Sunday, November 22, 2015

November 19, 2015 - Fruitland Park, Leesburg & Howey-in-the-Hills, FL

It was very gloomy this morning.  It rained during the night. We are not letting it ruin our plan for today.  Nothing special today, just the usual sightseeing, shopping, etc.  

Oh, today is Edith’s birthday! One more year and she’ll say good-bye to 60’s. 

Sorry! We are not ready for this yet!
We are not dining out tonight to celebrate her birthday.  We plan on eating at Osaka Steak House tomorrow night because the restaurant has specials for every Friday.

We wanted to go out for breakfast, so we looked it up in Rae Rae’s is voted #1 out of 12.  It is in Fruitland Park, FL few miles from the campground.  It is not your typical chain restaurant and serves breakfast and lunch made from scratch.  It was already crowded when we walked in.  The seating area is rather small.  The server told us to pick any available table and there were only two left.  By the time we got the table, the last table was immediately taken.

Rae learned the art of cooking from her grandmother Ruth, a tough French school teacher from South Dakota.  She combined her grandmother’s cooking techniques with her strong Native Floridian roots and infused the cooking styles of North and South Florida. 

Erwin went with corned beef benedict and Edith had just two eggs and bacon.  Both dishes came with their homemade “cornbread” or biscuit.  Coffee for him and hot tea for her.  We were very pleased with what we had.  We will definitely go back there for breakfast next time we visit Fruitland Park.  

After leaving Rae’s we went to check out The Gun Shop & Gun Range on State Route 44 in Leesburg, FL.  Why did we go there?  Edith read somewhere in the internet that the shop is decorated with cool and unusual antiques and nostalgia.  Army jeep, barber chair, slot & arcade machines, etc.  It is a great place to visit.  The staff was very friendly and there were 10 rescue dogs behind the counter.  It is amazing that there is no dog odor when you walk in the store.  It has an indoor shooting range.  We went in the back and watched guys practice shooting.

On our way to P.E.A.R. Park we got lost for a while, took the wrong turn to what is a community park.  We came upon three Sandhill Cranes, two adults and one juvenile.  Sandhill cranes are large birds and cannot be missed!  They mate for life! The young usually stays with its parents until after about two years when it reaches sexual maturity and begins to find its own mate.  

We checked the GPS again and realized that we took the turn too soon.  We went back to the main road, made a left turn and continued driving. There was a bird on the telephone wire and Edith quickly took a picture of it before it flew away.  It was an American Kestrel.

We finally made it to P.E.A.R. Park, drove through the narrow trail to Butterfly Garden.  There were not many flowers in bloom, but few butterflies were fluttering about.  There is a large community garden nearby.  We will have to come back here in the late spring when flowers are in full bloom.

Wild Coffee, anyone?

Next stop was to check out Howey Mansion in Howey-in-the-Hills, FL.  What is so special about the mansion?  Well, it is a 20 room mansion built in 1925 on a 15 acre property.  William J. Howey bought 60,000 acres in 1916 and founded the town that bears his name.  Of course, it is abandoned and not open to the public.  When Edith checked out spots for pictures there was a police car in front of the mansion and the police officer was checking her out from the distance.  “No trespassing” signs were posted and the yellow “Do Not Cross” tapes were on the front gate.  It is obvious that some windows were broken because they were boarded up with plywood.  Vines are crawling all over and the mansion is starting to crumble.  The town cannot afford for upkeeps after Mrs. Howey died in 1981 and there were lawsuits.  It is really very sad because Mr. Howey would have loved to see it being taken care of well.

It started to rain. We decided to go back “home” and rest for the rest of the day.

Edith wanted to go back to Lone Oak Cemetery by herself, but decided not to because of the weather. The grass may be too wet and the lighting condition is not ideal for phohotoshooting (in some cases it is perfect, but it depends on the surroundings).

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