Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Florida Aquarium - Tampa, FL

Over the Christmas holiday a few girlfriends and I went to the Florida Aquarium in Tampa Florida.  One of my friends brought her daughter with her and it was her first visit to any Aquarium's.  She was so excited that she brought the presidence for the day - fun!!!!!

Immediately upon entering the Aquarium you see a hands on interactive exhibti for the kids - touching sting rays.  Her daughter was a little afraid at first, but once we should her how to use her two fingers to touch the Stingrays she was hooked.

As we walked through the Aquarium we were taken into the worlds of the wetlands, then the bays & beaches, into the coral reef and ending outside in the Explore a Shore Area.  Many of the different areas had hands on activities for the kids and the Explore a Shore is an entire outsite adventure area for the kids to run and play on. 

African penguin

If you are interested in taking your family to the Florida Aquarium, check out this link for all of their contact information, hours, prices and directions. - http://www.flaquarium.org/explore-the-aquarium/exhibits.aspx

Lowry Park Zoo - Tampa, FL

Over the Thanksgiving holiday, we decided to go check out the Tampa Lowry Park Zoo.  I had heard many good things about it so we headed off to check out the animals.

One of the first things I noticed was there was no parking fee, which was very nice.  We arrived early and were one of the first people in the park.  I like going early because it seems that the crowds are thin and the animals are out.  We got a brochure and began our way through the park.  We decided to go left and continued clockwise around the park.  The first area we entered was the free flight avairy.  You meander along a path while birds of all different shapes and sizes fly by. 

Once through the bird area you come across the Asian Gardens

Malayan Tapir

Baby Indian Rhino

Clouded Leopard
This section was one of our very favorite parts of the zoo.  When we arrived we were the only ones at the pool and the Stingrays were filled with activity and boy were they hungry.


Upon leaving the sting ray area you notice a Bald Eagle.  They said he was hurt and so they had to clip his wings.  This is the closest I have ever been to one of these magnificent creatures

 I tried to take pictures of the River Otters, but they are so fast and crazy that it was really hard to get one that was not blurry.  The next section is a Manatee encounter.  It is so sad to see what happens to these guys out in the wild.  They are such a calm creatues.

you can see where the propellors have it this poor guy.
 On to the Florida Panther

 We wondered on throught the park looking at the different animals, wolves, skunks, flamingos and then we ended up at the African Penguin area.  These little guys are just like their southern family, except they also enjoy our weather.

Safari Africa was our next destination.  In addition to the animals they have giraffe feeding.  You know I love feeding the animals when we can.

One of my favorite attractions we came across was the Meerkats.  They are funny little creatures that look like they are trying to be human.  The funniest thing about them is the fact that they like to mirror each other.  Watching the follow the leader game was pretty humorous.

this is an Okapi

Red River Hog

Finally you end in the Children's area where they have a pet farm, rides and wallabys.

 If you are interested in taking your family to the Lowry Park Zoo - check out their website for directions, hours, costs, etc. - http://www.lowryparkzoo.com/zoo_map.php

Here is the brochure for the zoo - download it and check it out for yourself!!! - http://www.lowryparkzoo.com/_page_content/zoo_map/documents/LowryParkZooMapFall2011.pdf

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Senator - Big Tree Park - Longwood, FL

This is now a tribute to the Senator who fell to a fire on January 16, 2012 after 3,500 years of existence.  You can still go see the Lady Liberty tree, but the Senator is no more.

Parking was free and we walked right up to the trail following the signage for the tree.  We walked for a while on a wooden trail and then rounded the corner.  I was aware that this was going to be a tall tree - but had no idea just how big it was. 

The Senator was the oldest pond cypress tree in the world, located in Big Tree Park, Longwood, FL. It once stand at an impressive 125 feet (38 m) tall, with a trunk diameter of 17.5 feet (5.3 m).

The Seminole Indians and other Native American Indians who lived throughout Central Florida used this tree as a landmark. In the late 19th century, the tree attracted visitors even though much of the surrounding land was swamp ; reaching the tree was done by leaping from log to log. A walkway was later constructed by the Works Progress Administration . In 1925, a hurricane  destroyed the top of the tree, reducing its original height of 165 feet (50 m) to a height of 118 feet (36 m). The Senator was named for Florida State Senator Moses Overstreet,  who donated the tree and surrounding land to Seminole County for a park in 1927. In 1929, former president Calvin Coolidge visited The Senator and dedicated the site with a commemorative bronze plaque.

As of 1993, The Senator was estimated to be 3,400-3,500 years old, the 5th oldest tree in the world. The tree's volume had previously been estimated at 4,300 cubic feet (120 m3), but a 2006 survey by Will Blozan of the Native Tree Society has measured the volume at well over 5,100 cubic feet (140 m3), making The Senator not only the largest Pond Cypress in the United States, but also the largest tree of any species east of the Mississippi River.

This should give you a good reference on the size of the tree

see how small Duane is next to the tree - he is 6 ft tall

The other tree in the park to check out - the only one now - is the Lady Liberty -

In addition there is a rather large bike trail that goes from the Big Tree Park area over to the Preserve area.

If you are interested in going to see Lady Liberty or exploring the trails with your family and friends - check out this link for all the parks information - http://www.seminolecountyfl.gov/guide/parks/park1.aspx