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Archive for June 6th, 2010

So here goes, my first extensive travelogue. Wheee!

Some notes. Street view links are to Google Street Views of the indicated sites. If you’ve not discovered the wonder of Street View, consider this your introduction. Play with it, pan around, have fun. Photos links are to individual pictures or groups of pictures that I took. They’re at Wikimedia Commons.

Speaking of which, what I photograph. The subjects I find of interest are, primarily:

  • Sites on the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP, for short)
  • Florida State Parks
  • Courthouses
  • Bridges
  • Churches

I’m also getting current pictures of places in a neat little book called A Guide to Florida’s Historic Architecture (photos). There’s a good amount of overlap in the book with NRHP sites, so it’s killing two birds.

This will be about the trip I took over Easter weekend this year. To be exact, April 3rd through 6th. I took Monday and Tuesday off since I had a couple of days of bereavement time due to Mom’s passing. I told her months ago that after she was gone, I was going to take her stuffed E.T. with me on every roadtrip I made. You see, Mom collected two types of things. Anything with cardinals (the birds, not the sports team) or E.T. One of the first things she received relating to the latter was an E.T. that was like a teddy bear. I had it on the front seat with me the whole way, and talked to it like it was Mom, and each night I took it into each hotel. ‘Cause even by proxy, I wasn’t going to let Mom stay in the car overnight.

I was going to do an entry for each day, but they got so long that I had to break each day into two separate entries. I’ll post them a couple of days apart, to be more manageable.

First off, the route. I was going to head to the panhandle originally, since I’d not been there for over a year and I felt like I was going through withdrawals. But the weather report showed a couple of days where there might be some rain. I looked around, and saw that south of here looked to be sunny everywhere. So I changed my route 180 degrees. The main part of Florida I’d never gotten too was the southwest. I’d never been south of Sarasota on the west coast.

So a plan was born. I’d go down the Turnpike, get off and drive down a back road that went through a postage stamp of a town called Kenansville. Then head down US 441 to Okeechobee, circle around the east and south sides of the lake. After that, south until I got to Chokoloskee Island. Head northwest from there to Naples, and up the coast until I ran out of time and had to head home. Yeah, an extensive trip, and I knew ahead of time I’d probably have to skip some stuff. But whatever I saw would be good, and I could cross off my list for my next trip down there.

The weather for the weekend turned out gorgeous. A bit on the warm side, and mostly clear skies. On the downside, there was construction all over the damned place. Slowed me down at some points, and was a whole bunch of no fun to driver through.

I started later than I’d planned on Saturday, leaving around 9:30 AM. I stayed up way too late the night before printing maps. Like, 2 in the morning. I probably should have got up later, but I my inner alarm clock wouldn’t let me sleep after 9 AM.

I encountered two construction zones before even reaching the Turnpike, but I knew about them beforehand. I stopped at the Hardee’s in Wildwood, my favorite place to get breakfast on my southbound trips. I got a breakfast burrito and smoked sausage biscuit. Thank goodness, ‘cause it gave me the caloric infusion I need to deal with the long stretch of construction on the Turnpike.

I stopped at the Turkey Lake Plaza, in the midst of the construction zone, for a bit of a break. I like what they’ve done with the plazas. More variety in food and such, very nice bathrooms.

But you know what I miss? Mold-A-Rama machines. I didn’t even remember the name of the things, but found this article about it. I don’t recall them being anywhere except the Turnpike Plazas. But they were part of my memories of the times we travelled north, out of Miami. I remember them making dinosaurs, which I was nuts about anyway. But then, even now, what pre-teen boy isn’t? According to the article, they haven’t made the machines in years, but the old ones were built well, so many are still around. I’ll have to add them to my list of things to keep an eye out for.

Speaking of the Turnpike, after driving through all the danged construction, I couldn’t get off at the exit I wanted because it was SunPass only, and I didn’t have one. Since I didn’t feel like paying a $100 dollar fine, I had to drive over 40 miles before getting to the next exit. Gaaah! Missed Kenansville, so that’ll have to be another trip.

So much for the pre-amble. Next post, the trip really begins!

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