As we said in our last post, we had only short drive from the Yalaha Bakery to Mount Dora for our pontoon boat cruise of the Dora Canal. We took the same cruise two years ago with other friends, and we thought Barbara and Dick would enjoy it, too.
There are several boats that offer crises of the Dora Canal, but we went with the same one by Lake County Waterways that we took last time. We arrived in plenty of time to get a good parking spot and pay for our cruise. The photo below shows some of the other passengers waiting to board.
The Dora Canal is at the opposite end of Lake Dora from where the tour starts, so we headed out across the lake. As we left the dock, we could see Boathouse Row where there are expensive, lakeside homes built right over the water. Years ago, these homes started out as simple boathouses. The boat owners got tired of driving to the lake every Saturday and again on Sunday to go boating and fishing, so they started to take cots and coolers so they could spent the night. The boathouses soon were remodeled into more elaborate homes. Today, these homes are highly sought after and bring high prices even though the housing market is down.
We took our cruise on a Saturday, and there was a bass-fishing tournament going on so we saw a lot of bass boats as we crossed the lake.
We got to see some of the big homes along the waterfront. One such house was built by Harry Duncan in 1926. Dancer/actor Buddy Ebsen got his start giving dance lessons in an upstairs suite and dancing with female guests at Mr. Duncan's parties. Buddy Ebsen is best known for his role as Jed Clampett on The Beverly Hillbillies. The Duncan House is now a bed and breakfast.
Out on the lake, we also saw numerous birds like cormorants, gulls, an osprey and a couple of bald eagles. We couldn't get good photos of the birds when they were flying, but one of the eagles landed in a tree near its nest.
At the western end of Lake Dora we entered the Dora Canal. The canal, which was previously known as the Elfin River, connects Lake Dora and Lake Eustis. In the late 1800s, a steamboat captain hired a crew to dig out the river by hand to make it more passable. The Dora Canal is about a mile long and has been called the most beautiful mile of water in the world.
There are a number of mobile homes lining the canal on the southern end.
After a few hundred yards, there are no more homes, and you can really appreciate the natural beauty of the canal.
Since it was a Saturday, there was a lot of boat traffic on the canal, and we didn't see quite as much wildlife as we did when we cruised the canal back in 2008. Click here to read about our 2008 visit.
Even though we didn't see quite the variety of wildlife, there was still plenty to see. There were a lot of anhingas, like the female below, drying their wings along the banks...
...and in the trees.
Like cormorants, anhingas don't have oil in their feathers like ducks and geese do. The lack of oil allows the birds to dive deep underwater to hunt fish, but they must dry their wings before they can fly far afterward.
We also saw quite a few blue herrons along the canal. These large, wading birds didn't seem to be bothered by the relatively heavy boat traffic.
One area of the canal had several blue herron nests in the trees along the banks. Unfortunately, we couldn't get a good photo because of the sun overhead.
The predominant tree along the canal is the bald cypress. Although they are conifers, bald cypress trees lose their needles in winter. They lose their needles, not because of cold, but to conserve water during the winter dry season.
Bald cypress trees are long-lived. The one in the photo below has been dated to be about 2500 years old. Even though its top is missing, it is still very much alive.
The cruise goes north up the Dora Canal, turns around in Lake Eustis, then returns back down the canal and goes back across Lake Dora. It was only about 2:30 when we disembarked, so we walked a little way up into the town of Mount Dora. Mount Dora is a fairly busy tourist town with numerous inns, bed and breakfasts, shops and restaurants.
You can even take a carriage ride around town.
One building we passed had an interesting facade designed to look like a library. Perhaps it was originally a book store.
There were also other "artsy" features like the mural shown below.
It was an excellent day with good weather, good fun, good food, and good friends. We have more planned, so look for our next post.