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Thread: Who knows Florida?

  1. #1
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    Who knows Florida?



    My wife and I are from the Northwest. We've been thinking about a trip to Florida. We're not interested in the artificial tourist-land activities. We prefer exploring the backroads, visiting quaint towns, and seeing a little living history. Maybe a trip into the swamp somewhere.

    I'm thinking of a two weeker in the southern part, mostly on the southwest coast and the keys. We'd probably trade some Hawaii time share for a week at two different "base" camps that would allow us to explore the surrounding areas.

    First off, I'm wondering what time of year would be best. Second, I'd prefer to avoid the drunken crazyness and noise of any big "events". And we're not too keen on Hurricanes, either. So, when would you suggest a visit, and what weeks would you suggest we avoid? Got any favorite haunts? Swamp trips? Neat towns?

    pmdave

  2. #2
    look out!!! Visian's Avatar
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    Dave -- The time to go to Florida is now. It's way too hot in the summer. Hurricane seasons is over, too... and tourist season doesn't get into full swing until about January (although all the prices double in December)

    If you want to ride down the middle of the state, the old road through Florida is US 27... I haven't ridden that road in years, so for all I know it's an expressway now. Take it south from Tallahasse.

    A quick web search tells me that an old favorite is still there... The Old South Bar-B-Que in Clewiston had pretty good food... and they used to advertise for about 150 miles ahead on every billboard they could find.

    If you want to ride west coastal Florida, probably the only wild coastal area left in the whole state is US 98/319 from west of Panama City to north of Clearwater. Check out Cedar Key for some decent seafood.

    US 41 is called the Tamiami Trail... it cuts across the Everglades. There isn't much out there, there are about two turns in 90 miles, but at least it's not I-75. Take a little side trip to Everglades City... my granfather moved there from Germany in the 1930s because he was on the wrong side of the politics. Baron vonCollier (of Collier County... basically, the Everlgades) sponsored him into the country and made him City Manager. The year after they moved there, they went through a major hurricance... the "storm of the century." Made a big impression on my dad, who was 4 years old at the time.

    Head south on US 1 and visit the Everglades National Park... bring bug spray, and ride all the way to Flamingo. This, IMO, is the best place left in the state. Walking out into all the hammocks is really fun.

    IMO, the Keys suck. They used to be fantastic, but the traffic and population is very dense now. In all honesty, the best thing to do is park your bike and get a charter boat to take you to see the wildlife preserves. The beauty in the Keys is out on the water, out of sight of the land. If you like snorkeling and scuba, you're going to have a good time.

    The Dry Tortugas National Park is pretty, in an ascetic sort of way. If you can get a charter boat, the Key West National Wildlife Refuge and the Marquesas are quite nice. Go deep sea fishing.

    I grew up in Florida and back in the early 60s it was an incredibly beautiful place. On the west coast is a place called Sanibel Island. My dad used to take us there fishing and we would stay in the only hotel on the island. Today, you can't see the island, because of all the hotels and condos. The beach used to be covered with seashells. Not no more.

    That's pretty much the story for all of Florida. Sorry to sound like such a downer, but for someone who knows what it used to look like, I just don't enjoy going there any more.

    Ian

    ps => while it can be a little touristy, St. Augustine is a nice place to visit... it's the first town in the US!
    Last edited by Visian; 11-10-2003 at 12:35 AM.
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  3. #3
    Registered User jgr451's Avatar
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    Hey Visian great response to pmdave.
    I have always been kind of fascinated with the then and now of Florida.Maybe it is coming from a cold place and being curious about hot places...I have read Elmore Leonard - he paints great word pictures- and it has always seemed to me that Florida is a place of secrets that will open for one who stays,loves and knows.I have also read a lot of John D.Macdonald.
    Love of a place is a great thing to share.So thanks for sharing.
    Winnipeg in 2005!!!!!

  4. #4
    Focused kbasa's Avatar
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    Florida? Carl Hiaasen.

    Funny, funny stuff. Like Elmore Leonard meets Hunter S. Thompson.
    Dave Swider
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  5. #5
    Fl Keys Fishing Guide RIDERR1150GSADV's Avatar
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    Cool

    I agree with Visian, I live in the Keys and am a fishing guide. The scenery in the Everglades Park is awesome and unspoiled. The Keys have changed a lot in the last 5-6 years as too many people have moved in and are forcing the "locals" out as housing is waaaaay overpriced. Some of my friends whose families pioneered the Keys are moving out .
    However Florida is still a great state to visit and also live in when you pick your area.
    So come on down and enjoy yourself!!

  6. #6
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    Cool

    Thanks for the advice. Visiting in November would fit into our schedule. Lots of places I used to enjoy have been modernized and overrun, and I guess Florida is like that. Still, your advice may help us find some unique areas that are still interesting. Are there scenic flights that go down over the keys?

    And, BTW, if anyone needs advice on riding in WA or OR, feel free to ask.

    pmdave

  7. #7
    look out!!! Visian's Avatar
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    Dave -- even though my response sounded kinda down, if you do what jgr451 says and take the back roads and look for the secrets, you will have a good time.

    Go to the really funky stuff, like Weeki Wachee, Silver Springs, Monkey Jungle, Sunken Gardens, Tarpon Springs, Gatorland in Kissimmee, Spook Hill ... a lot of these are on their way out of business, like Cypress Gardens, which recently closed its doors. Bummer.

    Needless to say, avoid Orlando if you're looking for the "real" Florida.

    Hope you have a nice ride.

    Ian

    dang -- nearly forgot... one of my favorite places in Florida. If you get anywhere near Miami and you like tropical plants, go to the Fairchild Tropical Plant Museum in Coconut Grove.

  8. #8
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    Cool

    Thanks for the advice. I think we'll be spending a couple of weeks in Florida next November, about this same time.

    pmdave
    David L. Hough

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