Categories
Blogging Driving Travel

Weigle House Museum

Welcome back to #TravelThursday. This week I’m writing about the Charles F. Weigle House Museum near downtown Sebring Florida – located at 1989 Lakeview Drive.

My first visit to the museum almost didn’t happen. It was back on Wednesday February 17TH 2021, and I had just arrived in the local area from neighboring Avon Park – disappointed that the Depot Museum there was closed due to COVID restrictions. (I wrote about that last #TravelThursday.)

So I drove to the local area, and I went to the city pier to hang out and absorb God’s nature on Lake Jackson – a 3,212-acre mostly-clear and fairly-shallow freshwater lake with a sandy beach-like shoreline.

After several minutes of lake-viewing I decided to explore the area just off the pier. I saw a sign nearby leading to the Sebring Historical Society, so I went to the door, and it was locked-shut even though they were supposed to be open. So I walked around to the side of the building (which is actually up a hill and on the 2ND floor). I thought I was walking-in to the upper-part of the museum, but as it turns out I walked straight into the Sebring Public Library !

I walked around the library pretending that I was actually interested in everything there. (I actually was not. As a kid I was regularly dumped at the local public library for many hours at a time. As a result – public libraries turn me off and bring back negative childhood memories.)

I eventually walked-up to the front desk, and I asked the librarian on-duty about the museum downstairs. She said that it should be open. I told her that it is locked-shut. She called someone that she knew who worked there. They talked for a minute or two. After she got off the phone she said that the guy in charge was running late, and that he would be there soon to open it up. In the meantime I should go check-out the museum across the parking lot in the bright yellow building. So I did !

I walked-in, and a friendly docent greeted me at the door. She showed me all around the museum. She was fantastic. After the personal tour we just talked for another hour or so. She lived in Miami for many years, and then she retired to Sebring many years ago. I told her that I’ll be doing the same. I’m getting ready to retire and move from Miami to Sebring. I also told her that I’m interested in serving at the museum. She told me that I must talk to the guy in charge of the Sebring Historical Society on the ground floor of the building across the parking lot directly below the public library. I took her advice. I walked back over to where I started, and the door was unlocked. The guy in charge was there, and we talked for an hour or so – all about Sebring.

What almost didn’t happen on that day turned out to be the highlight of that short trip to Sebring in February of 2021. It may also be the start of some great experiences in the not-too-distant future.

Earlier this month on Wednesday June 08TH 2022 I drove back to the parking lot, and I walked-in to the museum expecting to take a tour of it again and enjoy some friendly conversations with the docent on duty. I walked right in to a regularly-scheduled Wednesday morning “social” with coffee and donuts and several local residents just sitting in folding chairs in a circle and enjoying fellowship with each other. They invited me to take a seat as well, so I did. I enjoyed their company for a couple of hours. It seemed like many of us had a military connection – as well as a South Florida connection. I learned about some of their life experiences / war stories, and they learned about some of mine. (I never toured the museum.)

I am now absolutely sure that if this Wednesday morning “social” with coffee and donuts is still active when I’m retired and living there full-time that I will definitely be a part of this community. I also plan to join the Sebring Historical Society as a member and as a volunteer. I’d like to do some social media work for them, and maybe even take over their blog.

Next #TravelThursday we’ll return to South Florida and Miami-Dade County and a museum in a historic house that overlooks scenic Biscayne Bay. Let’s keep traveling together.

All rights reserved (c) 2022 Christopher M. Day, CountUp

Categories
Blogging Driving Home Travel

Avon Park Depot Museum

Welcome back to #TravelThursday. Last week I wrote all about my recent 2-day visit to my future retirement area – Highlands County Florida – located about 3 hours from my current home of nearly 35 years.

I plan to visit the area on a fairly-regular and increasingly-frequent basis going forth, and every time I visit I’ll think about my upcoming purchase in my future gated neighborhood less than 3 miles south of Avon Park, (but with a Sebring address). I’ll also visit some of my favorite places that I’d like to volunteer at during my retirement life.

One such place is the historic Avon Park Depot Museum – operated by the Avon Park Historical Society. It’s located about 4½ miles from my future neighborhood. I actually visited the museum on a previous trip to the area in February 2021. I arrived at the museum. I took a couple of exterior photos. I walked-up to the front door, and it was locked shut. #COVID

What a disappointment. I immediately returned southward to Sebring. That disappointment actually led me to a big “reveal” with the Sebring Historical Society that will lead to additional volunteer opportunities. I’ll write about that experience next week.

So I finally entered the main door of the Avon Park Depot Museum. I and 2 other guests who arrived just before me were greeted together by a friendly volunteer docent. She stopped everything she was doing, and she went out of her way to give the 3 of us an extensive tour of all of the rooms of the museum. She knew her material, and I was eager to absorb it all as she was telling the history of the once-bustling Avon Park train station from the late-1920s through the mid-1970s. (It’s been operating as a museum since 1981.)

She even gave us a bonus exclusive behind-the-scenes tour inside this railroad dining car (acquired in 1986) that last saw action as part of Amtrak’s Auto Train. It’s now used for special catered dining events by groups of 16 to 36 (by reservation only).

After the tour, and after the other 2 guests went on their way I stayed behind just to talk with our docent – Elaine. (She’s the Museum Curator.) I thanked her for the wonderful job that she’s doing. She made history come alive inside that historic building. She was a model docent that I’ll use as an example in my future docent opportunities. I told her that I’m interested in serving at the museum once I move up to the local area next year. I believe that I can help the museum out and contribute in many different ways. I’ll definitely visit again the next time (and probably every time) I visit the area. I told her that I’m a blogger (which she didn’t really understand), and that I’d be writing about the museum (and her) on a future blog post. Next time I visit I’ll share this blog post with her.

Next #TravelThursday I’ll share my unexpected experiences with the Sebring Historical Society – both in February 2021 as well as this most recent visit to the area. Looks like I’ll be very busy working inside Historical Society museums during my upcoming retirement life. Let’s keep traveling together.

All rights reserved (c) 2022 Christopher M. Day, CountUp

Categories
Blogging Driving Home Travel

Highlands County Florida

Welcome back to #TravelThursday. Last Thursday morning I actually returned home from a quick 2-day road-trip to and from Highlands County Florida – located about 3 hours from home.

A little over 101,000 residents call Highlands County home. Less than 23,000 live within the established limits of the 3 incorporated cities / towns of Avon Park, Sebring, and Lake Placid. (More than 78,000 residents live in adjacent unincorporated communities and rural areas of the county.)

U.S. 27 runs in a mostly NNW / SSE direction for about 48 miles through the county. U.S. 98 runs concurrent with U.S. 27 through the northern-half of the county.

So a little over 101,000 residents live within an 1,106-square mile county. By comparison – more people live within about 5 miles of me right now.

Highlands County is my future home, and on the first day I was there last week I met my Real Estate Agent for the first time at her office in Lake Placid. I followed her to 1 of her 2 Sebring offices, and then from there I got in her vehicle. We drove up the road (U.S. 27) to my future neighborhood (between Sebring and Avon Park). It was awesome to finally pass-through the front gate of that secure entrance. I got to check-out 3 separate condos currently for sale – a 2/2, a 3/2, and a 2/1 – in that order. The 2/2 was nice, but the 3/2 was wonderful. All 3 condos were fully or partially-furnished. I wasn’t sure I would like that. I loved it. They all had better furniture than I do right now !

I got to experience my future neighborhood for about an hour on that Tuesday. Before the experience I was about 98% sure that it was where I want to live (based on online research). Now I’m at 100%. We drove 1.2 miles clockwise around the neighborhood that surrounds a 10½-acre manmade oval-shaped lake. I loved everything about it. I’m looking forward to working with my Real Estate Agent early next year in the purchase of my future forever home.

My plan is to initially live (and work remotely) up there on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, and live (and work on-site) my final year here in Homestead on Sundays, Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays.

So I would do a 3½-hour commute early on Sunday mornings and late on Wednesday afternoons. That’s my plan for now (subject to change).

I had a fun (less than) 48 hours up in my future retirement area of Highlands County. I enjoyed Breakfast with my only known friend in the area – a former resident of Homestead who moved to the area nearly 15 years ago. I also met lots of new friends at different places that I plan to serve with during my retirement era.

Next #TravelThursday we’ll visit one of those places up in Avon Park. Let’s keep traveling together.

All rights reserved (c) 2022 Christopher M. Day, CountUp

Categories
Animals Blogging Nature Photography Travel

Zoo Miami

Welcome back to #TravelThursday. A couple of weeks ago on the Friday leading-in to Memorial Day Weekend here in the U.S.A. I visited the Miami-Dade Zoological Park And Gardens – also known as Zoo Miami. It’s about 18 miles from my home.

This was my 6TH visit over the past 11 years – but first in over 5 years. I usually like to visit once every 2 or 3 years on a cool day during the wintertime (dry season). On this occasion I visited on a sunny and hot day at the end of May (rainy season). I actually took advantage of free admission for all military and veterans during the holiday weekend.

Zoo Miami is huge. It sits on about 750 acres of land – of which less than half is actually developed for animals, employees, and visitors. Over 3,000 animals and 500 species call Zoo Miami home.

This place holds a very special place in my heart, as it’s the first zoo that I ever visited in my life – as a 20 or 21-year-old in 1988. (I never got the zoo experience as a kid.) So I consider it my “childhood” zoo that I’ve now been visiting every few years for the past 34 years. I usually spend a little over 3 hours with each visit. I also don’t see everything during those 3 hours, so I try to visit the exhibits that are new, or that I didn’t get to experience on my previous visit.

On this Friday before the Memorial Day holiday the zoo was absolutely packed with hundreds (maybe over a thousand) elementary, middle, and high school students – roaming in packs large and small – counterclockwise around the park (4 miles around). So I followed the few adults and families that traversed the park clockwise – to mostly avoid the packs of school kids.

That would’ve been nice to visit the National Zoo in Washington D.C. as a school kid in the area back in the late-1970s and early-1980s.

I took 40 photos during my 3-hour trip around the zoo. Here are a few:

Next #TravelThursday we’ll visit my future retirement area of Highlands County Florida. Let’s keep traveling together.

All rights reserved (c) 2022 Christopher M. Day, CountUp