TRIP TO NEW ORLEANS, Day 1

February 20 2018

So after a short break, we are headed to New Orleans!

ALABAMA

EUFALA, AL

Manny the bass – erected to celebrate the life of lure maker Tom Mann, originator of the Jelly Worm and hundreds of other well-known lures

20180220_072815.jpg404 East Broad Street. Eufaula AL

TROY, AL

Violata Pax Dove. Migrated here from Florida.

20180220_093418.jpgBehind the International Arts Center, Frank Ross Stewart Hall, Troy University, Troy AL

I can’t remember where this was in Troy – the street sign in the background says Memorial Parkway.

20180220_095153.jpgMemorial Parkway, Troy AL

ANDALUSIA, AL

Apparently Andalusia is the White Shirt Capital of the World! The shirt was erected to memorialize the garment industry Find out about the Big White Shirt here.

20180220_111125700 River Falls St, Andalusia, AL

Farther down the road at a gas station where these three.

Giant leaping deer

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Kiss the fish for good luck

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Classy pig!

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1102 Western Bypass, Andalusia, AL

FLORIDA

PENSACOLA, FL

Our trip justs nips the corner of Florida.

I always like a community art project. The Pensacola Pelicans are at various
locations – most along Palafox. Most of the pelicans are in the historic
downtown district, along north-south N. Palafox St., between Wright and
Main Sts, with a few on side streets. The cyclist is my favourite – I like his snazzy helmet.

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PENSACOLA, FL

Apparently the wheels turn on this big roller skate, and it gets used in local parades. I think the laces might be old fire hoses!

20180220_1425361002 Navy Blvd, Pensacola, FL

back to ALABAMA

ELBERTA, AL

There a number of odd sculptures here, but only the Lady in the Lake and the spider fill my criteria – well worth the side trip if you enjoy the truly odd. Keep in mind the Lady is taken out of the water if there is a bad storm.

For more info, check out Lady in the Lake

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20180220_152531.jpgBarber Marina, 26986 Fish Trap Rd., Elberta, AL

GULF SHORES, AL

Ah yes, there’s nothing like a good tourist trap for finding Big Things. Check out the dental work!

20180220_162951200 Gulf Shores Pkwy Gulf Shores, AL

Octopus getting pretty handsy. The tentacles wind through the building.

20180220_162812.jpg301 Gulf Shores Pkwy., Gulf Shores, AL

Outside The Hangout – restaurant, bar, and live music venue on the beach, with a surfer theme.

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20180220_165550.jpgThe Hangout – 101 E Beach Blvd, Gulf Shores, AL

FOLEY, AL

There was a veritable zoo at Riviera Stone – Giraffes and hippos and Gorillas Oh My! but only the chicken was larger than life.

20180220_171105.jpgRiviera Stone, 1908 N McKenzie St, Foley, AL

DAPHNE, AL

A Veteran’s Memorial – looks better when the flag isn’t wound around the pole, but we were losing light, so I was happy to get this.

20180220_184829.jpg2400 Old Spanish Trail, Daphne, AL

FAIRHOPE, AL

A bit of a sudden shower, but I had to jump out and get a pic of this book anyway. That’s dedication for you!

20180220_181647501 Fairhope Ave, Fairhope, AL

SPANISH FORT, AL

Definitely fishing in the dark at this point – pretty good catch though!

20180220_191130_LLS.jpg3775 Battleship Pkwy, Spanish Fort, AL

I’m completely out of control now – its so dark we are shining the headlights of the car on things to get photos! Nice dental tools!

20180220_190038_LLS6525 Spanish Fort Blvd, Spanish Fort, AL

Giant paper clip – not the largest (that would be in Kipling, Saskatchewan or Miass, Russia) but still noteworthy.

20180220_190341_LLS6471 AL-3, Spanish Fort, AL

That’s it for Alabama on this trip. Next stop – Mississippi.

MISSISSIPPI

GULFPORT, MS

Because I tried to fit too much into one day, we have to miss the potential sites I had lined up in Mississippi, and only stop in Gulfport. Even then, trying to get enough light on this chair was a challenge.

20180220_20471211451 Canal Rd., Gulfport, MS

A six hour direct trip took us 14 hours with side trips!

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JANUARY 27, 2017

Day 10 – Part 1 – Florida Panhandle

Panama Beach wasn’t what we were expecting. We had found a beach-side hotel on Expedia (Beachbreak by the Sea) on Beach Front, and somehow assumed the street was lined with similar establishments, so when we pulled into Panama Beach City after 8 pm in the dark, and saw the high-rise towers and parking garages jammed into the space between the ocean and the road, were were a bit shocked. It makes sense, but it doesn’t appeal to us. I had been thinking Panama Beach City might have been an alternate to one of our Cuba resort weeks, but I don’t think so now. The hotel room was perfectly fine, and it certainly had a lovely view – too bad the weather had turned chilly

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View from our room at Beachbreak by the Sea, 15405 Front Beach Rd, Panama City Beach!

Panama Beach City is like a midway, with hotel/apartment/condo towers on one side and souvenir shops, fast food, adventure golf and a Ripley’s museum on the other.

PANAMA BEACH CITY, FL

What Florida tourist town would be complete without a giant conch!

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Location: Alvin’s Island,  17698 Front Beach Rd, Panama City Beach

Adventure golf is always a good place to find Big Things. Goofy Golf has been entertaining people since 1959.

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Location: Goofy Golf, 12206 Front Beach Rd, Panama City Beach

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I’m just checking out the dental work on this Killer whale

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Location: Big Willy’s: 9703 Front Beach Rd, Panama City Beach

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PANAMA CITY, FL

This is pretty similar to the shell above – the difference is that this one is resting on a pile of ACTUAL conch shells! When you consider that it is actually illegal to take conch in Floridathat seems like a LOT of shells.

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Location: Shell Port, 9949 Thomas Dr, Panama City

Big Gus is hard to miss, standing outside Angelo’s Steak Pit. According to RoadsideAmerica, he weighs 20,000 pounds!

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Location: 9527 Front Beach Rd, Panama City

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That’s it for Part 1. Part 2 is Alabama.

JANUARY 25, 2017

Day 8 – Road Trip – The Everglades

We were up early, packed up our camping gear and headed out at 7:20 am to hit Dunkin’ Donuts for a to-go breakfast and coffee. We need to make it to Hillsboro River State Park, north of Tampa, and it would be nice to get there before dark. This already seems unlikely – it is a 6 hour drive without stops, and it is still dark by 6 pm

The GPS says to take Ronald Reagan Turnpike, but I can already see that there are a lot of stoppages on the highway. We are going to take the scenic route up highway 997 from Homestead, and link up with Everglades Parkway, or, as we have come to know it, Alligator Alley.

This was a good choice. There is very little that is residential  north of Homestead. Instead, the road is lined with beautiful, quiet vegetable farms and plant nurseries. I feel like I can take a deep breath for the first time in days.

EVERGLADES PARKWAY, FL

Our first stop was for this large coke can at Gator Park. My ability to be amused by large things is sometimes relative to how long it’s been since my last sighting. In this case it has been 16 hours, so I was reasonably pleased with my Coca Cola fix!

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Location: Gator Park, 24050 SW 8th St, Miami

Our next stop is really more to my liking – its Big and it has a Gator!

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Location: Mile Marker 35, US 41, Everglades National Park

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OCHOPEE, FL

This cat is supposed to represent a Florida Panther, though the face doesn’t really look like that species – too broad in the snoutOnce common throughout the southeastern United States, fewer than 100 Florida panthers are estimated to live in the wilds of south Florida today. 20170125_115104

Location: 40904 US 41, 

Across the street from Wooten’s Air Boats was another cat, somewhat smaller. We tried to get closer to it, but it is on private property and fenced off.

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Location: across from 32330 Tamiami Trail E, Ochopee

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NAPLES, FL

I’m bending my rules here, a bit, because these aren’t permanent installations, but they were too cool to pass up. They are part of an art show called Origami in the Garden, with outdoor displays by artists Kevin and Jennifer Box. The majority were installed at the Botanical Gardens, and we just didn’t have time to spend there.

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Location: Lowdermilk Park, Naples

This was another of the Origami in the Garden sculptures20170125_132309

There were several nice sculptures outside the museum, but this was the only other one that qualified as BIG.. This looks like an excellent art gallery – maybe there will be a visit on a subsequent trip. Of all the places we saw in Florida, Naples appealed to me the most.

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Location: 5833 Pelican Bay Blvd, Naples

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CAPE CORAL, FL

This 28 foot tall grocery clerk, named Big John, has been standing here since 1969. At one point his grocery bags went missing, but he got a complete overhaul in 2011 and he was given new bags to hold.

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Location: 1234 SE 47th Terrace, Cape Coral

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NORTH FORT MEYERS, FL

Another large conch shell. I’m starting to get the same feeling I have about white chickens – you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all.

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Location: Shell Factory, 2787 N Tamiami Trail, North Fort Meyers

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Even with relatively few Big Things to see, it was still VERY dark when we got to our campsite. I’m not complaining. There was a good reason. We got sidetracked by ALLIGATORS. Hundreds of alligators. The side of the canal that runs parallel to the Everglades Parkway was ALIVE with them. It was the most amazing experience. Apparently winter is the time to see them – they are sunning themselves, trying to keep warm. In summer they are in the water trying to stay cool. I recommend EVERYONE put this on their Bucket List.

Day 8 total distance – 569 Km

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JANUARY 24, 2017

Day 7 – Florida Keys

What a glorious morning! It is still pretty breezy, but the view is breathtaking! The campsites are virtually right on the beach! Unfortunately, they are also about 50 feet from the highway. Still, it was a miracle we found a State Park campsite in the Keys in January.

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Location: Long Key State Park, Florida Keys

Our plan is to drive to Key West, have lunch, then head back to John Pennekamp State Park in Key Largo for a swim and a BBQ, then back to our campsite. Of course we will be hunting for big things while travelling.

KEY LARGO, FL

If I listen carefully, I can almost hear the ocean. Wait… that IS the ocean!20170125_084019

Location: 97600 Overseas Hwy, Key Largo, on the northbound side of the building

Hey! I used to own a snorkel just like this!20170124_181229

Location: 99696 Overseas Hwy, Key Largo

This swan used to be a paddle boat.

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Location: 99360 Overseas Hwy, Key Largo

Enormous bobber! For some unfathomable reason it is outside a wedding consultant. Maybe it’s a warning to prospective brides?

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Location: 1 Bowen Dr, Key Largo

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ISLAMORADA, FL

Old time hard helmet! Takes me back to the time of Diver Dan.

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Location: 82990 Overseas Hwy, Islamorada

Theater of the Sea has this great shell in a fountain. Its hard to miss as you drive by.20170124_161018   20170124_160909

Location:  84721 Overseas Hwy, Islamorada

This crustacean isn’t as big as the Shediac Lobster, but is certainly more detailed. 20170124_161716.jpg

Location: 86700 Overseas Highway, Islamorada

The ubiquitous hanging shark. Not the best photo op.

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Location: 79851 Overseas Hwy, Islamorada

There were lots of sharks to choose from, but how many let you put your head in their mouths?

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Location: 82200 Overseas Hwy, Islamorada

This is probably the prettiest shell we saw20170124_155823

Location:   82237 Overseas Hwy, Islamorada

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MARATHON, FL

There are conch shells just lying around all over Florida.20170124_150112

Location:  13333 Overseay Hwy, Marathon

I wish I could actually see fish and coral like this snorkeling, but the bad weather has churned the ocean into a soupy mess. So my gear will stay packed in the car, and I will just admire this Queen Angelfish.

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Location: Tilden’s Scuba Center, 4650 Overseas Highway, Marathon

HUGE fishing rod, reel and lure! Imagine the fish this could catch!20170124_145441

Location: 11587 Overseas Hwy Marathon

Sigh! Somehow I didn’t make notes about the location of this key, or the business it was attached to. I’ve trolled up and down Google Streets without finding it. I’m fairly certain its on the northbound side of the Overseas Highway, probably near Marathon. (I’m trying to remeber all the places I had an ice cream cone – it must be near one of a half dozen places. Don’t judge me!)20170124_144525

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GRASSY KEY, FL

We didn’t visit the Dolphin Research center, except to get this picture of the dolphins cavorting in the parking lot. We want to keep a reasonable amount of time for Key West.20170124_090449

Location: 58901 Overseas Hwy, Grassy Key

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KEY WEST, FL

I’ve never seen a manatee in real life. I think they look like cuddly cartoon characters!20170124_104233

Location: 3406 N Roosevelt Blvd, Key West

A big shell outside – you guessed it – a Shell Gas Station!20170124_105123

Location: 1900 N Roosevelt Blvd, Key West

We were expecting to see a large Seward Johnson statue in front to the Key West Museum of Art and History – either Time For Fun or Whispering Close (inspired by a Renoir painting), both 20 feet tall and in period costume. So we were surprised to see Enduring Peace/Unconditional Surrender – happily surprised. Although we saw one on temporary installation in Michigan last summer, it is one of our favourites, so we were happy to see it again. I don’t know if the two sculptures are slightly different, of if the angle is just different, because I hadn’t noticed the flowers in her right hand on the previous statue. I think the artist has captured the passion of the moment.20170124_123509

Location: 281 Front St, Key West

We lucked out and found a parking spot close to The Southernmost Point in Continental USA – but then we realized there was a HUGE line up to get a picture  against the marker. I’m not big on line ups, and I was perfectly happy standing 10 feet away and having other people in the picture. I mean, really, it’s not the southern most point – part of the Key West Naval Air Station is further south, as is some of the landfill and beach directly to the east. So FUN, but lets be reasonable.20170124_111312

Location: Whitehead St & South St, Key West

Created by a night school welding class, this buccaneer is the mascot for Horace O’Bryant Middle school. Supposedly this sculpture is 8 foot tall, in which case I’m a 4 foot Leprechaun!

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Location: 1105 Leon St, Key West

This conch shell stands in front of Key West High School, which, with it’s windowless facade and chain link fence, looks more like a penal institution. I’m hoping it was designed like this for hurricane safety, and maybe is more inviting inside.20170124_130241

Location: 2100 Flagler Ave, Key West

This ferocious beast was the mascot for Glynn R. Archer Elementary School. Now the school has being renovated to be the Key West City Hall. The tiger was supposed to be moved to Horace O’Bryant Middle School, but someone must have had a change of heart, because it has been returned, post reno, to it’s original corner at United and White Streets.20170124_130915

Location: 1300 White St, Key West

Now THIS is a stogie! According to RoadsideAmerica.com, this cigar statue is dedicated to Arturo Fuente Sr, who worked at the Gato Cigar Factory from 1906-1912, and lived in Gato Village, comprised of 40 little cottages for cigar workers. The park includes a symbolic full-size facade of a cottage. 20170124_131931

Location: 616 Louisa St, Key West

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So that was a fun day in the Keys – conch fritters for lunch, lots of Big Things, the weather was magnificent and we ended the day with a swim. Of course I might have thought better of it had we seen this sign BEFORE we went in the water!20170124_173435

Total distance for Day 7, a leisurely 344 km.

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JANUARY 23, 2017

Day 6 – Florida East Coast

PORT ST LUCIE, FL

The Shell Bazaar has been here since 1953, and the owner told us three generations of people have had their pictures taken with this giant conch – many coming back with their children to recreate a childhood memory. Sweet!

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Location: Shell Bazaar, 10100 US-1, Port St Lucie

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FORT PIERCE, FL

Finally, I get to try my hand at cow tipping!

Tri County Feed and Hardware has a LOT of garden objects outside it’s store – the ubiquitous fiberglass chicken (insert stifled yawn here) a more colourful metal rooster, a big turtle and an oversize pelican, as well as MANY life size animals.

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Location: 5090 US-1, Fort Pierce

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JENSEN BEACH, FL

There is really no historical reason for Jenguard the 20 foot Viking to be here – there is no record of Norse settlement in the area. According to Roadside America, he originally belonged to the Viking Carpet chain, but migrated to Jensen Beach Elementary in the 1970s (probably doesn’t winter any more than we do!) he has been vandalized twice, but the community is fond of Jenguard, and quickly had him restored both times.

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As we were pulling out of the schoolyard, we noticed these oversize books on the school sign.

Location:  2525 NE Savannah Rd, Jensen Beach

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STUART, FL

These swordfish might not be bigger than life, but it still makes a pretty nice fountain in the center of a rotary.

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Location:  100 S Dixie Hwy, Stuart

We will have to keep track of all the hanging sharks, and decide which one gives the best photo op.  This might be the one – unfettered view and kitschy accessories.

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Location:  Nautical But Nice, 2885 SE Federal Hwy, Stuart

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PALM BEACH GARDENS, FL

Were else would you expect to see a giant golf ball and tee, but PGA Headquarters!

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Location:  PGA Headquarters, 300 Avenue of Champions, Palm Beach

These golf tees might be the best Incidental Sighting (unplanned) for this trip. Palm Beach really celebrates it’s golf reputation!

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Location: 4600 PGA Boulevard in front of Studio E Gallery, Palm Beach Gardens

I recognized this as a Giant Spider Lily as soon as I saw it!

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Location: Frenchman’s Crossing, 4063 Hood Road, Palm Beach Gardens

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CORAL SPRINGS, FL

It’s like looking in a mirror!

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Location:  Artwalk, near 3200 N University Dr, Coral Springs

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HALLANDALE BEACH, FL

If you have to have a giant water tower in the middle of a high rent beach condo area, you might as well yuk it up by turning it into a beach ball on a water spout!

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Location: S Ocean Dr at Hallandale Beach Rd, Hallandale Beach

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The pièce de résistance – this amazing bronze Pegasus battles a ferocious dragon – and certainly appears to be winning! This is billed as the second tallest statue in the US (second only to the Statue of Liberty. The Pegasus is 110 ft in height, while the dragon is 50 ft in height, and the sculpture is 200 ft long by 115 ft wide. The whole thing is cast in bronze (in contrast, the Statue of Liberty is  copper sheathing on a metal armature, which enabled the 350 pieces to be shipped from France and assembled in America). The locals might think this is tacky, but they need to get over themselves – it’s MAGNIFICENT!!! We may have to make another trip back to this statue – according to Wikipedia “Pegasus will feature a 5D dome theater in a rock formation underneath it. The dragon is surrounded by musical fountains. At night the statue will be home to a fountain show featuring 13 musical pieces, 350 fog nozzles, 116 water nozzles, special LED lighting and dragon breathing fire 20 feet during the show.”

Location: 901 S Federal Hwy, which for some reason is INSIDE the Gulfstream complex. Turn at the main entrance, which is opposite SE 3rd St, Hallandale Beach (our GPS wouldn’t find the 901 address)

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This day was a bit disappointing – we couldn’t find the coffee pot in Port Malabar, the turtle and eagle at Oakbrook Square, Palm Beach Gardens or the hockey sticks at Deerfield Beach, and the Monopoly board in West Palm Beach is no longer there. We decided to skip the two items I had marked for Miami, and avoid getting caught up in rush hour traffic. So we headed to our campsite in Long Key State Park. Even with the shortened day it was dark by the time we got to the site, and we had to battle high winds while we set up our gear. Note to self: you REALLY need a lantern of some sort – tiny LED flashlights are for walking to the comfort station – not setting up camp!

Total distance for Day 6 – a mere 454 km

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JANUARY 22, 2017

Day 5, Part 2 – FLORIDA EAST COAST

We have been driving just ahead of the rain – every time we stop for coffee or an attraction, the weather catches up to us. We are supposed to be camping at Blue Springs State Park tonight, but we are already reconsidering that decision. Who wants to start a week with wet gear!

JACKSONVILLE, FL

Pretty cool pillars disguised as crayons! We snapped this picture, then ran for the car while giant raindrops pelted us!

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Location:1095 Philip Randolph Blvd, Jacksonville

ST AUGUSTINE, FL

The area has seen better days, and hopefully will again. The pier was blocked off, and it looks like renovations are underway. The bluebird still sits there with a silly grin, protected behind a construction barrier. That didn’t stop me from getting a reasonable shot, though.

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Location: 254 Vilano Rd, St Augustine

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ORMOND BEACH, FL

This was one of our better Incidental Sightings. It’s a pretty great paint brush, though I had to try to hold it still in the gale force winds. At least it isn’t raining – yet.

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Location: 1010 S Nova Rd, Ormond Beach

Right next door was this hot pink chicken – what a horrible fate! Perhaps it has some significance – maybe breast cancer awareness? I can tell from Google Streets that it gets regular make-overs.

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Location: 1020 S Nova Rd, Ormond Beach

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HOLLY HILL, FL

Now THIS is an extra large coffee! Just what I need to keep be awake on the long drive.

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Location: 1025 N Nova Rd, Holly Hill

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 NEW SMYRNA, FL

Another good paint brush, this one atop a paint can. Somebody should have trimmed the palm tree.

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Location: 605 S Dixie Hwy, New Smyrna

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MELBOURNE, FL

This orange is like the one in Kissimee. It has been restored, but the paint job makes it look more like a peach. For some odd reason it is a memorial to the Veterans of Vietnam! It’s located off the parking lot of the Disabled American Veterans (D.A.V.) J.L. Golightly Chapter # 32.

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Location: 2265 N Harbor City Blvd, Melbourne

MALABAR, FL

The light was definitely gone by the time we got to Malabar, but having decided to pass on camping, and instead stay in a motel, we pushed on further than our original plan. The rather large flamingo doesn’t really look great lit up with the car’s headlights.

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Location: 6755 Babcock St SE, Malabar

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From here we found a motel and a Little Ceasars, and called it a night. It was a LONG drive today – most of it through driving rain and gale force winds. According to the weather channel, “the January 21-23, 2017 tornado outbreak was one of the largest outbreaks on record not only for January, but for any winter month, featuring one of the longer tornado tracks on record, according to data from the National Weather Service” That motel was a GREAT idea!

Total distance for Day 5 – 958 km

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