As my brother so correctly pointed out, this travel blog has sort of become more of a Lake Wales Home Base blog, rather than a travel blog. But given the circumstances, there’s not a whole lot I can do. Still way too much virus going around, and most places to visit have limited attendance. I truly believe it will be next spring (2022) before normalcy will return to our lives. Till then, I’ll continue to hunker down, enjoy my time here in FL, spend the summer up north in MD, then back here again for next winter. Then, spring 2020 I’ll point my RV to the west and resume my full time nomadic lifestyle. As seen by the pic, I was able to get my first virus vaccine shot this month. Given that I’m planning on heading north around mid Apr, I was concerned that I may not get my shot(s) before leaving, and thus would have to wait until this fall when I return. As luck would have it, I got into an under 65 group at a nearby hospital. Second shot is also already scheduled for mid Mar, so I’ll be all set before hitting the road in Apr.
Having Some Local Fun
It’s been a pretty good month for visiting, and ultimately reporting on things other than my home base. Many of you may have heard of Cypress Gardens – which has been billed as Florida’s first commercial tourist theme park. Located in central FL in the town of Winter Haven, this combo botanical gardens and theme park operated from 1936 to 2009. Over the years it became one of the biggest attractions in Florida, known for its water ski shows, gardens, and Southern Belles. It also became known as the “Water Ski Capital of the World” because it was the site of many of the sport’s landmark firsts and over 50 world records were broken there. With the overall economy and from competition from the likes of Disney World, Cypress Gardens went through many different owners and ever declining tourism in its final decade of operation. In early 2010, the property was purchased with the intent of converting it into the 5th Legoland. In the fall of 2011, Legoland FL opened, and has been operating since. The original gardens still remain to this day inside the Legoland park, and the ever present waterski team still exists and has many performances throughout the year. This was one of the items on my bucket list to see, and I’m very pleased I finally got the chance. They put on a terrific show, with skiers from less than 10 years old to over 60. It’s amazing all the things they can do on the water. Here’s a collage video that I put together from all the footage I shot during the show. Enjoy!
I was also able to enjoy a few local events here in my home town of Lake Wales. First up was the annual Lake Whales lakeside Art Festival. In fact, this year marked the 50th anniversary of this big event. Presented by the Lake Wales Arts Council, the festival has a tradition of celebrating and exhibiting quality works of art by fine artists and artisans with up to 100 participants competing for more than $22,000 in prizes. This two-day festival attracts thousands of art lovers each year who view and often purchase original, one-of-a-kind works of art. It was a beautiful weekend for this event, and meandering along the shores of Lake Whales to see the many pieces of art was a lot of fun.
There was another show on the stage at the Lake Wales Little Theater this month. This time, it wasn’t a play, but rather an improv comedy show sort of along the lines of the TV show “Who’s Line Is It Anyway”. Teams of comedians were given various impromptu scenes to act out, with specific topics provided by audience suggestions. After each of two, two-person teams performed, the audience rated them. At the end of the night, the last team standing was crowned the winner. It was a very fun and entertaining evening. That’s the second consecutive show I’ve seen at the theater in two months, and I already have tickets for my brother and I for next months performance of the play “Exit Laughing”. Definitely a gem of a local theater.
February was also the month for the Super Bowl. As a lifelong fan of the New England Patriots, I was very pleased to see the Tampa Bay Bucs would be represented at the Super Bowl. Granted it wasn’t the Pats, but then again, you gotta give Tom Brady and Gronk kudos for moving to the Bucs, and taking them all the way in their first year in those uniforms. The weather was looking good, the night was cool, so I figured an outdoor venue, complete with roaring campfire, was called for. So I setup my outdoor projection screen and projector, and got a nice campfire going. I invited several of the neighbors to join me, but alas some were out of town, while others still have group gathering concerns over covid. So I enjoyed the evening outdoor event solo, but I did get many compliments of the setup by those driving by.
Last up was a visit to Munn Park in downtown Lakeland. I read an article of a 73 year old artist named David Collins, that wanted to decorate a beautiful Live Oak tree in Munn Park. Originally, he thought of painting it, but decided that a fabric wrap would be more elegant and artsy. After spending $1,100 for 300 yards of specialized pink fabric, a two-man crew from the city began installing it under his direction. The tree will remain wrapped for the next six months or so, and he estimates that at least 50,000 people will see the pink tree during that time – far more than who would see his work in a gallery or museum. It was very interesting to see.
So as reported last month, I’ve been planning on being up north in MD for the summer so as to spend time with my kids and grands. I’m happy to report that I’ve finalized those plans, and now have firm reservations for the spring and summer. I’ll be leaving the Home Base sometime in mid Apr, and taking a few weeks to make my way to MD – stopping to visit with other friends and family along the way. I’ll then spend about four months in MD, catching up with friends and family. Sometime in September, I’ll start making my way back to FL, again not being in any hurry, taking several weeks to make the journey. Then another wonderful winter in FL, and then hopefully a spring 2022 departure to the west to resume my nomadic travels. So, that’s very exciting, and I’m looking forward to my time up north this summer.
I’ve also taking this month to finally update my little animated travel path movie to bring it up to current time. It’s always available from the “Fun Facts” page from the navigation on the top right of the page. But here’a a direct link to the video for your entertainment.
The next month of Mar will be my last full month of this winter season here at the Home Base. Leaving mid Apr and getting back on the road for some long overdue travel is wonderful. Even better that I’ll be vaccinated before I go, so I won’t have that issue to worry about while on the road. While much of the country endures record breaking temperatures, 100 year snow and ice in some places, and just overall miserable weather, I’m certainly thankful to be here in central FL where the weather has been mostly pleasant. I’m especially heartfelt for my friends and family in Texas who have experienced the worst weather and associated power issues on record. I was there 12 months ago, and could have very well lived through this issue with them. I hope and trust they will return to normal soon, and their recovery will be swift. Be well everyone – till next time, safe travels.