2010 I treated myself to a holiday in Central Florida staying at
Kissimmee. I took a package that included hotel and a hire car
throughout as it looked cheapest but I also hired a Harley Davidson
from Eaglerider for a couple of days. On left I've made it
to Daytona International Speedway about 60 miles from Eaglerider. It
was cold in the morning but sunny and warmer later.
I continued up the old coast road A1A stopping for lunch around Flagler then on to Jacksonville Beach where I cut inland to see my chums Rob and Jen in Orange Park. I stayed with them overnight, and we went to Tom and Betty's for lunch before I started heading South again this time on the 17. I could have travelled faster on the I95 but that was not the objective. I think I did about 380 miles on the bike plus another 800+ in the car. Always say I'm not going to drive so far this time in the USA but it never happens.
couple of days the weather was not great and I had intended to go to
the Thunder by the Bay Bike
Show at Sarasota but decided to go to Fantasy of Flight instead. I much
enjoyed this and it is something I've had on my to do list for years.
On left is P51 Mustang owned by Kermit Weeks who has big plans for the
attraction so I'd happily go again in a few years time. It is next to
I4 near Polk City between Kissimmee and Tampa. I also had lunch there
in the 1930s style cafe.
A general tip is to check out places on line before you go or pick up a tourist leaflet as they often have money off coupons. I got 2 dollars off FofF from an online coupon but it was 4 dollars off in a leaflet I picked up later.
|I spent most of the day at FofF but
dropped into Disney Celebration "planned
community" on the way back, which
I thought I may dislike but actually I liked it. I must admit it was a
bit Truman Show but the
buildings were nice if a bit "Disneyfied." I had a coffee and a huge
muffin in the Market Street Cafe. The Market Street Cafe is the green
building in the picture. I
must admit my
mood was lifted by
seeing a Red-Shouldered Hawk about 50 yards from downtown and it was
tame enough for me to get a photo or two. I didn't spend much time bird
watching on this trip but did
see a few things along the way.
Celebration is nice and tidy with little rubbish and it has proper sidewalks so that people can walk. Many people were jogging or cycling and they had some NEVs (New Electric Vehicles) which look a bit like posh golf buggies.
|The only other Disney thing I did was to
go shopping/eating at Disney Marketplace which is part of Disney
Downtown. It's near to where I was staying and free to park and get in
during the day so I had a walk around and a coffee and got some
expensive postcards but tried not to spend too much. I was tempted by
some of the shirts in the Orlando Harley Davidson store there.
|I visited a number of things close to downtown Orlando such as the Harry P. Leu Gardens,
Church Street Station, Orlando Museum of Art, and Winter Park. In
particular I liked Winter Park which is best to visit as I did on a
Saturday morning when they have a Farmers' Market. I like that it has
independent shops, brick streets, and "historic" buildings.
The building that looks like an old cinema in the picture is indeed an old cinema but rather than be flattened it is now a Pottery Barn. I've not bothered with stuff close to Orlando before as I've gone to the beach, theme parks, or Daytona for Bike Week but I think that was short sighted as there's plenty to see and do locally.
Also in Winter Park there's a number of small museums and galleries and I enjoyed The Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art which is known for a top collection of Louis Comfort Tiffany items. They museum is about to add a large extension so I would like to go again one day and there's a boat trip around the local canals and lakes.
|One garden I must single out is the Bok
Tower Garden built on the highest point in Florida. The garden is nice
enough but the tower containing a carillon of 60 bells is worth a
special mention. The tower has lots of interesting details like a gold
door with reliefs, pottery panels, sun dial, and more. Sadly the public
are not currently allowed inside. There's also some sculptures, a
lakeside wildlife hide, wildlife trail, cafe, shop...
|Another place I went for a short visit
and wondered if I may dislike but was won round is Historic Downtown
Kissimmee (this is different place to Old Town Kissimmee). There are a
few empty shops due to the recession but also some fine old buildings,
independent shops and cafes. Close by is an enjoyable lakeside walk.
The mural on this hardware store caught my eye.
|I spent one day in Tampa but should have
allocated longer. On previous trips I have enjoyed the Dali Museum, St.
Petersberg Pier, Marie Selby Botanical Garden, seen wildlife, etc but
this time I went to the Florida Aquarium, which was very good. Then
went to see the Tampa Bay Lightnings ice hockey team get beat 3 : 2 by
local rivals The Florida Panthers (Miami.) I've noticed there's a
number of other things to do including fine beaches, car museum, zoo,
museum ship, big cat rescue place for a future visit to the Tampa area.
|By driving to the Eastern end of the 192 which runs through Kissimmee I spent one day in and around Melbourne, Satelite Beach, and Cocoa Beach. After getting to Melbourne I drove North on the A1A then took the main (partly toll) road West back through Cocoa and then to Kissimmee to complete a loop. On left is Cocoa Beach Pier. I had lunch at the Sun on the Beach in Satellite Beach. I also visited the Lori Wilson Park which includes a short nature trail.|
| On the day before I came home I went to
the Central Florida Scottish Highland Games at Central Winds Park
in Winter Springs where my chum Rob was helping out a band called
Rathkeltair (on the left.) There were 4 bands all of which were OK but
I enjoyed Rathkeltair the
most. Also a bonus was I got to spend a little extra time with Rob and
I was guest listed so got in free which is always welcome.
Trev The Bolshoi Tanner who is on the left playing the guitar gave me a CD which I've been enjoying called Big White Van and I had a chat to him as he is a biker.
|One place I did go just to see birdlife
was the Audubon Center for Birds of Prey in Maitland North of Orlando
where this Bald Eagle had just taken a bath. They take in injured and
orphaned birds and try to release them eventually. If that is not an
option then they use them for education, captive breading, etc. It's
run by a few staff and lots of volunteers like a lot of these places.
You can see more of my "wildlife" shots here or about the bike here.
Now with added Facebook
You can mail me email@example.com