Center for Great Apes
Wauchula, FL - Events of Friday, November 23 to Saturday, December 9, 2017
We continue with our busy life here at the SKP Florida Co-op with meetings, social activities, and Co-op projects. Paul has been doing lots of research for several projects for the Landscape Committee of which he is co-chairman. He has also been running around buying materials and supplies for the projects.
One of the projects involves a number of concrete benches around the park. The Landscape Committee was asked to look into improving the appearance and stability of the benches. Most of them have started to sink into the soft Florida sand, and it's also a pain for the maintenance people to have to weed-whack around the legs all the time.
The committee investigated several possibilities and ended up recommending placing concrete pavers under the benches. The pavers will make it easier to trim the grass, and tar paper under the pavers will prevent weeds from growing up from between the joints. A few days ago, Paul and several of the guys from the committee did the first bench to see how it looked. Since we got a lot of favorable comments, we decided to go ahead with the rest of the benches.
Margery has been working overtime on the computer. After finishing up the newsletter, she is being kept busy making posters, announcements, and signup sheets for upcoming events. The next photo shows just some of the current posters.
Even with our continued busy schedule, or maybe because of it, we eat out a couple of times a week. We've made a few more stops at Dee's Place for late lunches, and we also went to the Wauchula Family Restaurant for lupper one afternoon about a week ago.
The Wauchula Family Restaurant isn't much to look at from the outside. In fact, it looks a lot like an abandoned building, especially now that Hurricane Irma took out their small sign. Inside, the decor is a bit dated, but it's still rather quaint. The food, however, is excellent. When we were there last year, we had grilled grouper ($11.75), which was yummy. Their half-pound burgers (around $7) are also very good.
This time, we both had fried seafood platters that included a big piece of battered grouper, a crab cake, three large shrimp, clam strips, hush puppies and two sides for $13.50. Margery had onion rings and slaw for her sides, and Paul had potato salad and slaw. Everything was delish, and we were stuffed!
We did take time out of our busy schedules for one special event. The daughter of a lady in the Co-op who lives across the street from our site works for the Center for Great Apes here in Wauchula. The center is a sanctuary for chimpanzees and orangutans that have been rescued from the entertainment and medical industries. It is not open to the public except for limited tours a couple of times a year. Last spring, we were invited to take a private tour. We were so moved by the work they are doing, we decided to support the center by becoming members.
The Center for Great Apes has two open houses a year. As members, we received an invitation to the holiday open house held Saturday, December 9. During the open house, members can walk among the enclosures and habitats. Staff members are stationed throughout the compound to answer questions and to interact with members. There was live music, cookies, a silent auction, and a raffle for a stay in one of their guest cabins inside the compound.
The apes receive special wrapped presents and treats throughout the day. The treats are usually given to the animals in a form that presents some sort of challenge in order to provide stimulation through problem solving. It's fun to watch the ingenuity as the apes find ways to retrieve their treats. The other thing that's fascinating is how the apes are as interested in seeing the people as we were in seeing them.
When we visited last spring, we were asked not to photograph the animals. This fall, however, limited photography was permitted. In the next photo, two of the chimpanzees were interacting with visitors by clapping. The one on the blue barrel would clap in short spurts of 5 or 6 rapid claps. The other chimp would clap one big clap once or twice a minute.
The orangutan in the next photo was enjoying a treat of sunflower seeds stuck to a pine cone with peanut butter.
In spite of off-and-on rain showers, we had a great time at the open house. It was interesting listening to the caregivers talk about the apes and to see their dedication to the animals. Their dedication was especially apparent when they told stories about Hurricane Irma, which passed directly over the area and which caused extensive damage to the property. Fortunately, all the buildings and enclosures are built very substantially and remained intact. All the caregivers stayed with the apes in their night houses during the storm instead of being with their families or evacuating. They and dozens of volunteers from all over the country worked to clear fallen trees and make other repairs afterward.
When we left the open house, we headed to Bowling Green, which is a couple of miles north of Wauchula, to have lupper at Smokin' Joes BBQ. Several mornings a week when Paul doesn't have a meeting to attend, he goes out with a group of guys from the Co-op to trim dead palm fronds and seed pods from trees around the park. One of the guys Paul was chatting with one morning highly recommended Smokin' Joe's so we decided to give it a try.
We both had pulled pork platters. They have a regular-sized platter for $8.99 and a large for $10.99. When we asked how big the regular size was, it didn't sound all that big so we ordered one large and one regular figuring we would share the pulled pork between the two of us. It turned out the regular size portion was huge and the large was humongous! We had enough left over for another whole meal.
The platters included two sides. Margery had slaw and mac and cheese, and Paul had slaw and potato salad. The pork wasn't real smoky, but it was some of the most tender and moist pulled pork we have ever had. The sides were delish, too!
With our bellies full and with our leftovers in hand, we headed back to the 5th wheel for an evening of TV.