Thursday, July 1, 2010

Trip 12: A Very Busy Saturday

State Parks visited: 8

With the Daytona International Speedway gearing up for the 4th of July weekend races, events are frequent and Rob and Chris have been busy working.  So instead of visiting a state park or hiking a trail without our Boys, I took Olivia to pick blueberries.

I found a neat little farm, Mark's U-Pick Blueberries, in the city of Clermont.  It's just over an hour from our home, and we took a very scenic route to get there.  Along the way we traveled behind a truck hauling...get this...a covered wagon.  Really!  We also got to see seaplanes take off and land in a lake as we drove around it.  It was some type of demo going on for a seaplane company, or something like that.  It was neat to see!

Mark's instructions were simple:  Find a flavor (from the 20 varieties of berries he grows) you like, and pick pick pick!  He said the red ones were bitter, so we could feel free to eat as many red berries as we wanted.  Of course we just had to try them!  And then of course, we just had to spit them out.

After our picking was complete, we had to weigh in.  Keeping in mind that a coworker asked me to pick three pounds of berries for her, we picked almost 7 pounds total.  Not bad for a couple hours of fun!  Oddly enough, I'm not a huge fan of blueberries, so I gave Olivia a cookbook/magazine and asked her to help me figure out what to make with them.  I woke up Sunday morning to a drawing representing her wishes:  Blueberry cheesecake trifle, blueberry shortcakes, and whole wheat blueberry scones.  So far I've only made the trifle, and it was outstanding.

After picking our blueberries, we headed a couple miles further down the highway to the Grand Citrus Tower.  It was one of Florida's first roadside attractions, and it is a historic landmark now.

The cities of Clermont and Minneola were once nothing but citrus groves.  People would ride the elevator up to the top and see nothing but oranges and other great fruits for miles.  Now the view is a little different:

There are signs telling what you're seeing in each direction:

There is also a place in the wall to drop in a coin.  You can put your ear up to the pipes and hear your coin make its journey all the way down the tower to the bottom, where it rings a bell.  We tried it three times for good measure:

After this it was time to leave Clermont and head home.  Rob wasn't working very late and we had plans to meet Chris and a few others at the beach.  There are several beachfront parks, and Chris selected Rendon Park for our gathering.  It has restrooms, picnic tables with grills, a playground, showers, and a ramp to the water.


We grilled our dinner, snacked, joked, played in the water a little, and hung out until dark.  It was relaxing, and a great way to end our day.  No hurrying down a trail, finding a ranger to stamp our book.  No paddling down a river.  No tantrums.  In fact, Rob and Olivia had a great time building a sandcastle in the dark.  I had fun taking pictures of my heart and soul....building a sandcastle in the dark.  Days like this...the ones with no real agenda...speak to me of a simple happiness.  They feed my soul and remind me of why I get out of bed every morning.