Saturday, March 4, 2017

Day 198 Beauty in Winter Park, FL- Orlando, museums, peacocks, lakes and more


Since February and March in Pittsburgh can be the perpetual rain and gray sky months, I say fly south for some beauty. From Pittsburgh there are reasonable and sometimes down right cheap direct  flights to Orlando. However I have not been to Orlando since 2002 when I did the Disney thing with my 5 year old son. Like most, I associate Orlando with Disney parks and endless exhaustive walking but  my friend introduced me to a lake community, Winter Park, Florida. It’s 7 miles from Orlando and  a small gem offering so much beauty in a quaint town with lakes, museums, peacocks and  more.

 Boat tour home- beach sand brought in and house painted to match  
My day here was full of adventure and things aesthetic to the eye. The quaint town of Winter Park with bricked streets has an array of  fancy upscale stores.  We walked through the  beautiful campus of  Rollins College that is home to a unique Chapel built in 1931 and an art gallery. Apparently there is always some cultural event here. In the Chapel we listened to the symphony  practice for the Baroque Festival which we did not have time to see.  It’s also the alma mater of  Pittsburgh’s beloved  Mr. Fred Rogers!
Canals on boat tour

We ventured to the lake. The Winter Park Scenic Boat Tour is a relaxing, fun, and informative pontoon boat tour which winds through  5 lakes. The lakes are  connected by canals (used for logging in the 1800’s). It  feels like you are on a  real “jungle cruise,” a real Disney ride, as you careen through beautiful foliage. Then  it opens to various lakes and you get an entertaining guided tour about the homes (you all know I love stories). My favorite was the story about the house that trucked in beach sand and then painted the home to match the sand.  Mr. Roger’s mansion home was built on the lake by his parents because his piano did not fit in his dorm at Rollins College. What a lucky guy.  

Polasek  Sculpture garden picnic lunch

Polasek home with sculptures 

We had lunch in a sculpture garden. The Polasek Museum and Sculpture Garden is a relaxing and informative tour. Polasek had a Pennsylvania connection in that he began his formal art training at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia. He also was head of  the Sculpture Department for 30 years at  one of my favorite places, Art Institute of Chicago (see Day 86 ).  He is known for the fluidly of his sculpture and said that “the parts should flow into one another just like life.” He was a deeply spiritual man and said that “God  reveals himself  in everything that is good, beautiful and kind.”  He also was an optimist and  after  left sided paralysis from  stroke, he persevered and kept sculpting. I think Maslow would say that Polasek was a  self-actualized person.  

Tiffany  Chapel

Our “cup runneth over” with beautiful things at the Morse Museum. This place has  one of the world’s largest collections of Louis Comfort Tiffany art pieces. Of course there were plenty of the famous Tiffany lamps but there were rooms filled with glass wear, pottery and jewelry! The magnificence of the lead and stain glass windows were spectacular when you could see them at eye level.  The highlight was the Tiffany Chapel that was  reconstructed from his exhibit in the 1893 World Fair in Chicago.
Tiffany window at eye level

The peacock, a beautiful bird in its own right, roams wild here on Genius Drive. Apparently  a wealthy lake home dweller (the Morse family, founder of that Tiffany museum above) received peacocks for a wedding gift. The birds multiplied as they roamed on their lake property. The town now embraces the peacocks that walk freely on this street. I enjoyed chasing them for pictures but did not get the male bird to  spread his feathers.

Peacock run free on Genius Street 
I will keep this little place, Winter Park, Florida, in my survival tool box and I will hop on a plane from Pittsburgh again.  It’s filled with beauty, relaxation, fun and a nice reprieve from the hustle of the Orlando theme parks.

Spiritual  Source

Everything God does will endure forever (Ecclesiastes 3:14)

 Other Sources

Morse  Museum (Tiffiany)