Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for June, 2010

It didn’t take me long the find the Punta Gorda Atlantic Coast Line Depot (photos), at about 2. It’s a historical museum now. The weather was sunny, toasty and breezy. Great light for photo-taking, as you can see above.

My next stop, Charlotte High School was the first school I encountered the whole trip that was in session. Perhaps appropriate, since it was the last school on my list. Thing is, there was an ambulance and police cars on the street in front. It may have been an accident, I couldn’t tell for sure. They were putting someone on a stretcher, and I could only hope things would work out. My access to the historic school building on campus wasn’t restricted by the hubbub, fortunately. I remembered that it had gotten severe damage in the ’04 and ’05 hurricane seasons, but you couldn’t tell. Whoever fixed it up did an outstanding job.

I headed west in search of the A. C. Freeman House, but could find no sign of it. Moved, I hoped. I was happily right on that, as I discovered later.

Going along La Villa Road, I saw a number of understated historic looking houses, enough for a historic district. Then it was some windy roads until I got to Shore Drive, where I easily found the Clarence L. Babcock House.

After that, back to Punta Gorda proper, and the old ice plant. Got front and back shots, including a brick building in back which was likely where the ice was stored. That building is now a pub, open at 3 in the afternoon. Hmm.


Charlotte County Courthouse

It wasn’t far to the historic district (street view). It’s referred to as residential, but the boundaries encompass most of downtown. I parked near a corner of the district and walked around the downtown area. Not all, but enough so I saw the H. W. Smith Building and the old First National Bank . The courthouse I liked especially, what a surprise. Back to the car by 4, and hunger struck. I staved it off with the ever-reliable Altoids.

Heading for the Punta Gorda Woman’s Club, I drove right by the A. C. Freeman House. It must have been moved. Very nice condition, which figures since it’s now the home of the Chamber of Commerce. The women’s club parking lot was full. I was lucky to find a parking space, so I got out and took pictures as quickly as possible.

Then I drove around the residential part of the district. Reminds me of the main historic district here in Ocala, but with fewer trees. I stopped at a city park on the edge of the district next to the Peace River. Did a recce for the next stage of travel. It was almost 4:30, and I knew I had only a few hours of good daylight left, and I did want to get home at something of a reasonable time. Options in mind, I departed, unlikely to return. I only missed a museum, and the city doesn’t entice me enough to draw me back.

Over the Peace River bridge, I was in Port Charlotte almost immediately. I turned off the Trail, and reached the Charlotte County Historical Center. It was almost 5, which is when they close, but I got in and talked to a nice lady inside. She confirmed that the A. C. Freeman House was moved, as I thought. Also, the Mott Willis Store, which should have been across the street, had been demolished only a year after getting on the NRHP. Which just goes to show, being on the Register is no guarantee of permanent preservation. Got a pamphlet about the historical society for future reference, and was off.

Once back on the Trail, I was in the thick of rush hour. It wasn’t completely horrible, but it did slow me down. My travel options were narrowing.

I got off and headed towards El Jobean, which didn’t take too long to reach. I missed the road to get off at which would get me to the historic stuff. I u-turned and found the road. Yeah, I do a lot of u-turning. I get a workout when I travel, even while I’m driving.

Two places on my list in El Jobean. An old hotel, about the size of a house, abandoned and surrounded by scrub bushes. Couldn’t really get a good shot of it, but took a couple anyway. More accessible was the former post office and general store (street view), which is now a museum and restaurant. It’s where I found out the origin of the town’s name. It’s not, as one might think, Spanish. No, the town’s founder, Joel Bean, created it by making an anagram of his name. I’d wanted to get to Boca Grande, but was too far, especially this late in the day (almost 6 PM). And even though sundown wasn’t until 8, the light was now not as ideal as I liked.

Before I left, I got my third meal in an NRHP site. I ordered it to-go, though. Got a bacon cheeseburger, and I think the bacon was applewood, ‘cause it was sweet, with fries. About 7 bucks, and really good. I’ll have to go this way when I do make it to Boca Grande, and will have to remember this place for future reference. Good food, lots of it, decent prices, historic building, they’ve got it all.

For me, this was the beginning of the end of the excursion, since I knew I wasn’t going to get many more photos.

I went through Englewood and the since there was still OK light, I stopped at the Lemon Bay Woman’s Club. It looks like a few of the other
woman’s clubs throughout the state. I wonder if one architect designed several of them?

I wondered if I’d ever reach Venice, but I finally got there about 6:45. I drove under a bridge to get to the Venice Depot. This was one of those occasions where late photo-taking worked out nice, since the near-sunset light gave a lovely golden glow to the depot. It’s also in very nice condition, thank goodness. There was an awful smell in the area, though. It wasn’t industrial. Maybe fishy? I had to hold my nose, it was so bad. I backtracked and drove over the bridge into downtown Venice, and no more smell.

Downtown Venice was busy, and on a Tuesday night. I drove around a bit, but couldn’t easily find any of the stuff in the area I wanted to get pictures of. Since it was less than an hour to sunset, it wasn’t worth expending too much more effort, so I officially ended the photo-taking portion of the trip. After this, it was just heading home.

I have to say, I like SR 681. It’s a 4-mile-long or so connecter between US 41 and I-75. It also has a nice long on-ramp that gives you plenty of time to get to speed to get onto the interstate. None of this 0-to-65 in no time like most of them.

Heading north, it was smooth sailing. Not much traffic at all. I got to the Sarasota area by about 8, just around sunset. There was another half-hour of civil twilight and not long after that I was on familiar territory; I-75 around Tampa. The traffic was light, which was great. I thought about getting off to US 301, but figured that I was through what’s usually the worst part of the interstate around here, so I didn’t.

Which turned out to be a big mistake, as the first theme of this trip reared it’s ugly head in a big way. I’d just got past the I-75/I-275 split, when suddenly the traffic slowed to a crawl. Fortunately, there was a rest stop coming up, so I pulled off. I accidentally went into the truck parking area, and since there’s no connection between it and the regular car area, I parked between two trucks. I got out and found the security guys, who told me there was a stretch of I-75 that had only one lane open. I don’t know if they were widening or repaving or what. Thing is, there shouldn’t have been enough traffic to make it a problem. I mean, why were all these people driving on a Tuesday night at quarter-‘til-9 going north out of Tampa, huh? They should be all home watching Dancing with the Stars.

I called my cousin Paul and filled him in, then figured, what the hell. I was going to get a cup of coffee to wake me up anyway, why not a nap instead? So I got back to the car and let the seat back, cracked open the windows, and conked out about 9. When I felt better rested I looked at my watch and, lo-and-behold, it was 10:30. Yes, I’d napped for an hour and a half. The traffic looked immensely better, so I gave it a shot. It looked like it was thickening up as I got on the interstate, but it wasn’t too bad. Turned out the one lane portion was only about a mile, had to drive around 30 mph but was through it quick.

Much clearer from then on, even though I ran into another one-lane stretch about a half hour later. There there was so little traffic, though, that I could go through at 50 mph and get past it in no time. I got off at the Lake Panasoffkee exit, as it was close to US 301. I was a little disoriented, since I’d never driven this part at night, but once I found US 301, I was on very familiar territory from that point on. I forgot about the construction of the bridge over the railroad tracks in Wildwood, and more in Oxford near the Villages. Dang, it’s not gonna be much fun at the begiinning of any southbound roadtrip for months.

Finally, blessedly, I got home. At a quarter-after-midnight. Which should have been more like 10:30. Oh well, I got home safe, and had a good time (mostly), and that’s what counts. The whole trip was more than 850 miles, and I took over 1213 photos. Exactly one more than I took on my Easter trip in 2008. But that one was only three days long. So, not a record for me, but sort of one anyway.

More travelogues to come. Not nearly as compendious, ‘cause they’ll only be for my usual day-long trips.

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Found this at scifiwire.com. Brilliant, simply brilliant.

Read Full Post »


Mom’s E.T. in the hotel bed, again


Looking out the hotel window, towards Tamiami Trail

Fort Myers. The final day.

It’s funny, I didn’t set an alarm the whole trip, and I get up nearly the same time every morning. Like this day, once again, 7:30. They had the whole setup to make coffee in the room, so I had some nice fresh-brewed before I stepped out the door. As can be seen in the photo above I took out the window, it was another lovely day, great weather to end the trip.

I had breakfast at the very same Holiday Inn in which I stayed. I was the only one in the dining room, and it took longer than I expected for my order to get done. Maybe it was just me being impatient to get going. Wait, I just realized I had slow service at about half the places I ate this trip. Weird. Still, worth the wait. I got a fresh veggie omelet (even had broccoli) on taters, like a veggie Asher. But healthier, as I got it with Egg Beaters and whole wheat toast. I knew it would hold me for a good long time.

I’ll have to wax eloquent about Ashers some other time, and how much I miss Skeeters, and their big biscuits, and great Chinese food.

So I got going by 9, and it was cool and comfortable again. First stop was Edison Park Elementary School (photos). It was closed, so spring break must be the whole week. There wasn’t fencing around the buildings, so I could get some nice shots.
The school was only a few blocks from my next stop, the Thomas Edison and Henry Ford Winter Estates. I met one of the groundskeepers and had a nice chat. He rides a motorcycle in his spare time, and told me about a nice restaurant in Okeechobee, ironically. It’s called the Cowboys BBQ and Steak Co., and I’ll have to try it when I go back to look for the Battlefield. As far as the Estates, he said it’s 20 bucks to get in. To me, it wasn’t worth spending that much with the small amount of time I planned to spend there, so I took photos from outside the low fence around the grounds. Which was good enough. There was another house on my list next to the estates, Casa Rio. It was completely gated, though, so I had to settle for some so-so shots with the zoom. Can’t always get ideal pictures of every place I’d like, doncha know.

Across from the street from the estates is where you got tickets to get in and other information. Speaking of which, they were able to confirm my suspicion that Anderson Avenue is now Martin Luther King Boulevard. It was the one boundary line of the downtown historic district that I didn’t have. With that, I knew the area I had to cover. The information area was also part of the botanical segment of the Edison Estate. There was a large stand of ficus trees there, which Edison had planted to experiment with for rubber production. I remember what a problem those trees were in Miami, ‘cause their roots can enter pinholes in underground water pipes and clog them. And the roots can grow a really long distance from the tree itself. Could those damn trees be his fault?

I was going to save the district for last. The next place was the William H. Towles House. What a weird address. It’s 2050 MacGregor Boulevard. Not so weird. But next to it was 2036, and next to that was 2052. So 2050, then 2036, then 2052? The house is now office space, which at least means it’s being used and kept up well.

Headed east, and got shots of the old Atlantic Coast Line Railroad Station (now the Southwest Florida Museum of History), then the Imaginarium Hands-On Museum. The latter was very… blue. Didn’t go in to either, ‘cause of time constraints. And I’m not much of a museum guy.

Next, another school, the Paul Lawrence Dunbar School. Closed. Large grounds, so did a bit of walking to get shots from all sides.

Then it was back west towards downtown. I got shots of the Gilmer Heitman House and Alderman House, even though the addresses were slightly different. Thank you, Guide to Florida’s Historic Architecture.


Murphy-Burroughs House

Drove a few more blocks and parked behind the Langford-Kingston Home, which was being reno’d. it’s also across from the Murphy-Burroughs House, which to me is almost as nice as Lapham-Patterson House in Thomasville, Georgia. Took lots of shots, front, back and sides. Also got photos of the US 41 bridges (street view) behind the house that go over the Caloosahatchee River. They’re quite a sight.

Last but most, the downtown historic district (photos and street view). I found a parking spot with almost 2 hours still on meter, hurrah! Don’t hate me because I’m lucky. I feel like I earned that spot, ‘cause I walked that whole dang district in just over half an hour. OK, most of it. I got decent pictures of everything I wanted. Well, except the Lee County Courthouse, because there was construction going on in front, so got best I could. I was done and going north over one of the bridges by 12:40.

Overall, I like Fort Myers. I’ll have to come back eventually, since there’s a few spots I missed around the edges of the city. Maybe I’ll even tour the Edison and Ford Estates when I return.

Guess what’s next? Yes, another school! The J. Colin English School (photos and street view), to exact. Closed. It’s odd to see so many elementary and middle schools closed on weekdays. I’m not complaining, it let me get clear pictures without hordes of kids running around.

Back to US 41, there was a BP, thank goodness, ‘cause I needed a fill-up. While doing that, I chatted with a couple in a car with Hawaii plates. They live there a few months out of the year, and bring the license plate with them, for amusement value, mostly. After I filled up, I called Richard for my check-up call of the day. Went back into the store and got some snack stuff, and departed by 1:30.

I like this section of US 41 (street view). It reminds me of US 441 between ocala and gainesville, but a bit bleaker and with more coastal vegetation. Liking the 65 mph speed limit, too.

Which was over too soon, once I entered Punta Gorda. An OK place, with a generic Florida mid-sized city look. More on that in the next post.

Read Full Post »


The Planetary Court, at Koreshan State Historic Site

I could’ve gone to Lovers Key State Park, but it was really out of the way, especially this late in the day. Plus I wasn’t thrilled to see another beach. So I decided to skip it this time around and go onward.

Which was a great decision, ‘cause it meant I could spend more time at Koreshan State Historic Site) (photos and street view). The history of the place is amazing, and many of the buildings of the people who settled here are still preserved. Several are over a hundred years old. With Florida’s climate, it always astounds me to find these old wooden buildings still in great shape. They really did know how to build ‘em back then. I spent nearly an hour there, take shots all over the place. I could see stopping here again, and spending some time just soaking in the atmosphere.

Another great thing about this park is that they’re one of the management centers. The state park system is divided into regions, and each region has one of the parks as the headquarters. Koreshan is the one for the southwest. What’s great is that they’ll have passport stamps for the other parks in the region that don’t have rangers. I was able to get 8 stamps all at once! Mind you, I only actually visited the one, but I do plan on visiting the others, and now I have the stamps for them. Yippee!

Once I left, it was up Tamiami Trail to Fort Myers Beach. I had to head west on CR 865, and ran into, yes, construction. Several miles of it. By now it was around 4, and the traffic was getting like it does in a larger city at rush hour. This is why I prefer travel on the weekends. I saw that there was backup in the direction I was heading, and not a small amount. I decided to skip Fort Myers Beach and U-turned. What was Sanibel Island going to be like? Knowing how popular it was, I feared the worst.

It turned out to be not that bad. There was a toll plaza on the mainland end of the causeway to get onto the island. You have to pay to go to Sanibel, but not to leave. The traffic was horrendous, but all heading towards Fort Myers. The traffic going to the island was relatively minor. So I suppose there’s a lot of people who work there, but who support those that actually live there.

Once on the island, I headed for my first stop, an old school that’s now an art gallery. All the way there, there was solid traffic heading the other way. I decided to take a circuitous route to my next stop, which was on the other end of the island. Before I got to the residential area, I drove by one of the entrances to the J. N. “Ding” Darling NWR. I figured I’d check it out, but there wasn’t much to see from the parking lot, so I took a shot of the sign and continued. Once I hit where the folks lived, speed limits decreased, but there was little traffic, so I was moving the whole way.

I reached the tip of the island and the Sanibel Lighthouse (photos). Underwhelming. Oh well, they can’t all be like the St. Augustine or St. George ones. The parking was 2 dollars an hour, which sucks if you’re not gonna be there that long. I guess most folks who go there are going for a while, so it works for most. The beach around the lighthouse was nice, though, and lots of folks there. Again, what are these people doing, not being at work on a Monday?

There’s a museum on the island that was on my list, but I can live without seeing it. So as far as I’m concerned, Sanibel Island is done. I’d also taken long enough so that the worst of the traffic was over. It was a bit slow on the bridge off the island, but not less than 35 mph.

Found MacGregor Boulevard (above), which is one of the main Fort Myers thoroughfares, and headed north. There are palm trees all along, which makes it very stately. I turned off to get pictures of a couple of houses, one on the NRHP (the Jewett-Thompson House) and one not (the Burdette-Roberts House).

It was now 6, and my watch started beeping. I’d reset it yesterday, because I figured this would be a good time to start hotel searching, wherever I was. I drove by the Thomas Edison and Henry Ford Winter Estates, so I knew where they’d be for next day’s running around. I found US 41, and knew there had to be hotels along there. Sure enough, I spied a Holiday Inn after a couple minutes. Inside, I found the rooms were $100. Pricier than I liked, but I had to sleep somewhere, and at the moment could afford it. Turned out to be another 3rd floor room, which was kinda neat.

After finishing checking in, I asked about food. The front desk recommended a couple of places. What appealed to me was Joe’s Crab Shack. The directions got me somewhat lost, but I found it. Right on the water, as a crab shack should be.

But it was a crab shack in name only. Really, it was a regular seafood restaurant. Nothing wrong with that, but not the rustic place I was hoping for. Very popular, though, at least halfway full, which is good for a Monday night. Lots of waitresses, but I got one of the only waiters. Lucked out there with Alex.

Oh, he was fine. Late 20s/early 30s, cute glasses, a bit of grey in the hair. He looked like he’d stepped out of an old cigarette or aftershave advertisement. Without the cheesy porn ‘stache. Wish he hadn’t been wearing saggy jeans, though. He had a nice athletic build, and it’s a shame the rear view wasn’t as good as it could have been. I wonder if he might be an actor/model in his spare time? The whole “the worse the economy, the more attractive the wait staff” thing. Very personable, too. He wrote his first name on a paper towel, I suppose because he didn’t have a name tag. Yes, I saved it. You take your mementoes where you find them.

The food? That’s right, I did go there to eat, didn’t I? The place specializes in buckets o’ seafood. Actual buckets. Filled with crab legs, clams, or whatever you’d like. Pricy, as large quantities of seafood can get. But I don’t like that kind of seafood. My tastes are simpler.

I got a bowl of New England Clam Chowder. Very good, very creamy, clammy and bacony, with bits of orange bell pepper and celery. Then it was the classic fish and chips, which when I asked, Alex recommended, saying he ate it often. It was also very good, with all those lovely crunchy batter bits, which is the best part of fish and chips. All told it was about 20 bucks, but way better than Long John Silver’s. Nothing against them, I like Silver’s. But this was several steps up the cuisine ladder from them.

I got back to the hotel after 8, so I missed some of Dancing with the Stars. I had all the intentions in the world of going to bed early, but for some ungodly reason got caught up watching the remake of The Day the Earth Stood Still. It was nowhere near as good as the original, and to me more overtly preachy. I didn’t get to sleep until after 1. I figured if worse came to worse, I could take a nap the next day to recharge if I needed it.

Read Full Post »


Mom’s E.T. in the hotel bed


Looking out the hotel window, towards downtown Naples

Even with all the curtains closed, I still woke up at 7:30. So much for long sleep, but it did help.

The room bill was slipped under the door, so I could leave the key in the room and not have to go to the front desk to formally check out. Which was just like the hotel in Clewiston. Maybe it’s a new trend. If so, I’m liking it.

The Weather Channel had said the weather would be nice, and gazing out the hotel window, it looked that way. Once I started loading up the car, I discovered it was cool and breezy like the day before. Even knowing it wouldn’t last until noon, it’s always nice to start a day of travel like that.

It was rather strange to be jaunting about on a Monday. Haven’t done that since the two week hurricane evasion trip with Mom back in late 2004, when I was still working for WebMD. I will have to recount that trip here at a later date. Down side is, that one was pre-digital camera, so the pictures aren’t as good. But Street View will help, and I can find other photos to supplement the postings.

While flipping around on the radio, I stumbled across the Bob and Sheri Show. I forgot about them completely. I used to love listening to them. They don’t play on any stations in Ocala. Might have to see about podcasts and such.

Almost within walking distance of the hotel was the first thing on my Naples list, the Seaboard Coast Line Railroad Depot. I think it’s a museum now. It wasn’t open, which was nice in a way, since it meant the parking lot was empty and I could get shots unobstructed by cars.

I got to the historic district (street view) shortly after. I parked in the shopping part, coincidentally in front of one of the buildings specifically listed in A Guide to Florida’s Historic Architecture, the Naples Mercantile Building (now a restaurant). The area is very upscale and schmantzy. There was at least one sign with a map indicating where all the businesses were. It made the place feel like an outdoor mall. Got an espresso at Bad Ass Coffee, and that jolted me into further wakefulness.

Back in the car and drove over to the Palm Cottage (not be confused with the one in Miami), finding a spot pretty close to it. I saw a tour group ride by on Segways, how modern. The Cottage is run by the Naples Historical Society. It wasn’t open, but even with all the trees around it, I was able to get decent enough shots.


Looking towards Naples from the end of the Pier

Then I strolled over to the Naples Pier (photos). Now that is a landmark. The thing’s 700 feet long! And there were tons of people there. Why weren’t they all at work on a Monday? I strolled all the way to the end of the pier and back. It mayn’t have been high on my priority list, but it was one of the more fun things I got to see. Then I walked around the residential section of the district. Nice houses, but not gaudy or grandiose. Maybe ‘cause they’re so close to the beach.

Got all I needed in about an hour and was on my way. All in all, I rather like Naples. There’s a few spots I didn’t get nearby, so I look forward to returning.

Let me mention a great trio of books about out of the way Florida. They’re the Best Backroads of Florida series by Douglas Waitley. Wherever I go in the state, I usually have the one covering the area I’m visiting. In this case, it was Volume 2 (Coasts, Glades, and Groves). He recommends avoiding US 41 for a while, and continuing up Gulf Shore Boulevard. Doug’s rarely steered me wrong, so I tried it. The upscaliness increased. All too soon it gave way to high-rises. Reminded me too much of how overdeveloped Miami Beach got. And that was over twenty years ago; to think of what it must be like now. Anyway, the roads got twisty and I wasn’t sure where I was going at this point. But I figured as long as I was heading generally north and east, I’d find Tamiami Trail.

And so I did. Fortunately, only a bit south of my next stop, the Holocaust Museum of Southwest Florida (above), which wasn’t open because it’s closed on Mondays. You know, I’ve never seen a museum in an office plaza, but that’s where this was. A cute 2-story one. Better than no space at all. It was still breezy, maybe more so than earlier. Not complaining at all; made it much more comfortable.

Now the next stop floored me, even though I was warned. It was the Delnor-Wiggins Pass State Park. I’d read it was popular, but crikeys! There was a line of cars before I even got to the entrance. I didn’t check my watch as to my exact arrival time, but I know it took me at least a half-hour to get in. On a Monday, around noon! I wondered previously at all the folks at the Naples Pier. Well, that was deserted compared to this. It seemed like everyone in the area had decided to take Monday off. At first I couldn’t figure why the cars moved so slowly. As I got closer, I realized they were only letting a car in when another one left the park. Once I was in and to the ranger station, I commented how they must support the whole state park system almost singlehandedly. They said they were one of the top 10. I think they’re five of them all by themselves.

Was it worth it? Yes and no. Got the stamp for the park in my state park passport. The main attraction was the beach. The sand was brilliant white, and the waters were the turquoise I saw at the panhandle beaches, which surprised me. But I’m not a beachy guy, so I didn’t enjoy it as much as others might. I also spent less time in the park than waiting to get in. Another thing that bugged me was that, with all the waiting, there were at least half-a-dozen empty parking spots. They could have let a few more cars in. Maybe they don’t want to fill it to capacity in case people have to get out fast?

As I was leaving, I swear I saw a lovebug. In the beginning of April? I wondered how bad they’d be come the end of May. It looks as though I worried needlessly, as I’ve seen hardly any since. Usually Memorial Day weekend is swarming season, but I haven’t seen a sign of the cursed things, thank goodness.

I was completely out of Naples not long after leaving, and with only a smidge of dificulty found Bonita Springs School (photos). And don’t think this was the last one; far from it. It was 12:30 and closed, so spring break must’ve been this week. After getting pictures, I called my cousin Lynn for my mid-morning check-in. By the time we were done, it was 1 o’clock and time for lunch.

On the way to the school I’d noticed a building that looked like an old-style ice-cream place, but remember seeing a sign indicating it was a restaurant. I thought I’d try it, and it was a food highlight of the trip. The name of the place was Taqueria San Julian (street view). Not a big place, but nice enough. They had a menu written on the wall, and one of the first things I noticed on it was tripe. I’m not a big tripe fan. I made pepper pot soup (a Pennsylvania Dutch sort of menudo) years ago and it was OK, yet I wouldn’t go out of the way to get it. The thing is, them having tripe on the menu (and tongue!) indicated to me that it wasn’t your typical fast-food generic Mexican restaurant.

I will say the one atypical thing was the service was slow, which I’ve not had happen in a Mexican restaurant. It might have been my invisibity curse acting up, or just my day to get slow service. I obtained a regular type menu, and saw they had four locations, one of them back in LaBelle. After eating at this one, I’ll remember to look for the others if I’m in the area.

What’d I get? A pork taco, which was like a mini-burrito. And speaking of burritos, I got a shrimp burrito, which I’ve never had. I’ve also never had it cut in half, which made it even easier to eat. Neither was huge, but then the prices were very inexpensive. Altogether it was around 7 bucks, which is insane for food that good.

Oh, and did I forget to mention the hot sauces? Three of them, served in a metal container like you’d find in a fancy restaurant. Here’s a more extensive description, with pictures of the salsa purveyor and some of the food. It’s about the one in Fort Myers, but equally applies to the one in Bonita Springs. I left before 2 PM, which wasn’t too horrid, time-wise.

Read Full Post »


In LaBelle, looking north along SR 29

Finally reached the booming metropolis of LaBelle. I say that sarcastically, but it is a nice town, and bigger than I expected. It looks isolated on a map, but it’s not far from Fort Myers, and is the county seat of Hendry County. Crossing the Caloosahatchee River bridge (above), I was right at the beginning of the local historic district (photos and street view). I parked and started walking. There was some sort of church party going on at the park there, then realized, of course, ‘cause it’s Easter. Another small district, only a block long (I like those). Just beyond it was the Forrey Building (photos), which looked rather modern and not NRHP at all. There was a restaurant in it and I was hoping I could eat there (theme 3, if anyone’s counting, or is it 2), but it was closed.

Back in the car and heading south for my next stop, the Old Hendry County Courthouse (photos). Can I just say I think it’s neat? The tower on one side is so odd, and makes it different from any of the other courthouses I’ve seen. I got shots of it and the local history museum a couple of blocks away. Stopped at Wendy’s for lunch, since I needed something and the Forrey place was closed. Next went to city hall that was about a mile away. Very impressive, very solid. Then it was to the Capt. Francis A. Hendry House. Captain Hendry was the person after whom the county was named, big surprise. I could tell the house had been reno’ed, and a very expert job was done. It looked spiffy. That finished LaBelle.

Or so I thought. After I left and was a good many miles away, I was checking my lists, and realized I’d missed one NRHP site, the Caldwell Home Place. Oh, I was peeved to no end. The thought of having to make a special trip back to LaBelle, which really isn’t on the way to anywhere I still need to go. I’ll just have to make it be on the way for some trip. Maybe to Fort Myers, as there’s a few spots I didn’t get to on this trip. Of which, more later.

Speaking of Fort Myers, the next leg was a jog almost to there. I was planning to go through it via Naples, but there were some spots on the eastern outskirts that weren’t too far from LaBelle, so I thought I’d hit them up. First was Fort Denaud (photos), not much more than a traffic sign on SR 78. I crossed a bridge over a small canal, then stopped at the local cemetery. Because I have a thing for cemeteries. The historicity of them, doncha know. Didn’t get out, just drove by and snapped a couple.


Panorama view of the Alva Consolidated Schools

Continuing west, I began the next phase of the schools theme. Three in a row. The Alva Consolidated Schools, Olga School and Buckingham School. The last two are now community centers, but it’s nice to see them all still being used, in whatever capacity.


Construction on SR 82

When I got to SR 82, I took a wrong turn. I wondered why I was seeing multi-story buildings, then realized I was headed towards Fort Myers. Not yet! I U-turned and headed east, where I meant to go. And oh goody, construction for miles and miles (above). Just before I got to SR 29 again, I saw Hotel 82. Looks well-kept, but how it stays in business when it seems so isolated, who knows?

Not long after I got to Immokalee. The Roberts Ranch (part of a museum) was the only thing I needed, and of course it was closed. Yeah, Easter Sunday. Found out it’s open by appointment only anyway. Got what I could from outside the fence. I could try coming back in future, but I won’t cry if that doesn’t happen.


SR 29, a few miles south of Immokalee

Now was a good stretch of driving. SR 29 is very straight around here. More lush vegetation around, which ain’t a surprise, since I was getting near the Everglades. Then I entered the Florida Panther NWR, and suddenly there were tall fences on both sides of the road. There looked to be culverts here and there too, so panthers could pass under the road. And for the first time in all my travels, I saw signs that had day and night speed limits listed. To reduce the risk of hitting stray panthers, one supposes.

Eventually I got past the NWR. I wanted to see Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park and Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, but too much else to do, so more skipped. Reached I-75, which SR 29 goes over. I like the look of the area, see if you agree (street view). After another 10 or 20 miles I got to US 41. Or as this stretch is better known, the Tamiami Trail. Since it connects Tampa and Miami, doncha know.


Everglades Community Church

I’d return to it later, but continued south into Everglades City, which was only 4 miles further. Now this is a place I could see myself revisiting. I don’t know why I like it, but I do. Maybe the small townyness, but not too small. I was a little confused getting around at first, but sorted that out. Found the traffic circle where the old community church was, and the old county courthouse (photos) almost across from it.

Quick history. Everglades City was the original county seat for Collier County. Then in the 1960s the seat moved to Naples, most likely because it was larger and not as remote. The original courthouse building still stands though, and now is the city hall (street view). Apparently it got seriously damaged during the 2004 and 2005 hurricane seasons, but it was restored, thank goodness.

All the stuff I needed photographs of were on or near the circle. Besides the two previously mentioned were the Bank of Everglades Building (for sale), the old depot (now a restaurant), Everglades Laundry (a local history museum) and the Rod and Gun Club, one of the oldest such clubs in the state.

Another 4 miles south was Chokoloskee, on Chokoloskee Island. A veritable mountain in the area, about 20 feet above sea level. Mostly because it’s a giant shell midden. Some mild confusion again, but found the Ted Smallwood Store (photos). Would have been nice to get there earlier, ‘cause the light wasn’t as good as I would’ve liked. But hey, if I ever get back to Everglades City, Chokoloskee’s only a shell’s throw away. The store is another one of those buildings I’m amazed is still standing. That it’s up on high pilings helps, I’d think.


Tamiami Trail, looking west at the SR 29 intersection

Back the way I came, and I’m at the Tamiami Trail in no time. Well, some time. But not much time. Another skip, Monroe Station. It’s too late, and too far east. So it’s west on the Trail, to Naples.

I can only imagine what it was like driving between Miami and Naples back in the day. I think Mom and Dad made the trip a few times, though maybe it was on Alligator Alley. Even now, there’s not much of anything, except swamp. And I don’t think the road was in as good condition years ago. Many would consider the area desolate, even though there’s a whole complex ecosystem working all around. There’s a simplicity of purpose to places like this. Maybe it’s the lack of human presence that I find so serene. You can forget about all the complexities of modern life. I think it’s one of the big things that attracts me to the backroads.

I reached the Collier-Seminole State Park (photos), which was still open, but not for long, since sunset was soon. The pictures I got weren’t great, but they’ll do. The Bay City Walking Dredge No. 489 impressed me a lot.

After leaving the park, it was less than 10 miles before I reached the outskirts of Naples. The backroads part of the trip was over. It’d be big city roads after this.

It was about 7, so well time to find somewhere to crash. I wasn’t going to, but I decided to try the Bayfront Inn, pricey place though it looked to be. My luck was good, though, since I got a 3rd floor room for about $100, about $30 less than normal. Probably because it was a Sunday night, and what with the economy and all.

The hotel was part of a mall type of complex, so I walked around after checking in and found an Italian restaurant, Portobello Cafe. Which was ironic, since the only portobello dish on the menu was an appetizer. They had the doors open, which was a thrill, since it was definitely toasty and muggy. I toughed it out, and it was so worth it. I got chicken veggie soup and garlic bread to start, and spaghetti and meatballs. Sometimes simple is best, and that was the case here, ‘cause it was all good to very good. The one curious note was that the staff all seemed to be Hispanic, nobody Italian there at all. But hey, considering the results, maybe there should be more like that.

Back at the hotel I watched Iron Chef America. It was Morimoto and the secret ingredient was leeks. Mister Iron Chef won, as expected. Mom would’ve like this one, she had grown rather fond of leeks.

I had been tired on and off since 2 pm, so a good night’s sleep would do me world of good. Yet I stayed up later than planned doing map and itinerary sorting. Still, went to be bed about 12:30, which wasn’t that awful.

Read Full Post »

It’s called Time Crash, a one-off Children In Need special from 2007. It’s set between the seasons with Martha and Donna. I stumbled across it a while back, and it’s overdue that I let others know about it. It’s really a sweet little gem of a story. Enjoy.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »