Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Enjoying Our Time In Florida..and a Special Family Visit

 Our time here in Florida is going by quickly.  It seemed to us that January and February were not the warmest or driest weather months yet we still managed to enjoy some nice days.  We've completed some of the needed projects on the Jeep and motorhome and we still have a few more on our list before we leave the area.  We also enjoyed a wonderful visit with my Mom and my sister, Lydia.  They made the trip south, taking a round trip flight out of Raleigh/Durham Airport.  We enjoyed some good restaurants and explored a little bit of "Old Florida" too.  What a memorable time we had with them.  Right now, our plans are to stay in Florida until the middle or so of April.  By then, the temperatures will be getting quite warm and it will be time to move northward and follow spring for cooler weather.

We removed the mirrored kitchen back-splash and replaced it with the "Stick Up" Tile. We also had our StressLess recliner reupholstered, another nice interior update. 

We have been to Ridge Island Orange Groves in Haines City to get lots of fresh fruit.  They have such an excellent variety of oranges: tangerines, navels and of course those honeybell oranges.  They are all so good.

We were invited to lunch and to the home of our friends Esta and Joel, who live near Mount Dora.  They have transitioned from full-time living in their motorhome to a stationary lifestyle.  They now reside in very nice retirement community complete with all the activities one could want to experience.
Esta and I in front of an over-working bubble machine.
No doubt, a highlight of our winter in Florida this year has been the visit from Mom and my sister, Lydia.
A selfie, my Mom in the center and my sister, Lydia.
We enjoyed a variety of good times and good meals.  We had nice lunch and stroll along the shops of the quaint town, Winter Park.  We visited Celebration and had a memorable dinner at their Columbia Restaurant.  Since our RV Park is not far from The Bok Tower near Lake Wales, I thought that would also be a special place to explore and get a different feel of what Florida has to offer.  The Gardens were peaceful, green and the "singing tower" or carillon bells were chiming. 

 Florida's National Historical Landmark, The Bok Tower and Gardens, holds a rich developmental history.  It was built by philanthropist and publication editor Edward Bok and dedicated on February 1, 1929 by President Calvin Coolidge.  It's built on the highest point in Florida, Iron Mountain.  Rising 295 feet above sea level, many of the orange groves can seen off in the distance from this high bluff.

The Bok Tower Visitor Center has an informative gallery of exhibits describing how the tower was conceived, constructed and dedicated.  The continuously running film was a great introduction for us and the museum exhibits were informative as to the type of construction processes used to create a lush garden from an arid sand hill and a 205 foot tower of marble holding 60 bells!  The Bok Tower and Gardens Organization seems to be in a process of growth and increased development as we saw lots of construction and updating.  The Gardens Trail provides a quiet stroll among huge old growth palms, live oaks, azaleas and ferns towards the reflecting pool and Tower.
The Bok Tower Garden entrance way was inviting with the use of hanging plants and other colorful flowers.  The gift shop and Cafe were perfect, providing a delicious lunch for us and some browsing afterwards.

The Bok Tower is a carillon.  This is the original keyboard.
Who knew Florida had a mountain?
The top of the Bok Tower has a colorful mosaic screen made of glazed clay tiles.  This screen or window conceals the carillon bells in the tower.  This museum display described how the panels were constructed and placed.

With historical knowledge of why and how the Bok Tower was built, we made our way on the trail to enjoy the gardens, reflecting pool and to hear the bells of the carillon.

We found many secluded coves nestled along the path for quiet reflection.

Because it was "early spring" when we visited, many of the flowers were not yet in full bloom.

The base of the Bok Tower and it's famous "The Great Brass Door". 
Unfortunately, the interior of the Bok Tower is not open to the public at this time.

Beautifully carved flamingos made into sections of the marble were quite interesting.  Flamingos were introduced to this area back in 1929 but the birds could not survive the cooler winters in central Florida.

The Tower, all 205 feet, soars high into the blue sky.

Notice the sundial on the side of the Bok Tower.

At the top of the Tower are several ceramic tile mosaic windows that conceal the 60 bells of the carillon.

As we were leaving the Tower, it began to play the tune "Imagine" by John Lennon.  Perfect.
It was a memorable visit with Mom and Lydia and hopefully we can do this again next winter.

There will be "more later" as we finish upgrading and maintenance projects on our motorhome, make plans for our summer travels and conclude our winter season stay in sunny, warm central Florida.