Briley Farm

Our new home is just a short walk or bike ride to the West Orange Trail; heading east takes us into Winter Garden downtown, while west takes us to the next town Oakland (and further eventually out of Orange County, into Lake County and Clermont).

In Oakland close to the Oakland Nature Preserve is Briley Farm, and sometimes it’s possible to spot unusual animals there – here’s some pictures and video from this morning, with Zebra and Wildebeest!

 

Sugar sand at Don Cesar

This weekend is our second visit to the Don Cesar “pink” hotel in St Pete Beach; the beach sand there is so very soft and powdery, and the hotel is pretty good too. On this visit we also discovered that their Martina Grille dining is very special – especially the “reveal” dessert which we had twice!

Here’s some pictures of the hotel and beach:

When we left this morning we took the “long way” home, over the Sunshine Skyway Bridge which we’d gone under a few years ago; stopped to take photos, of course:

 

Another BMW, “the beast”

I’ve been considering replacing my last MINI for a while; while Margaret was looking for her new car I was also taking notice of the Corvette Stingray, Audi TT, Porsche Boxster, and Teslas that we tested – the Corvette was so fast but horribly noisy, the Porsche was both uncomfortable and noisy, the Tesla was a surprising let down considering all the technology it’s equipped with … I’d shortlisted returning to Audi to see what other choices they had.

When Margaret picked up her new car, I realized that BMWs technology (especially wireless Apple CarPlay) had improved dramatically from the last BMW I owned, or even from my two year old MINI which is full of BMW tech. So I set a challenge to Margaret’s BMW salesperson, to find a fun to drive car with technology to beat Audi … She suggested I test drive an X3 which I initially turned down (I’d owned one of them before) but she insisted and so I did – and WOW was it a different and fun vehicle!

So, welcome to my new car, a BMW X3 M40i with insane performance (0-60 in 4.6s!), and loads of technology. Oh, and it’s really hard to photograph the Dark Graphite metallic paint …

Technology includes a touch screen media/map/menu display that supports Apple CarPlay, a “virtual” cockpit dial display that changes for different driving modes and situations, and 360 degree surround camera views for easy parking …

All those cameras can also be used remotely with an iPhone App that displays the cars location – pretty clever! This is the view, a virtual car with the exterior camera images wrapped around to simulate a “drone view” anywhere around the car:

A few other highlights – lots of blue on this car from the M badging, repeated on the seat and door stitching, brake calipers – and the interior lighting is configurable so of course I have it set to blue as well.