Day 16: Tarpon Springs, FL to Sebring, FL

Another beautiful day here in paradise.  Sun all day except for a quick 10 minute shower and some greyness in the afternoon.  It looks like I’ll be going home to temperature highs in the 50s.  Much better than when we left!

I found a lake for the kids first thing this morning to blow off some of their steam.  When we arrived, I saw this grey bird & got a picture from a distance.  When I got about 50 feet away, he got nervous and went off to a wooden post.  Then I knew it was safe to bring the dogs out.  Nik battled with a swan once and I didn’t want to take any chances of a repeat episode.  This guy’s beak looked pretty sharp!  I think the bird (egret? heron?) was amused by all the ball throwing, barking and swimming while he stayed safely right where he was watching us.  I’m sure he was back in the water not five minutes after we left.

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This has to be one of my favorite finds of this trip.  I think this was an extremely clever adaptation of a Tastee-Freez sign.  From Tampa.

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I’ve seen a few of these cute water vending machines scattered around Florida.  I love the penguin statue in the igloo top.

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This building in Tampa is quite impressive.  The Henry B. Plant Museum is housed in the former Tampa Bay Hotel which was built in 1891.  The reflection from the intense sun wiped out the most dramatic part:  the minarets are extremely shiny silver.

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Cement Products & Supply in Lakeland had one of these “you pick” displays.  I’d have a hard time choosing one!

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OK — I need your help with this one.  These red plants are incredible — what are they?  They look like they belong in a science fiction movie.

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 Here are a couple fun signs from Lakeland.  Harry’s is an adapted Dog N Suds sign:

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while Dick’s Auto Sales has it all in terms of shapes and materials:

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A couple more bird sightings.  These two came in to graze on busy Route 19 north of Lakeland.  I saw the one on the right land first.  A crash landing at that – toppling face first.  The darker one was more graceful.  I assume the one on the right is the male because of his fancier markings?  They seemed a little larger than ordinary mallards.  Can anyone identify them and tell me if they are ordinarily this clumsy?

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I spotted this billboard today.  I dunno — is this sexist?

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I know I have seen these Superior Motel chain signs in post cards but I don’t think I’ve seen one in real life.  From Bartow.

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My food has not been all that exciting lately.  Salads from supermarkets, White Cheddar Cheez-its to munch on, souffles from Panera, cookies from Starbucks…  I haven’t really found any regional fun food to share with you.  But since I’ve never actually had a cone from Twistee Treat, I thought I’d better take the plunge today in case I don’t see any tomorrow.  I’ve taken photos of about 10 locations so far on this trip.  I tried the strawberry to match the umbrellas.  It was as wonderful as it looks.  Yes, I always get nuts with my ice cream.  I can’t think of any food that isn’t enriched by nuts.  This was the small!

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I hope to savor this next part of the trip for years to come.  While driving east from Fort Meade to Avon Park, we passed through miles and miles of orange groves.  The perfume of the white blossoms was incredible.  The house I grew up in was surrounded by lemon groves but I don’t remember any fragrance.  Surely, lemon trees must produce similar blossoms? 

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