Friday, April 27, 2018

X'd (out) #AtoZChallenge #Blogboost #SkywatchFriday

X'd out.

Crossed off.  No longer exists?  Maybe.  Maybe not. Earlier in my "Florida outside the theme parks" posts for this challenge, I have blogged about some of Florida's former glory (the old Grand Hotel in Lake Wales, and the Kress Building in Tampa, Florida, for example.)  Now it is some time for happier news.

If you are wondering the attraction I have to Old Florida, know that my first visit to Florida was in 1966. I flew with my Dad (my first airplane flight) to visit relatives living in Tampa, Florida.  To use an old expression, this native of New York City was "blown away".  We made two more trips - I (alone) in 1969, and again with my Dad (and a cousin) in 1972 for a family wedding.

In 1974-1976, as a newlywed, my spouse and I lived in the Tampa Bay area for just under two years.  I visited various attractions, not realizing that the Florida I knew and experienced would, one day, be a historical curiosity.

So why am I blogging about these places, when I am supposed to be blogging about "Florida Outside the Theme Parks"?  Because some of these places, which have existed for well over 100 years, feature natural or man made wonders.  Or, are just plain part of Florida history.

Before we get into this history, a couple of more Florida sky pictures for #SkywatchFriday.  Johns Pass Village, a fishing village in Pinellas County, Florida has reinvented itself as a tourist destination and has not been "x'd" out.
Johns Pass, Florida, January 2018.

Sunset over fishing boats.
And a repeat from my "V" post - I couldn't resist.

Now, back to our history lesson.

For example:

Weeki Wachee, whose advertisements I watched so intently while growing up in New York City.  I have not made it there yet, but it's on my bucket list.  Fortunately, this is now a state park, Weeki Wachee Springs State Park.  Here's a video clip from 1948.

Another now-state park, Silver Springs, bills itself as "Florida's first tourist attraction". Some of the early Tarzan movies (and some other movies) were filmed there.   I remember visiting Silver Springs in the mid 1970's, and again, with my then-teenaged son, in 2006.  I would gladly go back, although it is not quite what it was like in its heyday.  The admission charge can't be beat - only $2.  (How much do Disney or Universal cost?)  The best news: those wonderful glass bottomed boats are still running. Alas, I do not have handy the pictures I took back in 2006 - or, in 1975, for that matter.

Cypress Gardens, Winter Haven, which was the #1 tourist attraction in the United States in 1963.  When I visited it in 1974, it was both a beautiful garden and a water ski show attraction (this is another place I remember from seeing on TV while I was growing up).  It was in danger of closing (with condos built on the land) in 1986.   Now, parts of it are preserved in the theme park Legoland, complete with Southern belles built from Legos.  Just think of all the celebrities that have visited over the years:  Elvis, John Kennedy, Johnny Carson, and more.

Sunken Gardens, St. Petersburg. In the middle of a historical neighborhood, it is alive and well. I had photos at one time, but I can't find them.

The Kapok Tree restaurant in Clearwater.  My spouse and I ate there several times while living in Tampa during the mid 1970's.  It must have been reasonable as we didn't have much money.  Now closed (1991), but, happily, the building is maintained.  As of 2011, the tree was still alive and well.

No, not all of Old Florida has been X'd out.

"X" day in the #AtoZChallenge and day 27 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge #blogboost

And, joining  Yogi and other bloggers who watch the sky at #SkywatchFriday.


  1. Wow, Weeki Wachee. We visited in 2016, they’re still using the same technology to keep their “mermaids” breathing under water. And they have a flock of peacocks that wander freely all over the grounds.

  2. Yes, I remember those places from watching television. So many things from my childhood are gone now. All the Michigan amusement parks have been torn down for development.

  3. So many places have closed in the town where we live - shops that were favourites, restaurants, tourist attractions - time and money take their toll don't they?

    Leanne |
    X for Xcellence in your efforts

  4. Again, so wonderful! There is such a romance to Old Florida. And-I have eaten at the Kapok Tree!! Early 80’s on a trip to visit cousins!! So cool!

  5. My first trip to Florida was right before my brother was born (in 1959). Thankfully, my next trip wasn't for another 10 years. With another decade separation. With another one in 5 years. (15 trips over the ensuing 25 years.)
    Yup. I am not a fan of Florida.

  6. Beautiful photos and video clips. Thanks for sharing. 3rd last letter of the alphabet in the 2018 A to Z Blogging Challenge. X is for Xerosis.

  7. Amazing photos and videos. I thought I'd already commented but looks like I didn't! If you get two, then sorry! 3rd last letter of the alphabet in the 2018 A to Z Blogging Challenge. X is for Xerosis.

  8. Old Florida was really something! I love the clip of the Mermaids.

  9. I hate to think of these marvelous places closing down. So glad to see some that haven't been x'd out!

  10. There is still much natural beauty and old history left in Florida. I hope it's preserved.

  11. Times change. What people enjoy visiting changes, too. Still, it's sad to hear of things that no longer exist.

    (There's this show on PBS that was made many years ago called "Things that Aren't Here Anymore" about various local attractions. Alas, the host of the show has since passed on. But it's still cool to watch to see the amusement parks that are no more.)

  12. I always wanted to go to Weeki Wachee - seems like they talked about it in an old TV show when I was a kid.

  13. Anywhere near the ocean gets some pretty spectacular sunrises and/or sunsets. - Margy

  14. Wow, your Florida skies are really beautiful! Great photos.

    1. I moved from SW Florida 3 years ago back to 4 seasons which I have missed for 25 years. John's Pass is one area we'd always visit off-season because of the seafood restaurants, beaches, and quaint shops. Even though I would never live in Florida again, I will always visit one of my favorite spots...John's Pass.

  15. Beautiful photos of a beautiful state...and wonderful skies.
    An Unfittie's Guide to Adventurous Travel

  16. What a gorgeous beach photo! It's currently snowing where I'm at, so seeing that beautiful sunshine made my morning. :)

    Reading about "Old Florida" brings to mind the Tim Dorsey character Serge Storms. He is, quite literally, a diehard fan of Way Florida Used To Be. :)


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