The Orange Blossom Cannonball

This is the last weekend that the Orange Blossom Cannonball will run during the summer, so Saturday Pete, Donna, Randy and I used our Groupon tickets and got on board. It's a 1907 wood-fired locomotive, what they call a 2-6-0, based on the engine's wheel arrangement.
This is known as "America's Favorite Movie Train" because it's been in 20 movies, starting back in 1964 with "This Property is Condemned". The most recent movie was "Walt Before Mickey" in 2015, and in-between it found its way into "North and South", "O Brother Where Art Thou", "3:10 to Yuma", "True Grit" and a lot more. It's a handsome looking train.
They advertise "Ride in the actual coaches where Robert Redford, Johnny Cash and George Clooney performed". The passenger cars were built in 1915 and look like nothing has changed, except that someone stapled a bunch of tacky little Christmas lights on the walls. But the overhead transom windows will open, providing what the conductor called 100-year-old air conditioning. The main windows are also open but not too steady; one slammed down, apparently jostled by the train's movement. Fortunately Donna wasn't leaning out at the time!
These back of the seats are attached to the armrest on a swivel. They can be flipped over, to change the seating configuration as needed. The seats can all face front, back, or a combination.
We boarded at Mt. Dora and rode to Tavares, along Lake Dora and through part of Tavares. The first thing we did there was get lunch. Randy wanted to try O'Keefe's Irish Pub, which fortunately was within walking distance. Most of us got sandwiches but Randy went for something a little more Irish - Bangers and Mash, topped with brown sauce.
We had a little time to kill before our train ride back to Mt. Dora, so we walked over the lake shore. This is a seaplane base as well as boat dock. We thought the benches were pretty cute.
The guys watched seaplanes take off and return, but Donna and I were distracted by a nearby heron. He was foraging in the mud, and when he caught something he'd walk onto the grass, beat it on the ground, then swallow it. We realized he was eating small snakes. One wrapped itself around the heron's beak to avoid being lunch, but the heron shook it loose and gobble it down. But a moment later the snake reappeared, crawling out of the heron's mouth! They went through this routine 3 or 4 times, but eventually the heron was able to swallow it completely.
We walked back towards the train station, stopping at the children's water park to watch kids play in the water. It's got fountains everywhere, even spraying out of the plane's propellers. 
A few minutes later the daily rain showed up. The water park emptied out and we huddled under the train station awning a few minutes before dashing to the passenger car. 
It didn't rain long, just enough to break the heat a little bit. Another fun day - so glad that buying a house hasn't stopped our exploring!

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