Roadside

I remember moments from my first visit to Silver Springs, but not the entire trip, or the exact date. I might have been my daughter’s current age at the time, but I can tell you that Silver Springs was still a private concern at the time and a tad more populated in terms of tourists. I never know when I’ll make a return trip to Florida, but when I do I always want to plan a side visit to a place I can appreciate, where my daughter will know there’s more to Florida than the Magic Kingdom and men who hide things in their body cavities.

One thing I do recall from my first trip: I could swear the park was larger. Maybe it’s because I was smaller back then and it seemed like a big place, and there was more to see/do. I understand since the state park system took over the park much of the touristy stuff is gone, but the biggest attractions remain. There’s the land and water itself, the majesty of Old Florida:

SilverRiver

WithoutPeople

Also this scary plant:

ScaryPlant

Of course, the glass bottom boat tours still happen. It’s worth the price for the thirty-minute trip, which turned more valuable when the underwater activity kept the girl enthralled for the full ride.

Canoe

Long after we’re gone, this place stays. It’s state protected, so Mickey can’t drain it.

Cypress

They’ll tell you Silver Springs was home to Sea Hunt, old Tarzan movies, and a scene in Moonraker. It might not  impress the kids now, but if they see enough life without CGI they might realize what they have here.

GoFish

If we ever come back to Florida to live, I’d get a yearly pass and use it. Get a kayak and learn to steer. It’s such a peaceful place.

I find as I grow older I forget details (who doesn’t?), but certain things about 70s-80s Florida stick with me. For starters, one found the roadside stops designed to distract you from the drive to Disney World plentiful and fascinating. It’s important to remember WDW isn’t yet fifty years old…because it opened two months after I was born. That’s the only hint about my age you’re getting in this blog post. Before and since then, though, my birth state served as home to dozens of bizarre money magnets where you could do anything from pet an alligator to have your picture taken inside the skull of a giant alligator to creep through any number of “haunted” mansions… some perhaps infested with alligators. It’s probably for the best many of those places are gone, but I mourn having missed the chance to wander through the oddest of the odd. I do intend, before I die, to visit as many fireworks / jam and jelly / Stuckey’s ripoff / pie stands as possible.

OrangeShop

Where to next?

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