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!
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.
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.
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.