Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


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Beaches, beaches everywhere!

I think it would be hard to visit Florida and not walk at least one beach. We got lucky and visited four.

After Bok Gardens we made a beeline for Honeymoon Island State Park in hopes of seeing the sunset. Traffic through Tampa was brutal.

I’m glad we got to see this.

We barely made it, paying our $4.00 entry fee and rushing to find a parking place as the sun was beginning it’s rapid decline into the Gulf of Mexico.

Time to pack it up and head home.

Lots of people had obviously spent the day at the beach and were packing up for the evening. We didn’t look like beach goers in our shorts and running shoes, but I didn’t care.

Even after the sun was gone these umbrellas glowed.

It just felt good to be near the water.

We had to head north for a bit to find a hotel, but the next morning we went in search of more beaches and a chance for me to put my feet in the water.

We started at Fred Howard County Park in Tarpon Springs. We thought maybe it wouldn’t have a fee. Silly us. I think it was $5.00 to park in their lot all day.

Busy day at the beach!

It was a Sunday and the beach was already crowded when we arrived. Luckily we found a parking space, then wandered down to the water, weaving between umbrellas and blankets. I was a bit disappointed, the shore was filled with old weeds and the beach was overwhelmed with people.

Just ignore all those people over there.

Still, some found their own bit of peace with their toes in the water.

On the other side of the small island there were a whole lot of toys to be rented. I’d never seen the big bicycles before. They were sort of like paddle boats.

Work those quad muscles!

The island was at the end of a long causeway which we walked a bit to see what the fisherpeople out there were catching. Along the way we saw more than one group of people sunning on blankets in parking spaces.

Future dermatologist patients.

Not my idea of a great way to enjoy the beach! By the time we walked back to the car the parking lot on the island was teaming with vehicles circling, looking for a space. We gave our space and ticket to a grateful family and left, looking for longer beaches, softer sand, more space.

We found all that at my favorite beach of the day, Clearwater’s Sand Key Beach.

My first glimpse of the beach made me smile.

It was crowded too, but there was a long white beach with a clean sandy shore just begging to be walked.

The water was so enticing that I was out of my shoes as soon as we arrived.

And the further you walked the less crowded the beach was. Down a ways was a place where people were flying kites. We had to walk at least that far!

I woldn’t mind living in a condo on this beach. As long as I didn’t have to drive anywhere.

We walked a long way, me in the water as much as I could be.

Turquoise water, blue sky, white sand. Can’t get much better.

Eventually we went to find lunch, and then on to our last beach of the day, on our last evening of our trip, to see what the sunset might bring at Madeira Beach a bit further south.

An interesting breakwater caught my attention right away.

We had a longer wait for the sunset than the night before, and it was windier and getting chilly. I looked for things to photograph to keep myself busy. There’s always something.

It was kind of chilly but that didn’t stop these two from having fun in the waves.

The sun was hiding most of that last hour behind clouds. But once in awhile it would break free and light up the buildings further south of us.

The colorful buildings warmed in the evening light for a few moments.

A few other people waited on the beach for the sun to set too. And the balconies of the condos and hotels behind us began to fill up with people, some with cameras, some just watching.

I kind of wish I’d gotten an email for this couple so I could send them the picture.

Everyone waiting for the evening ritual.

And finally it happened. The sun dropped below the band of clouds and lit the sky and beach and water with a golden glow.

For a few minutes everything turned pinky gold.

It wasn’t as pretty as the night before up on Honeymoon Beach, but it was worth the wait.

A little explosion of joy.

And when the sun had sunk beneath the waves we turned and slowly made our way back to the car. The trip was over, nothing left to do but prepare for our flight home.

Another day closes it’s eyes.

It was a good trip, this time in Florida, but we were ready, almost ready, to face the snow and cold in Michigan, knowing that flowers were blooming somewhere, and spring couldn’t hold out forever even up there.

Bye bye Florida, see you next time.

Besides, Katie-girl was waiting. Time to go home.

I’m WAITING people!


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Let’s explore Bok Gardens and Pinewood Estate

We’re back home in snowy, cold, shades of white Michigan this evening. But I have so much more to show you from sunny, warm, colorful Florida, so let’s pretend we’re still there, shall we?

The front of Pinewood Estate.

I last left you with a tease about Bok Gardens, a wonderful place full of magical gardens, a winter mansion and an amazing bell tower. I don’t want to leave you hanging, so here we go!

We wandered under huge trees enjoying the azalea bushes that were in full bloom.

Bok Gardens is a 7 acre slice of heaven, including several types of gardens designed by Olmstead brothers landscaping company (the same that designed the gardens at Biltmore in North Carolina, and Central Park in New York City), a new children’s play and educational area, what seems like acres of azaleas, a Florida desert trail, and towering live oaks covered in lichen and ferns.

I’ve never seen red sugar cane before.

The home, built in the center of all of this beauty, was the winter home of industrialist Charles Buck (not Bok, I know, it’s confusing) from 1932 to 1945. After that it was purchased by a couple of families before being acquired by Bok Gardens in 1970.

The house from the back.

The house, with over 12,000 square feet, feels much more intimate than many of the seasonal homes of the wealthy back in those days.

Dining with color everywhere.


The rooms were smaller, and many had lower ceilings.

One of several bedrooms.

There wasn’t gold gilding, unlike many homes of this vintage, but there were plenty of wonderful details.

An ibis acts as a doorstop, holding up the heavy and intricate door.

Tilework acted as wainscoting throughout the first floor, and ran up the stairs to the less public rooms.

Beautiful tile covers the risers on the front stairs.

The floors on the main level were covered in handmade red tiles, each room with it’s own pattern.

One of many patterns of these tiles.

The docents told us the gardens were put in first, and then the house was built so that each area had a different garden view. Pretty spectacular.

Magnolias, azaleas and camellias were all in bloom.

And then there’s the bell tower, with it’s huge carillon and sixty tons of bells which are played regularly. It is absolutely stunning.

Glimpsing the tower through the trees.

There were two concerts the day we were there, one we heard as we wandered the garden, and another that we purposely sat and listened to.

Details of the top, the colors are beautiful.

Bok Tower Gardens is located between Tampa and Orlando, and I think time spent there is well worth the admission for you and your family. Kids can play in the kid garden and run on the lawns up by the tower.

Stonework at the entrance to the childrens’ garden and play space.

Parents can let the beauty wash over them…and I guarantee everyone will smile.

And after all that, we made it over to the Gulf for the sunset.

A pretty ending to a very good day.

I’ll post more about the beaches in another post. We did spend a bit of time walking those white sands. After all…it’s Flordia.

Door knob detail.


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Baseball and nature

It’s always a great day to be a Tiger fan.


Baseball and nature – not really related, but that’s the way we’ve spent the past couple of days down here in sunny, hot Florida.

Friday we took in a Tiger game at their Lakeland spring training facility. Have to say it’s a pretty impressive stadium, and run really professionally, with lots of volunteers handling everything from checking bags, helping with seating and answering questions about the building and the team.

Field lights and palm trees.

We had great seats right behind the Tiger dugout, too bad the Tigers didn’t play very well.

Miguel made it to first base with this swing.

The second pitch of the game the New York Mets player hit a home run, and it was downhill from there. Miguel Cabrera, one of the Tigers star players came up to bat three times, managed to get on base once, but never scored.

He didn’t seem happy, and ran rather slow, just back from an injury that kept him out of the game most of last season. Still, it was cool to see him up close.

Not such a great
day.

The Mets just had better pitching, the score ended up 7 to 1.

Looks like another one of his 98 mph strikes. Sigh.

The one run Detroit scored was a homerun. That was fun to watch.

Giving thanks for the home run.

It would have been more fun to see today’s game against the Atlanta Braves. We hear the Tigers won 7 to 4, and Miguel hit a home run in the 5th inning.

Sigh.

But I can’t dwell too long on what we didn’t see, because today we saw an awful lot of beautiful. We went to two parks; the first was Hollis Park which is in Lakeland and sits on a beautiful pond in the middle of town with lots of water birds.

Just getting a drink.

And today it also had lots of runners as there was a 5K and 10K road race going on when we arrived.

It was already way too hot to be running, even early in the morning.

This little park is a gem sitting in the middle of town. Lots of beautiful flowering things…

Messing around with depth of field.

…koi in a fountain…

Looking for a hand out.

…and some very unique sculpture tucked away amidst the plants.

Sunshine made it glow.

It’s a wonderful little park, and there’s more to see than what I’ve shared. Maybe I’ll put together a slide show of the things that didn’t make it into this blog.

A green space filled with color.

For sure I’ll do a separate post about Bok Gardens, the stunning garden we visited in the afternoon, complete with a carillon and a winter estate home built in the 1920s with wonderful winding paths through azaleas and camellias, and huge mossy live oaks.

Enter here to see the 1920s home.

And then we made it over to the Gulf of Mexico just in time to see the sun set.

Another beautiful day comes to an end.

I’ll share more about all that in the next post. Right now it’s time to get some sleep, tomorrow is our last day in the sun.

Better rest up!

Enter here to see some beautiful craftsmanship. Next post.


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Florida ramble

Stormy weather.


How do you picture Florida? Sun, swaying palms, white sands, blue water, attractions filled with laughing crowds and roller coasters, poolside drinks, pulsating bars, sunscreen and colorful umbrellas?

Sounds good.

But if that’s what you’re focused on then you’re missing an awful lot of authentic Florida.

Early morning light makes the moss glow.

My husband and I are visiting relatives in a quieter part of the state. We have been staying at a fishing camp on a beautiful lake north of Tampa.

A good place to spend a few days.

Each of the past three mornings I’ve gone outside early in the morning to see what the sunrise had to offer. This morning’s was the most colorful, but Monday and Tuesday morning were softly pretty too.

Good morning world!

Yesterday we walked the neighborhood and enjoyed the moody skies just before a thunderstorm rolled in.

What this lake probably looked like in the 1940s. And today.

This place has the feel of old Florida, when times were simpler and small things got noticed. A time before Disney World and all inclusive resorts.

Lots of open land with cattle grazing. Taken with my phone from the back seat of a moving car.

As my husband and I enjoyed the company of an extended family we let the crazy world go on by, kept the TV off, didn’t read the news, and sat into the evening telling old family stories and enjoying good food.

Not a bad way to begin a vacation.

Tuesday’s sunrise.

Tomorrow we’re going to see a baseball game at the Tiger spring training camp and then we’ll figure out what we’re going to do next.

Contemplating deep thoughts. And bubbles.

Not to say we’re entirely ignoring those white sand beaches and blue skies. No, I think at least a peek at the Gulf is on the list.

After all, we are in Florida.

This is Herman. He likes to steal fish from fishermen’s buckets.


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A date with my boyfriend

Katie here. You all know I’m down in Florida waiting out the snow up north and visiting with my boyfriend Reilly Cowspot Dog. Well guess what? Yesterday we got to go on a date and we went to Reilly’s park!

The moms asked us if we wanted to go and we got all excited. But then, in a typical mama fashion, she took forever to get all her stuff together and eventually I made my opinion known.

Come ON people! Let’s get moving!

They moved a little faster after that and soon we were all in the back of the car headed out!

Everybody’s ready to go mama!

Once we got to the park we could hardly contain ourselves. So many great smells, and we were barely out of the parking lot!

Good sniffing everywhere!

Some of the time I spent with my special guy….

Let’s go this way Reilly!

…but most of the time we all just hung out together. That’s OK. I like Reilly’s little brother Denny too.

We didn’t always agree which way to go.

Of course the moms made us stop to take pictures. We tried to cooperate.

We’ll all look at you guys if you promise this is the last time we have to pose.

But sometimes we just had to take things into our own paws and put a stop to all the photography.

Enough is enough moms!

We did agree to sit with each of the moms for a photo. We figured if they had to do it they’d see how annoying it was to be interrupted while having a fun day at the park just for a photo opportunity.

This is my mama with all of us!

We had the best time! I treasure every minute I get to spend with my guy Reilly and his family. And that’s not just cause his mom gave us doggy ice cream when we got back home.

Yum. How come you never buy me these mama?

Yep, I’m a lucky princess. Kisses to my prince Mr. Reilly.

Me and my guy.

And thanks to mama and Reilly’s mom for taking us on a wonderful date!

What’s next mama?


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Ocean spray is good for my furs

A beautiful spring day at the beach.

Katie here, continuing as your tour guide. Today I take you to see the Atlantic Ocean in northern Florida. Though to be honest most of what you’ll see is me. But that’s why you come to visit my, ahem, mama’s blog. Right?

I thought so.

Showing off my true form, and proving I’m not fat! It’s just fur people!

This will have to be short as I had a very long day yesterday driving in the car for miles and miles and hours and hours and then today I got to walk on the beach forever. So I’m behind in my sleep quotient and I need to get to bed.

I’m visiting my intended Mr. Reilly Cowspotdog in Florida for a couple of days. He didn’t feel up to frolicking on the beach so I sacrificed and went to inspect one of his beaches for him. I always do my duty, yes I do.

Everything’s OK under these rocks, Reilly!

It was a little bit warm, at 63 degrees, but very windy which kept my furs fluffy and cool. There was hardly anyone else on the beach.

Nose into the wind and on a mission.

That meant that mama could let me run free most of the time, though she had to hook me back up to my leash when joggers went by because I like to tell them off and mama says that’s rude. Whatever. It’s Reilly’s beach and I’m just making sure everyone knows that we shelties rule!

I got the zoomies for a little bit, I was so happy!

Mama took a few pictures of things that were not me, but not very many. Mostly I kept her entertained by all the fun I was having. She likes watching me enjoy new things. I guess that’s why she takes me with her on so many of her adventures.

Artsy pelicans.

My only complaint about this adventure was the first wave. The tide was coming in and I forgot how wet the ocean was and I was standing there and a wave came up and went right over my feet! I jumped and mama laughed and I twirled around trying to get it off me and then it left. I was mortified and never let it happen again! Mama didn’t get a good picture, but this is sort of how I looked.

Wet feet! Wet feet! Wet feet! Get it off of me mama!

Oh, and another embarrassing thing was that mama kept trying to get a picture of my behind with the wind blowing all the fur forward. She says it was cute. I made sure she didn’t get a decent shot. Then just as we were leaving she said she got me AND the danger flag.

Drats. Never let your guard down with a mama and her camera.

Anyway, I’m outta here, I have things to do and people to sniff.

Talk to you guys later. Don’t look at my behind.

Signing off for now, Katie, beachcomber extraordinaire.

Mama! Don’t you embarrass me!