Thursday, July 16, 2015

Trippin' through Florida ~ (fair warning, photo heavy)

Yesterday we hit the road pre-sunrise to get to the Sebring area in good time (before it was blistering hot). Mission? Get my brother's shed onto his plot of land there. Anyone who has ever tried to coordinate things like crushed rock dumps and shed deliveries (or tile laying and electric installation or soufflé and your guests showing up on time) knows that a kerfluffle along the way isn't unusual. 

Kefluffle: Crushed concrete to be dumped UNDER where the shed would go was delivered in the driveway instead. Oops. Trying to get another with lousy cell phone signals brought that whole idea swiftly to an end, for this morning at least. The shed was coming in hours early and the replacement crushed concrete would not get there in time. One had to be canceled and it wasn't going to be the shed. Not with the driver coming down from Georgia. Not with Jonny having Shed Fever.

It wasn't all hair tearing though. 

Here comes the sun!
It was very smoky, but that was soon behind us. Maybe a cane field was being burned?

This is GatorRama, getting a facelift. I'd never heard of it before. 

On the fly, I captured as much of this building painted like a watermelon as possible.

Yes, usually old Florida juice spots are about oranges. 

But a pineapple works so much better as an osprey nest base
Clewiston calls itself America's Sweetest Town. I don't know about that but it didn't smell bad. I want to go back and eat at one of the many many many Mexican restaurants. They all looked good to me.

Moore Haven 'home of the Sour Orange and Cane Grinding festivals' has an over pass bridge that sort of keeps you out of the place unless you have a real reason to go there. It looks like the fishing is good, as it is all over this part of Florida, with its lakes by the dozens. 

One thing Moore Haven has is one of Florida's oldest festivals, the Chala Nitka (Seminoe for Big Bass) Festival. For a festival that began to celebrate the paving of Main Street, it's been around a long time in Florida time, growing far beyond its humble start.

Moore Haven was actually called Little Chicago at one point...until it was wiped out by two hurricanes that devastated central Florida back in  the mid and late 1920's. I don't know what they call it now. Except Moore Haven. For Mr. Moore, the founder. I'm not sure why I wrote so much about Moore Haven. It has a strangeness that drew me.

Lake Placid seems like it has a lot going on. A lot I'll never know about, no doubt, but we did pass the caladium fields (it is known as The Caladium Capital of the World, write that down). At this time of year the colors are subtle and rich. So is the smell of chemicals in the air. 

It is also known as the Town of Murals. I saw one of a cattle drive across the side of a building and it was really good. Maybe a mural tour is in my future.

Come on through, please.
We finally arrived and so did the shed awhile later. The driver/delivery guy Tommy made it all look like a piece of cake, from making the hard turn off of a very narrow grassy lane to offloading, setting up and leveling the shed. His reply to any sort of semi-apologetic 'sorry it might be a little difficult here' was 'I've seen worse' in a lighthearted deep Georgia accent. I believed him.

More on this later. It all went like butter in a hot skillet. Not the burny part either.
After a visit with the neighbors, we needed some lunch. A friendly looking bar (it said that on the sign) turned out to only be a bar. The bartender suggested another place calls Docks 333. That was friendly.

This was in the bar yard
After a we-sound-like-a-cranky-brother-and-sister 'we passed it' 'maybe not' 'look at your phone' 'be quiet' 'never mind' 'we didn't pass it' 'Let's Go!' we made it around Lake June to Dock 633. It is not on the water. It doesn't have a dock. The number is the address, the bartender told me. The name? The owner just chose it. The lake is across the street. It was their 3rd birthday. Beer and wings half price. 

We almost ordered a reuben and a Philly cheese steak until Jonny saw a little menu on the bar with ahi tuna and clams on it. That won. The clams were the tiniest I've ever seen, but delicious). I figure they had to be legal somewhere. I hope. The tuna was as good as it looks, barely seared. 10 bucks for all that tuna? Worked for me (oh and Jonny too)!

The almost licked the platter clean finish
I forgot to use the bathroom at Docks and Jonny wanted to show me this little park. Two missions weren't accomplished. A pretty location, it was strangely severe and all doors on everything were locked. The local gas station had the cleanest bathroom I've ever been in outside of a home. I told the girl behind the counter exactly that. She said, 'I try.'

I was afraid I'd be booted out for my loud laughter. Where's the ejection button?

Down the road, we saw this building that was really three buildings, with all sorts of signage, one of those places you just have to stop for. I'm very glad we did.

The owner, Adnan, is a Palestinean (yes, we got to talking deep pretty fast, after he gave me a macaw feather off of the wall) with a big smile, a big store and a big family - 15 kids. Over half of them are doctors or lawyers, the rest haven't grown up yet. As much as he obviously encouraged his children, he doesn't seem to care if he sells anything in the store. The feather I looked at, he gave me. He made Jonny a cup of amazing coffee and wouldn't take money for it. He just seemed to be hanging around, so we did the same. He was a very interesting guy. 

Me and my feather
Adnan has done many things, in many places and finally had done enough that he had as much money as he wanted and needed and decided to buy these three buildings and enjoy his life. They are filled with...a little bit of everything. The main store has a lot of fishing gear, along with a lot of honey. 

Adnan and one type of honey he sells, Brazilian Peppertree Honey, with seeds
The Brazilian Pepper tree is an invasive bush that can grow up to 30 feet tall. We used it for holly when I was a kid, which is why it was introduced in the late 1800's, for ornamental purposes. Bad news for Florida, where it wants to wipe out native species on land and in lakes too, causing all sorts of problems. But, it's here and the bees apparently like it as much as the birds.

The BP honey Adnan sells is of two types, with seeds and without. He cautioned that the one with seeds should only be eaten every three days or so, as it was 'powerful'. I'm not sure what that means, but I got the one without seeds, just in case. I have a terrible memory and am slightly dyslexic - what if I forget and eat it three days in a row instead? I don't want to know. 

It's supposed to be a good honey, seeds or not, for aches and arthritis. We'll find out. Luckily, my brother passes this place every time he goes to his land, so it looks like as long as Adnan is around, we'll have plenty of honey. A very interesting guy, we spent way too much time there and could have stayed longer, but it was time to climb out of the time warp and get on the road again.

Hope those are refrigerated

I can imagine the end of any big event at John Boy Stadium; you might never get to bed

I missed getting this photo on the trip up. On the trip back I was sure we passed it.
But after I'd given up, my brother yelled HEY!! There it is! Indeed, there it was.

If I was a photoshoppy kind of person,
I'd love to put in some little caption, making this look like a postcard.
But I only used the 'antique' function instead.
The Everglades Gator Land is miles, maybe 75 miles? away from the 'new' Gator Land (not GatorRama), not to be confused with Gatorland in Orlando. It's weird. And sad. Florida is so full of crazy, corny old attractions. Some were good, some were horrible. But they were unique Mom and Pop sorts of places that are on the danger of extinction list due to the much larger and flashier attractions up the road. 

I wanted to get this one before it's completely gone and someday come back and check it out more. But in 2012, photographer Jim Pike did a walkabout and found out the history too. You can check it out here.

 The 1960's were better days for Everglades Gator Land
Oh! I almost forgot! We DID get to the Turtle, after the shed was delivered. She needed a jumpstart but start right up she did. I knew immediately I was not ready for prime time driving (another 'mistake' due to my 'I'm still SuperWoman' complex was not on the agenda) so I gave her a few pats and let her know I'd be back soon. Very soon.

My bro sneaking photos again. I'm glad he did, I was in another state. Of mind.
Have a time traveling Thursday. Do something tingling.

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