Not every adventure has to be big or far away. In most communities there are small hidden places of solace if you know where to look, both official and unofficial. In Sun City Center is the Window in the Woods, a bird observation shelter sponsored by the Eagle Audubon Society, an organization formed in 1982 dedicated to preserving wetlands and conservation education. They often do field trips. The unmanned shelter has windows on all sides as well as a deck with benches. It is surrounded by various birdfeeders and birdhouses among the trees. A short distance away lies a pond where I have seen in past visits a turtle, an alligator, and an anhinga. On my most recent trip I only saw blue jays, cardinals, and a bright red dragonfly.
The trail to Window in the Woods begins next to the RV storage place in back of the community garden off Del Webb. It runs along a raised bed of sand and shell fill next to swamps and along a golf course for part of the way. Continuing past the bird observation shelter, there are a few benches alongside on which to rest. One overlooks another pond. One sits in the shade of moss-covered trees. The trail finally ends behind the health center of Freedom Plaza, an assisted living community. If you live in Sun City Center and just need to get away for a couple hours, this is the place to do it.
1516-A Del Webb, Sun City Center, Florida
The Downtown Dunedin Deli and Grill names all its burgers, sandwiches, and salads after American states. There is the Connecticut grinder, the Massachusetts salmon wrap, the New Mexico cemita, the Virginia seven-layer salad, the Louisiana muffuletta burger, and more. I was hungry after exploring Hammock Park all day and decided on a Connecticut grinder. It was much bigger than I expected. It came with salami, capicola, provolone, lettuce, pickles, banana peppers, and minced olives. It was very good – much better than Subway (don’t tell Subway I said that). I also had an ice water and a Kahwa espresso with cream. It was the best coffee I’ve ever tasted. I was unable to finish my sandwich and took it home along with some coleslaw. I suspected that it was not really all that good and I only thought so because I had been running around in the hot sun for hours, but after pulling it out of the refrigerator for a snack that night I realized it really was good.
730 Broadway Street, Dunedin, Florida
Some parks have playgrounds and some have pools (liquid playgrounds). Highlander Park in Dunedin, Florida has both a pool and a playground. It also has a collection of giant, whimsical water sprinklers. I watched as a yellow trough repeatedly filled with water and turned over, splashing the ground below and restarting the process, creating the potential for a game of timing. Water meanwhile fell in a continuous sheet from a mushroom-like object. I imagine it might be used a special zone in tag safe from the dreaded “it.” It could also serve as a sort of “cops and robbers” jail. So many ideas of how it might be used in play come to mind. Where were these places when I was little? Why have I never seen anything like this before visiting Highlander? I suppose there can only be one. Highlander Park is also home to several ball fields and the office of the Dunedin Nature Center. It is near Hammock Park and the Dunedin Fine Art Center.
1937 Ed Eckert Drive, Dunedin, Florida
LOCAL TAMPA BAY