SoFlo Road Trip Part 5

We awoke to a cool, overcast day and decided to see the ocean. To be honest, we had discussed seeing the sunrise since we were on the east coast and all, but we weren’t overly enthusiastic about waking up early and the cloudy sky masked the sun at any rate. But it wasn’t raining and we were a short walk from the shore so we went. It was a nice beach and we walked along the receding tide. We found a few seashells and went back to pack the car and start the day’s journey. It was our last day in Florida and we were excited about manatees. But first, breakfast.

Below, the beautiful waters of Blue Spring State Park without manatees (my photo) and with manatees (photo from park website)

Chicken’n’biscuits! Grits! I was still fighting the flu and wasn’t eating with my usual enthusiasm, but I was bound and determined to have something regional on my plate. I had some cheese and grits which was fine, but not too exciting. We headed back towards Orlando to Blue Spring State Park. I had never considered that Florida would have state parks, in addition to all of those over-commercialized theme parks, but of course they do, apparently 175 of them! This one was nice, impressive even. A co-worker had recommended this park to me as a place to see manatees, and indeed it was their breeding grounds at this time of year. We walked on the boardwalk and checked out the beautiful blue waters and saw many gars- very cool looking fish that go back to the Jurassic period and have long toothed jaws (2 gars below).

Unfortunately, despite the fact that we were there during the breeding season, the manatees had other plans that day. We walked the length of the boardwalk, enjoyed the views, and saw a video of what it looks like when the sea cows and their babies are hanging around. I’d like to go back someday. We consoled ourselves with this mosaic manatee sculpture selfie and headed to a last-minute destination that we ended up enjoying quite a bit.

Off we went to Winter Park and the Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art. It has the largest collection of Tiffany pieces in the world. I refer, of course, to Louis Comfort Tiffany of art deco and lamp fame. And, wow, was this guy prolific! From his early sketches to the well-known stained glass, to his jewel of a home – Laurelton Hall on Long Island, colors flashed and glowed in glorious design.

There were other wonderful things to see at the museum, notably American pottery and prints. We spent hours here, happily immersed in beauty. It is difficult to choose a few photos to represent the place. I can’t, for example, portray accurately the exhibits of Laurelton Hall rooms or Tiffany Chapel (below, middle) that are architectural pieces from the original sites one must walk through to experience.

After the museum, we had a fabulous Greek dinner and stayed with a relative of H for the night. I was off the next morning before dawn to a flight back home. It had been a delightful vacation with a dear friend in an unlikely place- who could ask for more?

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