Parelli show in VA and one of the ladies who was demonstrating had a Gypsy Vanner.  Once I spent about two mintues with her horse, I fell head over heels in love.  Since then, we have decided that we'd both love to own a Gypsy Vanner someday.

I didn't really know much about the horses beyond that though.  I bought a Groupon to take a tour at a Gypsy Vanner horse farm when we first came to The Villages.  We kept saying we were going to go and ended up doing other things instead.  So we didn't actually end up doing the tour until the day before we headed out.  It was well worth making sure we did do it while up this way!

We learned so many interesting things about the people who owned this beautiful horse farm, and the story on how the Gypsy Vanner horse made its way to our country.  You can read about it at their website here: Gypsy Gold.  If you get a chance to go and visit, we highly recommend it.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Silver Springs Nature Theme Park

Today we visited Silver Springs.  This is one place we planned to visit since we arrived in this area.  We were going to buy a season pass, along with Rich and Donna, and at the last minute Donna saw something on their website.  They were in the process of changing ownership, and along with that they were reducing their attractions down to their glass boat rides.  So we decided not to buy the season pass and just to make a trip here sometime.  We were going to visit yesterday and went to Ocala NF instead.  We did make it today, which was the final day at the park before it did change hands.

The employees that were working today were understandably emotional over it being the last day.  One employee told us that over 300 people lost their job due to its closing.  I wish we had visited this interesting place while it was in full operation, because it looked like a great place.  There appeared to be animals, a water park, shows and some rides.  As the website said, there is not much there at this point except the glass boat rides.  The trip was worth it even with that being the only attraction.  The really neat part about a glass boat is that everyone can have a front row seat.
The other neat thing is you can see just how clear the water is and just how deep the water is.  It makes for a really beautiful ride.
The springs pump out 550 million gallons of water a day.  It is enough to support New York City.
We saw two alligators while on the boat ride, and lots of turtles.
After our boat ride, we ate lunch there and then walked around to see the rest of the park.  The rest of the park was beautiful also.
I'm so glad we did make it before it became a state park.  It was nice to feel like we were a part of its history.  I'm excited to see what they will do with it once it becomes a state park.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Dinner With Friends at Oakwood Smokehouse

This past week has been quieter than normal as far as doing activities here in The Villages.  Rich and Donna have been house hunting and are now the owners of a beautiful house in Lake Placid!  That means I have had more quiet time at home.  I have been able to do tons of scrapbooking, so I have been quite content.

We have managed to get out and play pickleball, deciding after a day at Mulberry to return to Churchill.  They are very friendly at Mulberry, but nothing beats the fun level at Churchill.  
We also managed to fit in another dinner with Buddy and Diane who are still in the area.  This time we chose Oakwood and took advantage of their rib special.  They offer a full rack of ribs, two side dishes and garlic bread for $10.99. All of us did not have the ribs, but we all agreed the food was delicious.
We are winding down here for our time in The Villages.  We are enjoying every minute we can in the next few weeks, being sure to not waste any time before we do have to leave!  We have not had rain every single night for this past week also, so knocking on wood that it stays that way until we leave.  When it doesn't rain, we can sneak in pickleball at night and play twice a day!

Living the life in wonderful Florida!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Don Garlits Classic Car Museum

I am late in sharing these pictures from our Labor Day trip, but better late than never!  This is the second part to the Don Garlits museums.  There are two separate museums, the first being the drag racing and this is the second one: the Classic Car Museum.  Both were fabulous.  A fellow classic car lover told me that he'd been there five years ago and that the collection had really grown since then.
I was very impressed with what was there.  I could have spent much longer in this museum than we did!
I was amused at some point to overhear a couple discussing a particular car.  The guy was sharing what kind of a car it was.  The lady said she knew, her dad had one.  He asked her if she really knew about it?  She told him again that her dad had one.  He nodded and dropped it.  I'm guessing he might have thought that meant she did know about it in the way a guy would want to know about it.  I would suspect it is more likely that she was simply saying she knew as much as she ever wanted to and more just by having a dad that owned one.  Which means she probably hardly knew a thing about it in guy world.
We demonstrated this same man/woman dynamic with me trying to take hundreds of pictures of the pretty cars while Nathan gave me in depth lessons on engines and exhaust systems.  I can now tell you which kind of engine our truck has and how exactly it operates.  That will come in handy because the last time some guy asked me about it I told him the only thing I knew about the engine of our truck was that it was really big and loud.  He couldn't tell if I was an idiot or joking so he politely just walked away.  I hope I run into him again so I can let him know that a trip to the car museum fixed all of that!

Living the life in interesting Florida!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Dinner's at Cody's Original Roadhouse

Tonight we got together to take advantage of Fajita night at Cody's Original Roadhouse.  We planned to go last week with Tim and Marlene and cancelled when we learned there was a big event there.  It worked out well for us because this week Buddy and Diane were back in our area, so they got to come join us!
The food was just as good as last time and we enjoyed the company too!  We don't have a whole lot more weeks to do dinner here so we are enjoying the last few times we have.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Silver River State Park

After eating our lunch, Donna and I decided we had plenty of time to do something else before heading home.  We tossed around a few ideas and then decided to go to Silver Springs.  I have never visited there before and am very much wanting to see it.  We drove over there, only to see they were closed!  After August 18th they are only open on weekends and holidays.  We passed Silver River State Park and decided to try that instead.  I asked the girl at the front gate what was at the park and after her giving us the run down we went inside the park.  We parked and saw the Cracker Pioneer Village and Silver River Museum, which are only open on weekends and holidays.
We looked at our map, then saw a sign for Sinkhole Trail and decided the sinkhole sounded interesting.  We started down the sandy hiking trail, with flip flops, and decided very shortly after that it was hot and we didn't have the best hiking gear on.  I also saw on the map that this path was 70 minutes long and we still wanted to do the trail to the river, so we turned around and backtracked at that point.  We then took the River Trail so we could see the Silver River.  We arrived at the river and I saw an alligator right near the boat ramp.
You can barely see him, but he is to the left of the wooden post.  We hung out here a bit, catching our breath and giving my aching calves a rest and listened to all the sounds of nature around us.  Then we headed back.
Just as we began to head back, it started to rain.  That should have been no surprise to us because we had noted that it felt like it was going to rain, saw clouds and heard thunder.  We must have thought we could beat it still, but we did not at all.  Since we were so hot and sweaty, the rain felt nice.  We were worried about our cameras but once we situated them in dryer spots we laughed the whole walk back to the car.  I am borrowing Donna's picture to show you what we looked like when we were done with the trail.
This was not the adventure we were expecting, but then again, they rarely are!  It was a great day.  Hopefully we will manage to get a few more day trips in again before we head back to Peace River!

Sholom Park in Ocala Florida

Today was the girls turn to do a day trip, so Donna and I headed out to find some fun things in the area to see.  We were going to a botanical garden in Gainesville, until I realized last minute that it was the one that Nathan and I had already visited.  So we scrambled a bit to figure out what else we could do.  We ended up visiting a place listed on a website for botanical gardens in Florida, a place in Ocala named Sholom Park.
The park was built to capture a place of peace and was named Sholom to honor Sidney Colen's grandfather's name.  The place was in fact very peaceful.  It had many paths to walk along and everywhere we went it was peaceful.
It is the kind of place that if I lived nearby, I'd go there often to just walk to get a little bit of exercise and the chance to unwind.  After visiting the park, we headed over to Chick-fil-a where Donna ate her first ever meal there.  I didn't have my camera inside with me so I did not get a picture of her eating her first chicken sandwich there.  We then headed out to see what else we could find to do.  More on that in the next blog post!

Monday, September 2, 2013

Don Garlits Museum of Drag Racing

Since it was an extra long weekend, we both were able to pick a thing to go and see/do and then we picked one together.  My pick was the Drag Racing Museum that was nearby.  I have been excited about this museum since we got here.  I love all things to do with cool cars of any type.  Nathan is a little less enthusiastic about them.  When it comes to them being in a museum, it works out perfectly though because it is the only kinds of museums that I want to spend as long in the museum as Nathan does.
While he reads every single written word in the museum, I look at every single thing on the car that I think is cool.  Then I take pictures of every single thing I think is cool.  Which means I end up with way more pictures than is reasonable.  Then I go home and look at them...over and over again.  I really love cool cars.

This particular museum was founded by Big Daddy Don Garlits.  His bio is extremely impressive.  His cars were extremely impressive.  The museum was extremely impressive.  We had a great time visiting this place!
There is not a lot of information about the museum online, so I did not know just how much would be here.  I was hoping there would be enough that we would feel it was worth the time and money.  It went way beyond that, having far more there than we expected and it was laid out very nicely making it very easy to learn a lot along the way.  Alongside of the displays were posters, signage and even movie clips.
There was information about the drivers, some of which were women.  There were stories about the times when the reality of how dangerous this is reared its ugly head.  At one point Garlits had an injury that sliced through his foot, tearing his foot in half.  One of the outcomes of that injury was some engineering design changes such as moving the engine behind the driver instead of in front of the driver.  There were pieces and parts of the cars that had been in accidents.
And of course there were rows and rows of the awesome cars!  We highly recommend this neat museum if you are in the Ocala area.  There are two museums on site, I will come back and share about the other one after I get the pictures cropped and edited.  That might take days because I took even more pictures at the other museum!  Living the life in interesting Florida!

Juniper Springs Recreation Area

Taking advantage of the extra weekend day due to the holiday, we went out to see more in the area surrounding The Villages.  This trip took us to Ocala National Forest, where we stopped at Juniper Springs Recreation Area.  Like Rainbow Springs, it was just beautiful!
This springs is in a subtropical setting and is one of the oldest and best known recreation areas on the East coast.  There are hundreds of tiny bubbling springs here.  This is the swimming complex and picnic area and you can see the Millhouse in some of these shots also.
The millhouse was a neat feature of this park.  It was built by the CCC workers.
From their website:
Juniper Springs was an ideal place for a public recreation area, but there was one problem. The site was located miles from the nearest source of electricity and the cost of running lines out through the national forest to the new park was prohibitive. The millions of gallons of water that rush from the springs each day, however, soon sparked an idea for a solution.

As work went forward on the recreation area in 1935-1936, the CCC came up with a plan to generate electricity while enhancing the scenic beauty of the springs.

They built the structure known today as the millhouse or old mill at the foot of the main pool of Juniper Springs. Water flowing from the springs was channeled into a narrow sluice and then allowed to pour back out to its natural configuration.

The rushing water that poured through the sluice turned an undershot waterwheel (so named because the water ran under instead of over the wheel). That wheel, in turn, powered a generator in the millhouse that produced more than enough electricity to meet the needs of the recreation area.

The concept worked like a charm. Not only did the millhouse create electricity, but the log and stone design of the structure added a beautiful touch to the setting of the springs. It because a much loved part of the site.

As interpretive panels at the old mill explain, the power plant was a good example of a 1930s “green energy” project. It generated electricity without destroying the scenic beauty of the springs and without producing pollution of any kind.

The Juniper Springs Millhouse no longer generates electricity, but the structure has been beautifully preserved. The stone wall at the waterwheel end is a beautiful piece of CCC masonry work.
After visiting the millhouse, we took one of the hiking trails to another spring where we saw a gator.  One of the rangers told me that someone asked him earlier if they feed the alligators.  The other ranger joked, "Yeah, we feed 'em tourists!"  It cracked me up.
We really enjoyed our visit at this beautiful place.  Next time we need to bring our swimsuits and enjoy this: