Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.

Henry David Thoreau

The Bad, The Good and The Irritating–I Could Use Your Help

Sunday February 19, 2017


David had arranged to fly to New York yesterday for his Mother’s sister’s 90th birthday.  All his living siblings will be there.  He had the plane reservation and hotel set up and was very much looking forward to seeing everyone and celebrating the occasion.  But……….

The first signs of a cold showed up on Tuesday. Over the week, it turned into a cough and then a fever and then fatigue and it all just got worse and worse.  He was in bed all day Friday and all day yesterday.   His temperature would be high, 102.3, and then tylenol would bring it down.  Early last evening it hit 103 and at that point it was time for the experts.  Rather than take him to another regional hospital where they seldom know what to do with a Multiple Myeloma Patient, and I have to be his constant advocate and totally vigilant, I drove him 2 hours south to Tampa.  He was admitted to Moffitt Cancer Center where they know all about him and his illness.   This morning they have diagnosed him with pneumonia but the tests for a secondary infection which they suspect won’t be back for another 24-48 hours.   He just doesn’t have an immune system that can fight off anything that persists.   So instead of celebrating with his family he is in a hospital bed.

On a happier note, today also our granddaughter Celia is 9 months old.  How fast time flies.  I wish we could celebrate with them.   I hadn’t realized that Celia and David’s Aunt share a birthdate.  I’m surprised he didn’t point that out when he first planned his trip.

On an irritating note.  Yesterday I tried to post the second part to Animal Kingdom but got a 501 error which I’m still getting.  So no post.  Some people are having it, others with the same situation are not.  It has to do with the pictures and where they are coming from some say.  But just when one person says this is when it happens another says but I do it the same way and everything is fine.  Who knows how long it will take to get that up and how much further behind I will get due to the hospitalization and the error.  I seriously could have been caught up to the present had thought by early next week.   But now, who knows.   I know it doesn’t matter but it makes it easier for me to remember if things aren’t too far in the past and I need something else to do other than worry and try to figure out what I’m going to do now.

If anyone having this 501 problem has found a fix, please let me know.  This post is pictureless so that Google and Microsoft will play well together and publish it.

Our reservation here at Rainbow Springs is up on Tuesday and I will have to move Winnona without any help.  Our next reservation is 150 miles north of here and thus even further from Moffitt so I must find something closer to Tampa.  If you have any suggestions for that or can provide any help in any way please let me know.

It’s been a rough few days and the immediate future is extremely unclear.

The Incredible Tree of Life

Wednesday February 8, 2017                                                          Most Recent Posts:
Animal Kingdom                                                          We’re Celebratin Carrie’s Birthday Week in Disney World
Walt Disney World                                                                      Picking Citrus Near Lake Louisa


As if to tell us we don’t have to go to Animal Kingdom to see wild animals, the turkeys come walking through the campground and around Winnona as we are leaving to catch the bus.

First I see the hens.  When I come out, they head away and cross the road.  Guess that’s the answer to “why did the turkey cross the road.  When we walk on toward the bus stop, the toms are showing off in the woods.








Very handsome dudes and huge when all puffed up.



Taking the bus from Fort Wilderness is the only way to get to Animal Kingdom.  So we do.  Our first fast pass isn’t until after 11 so we are able to wander through the Oasis and see things like the Black Swan, the only swan native to Australia.



The Babirusa pig, which means “deer pig”,  is from the Asian Rainforest and reminds me of the wild boar that do great damage to the forests and parks in Florida.  Sure wouldn’t want to run into those tusks.




The Saddle Billed Stork is an amazing looking bird and is actually wide spread in sub saharan Africa.  I can’t imagine thinking of him like we do our wide spread American Robins.









From the Oasis we move onto Discovery Island, the hub of Animal Kingdom.  The center of Discovery Island and the main icon for Adminal Kingdom since its opening in April of 1998,  is the majestic Tree of Life.  It appears to be a real African baobab tree.  It’s an impressive 145 feet tall and 50 feet wide at its base and is home to more than 350 meticulously detailed animal carvings on its massive trunk, its enterwining roots and outstretched branches.  The animals magically appear as you look at the tree.   It’s quite a moving sight as you come onto Discovery Island. 



Disney explains that the tree was engineered from a refiotted oil platform and designed to withsstand hurricane force winds but still look realistic. 

The leaves are made out of kynar which is a highly non-reactive thermoplastic fluropolymer.  Info for you chemists who might know what that is. 

The leaves move in the wind just like the leaves on a living tree would.

The Tree of Life took 18 months to complete with 3 Imagineers and ten artists working full time on its creation. 



A unique system of fabricating and assembling the branches was designed that enabled the flexibility that was needed to bring this idea to life. There are 45 secondary branches that lead to 756 tertiary branches. With 7891 end branches, the entire structure is covered with 102,583 man made leaves, each of which is more than a foot long.  I find this all absolutely incredible.

A major part of the illusion is the painting. With varying shades of browns and green used, you'll be tempted to reach out and touch it to make certain that it's not actually tree bark. Even when you're viewing it close up, the realism is striking.  You really must take the time to see it close up and bring binoculars for those high up branches.  You never know what you will find.



Today we spend most of the day walking the Discovery Island trails which encircle the grand tree or nearly all around as we did come to one section that isn’t open yet.  We take breaks for lunch and our two fast passes but mostly we are entranced by the tree, such a perfect symbol for the interconnectedness of all life and the diversity and beauty of the amazing creatures with whom we share this incredible planet, Earth.

We move onto the trails surrounding the tree.  So much to take in everywhere we look.  Some of the animals are quite obvious.  Others are very subtle.   What do you see here?





We interrupt our tree search and go across the bridge from Discovery Island to Africa.  Mount Kilimanjaro is in the distance.  We have a fast pass to see some real live animals on the Kilimanjaro Safari.




On the safari you see what you see and every time it is different.  Today we see Ankole Cattle whose horns can be up to 8 feet, Wildebeests, Giraffe,



Pretty amazing horns.



Giraffes and Elephants are among my favorite African Animals.




Seeing the little ones makes me feel the elephants must be reasonably happy with their Disney World habitat.


The White Rhino are a surprise.  Although they are the largest of the Rhinoceros and supposedly the most social, we haven’t seen them often on the safari.



By now it’s just after noon and the temperatures aren’t up to the predicted high of 83.  I guess the lion likes the view and the warmth of the rocks.



The Safari exits into the area of the batchelor gorillas.  They are out and moving around so we stay to watch.

One gorilla is sitting with his back to the waterfall.  Another is walking in this direction.











The larger male takes up a spot just to the right of the smaller one.  He’s not turning his back to anyone.  In fact, he looks at us and then to his left when he sees a third gorilla coming up out of the gorge.








No wonder he’s looking.  I just happen to catch the face on Gorilla 3 as he starts up the hill.  That mouth looks like it would have a roar but I don’t hear anything.  There is a Disney employee there who knows all of these bachelors and says this is posturing.  The two larger gorillas are jockying for heirarchy and position.



Eventually this fellow sits at the top of his hill with his back to us and ultimately walks on off.  I guess he doesn’t get the spot by the waterfall.



We leave the gorillas and stop for lunch where our table is directly in front of a performance area where watch great African dancers and acrobats.   They take volunteers from the audience to follow their dancing and this little girl is the star of the show.  She’s really got the moves.  Anything he can do, she can do.



After some excellent acrobatics, they get the whole crowd involved in dancing.  Everyone really has a great time. 




I love their wonderful faces.





On our way back to Discovery Island from Africa we stop for a parade and yet more dancing.  They do a lot of dancing here in Animal Kingdom’s Africa.  And in wonderfully colorful costumes as well.






Back on the Discovery Island Trails around the Tree of Life, we stop to enjoy the Cotton Topped Tamarind which is a New world monkey meaning it’s one of the five families of monkeys found in Central and South America.  He’s one of the smallest of the primates. His habitat is the humid tropical forest.  I wonder if Florida’s heat and humidity is enough for him.  They are very endangered as their habitat is logged for coffee and cattle.  There are only about 1000 left in the wild.


What a face!



Not too far away are three African Crested Porcupines taking a nap together. Actually, since they are nocternal this must be night time for them. They are the largest porcupine in the world with quills 1 to 13”  long.  Their most heavily armed area is their hindquarters.  When threatened the black and white quills along their head and back can be raised into a crest making the pocupine look much larger and threatening.  I read that if this strategy doesn't chase off the predator, the porcupine stamps its feet, clicks its teeth, and rattles its hollow-tipped tail quills. This would most certainly scare me but apparently if this too fails, it runs backwards and rams the attacker with the short, thick quills on its backside. OUCH!  The tips of its quills lodge in its enemy's skin, and the resulting wounds can disable or even kill the predator. Porcupines have been known to injure lions, leopards, hyenas, even humans.   No need to watch out for them in your neighborhood or on your travels, they live in hilly rocky habitats in sub-Saharan Africa, North Africa and Italy.

Back at The Tree of Life we’ve come around to an area by a waterfall.  More animals everywhere. 




Can you name them?






We wander on around the paths at the base of the tree discovering more and more animals.



We are perfectly positioned for our fast pass to one of my very favorite things in Animal Kingdom, the show called It’s Tough to Be a Bug.  I say we are perfectly positioned because amazingly the 400 seat theater is housed in the base of the Tree of Life, in its root system.  But more on that and part two of the Incredible Tree of Life in my wrap up post on our day in Animal Kingdom.