A good day to be retired - Airboat ride and Brazilian Food

Today Pete drove Donna and us to Kissimmee, where we took the Boggy Creek Airboat Ride, on the south end of Lake Tohopekaliga. This was another Groupon that Randy found, and it turned out much better than the Swamp Buggy Tour

I got distracted at the front gate, where a giant elephant of a tree was stretched out along the ground. 
Walking around it, I saw where it had, at some point, been knocked partway out of the ground. Instead of giving up, it just kept growing. Awesome!
We walked down to the docks where we boarded an airboat and put on ear-protectors to drown out some of the engine noise. These airboats are large enough to hold about 16 - 20 people (depending on the size of the people).
Like all good airboats, ours cruised along the waterways
even when we couldn't see the water. 
Our guide knew his way around, and found lots of beautiful herons, ducks and other water birds. And like all Florida water tour guides, he went looking for alligators and found them. He didn't get too close to them; it's a terribly noisy boat but he had it judged nicely how close he could get before they would sink under the water, without a ripple to show where they had been. As usual, Randy was even better at spotting them. Even in a field of water weeds, he could spot one lying motionless. 
In this field of water and weeds, one tree stood out. 
In its branches was a female Snail Kite. These birds are a "locally endangered species in the Florida Everglades" with just around 400 breeding pairs, but they are doing better in other parts of the world. 
Due to the impact of water-level controls, Florida was running out the big snails these kites eats. According to our guide, some were imported to provide the bird with food.
If that's true, it sounds like a bad idea to me. Every definition of apple snails that I found described them as an invasive species. But maybe I heard him wrong... On the base of this tree are some big snail egg pods. They are bright pink when immature, and turn whiter as they near maturity. 
The biggest surprise of the day was seeing several cows in the lake, some of them up to their jaw in the water. I guess the water grass tastes sweeter out there, and our guide said they are too big for the alligators to mess with. Like the birds and alligators, they moved out of our way, although they made more of a wake.

After the ride we drove to the Sinha Brazilian Steak House for a late lunch.  It's a small place and I was concerned that they would do "Brazilian" right, but they did just fine. The salad bar was enough for Donna, while the rest of us opted for what they call BBQ. In this case BBQ means all the salad bar you can eat, plus what Lambert's Cafe calls pass-arounds. But here, they pass around meats. The waiter came by with a big double skewer and gave us chicken. That was followed by beef, sausages and lamb. When he offered us pineapple grilled with cinnamon and brown sugar, I figured that was the dessert course. But no, next he came by with bacon-wrapped chicken and bacon-wrapped beef, and finished with sirloin. At that point he asked us if we would like him to start over at the beginning, but we were all totally full. So we let Pete drive us all home while the rest of us relaxed into a semi-food coma. Good day.

Our neighbors, the bears

Seven houses from ours, a bear stopped by during the night.  I don't know if anyone saw him but we all know he was there because he left his mark.
Apparently, after swimming across the canal, he felt the need to sharpen his claws. The lowest marks were close to the ground,
while the highest marks and broken limbs were over my head. 
The guy next door to here said that in the past he watched a bear swim across the canal. When it got on solid ground he threw a can at it. It was unimpressed; reared up on its back legs and the guy decided to quit while he was ahead. Good decision; this may not be a huge bear but it's big enough. But I still want to see one.

Boat Show at Tavares

We saw several beautiful old wooden boats being transported along the highway, so we decided check out what was going on. It turns out that the Sunnyland boat show was at Tavares this year. There were a bunch of boats on trailers and three docks full of amazing boats. 

They aren't all wooden boats; this 1956 Arenacraft Barracuda is in my favorite peach color. They call it "Conch Pearl", which is pretty perfect. 
The lovely two-toned 1957 Chris Craft Runabout was more what I was expecting. 
An even older boat, a 1927 Chris Craft, shows those beautiful lines I like so much. I know they are caulk lines, but they look like pin-striping. As, I am sure, they are supposed to.
Someone even built a perfectly-scaled miniature Chris Craft. Looks like a rich kid's toy but I would love to have it!
The boat show benefits  the Sunnyland Chapter Apprentice Mentor Program for Youth, aka SCAMPY. Some youngsters had build their own little boats.  
Even the 1955 canoe looks like a work of art.  
This 1958 Glastron Fireflight was found in such bad shape that trees were growing in it. They fixed that, and everything else, and it's a real beauty now. 
I think my favorite boat name was the 1958 CC Capri: "It's Someday"!
With it's rag top, this looks like an old car that Randy is checking out,
but it's a 1932 Hacker Craft. This one doesn't get in the water much, but it's still around and well loved.
A lot of these boats have car-like attributes. This old Century dashboard could fit right into a car, although it'd have to be in England because of the steering wheel location. 
The 1958 Marlin Marine Glass Slipper has smooth fins. 
And the 1958 Areo-Glas Supper Satellite 16 fins were even bigger. 
Taking it even further is the 1964 Amphicar Bat Mobile.
The speed boats that go over 100 mph were safely docked so no one could use them. 
An amazing 1924 Richardson Pilot House Launch sat in the parking lot. It's for sale, but not for us.
Several boat-makers had their wares on display. I loved this one by Jeffry Breen, loaded with shiny chrome.
But the old boats were still the best. The 1947 CC Deluxe Runabout shone like a new penny.
Randy admired a triple-cockpit 1929 Sea Lyon Model 40. It's over 90% original wood. Only 13 Sea Lyons still exist, and this is one of 3 Model 40s.
This boat took Randy back to his own past - when his family lived in a house that backed up to the river, a neighbor had one of these. 
The oldest boat I saw was the 1906 Antique Boat Launch. Boat launches were the utility boats of the era; just what you need to ferry guests out to your yacht. 

Chaney Brothers Food Show in Orlando

Randy has been helping in the kitchen at church. He does it to help, but we got a nice perk from it - an invitation to the Cheney Brothers Food Show, in Orlando.
This wasn't a big as the National Restaurant Association food show we used to attend in Chicago, but it had some things that Chicago did not. Like several meat carving stations. 
And rows of soups, warm and ready to sample.
This was the best pickle display I saw.
And the Belgium Butter company displayed their wares with seafood presentations. 
The pork display was kind of creepy looking, but that didn't stop me from sampling it. Pretty good, actually. 
 The sushi boat was a lot more appetizing.
In fact, seafood was pretty big here - displayed on ice
or in ice. 
I think the most unusual thing about this show were the ladies displaying fruit; never seen this before.
One thing here that they did not sample was the Japanese wagyu beef. I don't know how much this was - I have seen it at $1,500 for 5 pounds - but it's enough that it comes with a Certificate describing the "Animal Background". 
But there was plenty to eat! Lots of sandwiches, delicious proscuitto ham, scallops, salami, edible flowers, fresh salmon, mushrooms, gelato, and pretty desserts.