We don’t have the advantage of the cold weather here in Florida to help us truly celebrate Thanksgiving, but we try. I remember needing to crack the window because the oven would fog up the house windows when we cooked the turkey. Here, we put the air on because usually November is still a warm month.
Right now, I have a whole batch of homemade egg noodles drying on the back sunporch because the humidity here is so high most of the time, I only get a couple days to make noodles a year. They will be our Thanksgiving dinner of beef and noodles, which is a favorite, but again, not many days where we want to eat something so warm and toasty that we need to move the thermostat to 62.
After we eat, we walk the beach because we’re fat and sand is hard to walk in. We also go to the movies or bowling. The one thing we don’t do is shovel snow on the walk or try to get our car out of a drift.
I want to share a photo that I took of our pine tree in the front yard. These guys came for dinner and were patiently waiting for me to serve it.
Whatever you do, don’t forget to do your Black Friday/Cyber Monday shopping! Amazon has amazing deals for you. You don’t even have to get dressed, and after a day of eating, you might not want to. Check out these cool deals:
Check out the latest plants and flowers blooming in Florida this month! I have lots of non-native flowers that are taking off, but I don’t have these plants. What I do have is these plants! And, now I have hummingbirds 🙂
If you purchase something after clicking this link, I might earn a few pennies from the purchase. Thank you!
Now that the snowbirds and tourists are starting to flock to Florida for the winter, here are a few tips on how to tell them from the residents:
They drive with their blinker on. Always.
They drive 5 M.P.H. no matter what the posted limit as they search for wherever they were going.
They spend a lot of time looking up. The sky is blue and the trees are green.
They wear plaid shorts, sandals and black socks. You know who you are.
They pay for everything with change from the center console. One penny at a time.
They feed seagulls. What is wrong with you?
Okay, I admit, I just committed over half of these things on the list while meandering around New England. I didn’t know where I was most of the time; I slowed down to see if that helped me figure out where I was, and I had my blinker on a lot. I found out that Connecticut residents were the friendliest! They honk and wave a lot!
I also paid for things with the change piling up in the center console. But, I never, ever fed the seagulls.
One of the first lessons I learned in Florida 35-plus years ago was that you don’t feed the seagulls. Not because they aren’t appreciative, but because that’s a sure way to reenact a scene right out of Hitchcock’s The Birds.
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Seagulls have an uncanny way of knowing when you might accidentally drop a small crumb onto the sand. They are not shy about telling all of their friends, either. If you see one seagull, there are millions more just waiting.
I remember sitting on the boardwalk enjoying the ocean and marveling at my surroundings when I saw some people walking on the beach. I don’t know who started it, but someone tossed something out for one seagull. One thousand showed up. They screamed. They dove. They fought. And they pooped. People were running for cover while keeping their arms over their heads.
It was awesome.
You have to watch those birds at all times, and even when you don’t see them coming, they can swoop in fast and furious. I watched them steal pepperoni off of a piece of pizza the size of a travel brochure. He dove down, snatched the pepperoni on the pizza slice, and was gone before my son could even get the food halfway to his mouth.
Busch Gardens was up close and personal in those days.
Feed them if you like, but remember what Hitchcock said:
Melanie Daniels: Oh Daddy, there were hundreds of them… Just now, not fifteen minutes ago… at the school… the birds didn’t attack until the children were outside the school… crows, I think… Oh, I don’t know, Daddy, is there a difference between crows and blackbirds?… I think these were crows, hundreds of them… Yes, they attacked the children. Attacked them!
Mrs. Bundy: There is very definitely a difference, Miss… They’re both perching birds, of course, but quite different species… I would hardly think that either species would have sufficient intelligence to launch a massed attack. Their brain pans are not big enough… Birds are not aggressive creatures, Miss. They bring beauty into the world. It is mankind, rather… It is mankind, rather, who insists upon making it difficult for life to exist on this planet. Now if it were not for birds…
Deke Carter: Mrs. Bundy, you don’t seem to understand. This young lady said there was an attack on the school.
‘It’s the end of the world.’ Thus sayeth the Lord God unto the mountains and the hills, and the rivers and the valleys. Behold I, even I shall bring a sword upon ya. And I will devastate your high places. Ezekiel, chapter six.
Waitress: Woe unto them that rise up early in the morning that they may follow strong drink.
Drunk: Isaiah, chapter five. It’s the end of the world.
Mrs. Bundy: I hardly think a few birds are going to bring about the end of the world.
Melanie Daniels: These weren’t a few birds.
Deke Carter: I didn’t know there were many crows in Bodega Bay this time of year.
Mrs. Bundy: The crow is a permanent resident throughout his range. In fact, during our Christmas count, we recorded…
Sebastian Sholes: How many gulls did you count, Mrs. Bundy?… The ones that have been playing devil with my fishing boats… Oh, a flock of gulls nearly capsized one of my boats. Practically tore the skipper’s arm off.
Mrs. Bundy: The gulls went after your fish, Mr. Sholes. Really – let’s be logical about this.
Melanie Daniels: I think they were after the children…to kill them.
Mrs. Bundy: Birds have been on this planet, Miss Daniels, since Archaeopteryx, a hundred and forty million years ago. Doesn’t it seem odd that they’d wait all that time to start a…a war against humanity.
Salesman: Your captain should have shot at them… Gulls are scavengers anyway. Most birds are. Get yourselves guns and wipe them off the face of the earth.
Mrs. Bundy: That would hardly be possible… Because there are eight thousand, six hundred and fifty species of birds in the world today, Mr. Carter. It is estimated that five billion, seven hundred and fifty million birds live in the United States alone. The five continents of the world…
Salesman: Kill ’em all. Get rid of them. Messy animals.
Mrs. Bundy: …probably contain more than a hundred billion birds.
Drunk: It’s the end of the world.
Sebastian Sholes: Those gulls must have been after the fish.
Mrs. Bundy: Of course.
Boy: Are the birds gonna eat us, Mommy?
Mrs. Bundy: The very concept is unimaginable. Why, if that happened, we wouldn’t have a chance! How could we possibly hope to fight them?
When you live in Florida, you share your home, garden and yard with an array of animals, reptiles, birds, butterflies and bees. If you garden or build flower beds, you’re inviting many flying, chirping and stinging creatures into your world. If that’s the goal, then good for you if they show up. If that’s not the goal, you might want to rethink your outdoor plants.
My yard has played host to a lot of creatures over the years. We’ve had visiting foxes, peacocks, bobcats, hawks, eagles, buzzards and even a panther. We don’t have that big of a yard! Apparently, it’s just the right size for these wandering animals to stop and have look around for something to eat.
While most of the animals, insects and birds are common, we have our share of protected species, too. The panther for example is a protected species, and when I call the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, they told me that there were no panthers in my area. I begged to differ, and I had plenty of witnesses, but FWC would not be moved to believe. As for me, my family, the neighbors and the dog, we believed.
Another protected species can be found in a pile of sand. Probably right in the middle of your yard. This is a good sign that a gopher tortoise has found your yard to be the most suitable place in the world to live regardless of what you think. The problem with these guys digging is that their holes are massive, and they leave this huge pile of sand in their wake. They are aggressive diggers and can dig faster than a kid can plow through a birthday cake with the same degree of wreckage in its wake.
Our yard has been home to a few of these huge creatures over the years, but lately, we’ve only had one that has been using our yard as a freeway between burrows and whatever the great delicacy is in the yard a few feet over. He’s been crawling under our fence to get to wherever it is that he goes. Sometimes, his freeway becomes the neighbor’s chickens escape route.
Because they are endangered, there is no remedy to the landscaping they do. You can’t fill the holes in because apparently, those holes are home to a host of other animals and birds like burrowing owls and rattlesnakes. And 350 other species of animals. Owls, yes. Rattlesnakes, no.
According to the FWC, we can apply for Gopher Tortoise Friendly Yard recognition and get a sign. I don’t think I want his friends to bring more friends to the yard.
Since our tortoise passes through the yard, we enjoy his visits. Sometimes, he comes up on the front porch and noses around, but mostly, he’s headed somewhere else, so he’s less destructive than most.
I am fortunate to live in Florida. It wasn’t exactly by design, but I ended up here on the East Coast about 45 minutes’ drive south of Cape Canaveral, which was a bonus to being Oceanside. When I got here, the Challenger had just blown up and shuttle launches were scrubbed for the near future. I did get to see the next launch once the program started back up again. So, I have been lucky to watch all manner of rockets flung into space, as well as be amazed as the boosters returning to land on a postage stamp sized barge in the middle of the wide open Atlantic Ocean. I have seen the shuttle come home on a transporter that seemed to black out the sky when it flew over, and I grew up with a shuttle pilot as a friend. It’s safe to say that I love all things space. If you’re visiting the Space Coast for a Launch, you must love all things space, too.
Like the weather, the space program is unpredictable and while I am spoiled by the fact that I can look out my window and watch a launch, I know there are many people who come here just to see a launch. That was the case of the Artemis rocket test flight the other day. I happened to be on the road when it was supposed to launch, so I was constantly scanning the horizon while plugged into my rocket go-to site for more information. www.rocketlaunch.live gives you all the updates. That’s how I knew the flight had been scrubbed, which meant I could settle down and enjoy the road trip and wait for the next big thing.
Now, I am waiting for them to reschedule the flight and hope I don’t forget to write it down on my calendar.
The Space Coast is a focused on the space industry, but there are other things to do here that are not spacy for those days when scrubbed missions disappoint. If you’re heading down to Cape Canaveral (Kennedy Space Center), here are some other places to explore:
If you’re looking for a space thrill, then the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex is the place to spend a day. If you’re here for the launch, this is going to be a busy place, so you might need to put this at the end of your list of things to do.
It doesn’t matter what your level of space devotion is, there are exhibits that will excite and entertain you at the Center. You can take a day trip to the launch pad or explore for a couple of days. Just make sure you get into the visitor complex.
The U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame showcases legends from the beginning of NASA to the present day. You will ‘meet’ space pioneers like John Glenn and other Mercury astronauts. You can spend time in Mission Control, and you might even be able to chat with a real astronaut. If you want to get up close and personal with real rockets, there are plenty to see in The Rocket Garden. The Countdown Clock is an icon of American history, and it is still used today.
You can climb into a training simulator or enjoy iconic photos from deep space from the Hubble telescope.
Don’t forget to stop by the gift shop for a souvenir of your trip to the moon and back.
Just up the road from the assembly building is a barrier island that is home to many birds who come and go from the Florida peninsula. This national park consists of dunes, lagoons and hammocks that host a large selection of Florida native animals and plants. There are five turtle species at the seashore, and other mammals like the manatee and the right whale.
You can stop at the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge that is also part of this park system, and see birds like spoonbills, kingfishers and the endangered scrub jay. There are also wild hogs in the area, so keep an eye out for them, too. It is also the home of bobcats, so you might even see a cat or two.
The name Canaveral is derived from the word that means ‘place of cane’. It is the oldest recorded geographical location on the North American continent. There are nature hikes to take, and the history includes tales of its settlement and the crops they planted. Timucuan mounds are preserved.
You might remember the name of this beach town because it was the fictitious home base for Captain Nelson of the 1960s I Dream of Jeannie tv show. Unfortunately, there is no television studio set to visit as the house never was on Cocoa Beach.
That doesn’t mean that there aren’t some great things to do on Cocoa Beach.
Cocoa Beach is home to annual surfing contests because its six miles of beach make it a great place to surf. Surfers gear up from iconic shops like the Ron Jon Surf Shop where you can buy surf gear, Florida souvenirs, t-shirts and other touristy things to buy that will remind you of the days of sun and sand. At Christmas, the Surfing Santas take to the waves and all you see is Santas on surfboards spreading holiday cheer.
Cocoa Village is on the mainland, and it is the quiet, more reserved partner of the Cocoa experience. You will find art shops, antique shops, breweries, restaurants and gardens. Take a walk along the streets and pop into any number of shops selling local arts and crafts. Or, stop into a café for a bite to eat and a local brew.
You can still find a hardware store that opened up in 1885 selling its wares. It’s a small village, so take a day and explore the quaintness of an old Florida village.
Just down the coast from the Space Coast lies the Treasure Coast, that is aptly named for its hidden ocean treasures. The coastline is where the shipwrecks occurred, and there are still doubloons that wash up on shore to this day after a particularly fierce storm
The Mel Fisher Treasure Museum and Gift shop is located in Sebastian, Florida on U.S. Highway 1 and is the home of some of the iconic treasures that Mel Fisher brought up from some very famous shipwrecks.
Mel Fisher started as a dive shop owner in California before he became interested in sunken treasure. From there he sought out shipwrecks. In the early 1970s, he found one and it started is life’s dream to seek treasure and lost history.
In his museum, you’ll find jewelry, artifacts and gold from Spanish fleets that sunk in a storm in 1715. He recovered treasure from Nuestra Senora de Atocha that was sunk during a hurricane in 1622 off the coast of the Florida Keys. You can buy a piece of treasure from the Atocha if you wish. They offer emeralds and silver coins for purchase. I almost bought my Dad a cannonball for Christmas one year until I realized that I had no way to ship it!
There are opportunities to join a team of treasure hunters, so you might find yourself bitten by the treasure hunting bug.
In addition to these fun stops, there are other places very close to the Cape to visit like the Brevard Zoo, the McKee Botanical Gardens in Vero Beach or drive north to St. Augustine or Daytona Beach. You will also find fresh fruit like oranges, grapefruits and even local strawberries and blueberries.
Since you never know when another launch will happen, make sure that you have a backup plan for those scrub days.