Monday, February 4, 2008

My Florida Vacation, Part 2

Cypress Gardens

I am starting to believe that Cypress Gardens in Winter Haven, Florida may possibly be one of the most beautiful places on Earth. The floral topiaries are placed serenely amid the backdrop of Spanish moss covered Cypress trees and Lake Eloise. The topiary selection is constantly changing, one day I visited and saw a male cardinal bird covered with small red flowers, on my next visit he had been joined by Mrs. Cardinal, who was composed of flowers that gave her the browner-red appearance of the female of the species. This peacock was at his perfection, I saw another one just being groomed to take his place with the tail sweeping behind.

This bunny appears to be getting ready for spring, Easter is just around the corner! (Maine winters hide that fact very well...) Don't you just love his little white vest?

Over here I see a ladybug and a swan.

And here is a giant snail. The topiary trail is my favorite part of the gardens. There are also miles of acreage known as the Botanical Gardens, where you can find a banyan tree, banana trees, bird of paradise plants, and many many wild birds and animals. I saw a wild alligator there last year!

My next favorite part of the park is the aviary. It is topped with rope netting to keep the many colorful species of birds from leaving the park. The birds fly all over in the aviary, some hiding in the background and some interacting playfully with passers-by.

This little cutie is Sophie. She has learned to say "Hi Sophie" if you stop and chat with her. She can also dance very well. She is a big hit at the park.

This white egret seemed eager to have his picture taken, he stood preening for me for several minutes. However, most of the other birds I tried to photograph came out as colorful blurs.

There is a small section of the park reserved for other animals, it is called "Nature's Way". Here we see two wallabies eating their lunch of sweet potatoes.

And this guy here is actually quite famous. He starred in "Tarzan of the Apes" alongside Johnny Weissmueller in the 1930s. He must be very, very old. He is a Nile Crocodile.

But what is Cypress Gardens Adventure Park most known for? Its' water skiing show, which was one of the first water skiing shows ever. Anywhere. They still have the stunt skiers doing jumps, flips, and human pyrimids, but now also have a skiboarding act, barefooting (water skiing with no skis) and hang gliders. And the clown show is absolutely hilarious.

There is also a 1940's musical show, which I just loved, (they do an amazing rendition of Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy!); an ice skating show where talented skaters perform musical numbers ranging from Purple Haze to Hit the Road Jack; a comedy Pirate show that I missed and weekly performances by actual famous people on tour. They have had Willie Nelson, Three Dog Night, Creedence, and many more.

I was lucky. Juice Newton was this week's guest, I always loved her. I swear she hasn't aged a day, still belts out the "Queen of Hearts" like nobody's business!

And the rides? Oh yeah, there are rides. This is my favorite, the water rafts. They take you up real high then drop you down this curving wet chute. You twirl and splash your way back down and beg to go again! Even my Mom went on this one! Bye bye for now...

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