Day 10 — April 10, 2003 — Thursday
\I am posting a short report for now, as we are on a tight schedule tomorrow. We need to be in Panama City for an interview with a television station. I’ll supplement this report tomorrow night.
This is Day 10 of approximately 100 days, so 10% down and 90% to go. It was the second day in a row of overcast skies, and it sprinkled on us several times throughout the day. The temperature was in the low 60’s and dropped to 50 when we rolled into Tallahassee. At this rate, we’ll lose our tans by Texas.
Today should have been two days. I simply scheduled too many miles to be covered in one day. It took us five hours to go the first 100 miles. It seemed like stoplights were every few feet along Highway 41 from Fort Myers to Tampa, and the traffic was terrible. I will look again at the remainder of the schedule and see where I need to add a day here and there.
We had some fun today, but we couldn’t see as much as we would have liked.
The day started with a bang at the world’s largest shell factory in Fort Myers. The Shell Factory must sell every souvenir item ever made, and if that’s not enough, they have people making new ones every day! The place occupies 18 acres; it looks like the size facility needed to mass produce jumbo jets. A Super Wal-Mart seems tiny in comparison to the Shell Factory. We were there early in the day, and there weren’t many customers, but it has been in business since long before I was a little boy, so they must do a good business.
As we drove on, I noticed a manufacturing facility called Tervis Tumblers. We went into their factory store to discover that Tervis is indeed the manufacturer of fabulous insulated glassware that we were given by Barbara’s parents. These glasses will keep a drink cold like nothing else will, and the glassware is virtually indestructible. We toured the place and bought an American Flag tumbler and a Texas Tech tumbler. Amanda helped us. If you want some great glassware, buy some online from www.tervis.com.
Lunch was a treat as I spotted a little place that a tourist would never visit, Big Dogg’s, and Barbara agreed to stop. We had a great Philly Cheese Steak. Holly was our window waitress.
All day long, we saw one 50’s era motel after another. It continues to be both amazing and gratifying that these places still exist…and most are still operating. I could have taken a hundred pictures of “classic” motel architecture and signage, but time was not on our side, so I just snapped a few. The Cadillac Motel featured an old Cadillac out front, and the Warm Springs Motel had an especially flat-roofed look.
I do regret that we were unable to see the Shuffleboard Hall of Fame in St. Petersburg.
We stopped a number of times for mailboxes, to photograph other roadside stuff, and at Warm Mineral Springs (where you can swim in 87-degree water), but our next big stop was in Tarpon Springs. Tarpon Springs is a predominantly Greek community that was originally established for sponge fishing. And we were there to see Sponge-O-Rama. Words cannot really describe Sponge-O-Rama. At the risk of sounding insensitive, Sponge-O-Rama has the worst-looking displays of any attraction we have ever seen anywhere. It was a very amateurish job when it was constructed 50 years or so ago (almost any grade schooler’s science fair project would be more professional these days). But what is amazing is that the windows to the displays do not appear to have been cleaned in 50 years, and there are burned out light bulbs, and parts of the displays have deteriorated. It would be fascinating to speak with the owners to ascertain why the place looks like it does. Is it that they don’t realize it’s so bad? Is it that they don’t care? Or is it that they now consider the displays to be camp, realizing that a lot of people will come because they’ve heard how bad it is? We fall into the latter group, but we somehow doubt that the owners see it that way. We went to Tarpon Springs to see Sponge-O-Rama just because we had read that it was so bad that it was funny. As we exited, we passed by a young family, and the mother was reading all about how sponges are harvested from the ocean, and she was dead serious about the experience and the information. Boz and I felt bad about sharing looks and whispers of disbelief.
There are a lot of ways to say it, but our lesson for the day is to remember “different strokes for different folks.” One of the most amazing things about us humans is that we are all so very different. Some of us find places like Sponge-O-Rama to be funny while others take it as a serious educational experience. I’ve always preached to salespeople how important it is to recognize that everyone is different, to find out what is important to someone, and then tailor the sales presentation to deliver the appropriate appeal. I call this The Platinum Rule – “Do unto others as they would have done unto themselves.” It’s important to realize that everyone is different and to celebrate this rather than belittle it. As we all know, this is far easier to say than it is to do.
Our tape recorder seems to be working well now. It had better be, as we record about 20 minutes worth of thoughts, observations, and information each day. More of the book material is on tape than in these daily reports. We’ve driven 2,270 miles so far, and we aren’t even out of Florida yet. We haven’t gotten lost in several days.
It’s April 10 29872 9:25am after we did a lot of website work. We’re off from Fort Myers.
We’re going over the Kalussahatchee River? 29877 9:37am It started out kind of a little bit of blue sky, but it’s pretty much overcast and windy 66 degrees
29880 9:43am We have little sprinkles on our windshield.
29882 9:48am It sprinkled until just a minute ago when we pulled into the world’s largest shell factory.
We just finished the Fort Myers Shell Factory. It was truly a treat; the place is about the size of a building in which they would manufacture the space shuttle. It’s just immense and they have every tacky souvenir item ever made. And then they have folks sitting around, because there weren’t that many customers there, making other stuff. There was an entire normal size souvenir store filled just with magnets.
Tropical Golf Acres 29894 10:26am We have blue skies and scattered clouds.
South Punta Gorda Heights 29897 10:33am
We just passed the Cadillac Motel 29900 10:38am
Charlotte Harbor 29906 10:47am
Peace River Health Massage and Spa 29908 10:52 Their entire roof is an American flag.
Murdock 29912 11:01am
We saw a bowling alley in the Keys that was closed, unfortunately, but it was called The Fish Bowl. It probably gets best name for a bowling alley.
North Port 29917 11:10am
29921 11:24 We’re at Warm Mineral Springs. We’re taking a picture of the Warm Mineral Springs Hotel which is like one of your classic roadside motels, architectural magnificent pieces.
We just paid a brief visit to the Warm Springs International Spa Resort and Wellness Institute where you can swim in 87 degree water. They had evidence of pre-historic man having been here 10,000 years ago.
We never saw a sign, but we’re in Venice 29935 11:54am We saw the My-Way Diner; they sell hot Cubans. Unfortunately, Barbara said it looked a little dirty and she wouldn’t eat there. Then we noticed it had been closed, probably by the Health Department.
Before I do another one of these trips, I need to investigate whether it’s possible to finder mount a camera and then that way I could just point the car in the direction of what I wanted to shoot. I wouldn’t have to get out of the car and take my glasses off and stuff.
67 degrees. We haven’t put the top down because we’d freeze. It’s definitely cool up here. I’m hoping this will go away because our tans will fade fast.
I just saw the Venice City Limit sign 29936 11:57am
Nocomas? 29938 12:03
29940 12:27 We just had an excellent philly cheesesteak at Big Dogs. Sadly, I lost my information on several restaurants we’ve been to. I have a business card for Harriette’s and one other place. Big Dogg’s was definitely not a tourist trap; it was just a little hole-in-the-wall place on the side of the road. There were local construction and landscape workers eating there.
Oscar Scherer State Park 29943 12:32pm I’m not sure what they have there, but they have palm trees on the way in.
We were driving down the road at 29945 12:40 and saw a sign for Tervis? Tumblers. I just thought that it possibly could be the plastic glassware that I like so well to drink out of. So we pulled in, and indeed it is the original. It’s been in business since 1942, and they make this insulated tumbler. I have a Texas Tech one and an American flag one. We have the website: www.tervis.com. Amanda was the person who helped us at Tervis Tumbler.
Ospry 29946 12:53pm
Spanish Point, it says it’s a historic point 29947 12:55pm
Sarasota 29954 1:10pm
Ringling Boulevard in Sarasota 29957 1:23pm
29960 and 1:30 We just took a picture of Mel’s Twisty Treat. It’s a building built like a vanilla ice cream.
We’re turning left onto Myrtle Street to see Sarasota Jungle Gardens. It’s two blocks off Hwy 41 on Myrtle Street just passed the Twisty Treat.
University Street where you turn left to go the the Ringling Museum. We are at the Classic Car Museum in Sarasota. There are lots of great old cars.
Hwy 41 has heavy traffic and tons of stoplights; we’re moving awfully slow.
Bradonton 29970 2:00pm
Zolfo Springs 29972 2:04pm We’re looking for a farm that grows fruit and makes pies.
We’re crossing the Manatee River
I believe we crossed the Little Manatee River and then the Hillsborough River
We’re getting off exit 275 on the 75 at Hwy 56 so we can cut over Tarpon Springs
61 degrees 3:02pm We have some more sprinkles.
30061 3:37 We’re at Tarpon Springs
We just visited Sponge-orama. It’s free. The exhibit is as described in the book. It’s kind of sad to think that somebody thought that was really good when they made it.
Tarpon Springs is a great community and it looks like it’s a place that would be fun to walk around for an hour or two, but we don’t have the time so we’re on the road again.
It’s been really overcast with ominous looking clouds all day. We had a few little raindrops at 4:13; we probably had 3 or 4 minutes worth of raindrops earlier.
The lesson for the day is going to be that “there are different strokes for different folks,” “beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” “there’s an ass for every saddle,” “whatever floats your boat,” “I like tomatoes, you like tomatos,”
We’re probably in Anclote? 30072 4:16pm
Port Richie, the little city by the river, and we just crossed some river named Huskahatchee? or something like that
Bayonet Point 30079 4:32pm
Hudson 30081 4:35pm
We just passed the Sideshow Museum and Gallery 30083 4:38pm
We’ve reached Spring Hill 30088 4:48pm I just took a picture of the “Get Bin Ladin” weapon of mass destruction
30095 5:00pm We’re at Wiki Watchie which is much bigger than it was when were here as little kids. They also have Buccaneer Bay Water Park as part of Wiki Watchie
It’s 54 degrees and a little after 5:00pm in Florida.
Sugar Mill Woods, a deed restricted community. 30111 5:18pm We’re making good time here on this US 19.
We’ve reached Homasassa Springs 30116 5:31pm We just hit Circle K for a nutritious meal of Fritos, cheddar cheese sauce, a chocolate bar, and Canada Dry Ginger Ale for 2.
The Eully Sugar Mill Ruins State Historic Site, 2 ½ miles off the road, but we’re going to have to skip it because we’re running so far behind today.
Homasassa Springs Wildlife State Park is on our left we’re also skipping it because we’re behind and as Barbara said “It is nearly raining.”
Homosassa Springs is the manatee capital of the world.
Crystal River 30132 5:40pm
There is very good patriotism in Crystal River; they have a flag on every light pole for miles it seems. We’re very impressed.
Red Level 30129 5:55pm
Just going over the With Lacoochie River, entering the city limits of Ingliss 30134 5:59
Because of the time factor and weather, I’ve skipped several very good picture opportunities. I could’ve taken a thousand motels that have been here for 80 years or so, a great big gigantic dinosaur, a few other things.
Because we’re running late, we’re going to give up cutting to Gainesville for dinner. We’re going to stay on 19 and we’ll have to record the cities so we have them for posterity.
We just passed over the Wakassa or Wakasassa River 30155 6:21
City limits of Otter Creek 30158 6:24pm
Usher 30165 6:30pm
Chiefland 30170 6:34pm
Chiefland’s the kind of town that you definitely would have driven through going somewhere else on a vacation as a child in the 50’s.
We appear to be in a town called Fanning Springs 30179 6:46pm
We passed by a bar called Big Dawg’s with a trailer sign out front saying “Karaoke by Stacy tonight.” It would have been fun to stop but it seems like it might be too early.
We’re passing over the historic Suwanee River 30181 6:49pm
We have seen a lot of fruit stands and peanut stands, but we haven’t stopped or taken pictures. We don’t have room in the car to put any fruit so we skipped these places.
We’re in the town of Old Town 30184 6:53
We’re in the town of Eugene 30190 6:59pm
We just met a couple of young ladies. They waved when they saw the sign on the car.
Cross City 30193 7:01pm
When you go to these small towns that are off the tourist roads, the biggest business is clearly religion.
Shermont 30194 7:04
On this stretch of highway, it’s important to remember when you get to these small towns to really slow down. Having driven this from Orlando a number of times during college, you see a lot of guys getting tickets.
Just crossed the Steinhachee? River, so we must be in the own of Tennille 30211 7:20
Salem 30320 7:28pm
We took a sunset picture just outside of Perry, Fl. It wasn’t a very good sunset picture but as they say since it’s free sometimes you get what you pay for. We also got a call from a girl at a television station in Panama City and they want to do a story about the trip around America.
We just crossed the FenhollowayRiver
Town of Perry 30236 7:44pm
One of the things I like best about driving these roads is that you see these classic old motels that are still in business. You seem them in every town. You see them even in the bigger towns and as Barbara says “you can’t imagine anyone would stay in them.” I’m sure a lot of them are nice for what they are, but they are classic to look at with unusual architecture, great signage usually.
Econfina River 30252 8:05pm 50 degrees
We just entered the town of Iddo 30254 8:07pm
Eridu—we’re into these “do’s” around here 30257 8:09pm
Ucilla River 30263 8:14pm
We just entered the town of Lamont 30263 8:15pm
We reached the town of Capps 30270 8:21pm
Waukeenah 30272 8:23pm
We cut up to I 10 on Hwy 59; this will make it easier to find a hotel. We’re 14 miles from Tallahassee 30283 8:35pm
We rented a hotel at about 9:15pm 30306