Monday, January 14, 2013

Orange Blossom Cannonball - Tavares, FL

I have always been fascinated with trains since I was very little.  The idea of something that large screaming down the tracks, blowing the horn and steam rolling out the top was always very exciting.  I always wished I would have the opportunity to ride one someday.  However, as I got older, trains went away and were not something that was easily accessible anymore.  I thought that I would never get a chance to mark that off of my "bucket list".  Luckily one day in December,  I came across an advertisement for the America's number one movie train - the Orange Blossom Cannonball - and I knew this was the opportunity I had been waiting for.  I could mark off another item from my "list" and I could do something cool to promote on the blog.

Upon checking out their site, I noticed they had several different ride options - from one to two hour normal train rides, to the "Pizza Express" where you get unlimited pizza and drinks while you ride, want to do something way out of the normal - try the Wild West Train Ride and Hoedown or the Rails and Ales tour.

We decided to go to the first one that was available so we decided on the Saturday one hour excursion - this ride takes you a half hour out and then you turn around and come back to the station.  The two hour ride goes to Lake Jem -

Upon entering the train you are allowed to sit anywhere - they have several carts to sit in and every seat has a table - there is a cafe on the train where you can purchase beer, snacks and non-alcoholic beverages.  You can even bring your own dinner to enjoy on the train.

Closer to the rear of the train is the Copla section - it was a birds eye view of the train - these seats were a few dollars extra - but the area was really neat to get a new perspective of the train from -

Few Facts about the Locomotive

  • Only standard gauge wood burner currently in year round active service in the US
  • Was built in 1907
  • Top speed of 50 mph
  • Engine will use over 100 gallons of water per mile for steam
  • Uses over 3500 pounds of hardwood for every 16 mile trip

The Orange Blossom Cannonball has been in over 100 movies - such as Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Slayer (2012) ; True Grit (2010), 3:10 to Yuma (2007), Oh Brother Where Art Thou (1999); Long Riders (1979);  Box Car Bertha (1972) - to name just a few

 Go online and check out their events and order your tickets today -

Don't know what to do before or after your train ride?  Well why not check out Wooten Park that is right next to the train station - They have an entire fenced in play area that has many items for your kids to run around and play on.

Is it really hot out and you need to cool off? check out the Splash Park right next door - they are open from April to September -

Want to check out some of the other items that are offered in Tavares?

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Myakka River State Park - Sarasota, FL


In November I was searching the bucket lists I have at the top of the page for something new that we could go discover.  I came across the Myakka River State Park Treetop canopy walk and was very intrigued.  It is the only treetop canopy walk in Florida and sounded very interesting.

We drove to Sarasota from our house - only took about 2.5 hours and drove directly to the state park.  Upon entering the area we paid our $6.00 to park and decided to check out the tourist station.  The guide there explained that we had to drive a little further down to get to the canopy walk.

Inside the ranger/tourist station there were different displays regarding the flora and fauna of Florida.  The Myakka River State Park is one of the oldest and largest filled with wetlands, prairies, and woodlands.

We headed out and drove about 2 miles down the street - we crossed over a bridge filled with people fishing and checking out all of the gators sunning themselves - 

 We walked about a half mile through the forest before coming up to the first of the two towers for the canopy walk.

The Myakka Canopy Walkway provides easy access to observe life in the treetops of an oak/palm hammock.  Completed in 2000, the structure became known as the first public treetop trail in North America.

The walkway is suspended 25 feet above the ground and meanders about 100 feet through the canopy.  The second tower soars 74 feet in the air and provides a spectacular view of the treetops, wetlands and surrounding areas.  

looking back towards the first tower staircase

looking down from the 2nd tower at the people walking over the wooden bridge

After we walked both towers we decided to continue to walk around - I got some really interesting pictures from the ground up as well - 

Once finished with the walkway - we headed back to the car to continue to explore the state park.  About 3 miles further down we found the main area of the state park.  This is where they have airboat rides, tram safari, and a restaurant.

The airboat tours were in the largest airboat I have ever seen - if you want more information on their schedules - click here - 

another options was to take a Safari Tram and find out more about the surrounding areas - it too looked like it would be very interesting - to read more - click here

If you are interested in canoeing, walking around or just appreciating the view - you should definitely come here and check it out - 

Click here to check out all information pertaining to the Myakka River State park - hours, location, attractions, etc