Sunday, January 18, 2015

Saturday's Road Trip

Saturday was one very long day, but we learned a lot, as well as saw much more of the beauty of southwestern Florida.  Our day started at Wild Turkey Strand Preserve, where we joined a naturalist-led group hike.  We were informed right away by her that in this area it is all about hydrology.  Ninety-three per-cent of Floridians get their water from ground sources, more than any other state.  Conservation land, as that on Wild Turkey Strand,  help to preserve the ability of the land to absorb water.  This is vital to prevent flooding, as well as keeping aquifers supplied with clean drinking water. 
On the trail, which we took through the preserve, we saw remnants of the old gunnery range of Buckingham Army Air Field's Flexible Gunnery School, built in 1942 and deactivated in1945.  The concrete building pictured above is what is thought to have been a storage facility for the base.  The main objective of this base was to train recruits as gunners assigned to bomber planes flying over the European and Pacific theaters.  The harrowing job of gunners is well told in the book Unbroken, which I just finished reading.
Seeing the above church from a distance, as it stands out well over Florida's flatland, we at first thought it was a barn.  We were on our way to Corkscrew Swamp, but decided to take a detour to the town of Ave Maria and check out that building.  It is the Ava Maria Oratory, which in located in the heart of the town and connects town housing and shops with the Ave Maria University.  The white area on the stone facade of the church is a sculpture of the Annunciation.  Statues of the 12 Apostles are housed in niches above the doorway.  The sanctuary has soaring gothic steel beams reminiscent of the architecture of Frank Loyd Wright.  The tabernacle seats 1,100 people and is one of the largest in the country.  Statures of the Apostles are again found at the altar, as well as those of Saint Mary and Saint Joseph.
The town of Ave Maria was started in 2002, but its roots can be traced back to the early 1900s and one of its founders, Barron Collier Companies.  The Collier legacy collaborated with Tom Monaghan, founder of Domino's Pizza, in developing plans for Ave Maria.  It is a self-sustained town, which once complete, will be home to 11,000 families residing in an variety of single and multi-family dwellings.
Our day was not over yet- my next postings will be on Corkscrew Swamp.

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