From Tampa

While wandering around Myakka River State Park my friend Alyssa and I stumbled across a Tampa Butterfly Orchid (Encyclia tampensis) hanging out of a live oak.

The first part of the common name refers to the fact that the species was discovered in 1847 in the Tampa area. The second part was inspired by the way the flowers flutter in the breeze.

Though this delicate beauty is one of the most prolific orchids native to Florida (and the Caribbean), it is a regulated plant in the state. A move designed to protect the species from orchid thieves. Here’s hoping the species continues to thrive!

Citrus County Culture

Last weekend I drove up to Inverness with my friend Katie to help out at Night of Carnage, a demo derby at the Citrus County Speedway. Some of her friends are taking over the food and beverage concessions at the track and they were in need of extra hands.

It was a long night since we had to wait for a typical Florida summer storm to blow through but thankfully, we were so busy we didn’t even notice the time!

After sleeping in on Sunday, we spent the afternoon exploring nearby Fort Cooper State Park. The park protects the site of a small fort built in 1836 during the Seminole War.

We enjoyed wandering the trails while looking for wildlife and smelling the flowers. With the exception of three other people we were the only ones in the park, which surprised us given the pleasant weather.

Altogether a fun and interesting weekend!


Just yesterday morning I bemoaned the lack of moisture in my part of Florida. Believe it or not, my county and a few neighboring ones are currently in a state of drought.

As I mentioned, there have been storms building to the east of me for the past week. Even though the clouds were directly overhead yesterday afternoon I figured they’d scuttle away and leave me high and dry.

Thankfully, a decent downpour proved me wrong. Perhaps I should buy a lottery ticket…

Wishful Thinking

As they say down here, it’s been a minute since it’s rained at my house. While that’s normal this time of year, it’s been warmer than usual so my plants are looking a little peaked.

This past week storms have started building (a precursor to our rainy/hurricane season) but the lovely sea breezes that I adore keep pushing them inland. And no, central Florida, I’m not interested in hearing about the three inches of rain you received yesterday!

At least the nearby thunderstorms have been dropping my evening temperatures…

People Watching

There are a number of reasons why I moved to Florida’s Gulf Coast just over three years ago but the main one is the beach. Technically I should say beaches. There are numerous stretches of sand near me and they each have their own special characteristics; some are powdery soft while others are loaded with shells and I enjoy them all.

I know my local beaches fairly well and have some special spots where I can avoid the largest crowds but to be honest, sometimes watching people is the best entertainment. I never know what I’m going to see out there!

Dancing Queens

Some friends and I checked out the newest bar in town last night, a disco joint called Good Night John Boy. Yes, you read that right, I said disco.

The place was decorated in the finest from the 1970s (with a velvet Elvis and console tvs). I wore my best (and only) bell bottoms – leopard print with sequins, a lucky thrift store find!

The music was a blast from the past and we boogied to every song (as my sore feet can attest). The nostalgia was strong and even though the place was packed we had a great time!

Our throwback tour continued outside the bar when some roller-skaters danced by. This town is never boring!

Vibrant Avian

I was thrilled to spot this Purple Gallinule (Porphyrio martinicus) while touring the Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive this past weekend. The swamphen is a year-round resident here in Florida, though they are usually found further south of me.

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology All About Birds website offers this vivid description: “cherry red, sky blue, moss green, aquamarine, indigo, violet, and school-bus yellow”. Uncommonly, adults of both sexes are this colorful. It was worth the 2 hour drive just to see this rainbow bird!