In our lifestyle, “alone time” is occasionally required (my fellow full-timers know exactly what I’m talking about). Most people would otherwise end up at each other’s throats after hanging out together 24/7. Although Steve and I do get along very well, we make sure to enjoy some alone time, even if it just means Steve running off to the store for a bit or me doing laundry by myself. Sometimes I can hardly wait to do the laundry!
I had some real quality alone time when Steve stayed at home to work on Betsy while I went off to Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park, which was advertised as a showcase of Florida wildlife. I was not disappointed, and I think Steve wished he had gone along when he saw the pictures of gorgeous wildlife I took there. But of course he wouldn’t admit it!
There are two ways to visit this park, one by tram and the other on a pontoon boat along Pepper Creek. I chose a 20-minute ride on the pontoon boat and gave my camera a real workout.
During the trip our guide narrated the history of Homosassa Springs, its beginnings and the importance of the spring. At the same time, he pointed out the many colorful wood ducks swimming alongside us.
First a brief history of the park. In the 1920’s, a train stopped at the springs to allow passengers a close look at the crystal clear 55-foot deep springs that form the headwaters of the Homosassa River. In later years a zoo-like park of exotic animals was built. The ownership of the springs area changed many times since 1940 due to economic hard times and recession. Then on January 1, 1989, the attraction officially became the Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park, owned by the State of Florida and managed by the Department of Environmental Protection.
All exotic animals and non-native plants were removed in order to restore the park to the “Real Florida” – except for one. If not for hundreds of school children protesting the removal of Lucifer the Hippo, the last exotic animal would have been gone. “Luc”, who remains in the wildlife park from the attraction days, has received an honorary citizenship by declaration of late Florida Governor Lawton Chiles.
After the boat ride I immediately went to the centerpiece of the park, a freshwater spring which produces millions of gallons of fresh, crystal-clear water every hour. This spring outflow actually creates the Homosassa River. The spring and headwaters of the Homosassa River is the only known place in the world where thousands of fresh and saltwater fish congregate. These fish are free to come and go to the Gulf of Mexico, nine miles downriver.
At the Fish Bowl floating and underwater observatory, I saw literally thousands of fish from above the lookout and then below the surface in the clear spring environment. Unfortunately, the park’s resident manatees were not present while I was there.
And that was just the beginning! I followed the elevated boardwalk while taking the Wildlife Walk. The 210-acre park is home to native Florida wildlife, and I got to see them all in their natural setting.
Strolling on the boardwalk, I had a front-row view of Florida’s wildlife, including a bear, bobcats, Key deer, alligators, a wide variety of wading birds, birds of prey and some beautiful Flamingos. Although I always prefer to see these animals in the wild, it looks like this is the best I’ll be able to do for some of them.
Some of the birds here were injured and can not be returned to the wild. I feel very fortunate to have been in Florida’s wilderness (refuges/ preserves/national parks) and exposed to many of these birds – although some at a great distance. On this day I got quite excited as I had an up-close view of some endangered and threatened species. Since Steve was not there to whisper in my ear about taking so many pictures, I snapped away to my heart’s content. Click on each image to get a bigger and better look.
After almost overheating my camera, I sat down and listened to the Flamingos honking in unison, while also enjoying the sound of the Whistling Ducks at the nearby Shore Bird Aviary. I thought all ducks quacked until I met these guys.
I had a wonderful day at this park and went home whistling like a duck! I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys wildlife and is in this area. It’s worth every penny of the $13 entry fee.
On my drive home I caught a glimpse of this sign – do people really have to be told how to use parking spaces? Hmmm..I wonder if it’s meant for locals or tourists?
Back at home, Steve was also smiling and looking contented. He had completed a few of his Betsy to-do’s. He even commented about how relaxing it is to do his work while the “supervisor” is away.
He had installed these nifty door locks for our new residential refrigerator, to keep the doors closed while we travel. They can be “disabled” once we are parked, and they actually look kind of cool. They’re designed to keep children out of the refrigerator, but work perfectly for our purpose. Only about $5 each at Toys-R-Us, not bad!
He also took our noisy fireplace back apart for the second time to clean and lubricate the motor again. It runs quiet for a while each time he does this, but we’re going to replace the motor next time it gets noisy. Steve’s become quite an expert with electric fireplaces, so at least we’ve been able to save money on labor – and he loves taking things apart. I love it when he puts them back together!
We enjoy our alone times such as this. How about you, are you getting enough alone time?
Gorgeous photos! I love my alone time too. I took my new dog Sparky to the beach yesterday without my husband. Primo spends all winter in Mexico with his family and friends so I have lots of alone time then.
Marcy you must be really enjoying your winter then while Primo is in Mexico.
Sorry Steve, but I’m glad MonaLiza went alone and thus be completely uninhibited with her camera. I love all the photos, never too many for me.
Thanks Sue, I think he now knows there is no such thing as too many pictures…or I hope.
Yes indeed, alone time can be hard to come by in this lifestyle and I do cherish mine when the opportunity comes along.
We are fortunate to live in the age of digital photography…but all those photos we take have to be gone through! Sometimes I dread going through the hundreds of photos on an especially scenic outing! Luckily there are always a few special gems to make it all worthwhile!
Great pics ML, glad you had a good day on your own!
I can relate Lisa, it does take time too to go through all these pics and I find it difficult to trash some.
I love your bird photos, and what a place to visit…
When Steve puts things back together does he always end up with one spare part with nowhere to go like me… my repairs always seem to work but I will always have a screw or some odd bit left over…
Thanks bulldog, it was really a neat place to visit and the collection they have was awesome. I find Steve to be meticulous when fixing things. When something is lacking or missing he just stops at what he is doing and figure out what he just did, then start over.
Haha, alone time is ESSENTIAL for us, given that we’re living full-time in a 21′ trailer. Like you guys, we get along well most of the time, but there are also times when someone going on a “field trip” is essential. Your field trip looked outstanding! I want to go and do exactly what you did. 😉
Essential was the word I was looking for. And yes it is essential and this particular field trip was just perfect. Otherwise doing laundry is my usual alone time 🙂
I think that’s why I had such an amazing time in Texas….I had most mornings to myself 🙂 I am so enjoying these AZ sunsets but I sure do miss all the birds. You managed to capture some amazing bird shots and there’s no such thing as too many.
Despite telling him that I purge the unwanted ones and keep the good ones, he still shakes his head. But he said he wished he was with me when he saw what he missed. I do enjoy my alone time especially this kind.
We do get alone time. I finally learned how to drive our big-a– truck. I now go to the store for groceries or Kohl’s are where ever by myself. I love it and so does he.
You have outdone yourself, Mona Liza. Your photos today are just absolutely gorgeous. I had to just sit and stare at them. What a wonderful adventure you were on. And what a reward you receive with all these lovely photos. Great job!
Oh thank you, sometimes it helps when no one is waiting while Im doing photo shoot. ha ha ha .
What an awesome park! The water was so clear. Boy, you were so lucky with all those beautiful birds. I love how that flamingo got down to the ground. Glad you enjoyed yourself and clicked away like crazy:)
We like the refrigerator locks, Steve. Nice work! Good to know you enjoyed getting projects completed alone, also.
Steve does prefer to work when the “supervisor” is away for no one would also whisper on his ears, “are you sure it will work?”
That park was a surprise for me I thought it was just another state park where I would hike and see birds all around. It was an awesome park.
I have friends who raved about Homossasa Springs Wildlife Park and now I know why. Your photos are spectacular. I didn’t know the history of the area and started to wonder if this is the place where there are wild monkey sightings along the river.
Alone time. I have been encouraging Vic to go to the spring training baseball games while I do whatever. Being together 24-7 was probably my biggest fear about choosing this full-timing lifestyle, but we have found lots of ways to keep time together in balance with time alone. Sometimes it is just as simple as taking a bike ride, walking the dogs, or doing errands on our own.
Thanks Pam, yes there is a Monkey Island but I knew about it on our last day here. The park was really awesome.
With dogs, you certainly can have your alone time. For Steve his usual alone time is going to the store to do groceries. Yeah, it is really essential to have alone time.
It is hard to find time for alone time…
Your pictures are beautiful…I love the pink flamingos and ducks especially the close up of the wood duck swimming beside you.
Thanks Gay, we do little bits of alone time like laundry time for me.
Wow those are some great pictures. Cool beans on the fireplace repair. I have had some of the strings in our day / night shades fail, replaced them; NO PROBLEM. I do not understand why anyone would have a problem with that. Could there be a business opportunity there?
Thank you. Steve just like to tinker around, well he has to 🙂 and he enjoys fixing things.
I wish we would have known about this wildlife park while we were in the area. I don’t know how we missed it. Your bird photos are amazing MonaLiza! 🙂
Thanks LuAnn, what led me there was a billboard ad with a Roseate Spoonbill in it. And Im so glad I checked it out for I was duly rewarded.
Terry thinks you were a bit enthusiastic about your “alone time” (lol). 🙂
When Steve read your comment he chuckled and said that Terry is perceptive 🙂 ha ha
I love your gorgeous bird pictures, and that looks like another good park to visit. I love all of the beautiful springs and the state parks that have grown up around them in Florida… I had to laugh, MonaLiza, when you talked about Steve and taking too many pictures… I get that all the time! I only wish I had more time for going through those photos. That time often ends up being my alone time… I like the idea of field trips a lot more!
Glad you enjoyed my bird pictures. And Im glad that I m not the only one with a husband who whispers when I take too many pictures of a bird.
Love the pictures! This looks like a great place to visit. I love my alone time. I think Eric likes his too. We need separate interests and separate walks. I do miss having the opportunity to go to Nordstroms whenever I desire. This lifestyle does take some getting used to, but I do like it!
If you are planning to visit Florida and this is in your route, be sure to stop by. When our park is nearby a mall, I do go there to just window shop and be by myself.
Well ML you must be desperate for your own company to want to do laundry, however, I’m glad you went to the park that day! You took some gorgeous pictures and obviously had a whale of a time. Also glad Steve wasn’t restricting your shutter finger. Loved the gallery photos.
Thanks Carol,you know sometimes I look forward to laundry time…ha ha ha. I was really glad I went there, that was quite a treat for me.
Perhaps Steve is concerned about the cost of developing film! What he should do is buy you more memory. Problem solved!
Too many photos…whoever heard of such a thing? ;=)
Better-than-zoo, better-than-aquarium place! The water looks insanely clear. Awesome images, Mona.
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