The Spanish explorer, Juan Ponce de León, landed on Florida’s west coast on Easter Sunday in 1513. And so he named his discovery Florida after the Easter Feast (Pascua Florida). During 2013 Floridians are involved in a statewide initiative – Viva Florida 500 – to commemorate Ponce de León’s arrival. While we were visiting Florida last month, we participated in one of the more than 200 events that are occurring during the coming year throughout the state - a living history program featuring a recreated Calusa village.
|This volunteer demonstrated how the Calusa caught fish.|
The Calusa even had a visitor – a Tocobaga warrior – from the Tampa area on the day of the event. He showed us some of the arrows he had fashioned out of rock from the area.
The Charlotte County Historical Center was a block away from our cottage. It offered a number of informative exhibits about the communities surrounding Charlotte Harbor. We learned that Isaac Trabue, one of the founders of Punta Gorda (just over the Peace River bridge from where we were staying), wanted to name the town after himself. He didn’t succeed but did name many of the city’s streets after his family and friends. The city’s name means “fat point,” the name given to the area by Spanish explorers.
|A view of Punta Gorda (the point of land across the water) from the Bayshore Live Oak Park. This view was just a few|
hundred feet from our cottage.
We discovered a great restaurant in Port Charlotte that was owned by a former UW Badger. John Hall, a Port Charlotte native son, was a kicker for the Badgers in the 1990s and later for the Jets and Redskins in the NFL. One of the burgers on the menu was named after teammate, Cory Raymer, a Fond du Lac native. However, no deep-fried cheese curds.
|John Hall's UW jersey.|
The Punta Gorda Art Walk - an evening of music, art, live demonstrations, shopping, and food in downtown Punta Gorda - was a great way to spend our last evening in the area.
|This shop's owner gets her cheese from Wisconsin. She sold cheese curds!|
As long as I’m mentioning the Badgers, I’d better bring up the Packers. We found the Tervis Tumbler outlet store on one of our wanderings with plenty of permanently sealed, double-walled tumblers with the Packer logo. The factory is located one county over from where we stayed and was the only evidence of industry we saw on our trip.
|We couldn't believe how crowded the outlet store was when we stopped in.|
Even though we didn't buy these tumblers, we did get a couple with the
signature bird of vintage trailer enthusiasts - the pink flamingo.
One more post to come about our time in Florida – stay tuned!