Monday, March 05, 2012

Springtime in Florida

I’ve been looking forward to my trip to Florida for a while now. Going to visit my mother and step-dad in Hernando then on to Orlando to watch my niece play softball in a huge tournament. Molly is in her senior and final year playing for Purdue and I really wanted to see her play.

My trip started with a car ride to Bartlesville, Oklahoma to visit my aunt then on to Tulsa to catch a flight to Tampa. I was greeted in Tampa and picked up curbside and then went on the hour or so ride to Hernando, Florida. The next day was an indulgence to my nature loving side. First up a trip to the Homasassa Butterfly farm.
Monarch Caterpillar and Chrysalis

A very unassuming place, very inexpensive but our guide, Bobby Vigliotti, was a great host and the whole experience - starting with the short film to the guided tour of the educational facility was extremely informative. After the tour we went to the butterfly house and got up close and personal with several types of butterflies as well, as a few creepy crawly lizards and even some button quail wandering around.
Button Quail
Button Quail eggs

 I took way more photos then really necessary but they were just soooo pretty. If you are in the area, I suggest you pop in and visit.

Next stop was the Homosassa Wildlife park. A little mini-zoo of native are wildlife. WELL, except for the hippo, not really sure how he came to being a resident but he looked happy in his own little lagoon.  The park was nicely layed out and clean and inviting. I enjoyed seeing the manatees and remembered fondly my swimming with them when I visited a few years ago.

Manatees, not flamencos....there are no castanets

After the afternoon of wildlife, we went to the local restaurant, Neon Leon’s, a little cajun joint with live music and exceptional food. The understated little building was named for Leon Wilkeson, the bassist for Lynrd Skynrd. The music ranged but was mostly cajun with a blues undertone. The food - mostly cajun-esque. I am not a big seafood fan but when in Rome....... so I had the Jambalaya. Now I think I make a pretty decent Jambalaya, but I make it according to what I want so I was a little nervous, but it was absolutely delicious! Even the huge shrimp in it, they weren’t too fishy tasting at all. I sampled the Gumbo as well, and although not my favorite was very pretty tasty.

Our next couple of days were filled with softball.  My main reason for coming to Florida was to be able to watch Molly play. The tournament had teams from all over the country, most of the larger schools were there and we watched some awesome games.

Molly and her endowment scholarship benefactor
Kelly and Mickey at the home of the (winter) Braves.....
Molly with Grandma Joanna and Grandpa John
Lori and Molly

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