Postcards from Florida

I’ve just had my third week in Florida. One more to go.

I have some mixed feelings about this. As predicted, it took me the first two and a half weeks to even begin to unwind. Last week I just surrendered to it. I spent lots of time in the sun reading, daydreaming, exploring and working out. Yeah, I don’t know what it is, but when I’m on vacation I always have amazing workouts.

My inner history nerd has been very happy here. I never knew much about Florida history – just that the first Europeans here were the Spanish, back in the 1500’s. I’d also heard the jokes about selling “swampland in Florida” back in the ’20’s. This week I’ve been to a couple of heritage villages that were quite compelling. I just love old buildings, I feel like they speak for themselves. Walking around them, and reading the stories of the people who lived in them was absolutely fascinating. This was quite a bunch of hardworking, entrepreneurial people. One of my favourites was the guy who raised cattle, manufactured and sold ice, owned and ran the local cemetery, opened a small general store, and helped out in starting a bank for his town. And we think we have overscheduled lives these days.

My sweetie-pie has some soul-mates in these Florida pioneers. When he read the story about that man he said, “My kind of people”. Perhaps I’ll be selling ice and starting a bank in the near future.

It is inspirational, really. These people just knuckled down and did things. Maybe our modern life has made us a bit too soft in some ways. Something to think about.

And while we do that, here’s some shots from last week. You’ve got a whole mixed bag here. Some history, some goofiness, some pretty Florida scenes.

Starting with a misty morning from the balcony. Such a lovely view.

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I begin almost every day out here, soaking it all in. As the morning gets going, boats venture out from the yacht club.

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Then after a coffee or two, it’s time to start the day. First stop is usually the gym. I have discovered Orange Theory Fitness while down here – one of the best workouts I’ve had in a long, long, time. We need one in Niagara. Seriously, we do.

Then, we’re off to do whatever we have planned. Last Tuesday I went back to the Gulfport Farmer’s Market. Of course, I got more of that fabulous bread.

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And veggies.

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Some Jamaican vegan food.

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And splurged on some Chili’n’Cheese kettle corn, from this charming fella.

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Then over the next two days we went to the historic villages. The first one was Manatee Village Historical Park.

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The building above was the Wiggins Store, a general store built right on this spot in 1903. Also the hub of community life then, a general store was an important place. It was where you went to socialize, play checkers, listen to that new-fangled phonograph, and buy flour.

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Sadly, this lovely store changed hands and purpose over the years, finally being condemned and boarded up in 1983. After a long period of fundraising and restoration, it reopened to the public in 1990, as it was.

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I also liked the Stephens House. This particular house was built in 1912, but is said to be an excellent example of rural frame dwellings in Florida between 1870 and World War 1.

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The thing that struck me about these houses is how well ventilated and comfortable they are. There is a large central hallway with floor-to-ceiling doors that open. Air from outside is funneled through the house, and though we were there on a hot day, the house was refreshingly cool. It was a very pleasant home, with a drawing room, three bedrooms, and a large kitchen. If I lived back then, I could see myself in a house like this. Well, if I couldn’t be a duchess or something.

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The Old Meeting House church was lovely too. Especially with these trees enhancing its view.

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Though that was a great day, I enjoyed our visit to Pinellas County Heritage Village even more. They had more than 31 historic structures and features to roam around. There were also extremely informative plaques, talking about the buildings and the people who lived in them. The people part is what I find extremely interesting. How else would I have known about the cattle-farmer-turned-ice-manufacturer-turned-cemetery-owner-and-banker?

The Williams Park Bandstand reminded me of home.

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Look at the tiny Boyer Cottage. Only one room to it, built in 1878.

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The McMullen-Coachman Log Cabin, built in the 1850’s.

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Look at this gorgeous old carriage. I’ve been singing “Surrey With the Fringe on Top” ever since I saw it. It’s driving Ken crazy.

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The H.C Smith General Store. Inside there was so much to look at. The Post Office, a Barber’s Chair, and a Mechanic Shop were all set up there.

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I was quite taken with the old Wanted posters. A rich reward awaited if you had the guts to apprehend a gangster.

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I also loved the railroad station. There’s something kind of romantic about the old days of railroad travel, don’t you think?

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I wish I had known that they give tours. Some of the buildings you couldn’t go into unless you were on a tour. But they were lovely to look at anyway.

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Other than my historic adventures, we did a few things last week. Ken and I went to another market where I found a great Kombucha producer. Do we have any in Niagara? If we do, could someone let me know? I’m too chicken to make it myself. The SCOBY intimidates me.

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We spent a lazy afternoon in St. Armands Circle. Full of lovely shops and great restaurants.

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The sun has been so generous to us. Some afternoons were spent with books and Chardonnay  Coffee for poolside lounging.

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And of course, we’ve been working on our selfie photography skills.

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We might just be getting there. Maybe.

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The weather has been utterly magnificent. It’s going to be hard to don a winter parka again. At least when I get back Cuvée is happening. I won’t be back in time for the Grand Tasting, but plan to get to some of the winery sampling later that weekend.

Niagara wine will make the transition easier, right?

Speaking of my hometown, I’ll be back with some Niagara stories later this week.