Oranges. Truckloads of them everywhere, acres and acres of orange trees and orange processing plants. Stands selling Valencias, Honey Bells, Navels alongside gallons of orange juice, orange marmalade, orange bubble gum, orange salad dressing, orange barbeque sauce, orange ice cream….everything orange. And where there weren’t any orange trees, there were cows, lots and lots of them, standing and lying in the pastures. And being Spring, there were lots of cute baby calves. Even at SKP, there were a couple of small orange trees next to our site (love the smell of orange blossoms) and we could hear mooing cows that were in a nearby field.
Yep, we’re certainly here in Central Florida in the land of oranges and cows. So wouldn’t you think that we would be able to find decent citrus in the chain grocery store? Not necessarily! In the chain supermarkets such as Publix or Winn Dixie as well as the wholesale clubs here in Florida, many of the oranges for sale are from California. Huh, what’s with that?
So during our stay at SKP, the search for a fresh Florida Oranges was on. Based on a recommendation from our next door neighbors at SKP Resort, Ken and Phoebe, on the third day of our stay we decided it would be a nice day to take a drive (about 30 miles) to the Joshua Citrus Packing House and Grove Stand in Arcadia and try to buy some real Florida oranges. They also suggested Maxwell’s House of Fruit but that was a little further away. Maybe next time.
I don’t know why but we both figured it was going to be a huge stand like some others we had been to, so I have to admit I was a little disappointed when we pulled into the driveway and found a pretty limited selction. But I guess the size shouldn’t have been of concern, after all a place doesn’t have to be huge to have quality fruit. After wandering around checking out all of the orange products and trying juice and orange and grapefruit samples, we bought a half gallon of their strawberry orange juice, a 5 pound bag of Valencia oranges and a 5 pound bag of Ruby Red Grapefruit.
While Rob was responding to an email in the car, I noticed in the field next to the stand that there were three black cows running (well, more like walking at a fast pace) over to a particular spot next to the fence. I walked over to get a closer look. Piled on the ground were oranges which the cows seemed to think was a treat! They would pick one up in their mouths and chew it till it “popped”. After chewing the orange for a bit to get all the juice, they would spit out the rind. Huh? I didn’t know that cows liked oranges! Guess those cows give Orange flavored milk. Ya learn something new every day!
Of course, I can’t say that I have done much pondering about cows and their eating habits – or any of their habits for that matter. They certainly didn’t have very good manners, slobbering and drooling all over the place and sticking their tongues out as they spit out the remains. Yuk!
Each cow had a tag on its ear with a number and a name – the one on the left in the photo above so very happily chomping on the oranges was “Olivia” which just so happens to be the name of one of our nieces in the Chicago area. I’m sure she’ll be very pleased to know that her aunt and uncle met her orange loving namesake.
Anyway, once the first three cows wandered off to a hay bin for the second course, Olivia came back to the Oranges, but then two more cows came galloping over, and yep you guessed it, headed for the oranges!
Here they are in action….that’s Olivia by herself initially chomping away in the video, then getting pushed out of the way by another cow. If that was a male cow, does that mean Olivia was getting bull-ied?
Interesting that they wouldn’t just pick up any old orange, but they would smell each then choose the particular one that they wanted to eat. I guess they could tell what kind of orange it was or how ripe it was by sniffing it. Who knew! Hmmm, guess I have more cow facts to ponder….
The cow entertainment finally wore thin so we hopped in the car and headed out. Initially we were going to retrace our route back to SKP but it was still early in the day so we decided to head over to Lake Placid, the Town of Murals, another spot recommended to us by Ken and Phoebe. Lake Placid was about 40 miles away via SR-70E and US-37N.
Now here is a town that found a way to attract tourists! In fact in 2012, it was dubbed “America’s Most Interesting Town”. The town has two nicknames, “the Caladium capital of the world” and “the Town of Murals”. Why? 98% of the world’s Caladium bulbs come from Lake Placid and it has 46 murals painted on buildings throughout the town.
When residents Bob and Harriet Porter were touring North America 10 years ago, they stopped in Chemainus, British Columbia. This once-dying community was rejuvenated by murals illustrating the towns history, attracting many tourists.
When they returned home from their trip, they suggested that this same approach be used in Lake Placid. Lake Placid Mural Society was born in 1992 and the first mural, Tea at Southwinds, was painted on the side of the Caladium Arts & Crafts Co-op building. Each mural depicts the towns history, its attractions and its people. The mural society has placed 142 pieces of artwork in town which includes 33,000 square feet of murals. Scattered among the murals are paintings of birds as well as trash can covers that look like anything but trash cans.
Besides being known for their Caladiums, their murals and unique trash cans, the Lake Placid area offers 29 clear, freshwater lakes with some of the best fishing in the country. It also is the home of Toby’s American Clown Museum and School, started in 1993 by Keith “Toby” Stokes where over 2500 clowns have graduated. Unfortunately this was closed on the day of our visit (only open Wednesday – Saturday). It also boasts of another landmark – the 270′ Placid Tower (Tower of Happiness) which was constructed back in 1960 and was the world’s tallest concrete structure at the time. The tower closed several years ago so tours are no longer available.
When we first arrived in the town, we could see the murals painted on the sides of the buildings but we wanted to know more about them so our first stop was the Chamber of Commerce where we watched a video about the town, could see all of the original paintings of each mural and purchased a mural tour book ($3) which had a map of the town and details about each mural and the artist.
Viewing the murals was a little like geocaching because many of them had hidden items, clues which were given in the tour book. As an example, in the Scrub Jay’s World, you had to find a spider, a diamond back rattler, a skink and the time the mural was completed. Some of them even have audio. Although we would have liked to have seen all of them, we were getting hungry and it was getting late – we still had at least an hour’s drive back to SKP.
The woman in the Chamber of Commerce had told us that most of the restaurants in town were closed since it was Monday so we figured we would stop somewhere along SR27 as we passed thru Sebring. We passed by several local restaurants but didn’t like the looks of them so we passed on by.
Finally in Sebring we stopped at a Chili’s where we had one of their lunch combos – two delicious (but very messy) chicken tacos which came with a choice of appetizer. I had a salad and Rob had chili. Although I really liked the tacos I probably wouldn’t order them again, just too messy and hard to eat.
After lunch we continued our journey back to the hacienda where we spent a quiet evening. Enjoyable day!