Wanderung 28

A Warm Winter Break

December 2013 - January 2014


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Tuesday December 24, 2013: Sugar Mill, Old Homosassa, and Light Show

Martin was getting better but Tanya was a bit sicker and Ondina started coming down with flu, too. Despite Martin and Tanya being under the weather, they carried one of the canoes down to the dock and tried out the canoeing, taking it both "upstream" into the nature preserve area out in back of the house, and "downstream" along the maze of waterways that ultimately ends up in the gulf. The distance we could travel upstream was limited by the overall level of the water, which varied in surprising and to me inexplicable ways while we were at The Sanctuary. I was expecting a cycle of high and low tides every 6 hours or so, but instead we had roughly two days of constant high water after we arrived at The Sanctuary, then three days of consistently low water where the river banks were largely exposed, and then again two days of constantly high water at the end of our week there. I was totally puzzled by that, but my best guess is that the water level in the estuary was more driven by the winds of offshore storm systems sweeping across the Gulf of Mexico and either pushing water in or pulling it out, rather than normal tidal action.

Martin, Monika, and I visited the Yulee sugar mill ruins just outside Homosassa, and then walked around the riverfront area in the town of Homosassa. The sugar mill was the local mill for the Yulee family's sugar plantation in the ante bellum South. The ruins were surprisingly intact, including the old boiler and the big iron rollers used to squeeze the juice from the sugar cane stalks, and the detailed plaques surrounding the ruins gave a really good indication of the process. Since the mill supplied sugar to the Confederacy during the Civil War, Union raiders attacked and burned the plantation in 1862 or 63, after which it never recovered.

The waterfront in Homosassa was anchored by a hotel on one end and then a string of waterfront businesses including a bar/restaurant, fishing shops, and places offering boat tours. Out in the middle of the river was "Monkey Island", a half-acre or so island with a lighthouse on it (functional? not sure), and at least two monkeys sitting up on an old scaffold of some sort and engaging in mutual grooming. Not sure who was feeding the monkeys, but I think someone would have to as the island was not much bigger than a suburban house lot and would just not have enough food sources to support even two monkeys, I would think.

For dinner that evening, Monika made her patented Hungarian goulash, a slow-cooked braised beef and gravy over nice egg noodles. Very tasty. After dinner we returned to the Wildlife park to see the Christmas light show and listen to a Christmas church service out in a quasi-natural setting. The Christmas light show is only put on for a few days each December because, apparently, it disturbs the animal residents of the Wildlife Park, which having seen it I can well understand. The end of the park around the main spring outlet and manatee pens was festooned everywhere with Christmas lights. Lights covered the gift shop, several pavilions, the fences along the paths, and a little gazebo which was used as a band stand for the live music performances.

The light show itself consisted of recorded music choreographed to flashing, blinking, and swirling patterns of lights all around us. The music was LOUD, and I could sympathize with the animals not being able to get a good night's sleep with all the lights and ruckus going on around them. We, however, enjoyed it a lot as the music was jazzed-up versions of old Christmas standbys, done on a Moog synthesizer or something similar, and the choreography combining the music with changes in the light patterns was nicely synchronized.

The light show was put on pause, so to speak, while a local minister gave a short but clearly heartfelt sermon. The only problem was that he was using some new-fangled modern English version of the bible, and hearing about Christ being put "in a feeding trough", rather than in a manger, somehow grated on me. I guess I'm old-fashioned, but St. Luke's account of the nativity in the King James version of the Bible has an almost poetic quality that I think is lost when translated into modern English. We all enjoyed singing some Christmas carols and then doing a candle-lighting ceremony at the end, so all in all our Christmas Eve was very satisfying.

Copyright 2014 by R. W. Holt and E. M. Holt


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Map of Homosassa, Florida Map of Western Caribbean Cruise Map of Panama Canal Cruise

December 2013
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January 2014
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