Friday, December 23, 2016


I mentioned yesterday that we stayed in Winter Haven on Wednesday night. It's my old stomping ground -- I lived in Winter Haven from December 1988 to February 1991, reporting for the local newspaper. It was my first job right out of college. For about a year and a half, I covered four towns on what's known as The Ridge, a citrus-growing hilly area east of "Haven," and then I covered Winter Haven itself.

I don't get back to this part of Florida very often, so as Dave and I traveled to Bok Tower on Wednesday, we took a little detour through those four Ridge towns: Davenport, Haines City, Lake Hamilton and Dundee. We had lunch at Melonie's Cafe in Dundee, which has been there forever, and I found what is possibly my favorite street intersection in the entire state, just outside Davenport. Aren't those great names? (For the record, I think the sign is slightly wrong -- according to maps, and my memory, it's Pink Apartment Road, singular, not possessive.)

There are several peculiar place names on the ridge, like Lake Confusion, just west of Haines City. I always meant to do a story about how they got their names -- but I never got that project off the ground. So why Mystery House Road is so named, I haven't got a clue, but I assume there was once a pink apartment building in the vicinity somewhere.

Anyway, as we drove through this area I showed Dave some of the sights and told him some stories -- about the huge fire that demolished several buildings in downtown Haines City, and the recall election that upended politics in Dundee -- but he wasn't very into the tour. By his own admission, he doesn't see the appeal of revisiting his (or anyone's past). He just doesn't have an interest in bygones. I remember when we went to Michigan the first time, I had to ask him to show me places he used to live and frequent. For the same reason, he's not much into pictures either. I, on the other hand, love seeing where I used to live, and we know how I feel about pictures.

In Winter Haven, I found a store named Reed's Grocery (no relation, as far as I know). And even better...

...Olga's Restaurant!

Yesterday morning, we drove from Winter Haven via the bustling cosmopolis of Wauchula (☺) to Dave's parents place in Bradenton, and stayed there last night. Their mobile home park is right on Sarasota Bay, and I spent some time yesterday on the waterfront taking photos.

My goal was to get a photo of a jumping fish. Do you know how hard that is? By the time the fish makes any noise it's practically back in the water. I had to point my lens at a busy stretch of bay, wait for something to happen, and be quick with the shutter. Fortunately lots of them were jumping, and finally, I got a few shots. Not exactly National Geographic, but still.

Today we're driving back to Tampa to board our cruise ship. So I'll be coming to you tomorrow (hopefully) from the open seas! I don't know what the Internet connection will be like but my goal is to keep blogging each day, and hopefully I'll be able to catch up on some blog-reading too. I know -- I'm behind!


  1. my old stomping grounds in the city is so transformed from gentrification that nothing I knew still stands. all changed. have fun on your cruise!

  2. I would eat at Olga's restaurant :)

    I'm interested in bygones - but my memory of a place can't be trusted - unless I have a picture of it from back when, I won't be able to tell how different it is now. I used to worry about getting senile, but actually I've ALWAYS had a terrible memory. I should have taken one of those courses... Whatever they're called... :)

  3. I think bygones and memories are important. How else can we know our life's progression? The person we are today is a sum of all that has gone before. It's important to know what made you who you are today.

    I remember those jumping florida fish. Mullet??

    Tampa seems an odd spot to join a cruise. Remind me again where you are cruising to?

  4. oops, logged off too soon. LOVE the road signs! And how wonderful it would be to know the origin of their odd names.

  5. I loved this. It reminded me a bit of the descriptions of lonely small towns with unusual names in "Blue Highways" (by William Lest Heat-Moon).

    Hope you don't get seasick.

  6. You have some fun shots here today. I love those street names and Olga's Restaurant. Bon Voyage!!

  7. Enjoy your cruise. Great photos today!

  8. Olga's Restaurant! Great find. And that shot of the jumping fish is excellent. I can't imagine seeing them like that. I thought it was only salmon that jumped as they were trying to swim upstream in the Northwest.

  9. How special it must have been to introduce Dave to just-out-of-college you. I think of those days now and it seems like another life entirely. This post is aptly named. Enjoy your cruise!

  10. Sometimes it's hard to go back and see all the changes but it's always interesting. Have a good cruise.

  11. Lucky for us that you love photographs :)

    Olga's Restaurant and Reed's Grocery ... what are the chances!

    I hope you have a good internet connection so you can fill us in on the cruise!

  12. I'll join in the queue for Olga's Restaurant - and the jumping fish photo!!
    What can I say? Well done you!


  13. Is that your shadow in the last picture - just in front of the palm tree? Tut-tut if it is and you a card-carrying member of The Royal Photographic Society too! Have fun on the cruise. A shame that Hurricane Donald is brewing.