Front of the mansion
The pictures I managed to take do not do justice to how gorgeous this place is. We lucked out with the weather, and lack of crowds - apparently September is the least touristy month for Florida. Although, when we were waiting for our guided tour of the house, a bunch of ladies in purple and red hats came in, which made me laugh but both my uncle and Jeff groaned:
Jeff took this picture and posted it to Facebook with the caption "it's going to be a long tour" - haha!
We moved pretty quickly through the mansion. Most of it was a little gaudy for my taste:
I did love the colored glass in the skylights and windows.
The kitchen sink was pretty awesome - it was made of German silver, which is supposed to be soft so that the dishes were less likely to be chipped when they were hand washed:
Not gonna lie, I'd like this in my house.
Mabel Ringling had a rose garden (Lori, you would love it) - I really liked the little gazebo with the wrought-iron trellis top:
Do you think I can get a gazebo kit similar to this at Home Depot? It would look so nice in my backyard!
Check out the marble boat docks. I've been to many yacht clubs in my life, but this is the first time I've seen such incredible docks!
Just chilling on the patio...
Uncle Phil and the disappearing statue...
We toured the art museum, which was very interesting. We had a great tour guide, and it was just the three of us, so we got to ask questions and learned a lot. But my favorite part of the day was the circus museum. There were a lot of hands-on exhibits, and luckily there weren't any children visiting on the day we went, so we got to play with everything without feeling like we were depriving a child from the experience.
They had a clown car on display, and also an exact replica that you could try and fit into. Some of us had more success than others:
This was a replica of Lou Jacobs' clown car - he was 6'1" tall, so I kept telling Jeff, who's a bit shorter, that he should fit in...
He finally squeezed in, but it wasn't easy! My short self had no trouble getting in - now I know what career path I should have taken!
We also got to practice horseback acrobatics:
Even on a non-moving horse, my balance was not great...this was just before I fell off. Jeff was much steadier.
We didn't get to try the most interesting thing in the museum, though:
The human cannonball! You're actually shot out with a spring, not gunpowder...although they have something that creates a puff of smoke to make it look like a cannon was fired. I loved everything about this custom-built truck with the cannon on top, and I think it would be just about the most fun job in the world to have!
Along with the circus memorabilia and exhibits, there is a fascinating miniature circus display that was created by Howard Tibbals - he fell in love with the circus as a young boy and created his own circus - it has over 40,000 pieces and the detail is unbelievable. This was another exhibit that I could have spent a lot more time looking at. It's a recreation of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey combined shows from the earlier part of the 1900s, and covers 3,800 square feet in the exhibit. I ended up buying a book about this because I couldn't get enough of it. I could show you picture after picture, but will restrain myself to just one...and it's one that took me a minute to get when I first saw this part of the display, and then made me laugh because yes, Howard Tibbals recreated EVERYTHING about the circus:
The "men's room" at the circus...
If you ever have the opportunity to visit the Ringling estate, I highly recommend it. Just don't blame me if you end up wanting to run away and join the circus afterward!