Chinese Lantern Festival – Lowry Park Zoo

I’m going to be honest here.  I didn’t think I would like this festival.  I went because two of my dear friends begged me to go.  Relentlessly! 🙂  So I went, and I’m really glad that I did!  You can find details about the event here:  It’s running through May 2015, so if you get a chance, check it out!  Photos really don’t do it justice, but I tried for ya!  I hope you enjoy…

Blue Spring State Park

I didn’t take a whole lot of photos this time around because I was too busy enjoying all of the manatees.  The first day we got there, one of the park rangers said they counted 403 manatees in the run that morning!

Blue Spring maintains a constant 72 degrees year round.  The manatees come here from the St. John’s River to enjoy the relatively warm water.  It’s awesome because the water is crystal clear, allowing visitors to get a great view of the critters.














Highlands Hammock

We camp in a lot of different state parks around Florida.  I’ve tried many times to top Highlands Hammock as my favorite place to camp, but I haven’t found anywhere I like better yet.  We camp in the primitive section.  The family camp area is insanely crowded!  I’ll do without water and electricity for the peace and serenity of the primitive campsites.  Site 16 is the very last site and it’s far away from all of the others.  It’s huge and shaded by lots of beautiful oak trees.

This trip I tried to have a theme I was going for each day with my photography.  The majority of these photos follow the themes of texture and patterns.  Of course there are the obligatory sunset and moon rise photos and some critters thrown in for fun.  I hope you enjoy them.

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Mable’s Rose Garden

Roses have never really been my thing.  I don’t like how they die so quickly.  They’re really only beautiful, in my opinion, for like twelve hours of their lives.  And I think rose bushes are really quite ugly.  I’m sure many will disagree with me, and that’s okay.  Enter Mable’s Rose Garden at the Ringling Museum in Sarasota.  I still think rose bushes are ugly.  And a giant garden full of them really didn’t sway my opinion on that.  But!  Individual roses are truly beautiful.  There’s something magical about the patterns of their delicate, velvety petals.


If you need to stop and smell the roses, check out Mable’s Rose Garden at the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota, FL.  It’s free on Mondays, but you can only see the grounds and the Museum of Art, and not the Circus Museum or the insanely huge, tiny (yeah, contradicts itself, I know… go see and you’ll get it) model circus.  With admission of $25 for adults, and $5 for children, you can check out the Museum of Art, Circus Museum, Ca’d’Zan and Bayfront Gardens.

For more photos of The Ringling, check out my Ringling Museum page or my Roses page.

Myakka River State Park

Today’s adventure was Myakka State Park in Sarasota, FL.  Usually our photo walks don’t include kids or pets, but today was an exception.  I brought my little girls along, and they were wonderful, as they usually are when we go hang out in cool state parks.  The problem child was my dog!  My darling little four month old Yorkie Poo made shooting quite a challenge!  He’s a spoiled puppy and isn’t quite sure about this whole not getting my undivided attention thing.  We’re working on it!  Needless to say, I didn’t get a whole lot of picture-making done today.

If you haven’t been to Myakka, you need to go at least once, especially if you want to see alligators.  This time of year is great for that as the weather cools off and the gators sun themselves on the shore to warm up.

Four big, fat gators sunning themselves on the other side of the lake.


No More Cabin Fever



It’s that time of year again, when Florida comes alive with people who’ve been hibernating from the heat for the last part of summer.  This is when I renew my Edison and Ford Winter Estates membership and really take advantage of their reciprocal program.  I love having the freedom to visit so many beautiful places as many times as I want, for just the cost of membership.  In case you’re curious, info on membership is here:

Here is my Pinterest board with websites for most of the reciprocals:

Today, I got to enjoy the amazing Bok Tower Gardens in Lake Wales.  I could, and did, spend all day here just wandering around with a dear friend.  So many cool things to see.  The problem was deciding if I wanted to shoot wide angle, telephoto or macro.  Much lens switching happened today!

Bok Tower Gardens in located kind of in the middle of nowhere really.  It’s smack in the middle of the state.  There are hills here!  That may not sound like a big deal for non-Floridians.  But usually if we see a hill, it’s a landfill!  So it was a nice change of pace to enjoy a slight, and I do mean slight, change in altitude.

Mr. Edward Bok presented the gardens for the public to enjoy in 1929 to show his appreciation for the opportunities he had as an immigrant from the Netherlands, and for the success he was able to achieve here in the States.  The garden’s centerpiece is a 205 foot tall neo-Gothic and art-deco tower known as the Singing Tower.  It features a sixty bell carillon and you can hear beautiful performances twice a day, at 1 and 3pm.  The tower really is amazing.

The gardens are wonderful because they offer a look at Florida flora and  complement their natural surroundings beautifully without overwhelming the natural beauty of the location.  The whole place is just beautifully maintained and a fantastic way to spend a long afternoon.

Enjoy my photos from the day.  Feel free to share, but please link back to this blog and give credit where credit is due!



Sweet Little Goslings

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The Canada Geese sure were busy this spring at the Chicago Botanic Garden.  Ten babies in one family and five in the other.  Aren’t they sweet?

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