As promised, around 8:15 AM the Darren Thomas' workers appeared to pull our motorhome into their bays to replace our badly "fogged" windows
which had lost their seals.
As we left, we passed the sometimes-gator-inhabitied pond. While no wilddlife was spotted, the still waters provided a near perfect reflection of the trees on the far side.
Our frist stop was in the historic district of Sebring, where a circular park
Sadly, homelessness is found everywhere
Battery-powered rental scooters
is surrounded by quaint shops
and restaurants (we'd hoped to grab a coffee and muffin, but unfortunately, none open at the early hour we were there)
and a number of architectually interesting buildings
some located on the six, equally-spaced streets radiating out like the spokes of a wheel.
We were surprised and delighted to discover that large murals were painted on the sides of many of these buildings, shades of Lake Placid, FL although on a smaller scale.
From there, we drove out to Highlands Hammock State Park, which had been highly recommended. Hammock is a term used in the southeastern United States for stands of trees, usually hardwood, that form an ecological island in a contrasting ecosystem.
Encompassing more than 9,000 acrea, the park is known for its old-growth hammock cypress swamps. First opening in 1931, the park is one of the finest symbols of early grass-roots public support for environmental preservation. In 1934 the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC)
camp began working on a botanical garden project on the land adjacent to the park. When FLorida's state park system was established the following year, Highlands Hammock became one of the state's first parks. In 1941, the park and gardens merged as the CCC camp closed due to impending war. During those years, the CCC had planted thousands of plants, constructed roadways, dams, bridges and buildings. Although the gardens never realized their original vision, the park's beauty and diverse ecosystems evolved.
Nearing the park, one must navigate a series of
a term we'd never heard but quickly discovered it was Florida-speak for
a speed bump.
There was another hold-up when the car in front of us suddenly stopped for no apparent reason. Minutes later, we saw the driver carrying a softshelled turtle off the roadway to the safety of the shoulder.
Palm trees and massive live oaks, heavy with bromeliads
and Spanish moss characterize the hammock.
One oak, measuring 36 feet around is over 1,000 years old
and another estimated just shy of 1,000 years old.
Minimal light filters down to the forest floor,
covered with decaying tree trunks and stumps,
shrubs, a variety of flowers
and small palms.
White-tailed deer (this one letting us get within lwo feet of where it was grazing),
barred owls (this one we initiatlly spotted from its back),
raccoons, bobcats and even an occasional black bear can often be seen in the shadows (unfortuantely they failed to appear for pictuers while we were there)..
A cypress swamp borders a blackwater stream
in the parks lowest elevations. A stroll across an elevated boardwalk
along the Cypress Swamp Trail offers views of ibis, anhingas, turtles, alligators … a juvenile
more than a dozen very young gators
.and momma keeping a wary eye on her brood …
carp (one of many which had stayed off mama gator's dinner menu),
and an amazing variety of dragonflies flitting to and fro,
red wood ants,
and spiderr webs seemingly everywhere.
Enroute back to our motorhome, we stopped in for lunch at
where we enjoyed a great lunch of shrimp BLTs … just the second luncheon at a restaurant since early 2020 and the second time in just one week, with our table providing a view of Lake Jackon.
Our final stop was just two miles from the glass dealier replacing our windows, the Sebring Internaitonal Race Track, although closed when we were there.
Returning to our rmotorhome this afternoon, we were absolutely amazed at the clarity of our new windows.
They are clearly, worth the cost!
Shortly after we retuend to the glass company's faciliteis, we began to receive a disturbing series of emails. Apparently there had been a fatal fire at Sun N Fun destroying two or more park models
and which tragically claimed the life of an 11 year old girl who aapparently ran baack into the burning building to rescue her puppies.. This coming just weeks after our firend, Jack Lynch, lost his motorhome to a fire. At this point, we do not belevie we know any of the people whose homes were involved. We anticipate more details over the coming days.
We'll remain overnight for a final water test and then heading for Jacksonville tomorrow morning.