Friday, December 31, 2010

A year in Ephemera: 2010 in review

On January 2, 2010, I laid out goals of places I'd like to visit and blog about. Today on this last day of 2010, I look back at how my year played out and compare it to my intentions.

In my own backyard I did stop and photograph the world's largest alligator in Christmas at Jungleland Adventures. I had a great trip to Gatorland and will be back in 2011 to visit the bird rookery during breeding season. I also participated in a local history tour of the Lake Eola Heights district conducted by local historian Steve Rajtar, but I did not get enough compelling images to warrant a blog post. And finally while I did not visit Blue Springs, I did have an up-close and personal experience with a few manatees at De Leon Springs on Christmas Eve.

Although I stopped to take pictures, I have yet to visit Jungleland Adventures

For a bird lover, it's hard to imagine anything more inspiring than the rookery at Gatorland

From Orlando's Lake Eola Heights neighborhood

De Leon Springs manatee

Overall I attempted to look at Central Florida with fresh eyes, as if I didn't live here and was seeing it for the first time. I explored downtown by bike and took inventory of some of the architecture. I visited historic homes in Howey in the Hills and at the Nehrling Estate (future post.) Overall I learned that sometimes a long drive isn't necessary to see interesting, historic stuff and there are still many sites I haven't been to in my own backyard.

I got to see the Howey Mansion because of an auction

The Nehrling House

Expanding my reach outside of my immediate area, first and foremost I wanted to re-visit Silver Springs, and although I haven't blogged about it yet, I did finally make it back to this venerable old attraction. Bad weather over the holidays prevented me from exploring more of the Gainesville area, so that will have to wait until 2011. I also made a fantastic visit to St. Pete and had a great evening shuffling at the St. Pete Shuffle (Treasure Island will have to wait until 2011 too.)

Look for a future post about my Christmas Eve visit to Silver Springs

My trip to the St. Pete Shuffle was one of the year's highlights

While I didn't get to Soloman's Castle or Chalet Suzanne, I finally got to the Frank Lloyd Wright designed Florida Southern College and explored a little bit of Lakeland. And while I never made it up to Jacksonville, I did get back to St. Augustine and re-visited the Fountain of Youth and made my first visit to Potter's Wax Museum (future posts.)

Frank Lloyd Wright's Pfeiffer Chapel at Florida Southern

Year end visits to St. Augustine's Potter's Wax Museum and the Fountain of Youth will be covered in 2011 posts

My final goals were to learn about the states fascinating folks who make Florida so interesting and on that note I can proudly say, mission accomplished. From artists like Martin Cushman in Mt. Dora to the late Joy Postle, I tried to document those who use(d) their creativity to document their home state. I met some of my favorite roadside buddies like Jeff and Kelly of Vintage Roadside and prolific author Tim Hollis. I also learned more about historical figures from Coral Gable's George Merrick to the influential Henry Plant.

Kelly and Jeff of Vintage Roadside

Christmas display inside the amazing museum of Tim Hollis

Much of the year's post, however, were not the results of goals at the beginning of the year. A late December trip to South Florida yielded posts well into February (this was actually accomplishing a goal I set in 2009.). That was the same month that a birthday dinner in Ocala produced several posts and I learned of the plans to tear down Kissimmee's KAST club.

Coral Gables' Biltmore was one of the many highlights of last years South Florida excursion

A mid-century roadside survivor in Ocala

Kissimmee All States Tourist Club, 1941-2010

In March I visited Brooksville, Cassadaga and New Smyrna. April posts reported on my explorations of Lakeland and May's highlight was Gatorland. In June my attention was focused on the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. As summer progressed my focus left the Sunshine State as I prepared a paper on hillbilly iconography to be delivered at the SCA Conference in October.

Ruins of the Turnbull Colony in New Smyrna

A Weeki Wachee beauty superimposed against the ugliness of the oil spewing from the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico

The idea for the Hillbilly paper was spawned from a spring break visit to the Mountaineer Inn of Asheville, NC

I am blessed to be able to explore and write about this wonderful state and I am continually struck with a sense of wonder and amazement at its whimsical, historical and natural places. I still believe that we are at a critical time in the future of our state, and so much of Old Florida is in danger of sliding away. My goal continues to be to write about and photograph these great Florida places, with the hope that as more people become aware of them, they are more likely to be preserved. My intention is to try to prevent the spread of "generica" and blandness across the state and preserve its uniqueness. I have big plans for 2011. Please stay tuned!


  1. Congrats on a wonderful year of posts--you are old school FLA!

  2. Your blog gets better all the time. Looking forward to another year!

  3. Thank you both and thanks for reading my posts!

  4. Great Stuff - Keep up the good work I am really proud of you big brother...


  5. Thanks Jr- would love to see more Theory Ranch as the world needs to hear your perspective!

  6. As a native Floridian, I should be able to say that I've been the Silver Springs. But, alas, nope. Thanks for the kick in the pants.