Sunday, February 3, 2008

My Florida Vacation, Part 1

Bok Sanctuary

We went to Florida for our vacation this year. We arrived on January 30, quite late. We spent a couple of days relaxing and getting acclimated to the warm weather, a big change for us! It has been very cold and snowy in the Northeast this winter, and I was ready for a change. It just so happened that my annual physical fell 2 days before vacation, and my bloodwork revealed a major vitamin D deficiency. The remedy? Lots of sunshine, so you could say my Florida trip was just what the Doctor ordered!

So on February second we visited Bok Sanctuary in Lake Wales, Florida. It was a beautiful day. We had a sandwich from the restaurant there, then joined a tour group and learned all about Edward Bok and the plants and birds living in the sanctuary. Edward Bok was a publisher, he was the editor of Ladies' Home Journal until 1919. But more than that, the left the world a more beautiful place because he was a true humanitarian.

We walked through the camellia gardens and learned about the differeent types of these lovely flowers. Some have very little fragrance, but are beautiful. The more fragrant ones were not as pretty. Some drop the petals as they die, and others drop the entire flowerheads! Walking a path strewn with these lovely flowers that have fallen felt like being at an outdoor wedding!





The sanctuary is on top of Iron Mountain, the highest spot in Florida. Being from New England, I had to laugh at that. I think we Mainers would have called it a molehill, not a mountain! But there were some lovely views to be had of the surrounding orange groves and other scenery.




Sitting proudly atop the mountain is Bok Tower, known as the "Singing Tower". It holds a 60 bell carillon, which is played every few hours daily by a man known as a "carillonneur". The bells range in size from 16 pounds to nearly 12 tons. I imagined Quasimodo the Hunchback jumping around up there pulling on massive ropes to play the music of the bells, but in actuality the bells are conrolled by handles arranged on a piano-like control.

This is one of the many "live oaks" covered in Spanish moss at the sanctuary. I kept wondering are they "live" oaks as opposed to dead ones? No, it is a whole different type of tree than our Northern oaks with the familiar lobed leaves. These trees are actually evergreen trees, and the Spanish moss? We were told it is not from Spain, nor is it a moss. It is a type of air plant. The tourguide explained that the moss does not kill the trees, but my mother did not believe that for a minute.





There were beautiful flowers everywhere you look. Here we have a pretty azalea,










and here Mom is showing us a lovely gardenia.










Here is the fruit of a palm tree, is this dates? I don't know, I have never seen them growing before...






This is called the "Beauty Berry", and I agree, there were pretty darn beauteous. I believe the tour guide told us they are not edible though.







These are century plants. Did you know they make tequila from the mezcal this plant produces? It is also called agave.

We had a lovely day at the sanctuary, there was a wedding taking place while we were there. Isn't that a wonderful place to be married? I would like to visit again one day.

1 comment:

Wednesday said...

http://www.belltower.ucr.edu/