Sunday, March 29, 2015

A Fun Day with Friends

We spent most of the day Saturday with our friends Dieter and Helen.  They'll be heading back to Pennsylvania on Wednesday, so this was their last weekend in Florida. It was their turn to come here, so after their arrival just after 11:00 am, we chatted for a while, had some lunch and then headed for Sebring.

Saturday was an absolutely beautiful day with temperatures around 73-74 degrees, but sunny and breezy. Perfect temperature to head for the Highland Hammocks State Park in Sebring.   We had hoped to be able to catch the tram which would have given us the opportunity to see so much more of the park, but this time of year it fills up fast and they only run twice/day.  Helen and I probably could have spent a whole day here with our camera's in hand, but I knew that Dieter could not walk real far, so we needed to go slow and keep the walking to a minimum.

We stopped first at the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) Museum, not real big - but we did watch a 15 minute video on the history of the  CCC and Highlands Hammock Park from the the construction of trails in the early 30's, the botanical garden projects and the work of the CCC  in  constructing roadways, dams, bridges and planting thousands of plants and trees.  Today Highlands Hammock encompasses more than 9,000 acres.

We learned that a couple of the trails included a board walk so that would be the easier walking.  From the museum we drove slowly around the 3.1 mile Loop Drive, admiring the beauty of the park and stopping briefly at times to check out some of the signs and markers and the trail openings and then stopped at the last trail, Fern Garden.

It took us maybe 35-45 minutes to walk this trail and I got a couple of shots of some of our favorite ground cover and shrubs and wild flowers/berries.

Most impressive was the palm trees and huge live oak trees scattered through the swampy areas.  And with minimal light filtering through the tress they are covered with bromeliads and Spanish moss. Below, Dieter and Helen rest for a minute on the boardwalk bench.

One day I will come back and spend the day enjoying ALL the trails. It is absolutely beautiful!

We left the park and headed a little further north to check out "Springtime on the Mall" a small festival with music, food vendors and several booths with vendors selling their arts and crafts.  It was about 3:00, so some of the vendors were closing shop, but still enough to get our attention.  Avon Park is a quaint little town and Helen and Dieter were impressed especially with that mammoth tree in the middle of the mall, and the historic Jacaranda Hotel.  And we stopped a little longer to check out the Eagle, at one of the booths.  Beautiful!

Dieter considered stopping for ice cream, and Rich had a hard time passing the booth with the funnel cakes.........but our next stop was for dinner at the Hibachi Grill so they refrained.  Like us, Hibachi is one of Dieter and Helen's favorite places to eat, and as usual the food was fresh, hot and delicious.  Rich and I particularly like the Mongolian Grill.............where he always fills his plate with a little meat and pineapple and an abundance of lo mien noodles grilled with garlic sauce and hot sauce.  I skip the meat and just fill my place with veggies pineapple and maybe some shrimp and have it grilled with garlic sauce.

Back at the house we just sat for a while, had a cold drink and talked.  About 6:30, wanting to get back to Northport before dark, they call it a day and left for home, but not before inviting us to stop and stay a few days with them in Pennsylvania on our way to Black Lake in June.  

It was a fun day, and we look forward to our next visit.

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