We spent a few hours on Saturday at Magic Kingdom. It was a disaster. There were probably about 500,000 or so people there, the noise from “entertainers” was eardrum-threatening, the waits for “attractions” was running about 45-50 mins.
We quickly decided that this just wasn’t our style, and we left before lunch. Here is My Lovely Bride trying to reduce the noise level by covering her ears… it didn’t work.
After leaving the overpowering noise and crowds of Disney, we drove up to Lake Louisa State Park south of Clermont. For $5, about 1/25 of what our daily Disney adventure cost us, we spent an idyllic 4 hours running gorgeous trails under overhanging oaks and pines and having lunch in a shady spot with almost no other passersby. We may have seen 10-11 people during our visit, as opposed to the tens of thousands at Magic Kingdom. (Quick, what’s missing from this picture? Right, hordes of people! Hooray!)
The highlight of our trip to Disney was definitely Animal Kingdom. One of the impressive birds was this Eastern Golden Weaver (Ploceus subaureus) and its bird nests in a great aviary with free-flying birds all around. He has a bottom entry into his nest. It keeps rain out, and maybe predators as well… but the really interesting aspect of the golden weaver bird’s life is that he builds a nest, then seduces a female into moving in by hanging upside down, uttering a mating call, and fluttering his wings. When the female has moved in and they have mated, he builds another nest and repeats the process, over and over again, until he has a harem, each female with her own nest… you have to give the little guy credit for energy and audacity! (I don’t think that would work here for male humans in The Villages…)
Look carefully and see if you can identify the animal belonging to the nostrils rising up for a breath in this pool. Here are some hints: the animal is not svelte, weighing in at about 3,000 – 5,000 lbs. It has massive canine teeth for fighting, which are often used, as it is one of the most aggressive beasts on the planet. Its skin secretes a natural sunscreen, which is red in color, and often called “blood sweat”, although it is neither blood nor sweat. Colombian Drug Lord Pablo Escobar bought four of them in New Orleans and kept them on his farm near Medellin. An aggressive, mature bull will typically have 10 or more cows, while some superstars have been noted with up to 100… (Sheesh, where does he find the time or energy to fight?) Okay, you have probably identified this as a river horse (that’s what the ancient Greeks called him, anyway)…. officially known as the hippopotamus (Hippopotamus amphibius).
Hippos are probably the only animal that crocodiles fear. Adult male hippos regularly attack big crocs, partly because they share rivers and maybe just for fun; the hippos are usually the winners. Here are four hippos enjoying the warm weather nuzzled up against one another, enjoying a quiet moment, with a pelican couple swimming by totally unperturbed…
On the way home, we picked up two new stuffed dog toys for Rudy and Gretchen. We call these adorable, lovely puppies “Destructo-Dogs” because of their ability to eviscerate their stuffed toys (hedgehogs in this case) in less than 7 minutes…
Rudy’s comment was “Well, what do you think Dachshunds were bred for? I am a hunter!”
And sweet little Gretchen said, “But Dog Dad, I was just following my big brother Rudy’s example… it’s his fault!”
Life is Good in our Animal Kingdom!