Blogging Driving Food History Shopping Travel

Naples Florida

Welcome back to #TravelThursday. Last week I wrote all about the first-half of my short one-day road-trip to and from Naples. This week – it’s the second-half of that fun day some 2½ hours away from home.

My next stop on my museum tour was the Naples Historical Society Historic Palm Cottage a couple of blocks from the beach along historic 12TH Avenue South.

Here’s what I wrote about it on TripAdvisor:

This was my 4TH of 4 museum stops in Naples on this day, and it was the highlight of my day. I was the only participant for the 1 PM tour, and the docent was still eager to give the tour. Very admirable. He was very knowledgeable on the history of the house and the surrounding neighborhood. The house was beautiful and interesting. After the 45-minute tour I watched the 25-minute video, and that was very informative. I then looked around the house one last time on my own before emerging out into the front porch. I talked to the docents out there for a little while about the house, the neighborhood, and my own plans for next year when I’ll transition from a long career into retirement and serving as a docent in a few museums in nearby Highlands County Florida. GREAT experience at the Palm Cottage !

This visit almost didn’t occur. Parking is at a premium in this area. Nearly all of it is for the nearby beach and pier. It costs money ($3 per hour), and vacant spaces can be rare or non-existent – even during low-season in July. When I arrived no spaces were available. I drove over to the nearby shopping center where there was plenty of available parking, but signs were also posted stating no beach or pier parking. I drove back over to the “legal” parking area, and I stumbled across a vacant parking space right in front of the Historic Palm Cottage. I paid $7.50 for 2½ hours of parking, and I’m glad I did, as I spent nearly 2 hours at the cottage itself enjoying the tour (guided and self), watching the video, and then talking to the docents.

My final stop in Naples was Tin City – a historic and quaint shopping and dining village right along the banks of the Gordon River. It’s been there for over 100 years. Nowadays it’s a small collection of mom-n-pop shops selling antiques, knick-knacks, souvenirs, clothing, candy, and food. They also have a few larger restaurants there. I enjoyed an early-Dinner at Pinchers (a local Southwest Florida seafood chain). I then picked-up some monkey bread from Mon”Key” Bread Factory.

It was a fun day in Naples. 2½ hours to get there. 7½ hours of fun while there. 2½ hours to get home. 230 miles total. I need to do it again – maybe when the weather turns cooler in the dry season. I definitely want to visit the Historic Palm Cottage again. They also do guided walking tours of the immediate neighborhood. They look very educational. In conjunction with my next visit to Naples I also want to visit nearby Marco Island and Everglades City.

Next #TravelThursday we’ll head to the beach – 1,100 miles up the coast in Ocean City Maryland. Let’s keep traveling together.

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

Blogging Driving Food History Military Travel

Naples Florida

Welcome back to #TravelThursday. Last Friday July 08TH 2022 I did something very rare. I drove out of the local area for a short one-day road-trip, and I returned home later that same day !

The fun started at the crack of dawn, or near the end of nautical twilight for you astronomy buffs. That was at 6 AM local time. That’s when I got on the road with no bags – no luggage – just exciting plans for my day in Naples.

I got on Krome Avenue (Florida State Road 997). Its origins date back more than 100 years. Up until just a few years ago it was a narrow 2-lane rural road that ran along the western fringes of Miami-Dade County. Starting in 2015 and continuing for the next 6 years it was modernized and widened to 4 lanes with a median. Now it’s a major thoroughfare with heavy rush hour traffic northward (towards Miami) in the morning and southward (towards Homestead) in the afternoon. On weekends it’s congested in both directions.

I picked-up U.S. 41 (Tamiami Trail) from Krome Avenue, and I also picked-up a yellow box truck right in front of me. This was definitely a test of patience for me, as for exactly 58 miles it never quite reached the posted speed limit. It stayed about 5 MPH below, and occasionally as much as 10 MPH below. I never passed it, but dozens of other drivers behind me didn’t have that patience. Every single one of them passed me and that truck. Even an 18-wheeler truck passed us by. As for me – my day-trip to Naples didn’t necessitate a death-defying act of passing on a narrow 2-lane rural road. I am thankful for patience – produced by the Holy Spirit within.

The truck turned left at Collier County Road 29 towards Everglades City, and I continued westward into the Naples area. Naples is quite unique in that it’s 1 of only 3 incorporated cities in Collier County. It’s the most-populated of those 3, but that’s not saying much. It’s got less than 20,000 residents; yet, the Naples metro area (essentially the entirety of Collier County) has a population of over 375,000. Naples contains the downtown area that serves much of the county, but it’s not the population center, and it’s not even the county seat.

So out of every 20 people that call the Naples area home – 19 live outside of the Naples city limits.

I’ve been visiting Naples for over 30 years. It’s about a 2½-hour drive from Homestead. Usually I visit (or drive through) Naples on the way to and from Estero or Fort Myers Beach in neighboring Lee County. There are a lot of attractions and parks and museums in and around Naples. I’ve probably visited the Naples Zoo more than any of them.

After a hearty Breakfast at Perkins (the closest one to my home at 109 miles away) – I ventured over to the Collier County Museum at Government Center. I’ve been there a handful of times, and it’s always interesting, and there’s always something new to see. It’s an interior and exterior museum with displays outside in a city park-like setting.

My next stop was a small military museum located inside the terminal building of the Naples Airport. It’s got a small footprint, but there’s a lot of memorabilia packed into it. I think that most of their visitors are waiting for a flight, or arriving from a flight, or waiting for their rental car. I don’t think that they get too many visitors who go out of their way to specifically visit the museum.

My next stop was the Naples Depot Museum – another Collier County-operated museum. It was my first visit in just a little over 10 years. It’s the former Naples train station – with lots of exhibits inside, and a train car and a caboose that you can walk through outside in the rear parking lot.

Next #TravelThursday I’ll continue my recap of my day-trip to Naples with the highlight of my day (another museum), and the finale of my day at a historic shopping and dining district along the riverfront that’s been there for over 100 years. Let’s keep traveling together.

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

Blogging Travel

Deering Estate

Welcome back to #TravelThursday. This week I’m here in Miami-Dade County Florida – my home of the past nearly 35 years. For this edition I’m writing about the Deering Estate – about 16 miles up the road from my home.

The Deering Estate is the former home of Mr. Charles Deering – a businessman who lived in it during the final 5 years of his life from 1922 to 1927. It currently sits on 444 acres overlooking Biscayne Bay – about 14 miles SSW of Miami in what is now the incorporated Village of Palmetto Bay. It is now owned by the State of Florida, and it is managed by Miami-Dade County. It is a national landmark listed on the National Register Of Historic Places.

I first visited the Deering Estate on March 31ST 2012, and then I visited again on April 27TH 2019 as part of a Biscayne National Park boat tour that started and ended at the Estate.

I took several tours – both inside and outside – during that 2012 visit. It was a fun day inside the historic mansions and outside on the grounds of the estate. I remember that I was the only one on the inside tour, and I told the young college-aged tour guide that he didn’t need to give a tour of the place for just me, but he insisted on doing so, and I thought that was admirable of him. He also led the outside tour several hours later, and there were a couple dozen of us on that tour.

I think after that day in 2012 at the Deering Estate I had my earliest thoughts of one day becoming a museum docent or a tour guide at a park. Here we are more than a decade later, and I’m on the verge of retiring and becoming a museum docent. (I also served inside Everglades National Park as a museum docent for two winter seasons from 2015 to 2017.)

Next #TravelThursday we’ll visit Naples – as in Naples Florida. Let’s keep traveling together.

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

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