Sunday, February 26, 2012

75th Annual Orange Blossom Parade - Davie

75th Annual Orange Blossom Parade
Sometimes I like to "Live Like a Tourist" in my own back yard and what better event to do that then the 75th Annual Orange Blossom Parade in Davie. I could easily ride my bicycle to this one. 

The Orange Blossom Festival is a decidedly local Town of Davie event and attendance this year was phenomenal. If you are a Davie resident and were not at the festival this weekend...why not? Everyone else you know was there it seemed. 

In typical Davie parade style, this one was long. About two hours and two miles long. Not so typical, there were no large gaps in the parade. When you mix monster mud trucks and racing motorcycles with itty bitty tiny baton twirlers, you sometimes have a parade flow problem. Not this year. The organizers should get a huge round of applause for keeping this gigantic parade on track. 

After the parade there were plenty of booths to rummage through, two stages with continuous entertainment, bounce houses and rock walls for the kids, and a football field sized food court. I spent the better part of the day there but I could not stay for the rodeo. Reports on my Facebook indicate that was mistake. I have not been to the Davie Rodeo in several years so I think it's time to correct that oversight. Even though Davie has grown up from it's humble farming beginnings, they still take their rodeo seriously. 

The best way for me to describe this event is with photos. I have 80 posted on my Flickr page. If you were in the parade, there is a good chance I caught one of you. Click on the word Flickr above to head over and see. Also be sure to check out the Old Davie School and Museum just across the street to see a little Davie history from the time when this festival was just starting out. 


Monday, February 13, 2012

Florida Renaissance Festival 2012 - Deerfield

Jana Lee
Adam Lowe

Anyone who knows me knows I am a big fan of the Florida Renaissance FestivalTo prove it, I bought a season ticket for the 20th Anniversary event.

Every year I ask my friends if they are going to the Ren Fest. A common response, "It's not my thing". Well if your thing is sitting on your couch with the TV remote stuck in your hand, flipping through your 500 channels and finding nothing to watch - you may be right. If your thing is to enjoy amazing, exciting, innovative, live performances or laugh until your face hurts -the Ren Fest might be a good fit. You may want to check it out.

I personally have dragged many of my family and friends to the fair over the years and no one has ever said they didn't like it. Usually it's more "I had no idea how great this was" and then I see them there year after year.
So what can you expect. For one thing, all the performers are extremely professional and yet will take all the time in the world to talk to you after the show. No matter how many times you see an act - it's different every time. This is live theater. The stunts are dangerous and the performers do get hurt sometimes. The shows for the most part are very kid friendly. The choices are endless. I have yet to see every act in a given season.

 All you need to do is provide $20.00 to get in, throw a buck or two into a hat after each performance if you are so inclined, laugh and clap. Not as easy as sitting on the couch but seriously not that tough. Where else can you watch a performance then decide if you want to pay for it. Just keep in mind, these performers make their living this way. I do and I'm pretty generous about tipping.

Oh - and sometimes, you may be asked to participate in a show. I've been up twice and it was a blast both times. Acts are constantly changing from year to year and this year I am happy to report BrooN and MooNie are back.

MooNie and BrooN
The BrooN show is fast paced monologue with fire eating and extreme juggling thrown in for good measure.

The first time I saw MooNie a few years ago I was astounded that a performer of his caliber was doing a Ren Fest.

MooNie and BrooN team up for the final show of the night and it's a little different. In my opinion not for the young ones but how you raise your kids is your business. Unlike the regular shows, this one is unscripted improv. Unique to my fair experiences and more high energy than any stage show I've seen. I saw both finale shows this weekend and I can tell you they were completely different and hilarious. I'm going again next weekend for more!!

I have a lot more photos on my Flickr site so click over and take a look.

Beer Goddess
Washing Well Wench

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Biking the Markham Park Levee

In the realm of "not for everyone" bike rides, this one is right up on the top. It was also on the top of the levee that keeps the Everglades where they belong and the town of Sunrise above water. Where was this ride?

Just north of Markham Park. As you can see from the inviting entrance, it's not all that obvious you are welcome to ride a bike this way. Just past the Danger sign and across the spillway is the ramp to the top of the levee.

Here's the not for everyone part. The ride west is five very straight miles to US 27. The path is crushed rock. No problem for my heavy mountain bike but certainly too much for a street bike. Across the canal is I-595 so this tranquil bike ride is accompanied by the white noise drone of never ending traffic ricocheting across the North New River Canal. I did the full 5 miles out and back and was not quite ready to call it a day. No problem. There is an even longer ride north. Once you get past the pop, pop, Boom of the Markham Park gun range, it's a little quieter. I decided another seven miles out was a good idea. It wasn't until the sixth mile back I decided it was a little too much. Even in February, the Florida sun is brutal.

 So why do this? For the entire 4 hours I was out, I saw 6 people and three were walking. Across the canal I saw a good 50 cyclists all dressed alike and in formation. I always prefer the road less traveled and this is certainly that.

There is not much to see. No gators, a few birds, and one turtle in 24 miles. And the vastness of the Everglades of course. For me it was more of an endurance test, a way to empty my mind, and a certainty I would not get run over on a busy Broward County road.

There are other levee trails in the area that will take you a lot farther from civilization and a lot closer to the nature. I suggest you test yourself on this one first. Bring plenty of water, sunscreen, and a snack. There is no shade at all so be aware of your heat tolerance.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary - Naples

If you are visiting South Florida or if you live here and are interested in seeing what this area looked like a hundred years ago, the Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary is the place you need to visit. Only 100 years ago South Florida was all about nature. Today, way too much is drained and paved over. In some places we have recognized our mistakes and are returning the Everglades back to nature. This is one place that is virtually untouched.

I've been all over Florida and I am pretty familiar with how things used to look. Here at the Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, nearly all of natural Florida is represented. From the pine Flatwoods, to the prairie and meadows, to the rivers of grass, and even one of the finest examples of Cypress swamp I've ever stepped foot in. There is a reason I've never ventured far into a Cypress swamp. It's wet, mucky, impossible to navigate by boat, and the wildlife is extremely dangerous.

To make it even remotely possible to enjoy this natural wonder, the sanctuary has installed a 2.25 mile boardwalk. Not just any wood was used. They imported special wood from South America that holds up well in wet conditions and came from verified renewable sources. The only other way to see this area would be noisy airboats, swamp buggies, or slogging (walking in the swamp). The water is not all that deep but muck can easily pull your boots off or the alligators can eat you. When I found out this was prime plumage hunting area at the turn of the century, I really had to wonder what type of person would risk their life to participate in killing millions of birds so that women could wear feathers in their hats. That is the reason the Audubon Society stepped in, bought the swamp, and eventually halted the slaughter. Now the only shooting allowed is with a camera. I was lucky enough to catch a hawk in flight and a few other pretty interesting photos. You can see them all on my Flickr site. My favorite is the mamma gator with a baby on it's back. This shot was at the limit of the lens I brought that day but click on the photo below for a larger picture. Hopefully you can make it out.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Koreshan State Historic Site - Estero

Back in 1894, a gentleman by the name of Cyrus Reed Teed brought a few hundred followers down from Chicago and started his idea of a Utopian society in Estero, Florida. The goal was for 10 million true believers to join in his "New Jerusalem". Unfortunately, Cyrus died soon after the settlement was fully established and it slowly declined after that. The site was turned over to the State in 1961 by the last 4 remaining members. It's now known as the Koreshan State Historical Site. 

The interesting thing about this religious based organization (cult) was their core belief. The Koreshans, as they were called, believed the earth was a hollow ball and we all live on the inside. Cyrus and his followers devised some pretty complex math and complicated measuring devices. They even took their equipment and calculations to Fort Myers Beach to prove their theories.

I applaud free thinkers and appreciate those of us who are willing to face ridicule in the following of their beliefs.  It's pretty clear today they might have made the classic "forgot to carry the one" type of mistake in their math but this one theory was not all there was to the sect. They had some very interesting beliefs in social engineering and city master planning. Those might have taken hold even if the hollow earth theory lost out to science.

I found it fascinating they were early adopters of electricity. With Edison just up the road it's understandable. When they cranked up their first generator, the folks in Fort Myers thought electricity would harm the crops and dry up the cows. One hundred years later, those things would come true if electricity stopped flowing. The Koreshans actually supplied electricity to their neighbors until Florida Power and Light was established in the area.

One of the facts you won't find online is that when Cyrus died, he was put into a bath tub and his followers waited for him to rise from the dead until the Fort Myers  health department ordered a burial. He was then put into a concrete coffin on the beach and was attended night and day by the faithful until a hurricane washed him out to sea. I'm still not judging but so far he has not returned. My feeling - he's not going to.