Top positive review
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Places worth exploring.
on June 6, 2007
What a great guidebook this is to the back roads and the stories that await. Douglas Waitley has presented the Center of Florida in such a way that even those who have lived in these parts for years will find new places worth exploring.
Waitley is an advocate of getting off the interstates as much as possible, which is harder to do in Florida than most places since there simply aren't as many back roads as in other states that have had a couple of centuries more of transportation and travel. Then again, there is plenty to explore if you are willing to slow down and see what is around the next bend.
And around the next bend are places with exotic names like Chassahowitzka Swamp and Lacoochee, Micanopy, Mascotte, Okahumpka, Yalaha, Lake Beauclair and Hontoon Island. In these pages, Calvin Coolidge rubs shoulders with Elvis Presley and you will find everything from horse country and swimming holes to missionaries and the Honky Tonk Freeway.
The guidebook takes you on consecutive journeys of under 50 to about 125 miles each, and there is a lot of history and scenery and lore packed in to each of the tours. With Waitley we travel to places where Desoto wandered, to the dens of alligators and thieves, to early settlements that were so close knit ethnically that when the young moved away they became virtual ghost towns, and more.
We find out about J C Penney's lost utopia and Ma Barker's last stand. We hear about buried and yet to be found treasure and the best places to shop for antiques. Want to see the manatee or a 3000-year old tree? Waitley can get you there. The maps and directions are easy as can be. Suggestions for enjoying nature and for stopping for a meal are included in each of the tours.
The book includes lots of good black and white photos taken by the author on his rambles and travels. The people he met populate the text and make the region come alive for the reader.
David Waitley loves Florida and it shows. By the time you read this book, you will have fallen in love with it, too; with all of its surprise and mystery, its local color and eccentricity. A perfect guidebook for being on the back roads, it is also a great armchair traveler's companion.