Tag Archives: Old World Florida

Old World and New World Florida

Being a bit of a history buff, I miss being in one of the thirteen original colonies. Our fair city of Orlando in Central Florida is not like the ones you see up north, along the Atlantic seaboard or on the coast. Our history beyond the orange groves, old ranches and fruit, flower, and vegetable farms is practically non-existent. There are only a handful of old buildings near the railroad tracks, Church Street Station. Old World Florida is not far away.

001Florida really didn’t get very well settled until the advent of “refrigerated air” in the fifties. Air-conditioning brought hoards down and there was a boom in resorts being established. It became a vacation spot. The beaches have always been a draw, but the interior took even longer to develop.


The cool crystal clear springs, like Silver Springs where the movie and Tarzan series was filmed, all had resort communities established around them. Glass bottom boats were the rage.

The resorts spread from the panhandle to the Keys. Miami exploded into haven for the rich and famous. People from all over the country flocked to Florida and many retired here to avoid the cold winters. Snowbirds continue to winter over here, but millions have made Florida their permanent home.

The Orlando area was backwoods swamp country, cattle range and orange grove before Disney came to town. Much of the area was drained to make way for new development. An agricultural hub, many immigrants settled here after years of nomadic fruit and vegetable picking. The community is vastly culturally diverse.

Mansions sit next door to shacks all over the community.

As Orlando grew, with dozens of theme parks, the metropolitan area covered three counties. Everything is new. All the tall buildings, the condos, banks, towering office complexes, expressways and several hospitals were constructed in the past forty years. New World Florida found a foothold.


We have traffic issues that resulted from the population explosion and local government’s inability to keep up. But it is still a very pretty town. There are little parks and lakes galore. Florida is like a sponge with ponds and lakes on every corner. The terrain is flat and the only winding you see is when a road meanders around a lake. There are numerous enclaves of diverse populations  with colorful open air markets, festivals and al fresco dining on artsy sidewalks that line the cobblestoned streets.


This next image is heading south on Orange Avenue directly through the center of downtown.


Here are a few photos of my favorite park on Lake Eola. It’s located in the center of town where you can dine overlooking the New World Florida cityscape. Yet, it maintains a tropical feel and enough cypress and palms to recall Old World Florida.

What is the history of your community?

Cape Romano: Our Secret Sanctuary

We have our very own “secret sanctuary” in sunny Florida.  A curious and interesting place, Cape Romano is at the southernmost tip of Ten Thousand Island (the uppermost of the mangrove islands). It is located just a few miles south of the luxury resort community of Marco Island, on the Gulf side. The sky is a lovely, brilliant blue, the sun is shining, the air is dry, and a cool breeze is blowing with temperatures in the mid to low seventies during the winter months.


Florida has both a cosmopolitan appeal in places like Jacksonville, Miami, and Orlando, as well as old world charm in places like St. Augustine, Marco Island, and Amelia Island.  All of these places are wonderful in their own way, but the most wondrous places in Florida are the most obscure.  Many people have come to love the beaches at Panama City, Sanibel Island, and Captiva, but there are a tiny few remaining beautiful beaches that are a bit more remote. The beach at Cape Romano is one of these places.

Accessible only by boat or Jet Ski, Cape Romano is a quiet place for reflection in the early morning or late evening, but it does get swamped by visitors from Marco on Jet Skis by mid-day on the weekends. During the week; however, in the twilight of dawn or dusk, it is as if you have transported into a surrealistic dystopian, sci-fi, or fantasy world.


To travel to this location you will find yourself on the Tamiami trail, mentioned in many books set in Florida, otherwise known as “Alligator Alley”. The best way to approach the island is in a little flat bottom jon boat you can launch from the Goodland marina.  Goodland is a sleepy little fishing village located in the midst of the mangroves at the very beginning of the Ten Thousand Islands.  Their biggest boast is a visit from Donald Trump, back when he was considering installing a casino at Cape Romano.  I am glad he did not choose to destroy the splendor of the sanctuary, for it surely would have.

As you motor carefully through the shallows of the brackish waters of Gullivan Bay, the dolphins swim alongside your boat in playful pods teasing and tempting you to join in a swim as they guide you out to deeper waters. You won’t miss the Cape when you see the unique dome home that was established here by Bob Lee in 1980.  This is Bob with his fresh caught snook. You can read more about Bob, his adventurous project, and his family here:

http://www.coastalbreezenews.com/2012/09/07/cape-romano-uncovered/ in this article by Natalie Strom.

Once self-sustaining, powered by solar panels, with a 23,000 gallon fresh water cistern, the home is no longer habitable.

Hurricane Andrew came through in 1992 and stripped about 600 feet off the beach sending most of the dome dwelling, and a couple of other homes in the boating community, into the sea. The Environmental Protection Agency ordered the removal of the structure in 2007, (which has not been done and it is assessing the owners fines daily). Building on the sanctuary island is no longer allowed.  There is a cut through the middle of the island called Morgan’s Pass, also created by hurricane activity, where an estuary runs into a deeper pool of salt water. Fascinating sea life thrives here. Anemones, starfish, urchins and other small sea creatures abound.

On one side of the Cape, the seashore is two feet deep in shells. On the other side, there are miles of white sand and driftwood.  There are many little sandbar islands dotting the turquoise waters around the Cape that are covered with birds and are protected bird sanctuaries.  They feast on the abundant shell life. The birds nest here year round. Their calls can be deafening when they are disturbed.  Most all of the larger sandbars for bird sanctuaries are marked off-limits to humans.

Not my best pose in a bikini, but about the only one I would consider making public.
Not my best pose in a bikini, but about the only one I would consider making public.

Shelling is my favorite pastime here, collecting hundreds of samples over the years.


There are certain currents at specific times of the year that bring King’s Crown and whole sand dollars washing ashore in great heaps.  I hope that civilization can preserve the sanctuary, and it remains as unspoiled as possible for future generation to enjoy.