Tom and I woke to an empty home yesterday for the first time in 38 years–when we first became parents. But we weren’t alone. God met us in special ways throughout the days leading up to Christmas. Our kids kept us included in their festivities, for which we are grateful. The love we share is evident whether together or apart and that in itself is a gift.
Plans were made to do something different this Christmas morning. We decided to take a drive, and not just any drive.
Not far from our home is the third largest lake in Florida, Lake Apopka. It used to be surrounded on the North side by muck farms. This rich soil produced some of the best sweet corn in Florida, but the run-off nearly killed the lake.
In an effort to save the lake, our state began a major restoration project over 30 years ago. In 1996 they bought the land on the North shore and turn it into a wildlife preserve and wetlands park. It’s purpose is to help filter the lake water and return it to the lake cleaner. This isn’t the type of park with playgrounds and picnic tables. This is a park for the wildlife to thrive, and thrive they do! Visitors come only to observe, photograph and appreciate the beauty found there. I am thrilled to say the benefit to the lake is already being seen.
The Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive meanders through the wetlands for 11 miles. The road is one-way only with a 10 mph speed limit. It takes about two hours to complete unless you stop more along the way. The gravel road leads along the lake shore and between swamp grasses and by an old pump house. Hidden in the brush you can see water fowl and other birds of all kinds, as well as amphibians, reptiles, otters and bobcats too. It is a delight to capture on camera what you see.
Yesterday was our fourth visit and it didn’t disappoint. We spotted 42 gators, and those are just the ones we saw.
Marriage is all about making adjustments according to the need. This year I needed to do something different on Christmas morning, and The Wild Life Drive was a wonderful gift.
Here are a few photos from our day…