A museum, a park, and black swans

What do you do with a dog in a city the size and sprawl of greater Orlando? That was my dilemma yesterday, as I tried to plan our day. Using the trusty iPhone, and asking for parks / playgrounds my choices were all over 20 miles away in all directions and I didn’t know if any of them would fill the bill.

I decided to go into the “old” Orlando – the downtown section that might most reflect some of its architectural history – and walk around with Max. In the process, I remembered the Charles Hosmer Morse Museum, and its collection of Tiffany windows, lamps, and its most notable claim to fame – the Tiffany Chapel.

With the Morse as our first destination, I programmed the address into the GPS and set off. Fifteen or 20 minutes later, we arrived – at a house on a cul-de-sac in Winter Garden. Right address. Wrong town. I realized my mistake when I re-checked the address on the iPhone. The museum is in Winter Park.

Fifteen or 20 more minutes, and we were cruising the main avenue of Winter Park. Quickly finding a shady parking space so Max would be comfortable, I opened windows for ventilation, locked up the car and headed inside.

The Morse is a small museum exhibiting the world’s most extensive collection of the works of Louis Comfort Tiffany, as well as an impressive collection of art pottery, paintings, and furniture from the arts and crafts movement. I spent a happy hour walking through the galleries. The chapel designed by Tiffany for the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, is an amazing marvel in and of itself and is definitely the highlight of the museum. (plus admission is only $5 – where can you go for $5 these days?)

I got Max from the car, and we walked around Winter Park looking for an outdoor café for my lunch. As always, heads turn as Max trots along the street. We found a little place called Circa Pub tucked off the main street and settled in for what turned out to be an amazing fried fish sandwich! The menu described it as deep-fried white fish (haddock) with coleslaw and shoestring fries served on rye bread.

When it arrived, it was this triple layer marvel, with cool little toothpicks holding it together that were made from thin strips of bamboo that had been curled and knotted on one end. Looked great, but where were the fries and coleslaw? Turns out they were layered with the fish! Every bite had the tang of slaw – but the best part? The fries were crispy!

Best fish sandwich ever.

Next stop was Lake Eola Park in downtown Orlando. Don’t get excited. A lake in Florida can be as small as a pond, and this one was no exception. The surprise was that it was so beautiful! There’s a bandshell, a paved walking path around the entire lake (.9 miles around), swans, and swan boats. Even beautiful black swans!

Eola Lake Park in Orlando is a popular place for walkers, joggers, and dogs.

Two of the black swans at Lake Eola Park, Orlando.

Max really wanted to play with those swans. They were close to his size, and from his perspective, pretty interesting fellas. As we walked (and he pulled HARD towards the lake), we encountered one black swan walking towards us on the path. I had all I could do to keep him from lunging right up to touch nose to beak. And the swan? He was totally unperturbed by this rambunctious upstart.

Max peers at a swan through the bars on a small bridge.

So, while it is hard to find things to do with a dog in a sprawling place like this, I managed to do it, and successfully at that. I got to see art, eat lunch outside in January – without a jacket, hat, scarf, or mittens – and we got to experience some natural (or maybe manmade) beauty.

A beautiful pagoda sits by the side of Lake Eola. If you look closely, you’ll see a black swan on the grass in front of it (just to the left of Maxs left ear).

Later, we went over to Kissimmee to meet up with my son, PJ; wife, Julie; and her aunt and uncle, Priscilla and Tom for a visit and dinner out. Max as on his best inside behavior (once again – will wonders never cease?) and we had a nice visit. Their house has a sunset view over a small lake, and Max was the first to notice three sandhill cranes between the house and the water.

He was really fascinated with the birds, who noticed him right back but didn’t seem all that thrilled with him. One started making a loud clacking noise, and even did a little dance which looked a lot like their mating dance, but I thought it was more like a warning to the curly creature to keep his distance.

We drove to Celebration (remember I mentioned it a couple of days ago?) to Thai Thani, a restaurant that Tom and Priscilla like. We newcomers were pleasantly surprised by the decor, which was all beautiful, hand carved and painted original Thai art. The food, when it arrived was fabulous.

We ordered an appetizer sampler of crab rangoon, egg rolls, and chicken that provided just enough for each of us to start. My ginger duck was deliciously moist, with a wonderful brown sauce and lots of vegetables. Raves all around, a couple of leftover boxes to go, and we were out on the street in time to hear the booms from Disney’s nightly fireworks display off in the distance.


About Maureen Farr

I am a graphic and web designer – and the publisher of the print version of Arts Guide, a free guide highlighting the arts, dining, events, and more on the coast of Maine. In addition, I am a visual artist working in mixed media and encaustic, as well as creating found object jewelry. I am currently at work revising a short novel that I wrote as a participant in the 32nd Annual 3-Day Novel Contest.
This entry was posted in Eating out on a road trip, Friends along the way, On the Road, Puppy antics, Random thoughts, Traveling with a dog, Traveling wth a poodle, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to A museum, a park, and black swans

  1. Carolyn Mor says:

    From NPR: “Clara Driscoll is credited with the idea for the famous Tiffany lamps. Host Liane Hansen speaks to author Susan Vreeland about her new novel, Clara and Mr. Tiffany, a fictional account of how it happened.” This was a wonderful interview with the author. Here’s the link to the NPR audio and the transcription.


    We are getting snowed in today. Send up Thai food and fish sandwich!

  2. Max’s new BFF–a black swan! Very cute! To Max, the whole world is friendly, isn’t it? He’s so cute! Sounds like you had a great visit with PJ and Julie, and I’m glad you got to see the Tiffany Museum, after we were so interested in it when we were all down there in November! xoxo Cin

    • Maureen Farr says:

      Yeah, me too Cindy. I hear you are getting snow. school canceled? got notice from the city of a parking ban! guess I need to unsubscribe to that one! Just saw a bald eagle circling outside my window!!

  3. Wow, a bald eagle outside your window? Cool!

    Yep, getting tons of light, airy beautiful snow–finally will be able to do some winter photography for Visit Portland and Maine Office of Tourism–phew! Tomorrow will be a busy day for me and my shutterbox!

    No school for Maya, no work for Jon–work was cancelled last night–a vacation day!

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