Thornton Park Farmers Market, Benjamin French Bakery, Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, Dixie crossing — near Orlando

imageWho says you have to go to theme parks in Orlando? Certainly not when there is an amazing place like Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, about an hour east on the coast. My sister in law Denise and I drove there, binoculars at the ready, and saw dozens of spectacular birds flying low across the marshes and pools– my favorite is the startlingly pink Roseate Spoonbill, which we saw many of, plus a reddish egret (which has a dusty grey-blue body and a multicolored bill of pink, purple and black). As we drove along the narrow dirt road that winds 7 miles through marshland, we saw egrets of all colors, herons, pelicans and that’s just the ones I recognized.image

Afterwards we had excellent broiled rock shrimp, a local product, in the gloriously kitsch decor of Dixie Crossroads  in the worn town to Titusville.

In Thornton Park

In Thornton Park

We began the day at the farmers market in Thornton Park, where I had some prerequisite fresh squeezed orange Juice and bought some very good locally made plaintain chips. It turned out to be good luck that this was the rare market without some breakfast pastries because we found the fabulous Benjamin French Bakery and Cafe in the shabby chic neighborhood where we had the best chocolate twist pastries and met an 11 month old Bernese puppy!image

The neighborhood has lots of charming old bungalows and plantain style homes and cottages shaded by live oaks and bourganvia.image


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