From Swamp (Gatorland) to Big City (Orlando)

2/20/14 Thursday at Clermont, FL (Orlando-TT)

We needed to return Betty/Denny’s Blue Binder about their trip to the East Coast so we decided to go to Gatorland today since it would break up that trip to Longwood where they live. We even managed to get out by 9:45 am, arriving at Gatorland at 10:30 am. We’d avoided Gatorland until now because it sounded like a tourist trap but Betty/Denny recommended it and we are so glad they did. Lots of great creatures there. It costs about $27 for regular folks but us seniors (55+) got in for $9.95. What a deal.

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We made it just in time for the “Gator Jumparoo Show”

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Then we checked out a tortoise. This panther is a cross between the endangered Florida Panther and a Texas Cougar. The Florida Panther is the only cougar species east of the Mississippi-only 80-100 remain in the wild. We saw a pair of racoons one of which is a natural blonde.

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We walked on to one of the 2 swamps that are in Gatorland, where loads of alligators (U shaped noses) and crocodiles (V shaped noses – more triangular heads) as well as wading birds (egrets, ibis and herons) live. I’ve included some of their signs which we found adorable.  You can click on an image you’d like to enlarge.

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The Cuban Crocodiles were the prettiest. We even saw “Cracker” cattle.  The other swamp walk yielded more plants and far fewer animals.

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On to the Gator Wrestlin’ Show. He showed how they have great strength to close their jaw but not to open it. Also how they open with the lower jaw, not the top one. After pulling the gator onto its back, it seemed asleep until he “tickled” it near the privates, then in turned over to its front.

Gator 27 Gator 28 Gator 29 Gator 30 Gator 31 Gator 32

We saw the rare white alligators (4 of the 12 known to exist) and more birds. You know I can’t resist bird photos. We spotted a couple turtles as we were leaving – we think they’re baby leatherbacks; note their heads.

white 1 white 2

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Gator 99

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As we left they really gave us a gator goodby!


Once we arrived at Betty/Denny’s we visited awhile then played “13”, so it was past 5:30 pm when we put away the cards and headed out to Downtown Orlando to check our their sons’ (Ryan and Reese) establishments – 9 in all. [The Dive Bar,The Other Bar, The Dubliner (Irish Social House), The Stagger Inn-not just a country bar, Don Jefe’s Tequila Bar.  They bought the building for their first bar just 4 years ago. Yes, Ryan and Reese are the owners. We got there at about sunset. They call Orlando the beautiful city and I so agree. The colorful fountain is in Lake Eola, right in Downtown Orlando. Note these photos were taken at dusk and the swans (so beautiful) just wouldn’t stay still for me to take there picture.

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We ate at Harry Buffalo’s (a franchise-the only one in all that they own). What a treat! We had the “Bang Bang Shrimp” appetizer. Ever so light a batter, lightly cooked-to perfection-shrimp and wonderful spicy sauce. I was in heaven. My Cape Grilled Fish was also excellent. John loved his steak. Betty/Denny both had the chicken salads – so good too. We highly recommend this bar/restaurant! Also we noted that we were the only white haired patrons. Lots of young people like to hang out downtown at night we noticed. After dinner we walked to the “Dive Bar” and got to meet Reese. Fun. Then off to home in the dark. Thankfully John was familiar with the roads and it was too populated for any animals to sneak onto the road.

Big day and SO much fun!!


About Patricia Elser

I've always loved the loose, flowing, transparent look of watercolors, of Chinese paintings and their calligraphy, but alas, no watercolor classes were available when I was in school, so that interest remained buried until my children were grown. Even then, I was afraid that I couldn't really paint, so upon my sister's advice, I actually started to take classes. I signed up for every class available, determined to learn no matter how afraid I was. I came upon a teacher, Stan Miller, who inspired me, who opened the door to success in watercolor. I love to look at beautiful images. I want to capture them forever. All my life, photography was how I gathered images of the beauty I saw. Thanks to all that photography, I enjoy composing pictures, especially up close. Watercolors allow me to add more of me in their translation of that beauty. My paintings reflect my love for music and dance, with their rhythm and flow. I am fascinated by the play of light, so it appears in my pictures as drama for they are filled with darks and lights. Maybe it's the challenge, maybe it's the beauty, but now, when a work comes together, it fills my soul.
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