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The Two RV Gypsies went to Lake Wales, Florida and explored Bok Tower Gardens, a National Historic Landmark.
May 13, 2013
map of Florida showing location of Lake Wales
Florida map showing locaation of the Bok Tower Gardens

History Book clipartBok Tower Gardens, through its historic landscape gardens, unique Singing Tower Carillon and magnificent 1930s Mediterranean-style mansion, offers unparalleled opportunities for artistic, cultural, personal and spiritual enrichment.

When Bok Tower Gardens founder Edward W. Bok immigrated to America from Den Helder, Netherlands at age six, he did not understand the language, customs or culture. Through determination and hard work, he became a highly successful publisher, Pulitzer Prize-winning author, respected humanitarian and an advocate of world peace and the environment.

During visits from their Pennsylvania residence to their winter retreat near Lake Wales, Florida, Mr. Bok became enchanted with the beauty and vistas from nearby Iron Mountain. At 298 feet above sea level, one of peninsular Florida’s highest points, Iron Mountain offered views of dramatic sunsets. Awed by the tranquility of the area, he wanted to create a place that would “touch the soul with its beauty and quiet,” and chose it as the perfect setting for a bird sanctuary. He purchased land to transform into a sweeping landscape of lush gardens featuring a majestic Singing Tower housing a 60-bell carillon. Originally called Mountain Lake Sanctuary and Singing Tower, he presented this extraordinary gift to the American people February 1, 1929 as an enduring token of his appreciation for the opportunities he had been given.

Bok Tower Gardens and slogan
Bok Tower Gardens sign
Gopher Tortoise crossing sign

The entry area leading to the visitor center and gift shop at Bok Tower Gardens with fantastic Bromelaids.

entry to Bok Tower Gardens
Bromelaids at Bok Tower Gardens

laughing clipartThe two RV Gypsies got bit by the alligator outside of the gift shop.

fake alligator
the two RV Gypsies and a fake alligator

The two RV Gypsies walked throughout the grounds of the Bok Tower Gardens on The Pine Ridge Nature Trail, a 3/4 mile paved walk through the native longleaf pine-turkey oak habitat. Their first stop was the "Window by the Pond" - a building where wildlife could be seen through the windows, yet the wildlife could not see inside the building. The pond was beautiful, and they saw lots of squirrels and birds.

squirrel
view from the Window by the Pond at Bok Tower Gardens
Excedra
slogan

The marble Exedra shown below was a gift to Edward Bok from friends.

The marble Exedra
The marble Exedra and Karen Duquette

Below is a close-up photo of the inscription in the above Exedra.

Exedra inscription

The sunset view shown below inspired Mr. Bok's dream of the Gardens during his visits to Iron Mountain. At the elevation of 298 feet, this is one of the highest points in Peninsular Florida. From this lookout area next to the Exedra, Karen zoomed in on a gopher tortoise.

highest point in Peninsular Florida
gopher tortoise at Bok Tower Gardens

Just behind the Exedra is an area known as The Reflection Pool, where the two RV Gypsies got their first look at the Bok Tower, plus a fantastic view of a mirror reflection of the Bok Tower, also known as the Singing Tower.

Lee Duquette at The Reflection Pool in Bok Tower Gardens
Karen Duquette at The Reflection Pool in Bok Tower Gardens
The Reflection Pool in Bok Tower Gardens
The Reflection Pool in Bok Tower Gardens

Below is the view as the two RV Gypsies stood on the other side of the above pond, with their backs towards the Singing Tower.

pond at Bok Tower Gardens
pond at Bok Tower Gardens

check it outAs Karen was taking the photo shown above, Lee yelled out, "there's a squirrel climbing on me." Karen quickly turned around and snapped a few quick photos.

a squirrel climbing on Lee Duquette at Bok Tower Gardens

Lee was carrying a bag with his purchase from the gift shop and the squirrel must have thought there was food in the bag.

a squirrel climbing on Lee Duquette at Bok Tower Gardens
a squirrel climbing on Lee Duquette at Bok Tower Gardens
squirrel
squirrel

The Bok Tower, also known as the Singing Tower, is made of pink marble and coquina. The 205-foot tall Singing Tower houses the 60-bell carillon. Sustainer level members and above are eligible to tour the Founder's Room on the grand first floor. Regular visitors are not allowed inside the tower.

the Singing Tower
the Singing Tower
Karen Duquette and the Singing Tower
Karen Duquette and the Singing Tower

A panorama view of the Bok Tower

A panroama view of the Singing Tower
close up of the Singing Tower
close up of the Singing Tower

The area below is known as the Live Oak Grove. These stately oaks were planted when the Gardens first began. Distant vistas overlook rolling hills of citrus trees.

the Live Oak Grove at the Singing Tower
Lee Duquette at the Live Oak Grove at the Singing Tower
the Live Oak Grove at  the Singing Tower

Lee (shown in the photo above) took the photo shown below of Karen Duquette as she walked towards the Live Oak Grove area.

Karen Duquette at the Singing Tower in Bok Tower Gardens

Below is a view of the Singing Tower as seen from the Life Oak Grove area.

the Singing Tower as seen from the Life Oak Grove area
the Singing Tower as seen from the Life Oak Grove area

Below: A close-up of the sundial attached to the Singing Tower and the inscription below the sundial

the sundial attached to the Singing Tower
inscription at the sundial

Lee took photos of the Singing Tower using a panorama camera and aiming upwards. The result is a warped or curvature image of the tower.

Panorama upwards of the Singing Tower
warped image of the singing tower

As Karen walked around the Singing Tower, she noticed the reflection of the tower in the water that surrounds the tower.

the tower's reflection in the moat that surrounds the tower.
the tower's reflection in the moat that surrounds the tower.

Fish swimming all around the Singing Tower

fish

Wild Turkeys

Wild Turkeys
Wild Turkeys
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Please continue on for photos of some of the many flowers in the Bok Tower Gardens