Tuesday, November 13, 2012

A bit of Old Florida

Sometimes it's nice to explore things in your own backyard. That's what we did today.

Florida is a big state, when you go from north to south (and back again). But when you travel from east to west, it's only about 150 miles across at the widest point on the peninsula. We are staying in a resort that is located between Kissimmee and Clermont. It is located on Lake Magic, a 160-acre lake, which supposedly has fish. (We tried fishing yesterday. Jim caught a little one and threw it back. I didn't even get a bite.)
Jim caught a little fish. I didn't catch anything!

The nice thing about this location is that it is very central. Today we decided to see some architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright, listen to a concert at Bok Towers and Gardens, and see the eclectic Chalet Suzanne bed and breakfast.

Frank Lloyd Wright, who designed many beautiful buildings in Oak Park, Ill. (which I've never seen!), apparently designed a number of buildings on the campus of Florida Southern College in Lakeland, Fla.   I say "apparently" because I think we only glimpsed them. We drove around the campus looking for the information center. It was not readily apparent to visitors.

I tried finding it on my handy-dandy smartphone. Unfortunately, the phone wasn't fast enough to satisfy Jim, so we drove off without getting out of the car. Lakeland is a nice little town, however. And, as its name suggests, is situated on a huge, beautiful lake. Florida has a lot of lakes, especially in its center.

After leaving Lakeland, we headed to Bok Towers and Gardens. Jim had told me about the gardens, and I'd read about them over the years. I had never visited them, however.

The tower and gardens are located in an area that once was entirely filled with orange groves. Sadly, few remain today. A number of years ago, this part of Florida began to be troubled with occasional killer freezes. That drove orange growing farther south, and the land that once was acres upon acres of orange and lemon trees have been turned into housing developments. Some groves remain, however, including a number around Bok Tower and Gardens.
Bok Tower, which houses a carillon. 

Bok Tower and Gardens was the gift of Pulitzer Prize-winning author and world peace advocate Edward Bok. He owned land on the highest point in Florida, Iron Mountain (elevation 298 feet). He took such pleasure in the area that he decided to build a nature preserve/garden and a singing tower, for everyone to enjoy.

The tower is home to a 60-bell carillon, which plays a bit every 30 minutes. Garden visitors can enjoy a 30-minute concert at 1 and 3 p.m. each day. We caught the 3 p.m. concert, which (unfortunately) was not live, but was prerecorded.

Jim is standing at the highest elevation in Florda, 298 feet above sea level.

A koi pond encircles the tower. Jim captured a picture of this large koi just as it moved through a reflection of the tower.

This statue was gift to honor Edward Bok. It made a good prop was a picture. 

To listen to a sample of the carillon, click here. (You'll be sent to the carillon page and can click on several different songs.)

After the concert, we headed home, but detoured when Jim was a sign for Chalet Suzanne. He had visited this eclectic bed and breakfast many years ago, long before the area was built up as it is today. We went into the restaurant building to get a taste of the architecture. I didn’t take pictures, but the word eclectic doesn’t do the buildings justice.

Both the B and B as well as the restaurant, erected in 1931, look roughly like a chalet. However, they are built on many different levels. It is as if the owner built one room, then decided to add on another, and another, etc.

Apparently in its day, it was quite a place. The restaurant has a huge book of photographs of celebrities who has eaten and/or stayed at Chalet Suzanne.

It was a long day. Tomorrow may be even longer, since we are tentatively planning to go to St. Petersburg and see the sights there.

Until later,

Your Reluctant RoVer,


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