Saturday, February 28, 2009

Queen of Peace

Queen of Peace Roman Catholic Church is one of two large Catholic parishes in Ocala. Queen of Peace primarily serves people in the west/southwest corridor.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Feeding at Silver Springs Park

Silver Springs Park is one of the "old" tourist attractions in Florida. Located on the east side of Ocala, it sits above a huge underground spring that releases thousands of gallons of water in the Silver River daily. Six of the original Tarzan movies were filmed here, as well as many others, including Smokey and the Bandit 3. Additionally, a number TV shows, such as "Sea Hunt" were filmed at Silver Springs Park.

There's a nice summary of the history of the park and a listing of all the movies and television shows filmed at Silver Springs Park here.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Mimi's - new cafe in town

Mimi's cafe came to Ocala last march. It has become very popular with the locals and is usually jammed. It claims a "European-style cottage exterior," and a "New Orleans decor." When it first opened, I thought it was a unique cafe, but that just shows how much I know - not much.

Before long, we saw a Mimi's in Orlando. Turns out there are about a dozen Mimi's in Florida and 141 of these cafes in 23 states. It also turns out that Mimi's is owned by another well-known company - Bob Evans Farms, Inc., which operates two other "family" type restaurants in Ocala.

The food is quite good, if a bit pricey. The ambiance is quite pleasant, except it tends to be noisy. If you want to talk quietly to those dining with you, ask for a table in the back section. But, if you're ever in Ocala looking for a nice place to eat, I'd certainly recommend Mimi's.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Trio of thoroughbreds

These photos were taken 21 years ago at Meadowbrook Farm. Meadowbrook Farm was owned by the widow of a good friend's brother and raised thoroughbreds, several of which became successful as racehorses. Because we were living in Fort Lauderdale at the time, we stayed overnight on the property and I was able to get these pictures. The horses were young, skittish, and absolutely beautiful.

Meadowbrook was sold some years after that and has now been developed into ugly commercial property. We call that paving over paradise.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Restaurant/Bar on the Square

It was too cold and windy for patrons to sit outside. But the restaurant, which is located across from the town square, is ready. Notice the horse heads on the railing. This is a horse town.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Market Street at Heathbrook

The horse is new, the stores are new, and hopes are high that this new outdoor shopping "mall" will become profitable. It's called Market Street at Heathbrook and has been under construction for many months. Some stores are operational, but many sit empty as you can see in the background. Unfortunately, this is probably not the economic climate in which to create a new shopping mall, no matter how fine a shopping experience it offers.

The photo is by Lois Anne. But I could not help playing with it a bit. The top photo is the result.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Watching and waiting

Silver Springs Park...the sun is going down...Florida ghosts sit watching...and waiting for the night...

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Friday, February 20, 2009

Painted Horse 2

This beautiful animal lives at the Ocala Civic Theater.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Jumbolair Aviation Estates - Home of John Travolta

Beyond these gates lies the home of actors John and Kelly Travolta, and their daughter, Ella. This is an aircraft-friendly community just north of downtown Ocala where most, if not all, homeowners are pilots, and thus their properties include hangers to house their aircraft.

"Normal" people cannot get through the gates except to patronize a resort on the property, but photos of the Travolta home show it to be large and beautiful. Travolta flies in and out of the area frequently, often in his Boeing 707.

Jumbolair Aviation Estates is the "largest licensed, paved and lighted, private airport in the world."

It is said that if you want to get a glimpse of Travolta, you should hang around Walmart in the middle of the night, as he shops there occasionally at that time to avoid the crowds.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

One donkey and 2 jealous thoroughbreds

These photos were was taken yesterday afternoon at a small horse farm north of Ocala. The donkey/burro came up to the fence where I was standing and waited to be petted. The thoroughbreds watched carefully and then, appearing jealous, moved over to run off the donkey. The donkey wanted no part of them and left quickly.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Monday, February 16, 2009

Ocala Horse Fever 1

Horse Fever, a public art project begun in 2001, has now produced well over 50 life-size painted horses which can be found in areas all over town. Sponsored by the Florida Thoroughbred Breeders' and Owners' Association, this project caught the public's imagination and has raised over $1 million for charity.

The painted horses were decorated by local and regional artists and many, if not all, have names, which I can't remember.

The horse pictured is one of four standing on the corners of the town square in the old downtown area. In days to come, I'll post other photos of other of these beauties found in other locations.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Our backyard orange tree

In our backyard, we have a couple of orange trees and one large grapefruit tree. The weather was perfect this year as far as citrus goes and the fruit is juicy and sweet. Perfect!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Meditating within the Labyrinth at Sholom Park

Sholom Park, located west of downtown Ocala, was built some years ago by a private developer. A woman by name of Sandra Friend writes that it "is a ... passive park with a special air of tranquility. The landscape is designed as a series of ten distinct outdoor rooms, each evoking a different set of senses. The central pond is especially popular thanks to the school of koi that gather to be fed. This is a destination for weddings, which you’ll encounter almost every weekend. One of our friends chose to be married within the Labyrinth, a winding walkway with reminders for thankfulness and contemplation. In all, you can walk more than a mile along the paved pathways, or find a bench in a quiet nook and enjoy reading a book or writing in your journal."

I shall be posting additional pictures of Sholom Park in the future.

Friday, February 13, 2009

A walk in the park

Just four miles from our home is part of the Florida Greenway, a paved, winding, hilly 6-mile loop through scrub, pines and forest. It is a great place to walk, jog, run, bike, skate, or sit and relax.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

An "older" mansion

You will find many gorgeous mansions on SE 5th and SE 8th Street in Ocala's Historic District. This is an "older" mansion on SE 5th Street.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Ocala Civic Theater

The Ocala Civic Theater is one of Marion Country's great resources. It is volunteer-based, but offers truly professional staged productions - 12 per year, along with various special events and an education program. From now to March 1, the theater is featuring "The Baker's Wife."

Shows coming up include "No Sex Please, We're British," and "The Wizard of Oz."

Monday, February 9, 2009

Bagelicious - a delicious place for breakfast or lunch

A favorite little restaurant in Ocala, serving breakfast and lunch. Terrific bagels, bakery items, and probably the best Cuban sandwich in Florida!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Old House - New Use

Many of the older homes in the Historic District of Ocala have been extensively remodeled and are now used for a variety of business/commerical operations. This is one example.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

New Mansion

So far as I know, this mansion, built about a year ago, is still for sale - $1.3 million, I believe. It is located in Ocala's historic district, on Southeast 5th Street.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Public Library

We are fortunate to have a very good public library in Marion County. The main branch, pictured above, is located on the east side of Ocala.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

The Appleton Museum of Art

Ocala may be a smallish town in central Florida, but that doesn't mean we lack for "culture."

The Appleton Museum of Art, located on Silver Springs Boulevard, is one of the finest museums in the entire state and showcases a variety of collections, exhibitions and special events. More information is available here.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Gazebo in town square

Ocala's downtown square is typical of those you will find in many older towns across the country. It has been renovated by the city fathers and serves as the site for a variety of events, such as concerts, Christmas tree lightings, patriotic/political gatherings, etc. It is also a nice place to sit and meditate or eat lunch on a warm day.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Ocala - Horse country

Ocala, situated in the center of Marion County, is one of the major horse-raising areas in the world. Horse breeding and training began here back in the 1940s, and today between 3500 and 5000 horses are born each year, which is about 10 percent of the nation's total.

Several famous horses have derived from the hills of Ocala, including Needles, who won the Kentucky Derby in 1956, and Affirmed, a Triple Crown winner in 1978. Gate Dancer, who won the 1984 Preakness, also came from Ocala.

There are approximately 1200 horse farms in the Ocala area.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Central Florida Community College

Central Florida Community College is located on the main drag through town. It is a vibrant institution, offering a quality education to thousands of students every year. The college also provides numerous educational and cultural opportunities for local residents.
"Photographers deal in things which are continually vanishing and when they have vanished there is no contrivance on earth which can make them come back again." — Henri Cartier-Bresson