Part 3…Boating day, Lake Harris and Dora Canal..

As water birds, Anhingas spread their wings to dry out their feathers and sit in this position until dry.

Yesterday afternoon, around 4:30 pm, Tom headed to the Orlando Airport, an hour’s drive, to pick up our friend Rich upon his return to Florida from Minneapolis. During the drive, Tom encountered a horrific traffic accident, but he left early enough to get there in time to pick up Rich. The accident was in the opposite lane on the freeway, but gawkers slowed traffic to a crawl.

An anhinga bird sitting atop a fallen branch.” A long-necked, long-tailed swimmer of southeastern swamps. Often seen perched on a snag above the water, with its wings half-spread to dry. It can vary its buoyancy in water, sometimes swimming with only head and neck above water (earning it the nickname ‘Snakebird’). Often solitary when feeding, it roosts in groups and nests in colonies. It looks rather like a cormorant when perched, but not in flight, when the long tail may be spread wide as the Anhinga soars high on outstretched wings. Anhingas are mostly silent, but around nesting colonies, they make various croaking and clicking sounds.”

On their return drive to our place, they were in the same lane as the accident and didn’t get here until a few minutes after 7:30. None of us had yet to eat dinner, and I had big New York strip steaks ready for the grill with rice, salad, and dessert.

Houses along the shore of the canal to Lake Harris.

Once they arrived, they grabbed an ice-cold beer I’d put in the freezer for them. Tom fired up the grill while I started the rice and tossed the salad.

Shortly after 8:30, we sat down to dinner. Rich had promised his mother-in-law, Donna (whom I visited on Friday), he’d spend the night at her house in Leesburg, so he didn’t stay overnight after all. After dinner, he was on the move, so I packed dessert for him and Donna.

An osprey sits on its nest atop a platform on an electric pole.

By 9:30 pm, we had the dishes done, the kitchen cleaned, and finally sat down to stream a new show on Netflix, “Citadel.” By 11:00 pm, we both headed off to bed, having a good night’s sleep.

We went for our usual walk this morning and returned to make breakfast while I started laundry. With our passports renewal applications sent yesterday by FedEx, our next big task was to book our flight and hotel to Edinburgh, Scotland, departing Orlando International Airport on July 28, arriving in Scotland on July 29, and staying three nights in a hotel, the best and closest we could find close to the cruise terminal in Leith.

It was fun to see this seaplane taking off from the lake.

The hotel we wanted, The Bay Hotel, across the bay from the cruise terminal, was showing only two rooms left. Plus, we couldn’t book our seats for the red-eye, non-stop flight. It took us over two hours to book both airfares and the hotel when the prices kept jumping around.

We were thrilled to find a non-stop flight, one of the few offered from Orlando, although only on certain days of the week. We got an excellent price for airfare and three nights in a hotel, July 29, July 30, and July 31. As a result, we’re leaving The Villages on July 28, not July 29, as initially planned.

An interesting home at the entrance to the Dora Canal.

Using the Expedia link on our home page, we saved hundreds of dollars on the combo price of air and hotel by booking both together. We paid only about $500 more for the three-night four-star hotel, including breakfast, about 20 minutes from the Port of Leith, a suburb of Edinburgh. It will all work out well.

One canal-front home had a garden filled with gnomes.

With that out of the way, we can relax over the next several weeks, continuing to enjoy our time in The Villages. After many house guests since we arrived, the next few weeks will be easy, even though our only means of transportation will be the golf cart from now on. But we don’t mind a bit.

Tourists in a group tour of the lake and canal in these unusual dual-motorized surfboards.

We have everything we need right now and will order next week’s groceries online at Kroger, as we’ve been doing in the past month since we arrived. Tomorrow morning, the house cleaner is coming for the monthly cleaning included in our rent. We’ll either leave in the golf cart or stay out of the way on the lanai.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, May 31, 2013:

Wow! Wow! Wow! Tom took this photo from the 124th-floor observation deck of the tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa, with a total of 163 stories. For more photos Tom took at the top, please click here.

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