Welcome To My Blog

Weekends are for wandering Wisconsin. That's what Rick, my guy, and I do. Occasionally we wander during the week, too. Sometimes we just drop in on other people's lives.

This blog is my way of sharing where we've been, neat places and things to do that we've found.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Reminders of Spring

Before we head north after a glorious month in Florida, I wanted to share some pictures that represent the hope of warmer weather we will be experiencing in the frozen tundra sooner rather than later!

We went to the beach our last two days. However, it wasn't the typical crowded beach on the Gulf coast. We found a quiet spot at the Lemon Bay Park and Environmental Center. This nature-based park has nearly two miles of shoreline on the beautiful Lemon Bay Aquatic Preserve and some lovely walking trails.

Our beach didn't have a lot of sand, but just enough room for us to set up our camp chairs and dangle our feet in the water.

Lots of pines and palms...

Earlier we found the Oak Farms Nursery in Englewood. Plants were displayed among the trees so looking at all those blooms and greenery felt like a walk in the park. (There's Rick in the safari hat checking out the flora.)

We had an enjoyable picnic at Indian Mound Park also in Englewood. Again, another quiet park on Lemon Bay where we could look out on the water and dream of warmer days to come. It was an overcast day (eventually we had rain that evening), but we appreciated looking at green trees rather than white snow!

I'll close with this final image. Someone has a sense of humor -- and probably comes to Florida from parts north for respite from winter...

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Wheels and Deals

We ventured north about 100 miles the end of last week for car and vintage camping trailer shows.

On Friday it was the Zephyrhills Winter Auto Fest, a car auction and swap meet. This event is the first shopping and buying opportunity for collector and classic auto enthusiasts according to the promoter. Unfortunately, it wasn't like the Iola Old Car Show - no "folk art," i.e., no restored cars exhibited by people telling their stories. All the cars were there for only one purpose - to be sold. I watched and listened while a couple dozen cars were auctioned off. Lots of lookers, a few bidders, and even fewer successful bidders. Maybe one in ten cars offered met the reserve set by the seller so very few new owners drove off with the cars of their choice. Apparently this auction wasn't even that exciting. A man sitting next to me fell asleep in the midst of the auctioneer's spiel!

I wandered through the cars that were put up for sale and found a few interesting ones like this Studebaker with its jet-like front end.

I'm always pleased with myself when I recognize a 60s Chevy truck. This white flatbed is a 1964 model. Its front looks just like Rick's panel truck.

And this black one is a Suburban. Again, a front end that I recognize easily.

These 1957 Chevy "twins" are what Rick calls "belly button" cars - everyone has one!

I'm not a fan of the swap meet section of a car show. It's the junk yard as far as I see it so I didn't spend time looking at rusty bumpers, old license plates, or 14 styles of tail lights. I did score a new Florida map, that we needed, from the Triple A guy.

This method of ice cream making as well as the history of the engine that powered the process caught my eye at one of many food stands.

On Saturday we checked out vintage camping trailers at the Tin Can Tourist Winter Rally outside of Brooksville. Lots to see and many people to talk with. 

This Arrow trailer belongs to a "glamper," someone who is into glamour camping. The trailer is highly decorated, usually by a woman. This owner of this Arrow kept telling Rick and me that she wanted our flamingo patterned Hawaiian shirts (image of the pattern follows).

And now for the inside...

Can you see why our shirts fit right in with her colors?

Rick's favorite trailer was this Airfloat that had been restored by Tim Heintz from Panama City, FL. Tim and Rick had been corresponding via Facebook so Rick was excited to finally meet Tim. It's quite unusual to find a 30-something so passionate about vintage trailers, usually the pervue of the baby boomers and older set.

Another camper at the rally thought this trailer could be done as a Beatle-themed "yellow submarine." The general shape of the trailer and the porthole at the back is reminiscent of a submarine. And if it were painted yellow.....

This Spartan belongs to the guy who organizes many of the Tin Can Tourist rallies. It's a real beauty.

Here's a Casita from a couple lost in the 60s.

And an Argosy - longer than Rick's trailer but still in the Airstream family - just painted, that's all. Oh, and the big panoramic window in front (not usually found on older Airstream models).

The most unusual trailer at the rally was this Pontiac. It's HUGE and the owner pulls it with an older Buick Park Avenue sedan!

Check out the dining room. One of Rick's smaller trailers could fit in the living room!

One more vintage trailer as I close my post. This Argosy was at the Travelers Rest RV Resort, a place we checked out on Friday afternoon. The owners, a couple from Nashville, were inspired to paint their trailer with this design to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Wally Byam's (founder of Airstream) caravan in Africa.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

The Flora Of Florida with a Little History

Earlier this week we visited friends Mona and Jerry, originally from Pewaukee, who are now Florida residents for six months of the year. They have a beautiful home near Koreshan State Historic Site and treated us to a tour of this interesting place in Estero.

Cyrus Teed, head of the Koreshan Unity Settlement, started a utopian community movement in New York. He eventually moved to Florida (it was still a frontier in the mid-1890s) to avoid hostility because of his group's religious, scientific, and cultural beliefs. Teed took the name of "Koresh," a very loose translation of Cyrus. The word means shepherd or leader in Hebrew. (Maybe you recall another Koresh who called himself a shepherd - David. His compound in Waco, Texas was wiped out by the FBI back in the 1990s.) The Koreshans in Florida were a more peaceful people and believed in equal rights for women long before women won the right to vote in our country.

However, their science was a bit strange. Teed believed that the entire universe existed within a giant, hollow sphere. One saw the sun, moon, and stars by looking inward rather than outward.

The Koreshan community did reach out to the people living in Estero. The Koreshans put on plays and musicals and created elaborate Victorian gardens. Back in the day, the locals paddled down the Estero River and took in the Koreshan culture from their boats.

Unfortunately, when a community believes in being celibate, the only way to add members is by recruitment. Therefore, its future is somewhat doomed. And so it was with the Koreshans. By 1961 only four women remained and, wisely, they deeded their land to the state of Florida as a park and memorial. The Koreshan Unity Settlement is now on the National Register of Historic Places with 11 restored buildings.

Okay, that's it for the history lesson. Now on to the flora that is in the park....

This tall skinny tree is a Washingtonian palm or hurricane palm. It bends in the winds that oftentimes lash the Gulf coast of Florida.

The tree starts out life wearing what looks like a tutu. Not sure how long it takes for the palm to reach stratospheric heights.

Bromeliads are plants that attach themselves to other plants such as palm trees. At first glance it looks like this tree has a full crown of leaves. A second look reveals hundreds of individual bromeliads.

The blossoms on this silk cotton tree were a welcome sight in the middle of winter.

Another interesting tree was the sausage tree. Notice the brown "sausage" hanging about one third of the way down a little to the left of center.

While our tour was about the history and the trees in the park, we did see this gopher tortoise that came out of its burrow just for our little tour group!

The Florida state parks' tag line is "Real fun in.....the Real Florida." From what we've seen so far, the phrase is right on the money.

Friday, February 14, 2014

More Florida Nature

More nature in Florida...and maybe a decision on what to do next February. We were at Oscar Scherer State Park, Osprey, and toured the campground. The sites reminded me of Peninsula State Park, only the trees between the sites were palms rather than pines. Osprey Lake is at the far end of the park. 

But swim at your own risk....alligators in the area.

The volunteer force at the park paid for WiFi (always a requirement for Rick) and they host a variety of daily activities just like at the private RV resorts we've seen in the area. Apparently Florida is known for its state parks.

We also checked out Myakka State Park, Sarasota, but were not as impressed with the campsites in that park. However, the Myakka River is beautiful. Last year we went on a boat tour to see the many alligators and birds that make the park their home.

Later in the week, we were at Linger Lodge. Bradenton. Our Englewood friend, Randall, recommended the campground at the Lodge. Turns out we were at the Lodge two years ago but didn't pay that much attention to the campground. "Rustic" would be the best description. Maybe a place for a couple of nights but no more. For a private campground, at least the price is right.

Many camp sites are on the Braden River. The restaurant at the Lodge overlooks the river. (This picture  was taken through the screened in porch.)

The Linger Lodge restaurant is definitely bizarre. Lots of dead animals mounted on the walls. This little fox greets guests as they enter.

As for the decision for next year, Rick is thinking about bringing his Argosy (basically a painted Airstream) trailer to Florida. Florida uses Reserve America just like the state parks in Wisconsin so we would have to be Johnny-on-the-spot to get our reservations in eleven months in advance.

Sunday, February 09, 2014

Music Abounds

Saturday night we attended a play presented by The Suncoast Players, a group that performs original plays and music. The play,The Case of the Golden Girl, was a benefit for the Lemon Bay Historical Society and part of the Lemon Bay Fest this past week.

Fictional Englewood FL detective, Billery Dean, has a sister, Hillary, who ends up in Las Vegas and is hired as a security guard at the Golden Girl Casino in 1958. Two chorus girls from the casino are murdered. In between lounge acts (including a "George Burns/Gracie Allen" bit and a You Bet Your Life show episode with "Groucho Marx"), Hillary figures out who the perpetrator is. 

Not only could the cast members sing, but several of them wrote the original music that was performed. The play was funny and even included audience participation. The audience members who ended up on stage had no inhibitions and got into their roles with lots of enthusiasm.

The Suncoast Players is a division of the Suncoast Writers Guild which was organized in 1990. I'm not sure how many writers belong to the Guild, but it looks like a very active group of authors, playwrights, poets, and song writers. In general, this area of Florida seems to have a thriving creative culture. 

And a live music scene. On Sunday afternoon we went to Laishley Park in Punta Gorda for a concert with the Country Express Band sponsored by the local Kiwanis Club. Fortunately, we had camp chairs with us and found a shady spot to sit and enjoy the music. We also met a couple from Indiana and had a nice visit with them. 

I learned from Sandy (the woman from Indiana) that one can substitute the words for Amazing Grace to the melody of The House of the Rising Son. Who knew? And when the band played her House request, I substituted the words. Sure enough, it worked!

A lot of live music venues here and we hope to hear a few more local bands at neat outdoor venues in the next three weeks.

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Into the Heat

A record high temperature of 88 degrees was set on Tuesday in Fort Myers, a little to the south of where we are in Englewood FL. I'm not sure if our community set a record, but it sure was HOT! Reminded me of July.

The other reminder of July was the Charlotte County Fair. It was free on Tuesday for us senior citizens so we took advantage of our age and attended at no admission charge. We had also attended last year. This year it seemed like more people were there.

I always appreciate the exhibits of the school kids. This one was from Liberty School in Port Charlotte.

Lots of talented high school kids, too, as evidenced by their art projects - paintings and drawings.

The 4-H members also exhibited various animals. I guess it wouldn't be a county fair without the chickens, rabbits, goats, and cows. I wonder if the kids get the week off from school to be able to care for their animals at the fairgrounds.

Rides seem to be a lot more exciting than when I was a kid at the fair. Not sure what "Rock 'N' Roll" was all about, but it sure was loud!

It was neat to see how many rides were specifically for little tykes - mostly those that go round and round rather slowly. One of the rides had a few high spots on the track, went a little faster than most, so the kids were throwing up their hands in the air as if they were on a roller coaster. Even heard the requisite screams.

Earlier in the day we stopped at Nokomis Groves. This fruit company has been run by the same family for 65 years. One could smell the oranges in the air at the store. We had a creamsicle afternoon treat - delicious and well worth a short wait in line. The mural on the side of the store caught my eye.

We now have a couple dozen oranges, a few limes and lemons, and a half dozen tangerines in the fridge. No excuse for not getting enough vitamin C for the next several weeks!

One more photo I'll share with this post. This was the scene at the Cedar Point Environmental Park not far from where we are staying. A pair of bald eagles have built a nest in the park and have hatched two eaglets. We saw one of them stick its head out of the nest but I was unable to get a good picture for my blog. 

The heat is predicted to break in a few days - highs only in the upper 70s! Better enjoy it while we can.

Sunday, February 02, 2014

Out of the Cold

What a difference two days...and 1400 miles to the south make! About 100 degrees! When we left Wisconsin on Friday morning, the temperature had fallen to below zero during the previous evening. On Sunday the high in Englewood FL was 87! We'll take the 80s and no snow, thank you....

Here's a view from Fisherman's Village in Punta Gorda on Sunday afternoon. Lot of white fluffy clouds in the sky.

We spent our first night in the South in Macon GA. A winter storm hit the area earlier last week and signs of snow were still visible when we set out on the second leg of our trip on  Saturday morning.
People abandoned their cars on the side of the highways. We saw a few remaining on I 75 as we passed through northern Georgia.

Our first stop on Sunday morning, after breakfast at Sweet's Diner in Port Charlotte (where I drank my coffee out of a mug commemorating the 75th anniversary of the Cascade WI State Bank), was the Farmers' Market at the History Park in Punta Gorda. It was so nice to be able to wander around the various vendors. Flowering plants were a welcome sight.

Along with the farmers in the Punta Gorda area, a few artists plied their creative wares....

Big birds (no, not THE Big Bird from Sesame Street) were evident at Fisherman's Village.

Of course, we finished up the day with two trips to mobile home parks where the residents have to be over 55. It's really not a bad way to retire. There are lots of activities during the week with people who are enjoying leisure and are mostly from the MIdwest. Maybe next year....

Rick said I would  update my blog daily while we were in FL. Maybe not that often, but I'll do my best to keep you abreast of these Wisconsin wanderers who are enjoying Florida for the next several weeks.