Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Flagler Railroad Mystery

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Discovering History in Central Florida

It started with some rather poor quality photos online by a hiker. From what I could see, he had actually found genuine ruins of the old Flagler Railroad. I knew that if anything was still there, I wanted to see it, and as a homeschool mother, I wanted my boy to soak up the history even if that meant a 5 hour hike in 97F heat with 95% humidity and biting yellow flies.
But where was it? I found 1 more mention of it online, a mere paragraph, but no location. No one wanted to give away the secret of the location.

You have to understand, Florida has very little that we can call historic because people simply didn't live here before air conditioning. For example, the oldest home in Orlando was built in 1882 by a citrus grower. What's the oldest house in your town?
It was 14 years later that the Flagler Railroad actually started bringing tourist to Miami, caused hotels to be built, pushed Florida into the 20th century, and gave it an economy. Land is precious here so we don't have ruins or abandoned buildings, we have hotels and subdivisions. I've lived in this area for over 20 years and had never heard of this hidden gem, tucked in the woods, and I was going to find it.

The Railroad and the Hurricane

History of The Flagler Railroad

In 1896 Flagler's railroad reached Biscayne Bay, creating a railroad that connected Jacksonville to Miami (originally named, "Mayaimi" by Henry Morrison Flagler).
By 1905, Flagler decided to extend the railroad to Key West and completed the project in 1912 and was considered to be The Eighth Wonder of the World. It was also known as, "Flager's Folly," and the, "overseas railroad." Even in the hard times (1931), there was one departure and arrival from Key West daily. A Key Wester could go round trip to Miami for $4.75! By mid 1935, an estimated fifty million passengers had already taken the 156 mile journey through the Florida Keys.

On September 2, 1935, with a hurricane close by, a locomotive and several baggage cars were assembled to rescue those living on the Keys. Waves were already washing over the tracks as the train approached Islamorada. As soon as the train stopped, families began boarding. A stop in Homestead, however, proved fatal. Within minutes a tidal surge of more than 17 feet swept over the train, sweeping it out to sea. In the days to follow, more than five hundred bodies were found.
After twenty-three years of service, Henry Flagler's railroad died at sea, along with her passengers, during the great hurricane of 1935.

The 1935 Labor Day Hurricane Quiz

1. The 1935 Labor Day Hurricane, recently re-analyzed by NOAA, shows that the maximum sustained winds were more likely around 185 mph (295 km/h) at landfall. This was a Category what?  Do you know?  The answer is 5.  It was a Cat 5.

     It was thought that the Key West Extension was Henry Flagler's desire to be immortalized. Flagler County was established in 1917.


    Flagler's Railroad

    Touching History in Central Florida 

    After hunting all day through the Little Big Econ State Park, talking to other hikers, people in canoes along the river, I found it! The odd thing is, no one I talked to knew it was there. Many hadn't seen any sign of it. It took me all day of trying to find the best way, and the Jones Trailhead on Snow Hill Road (Lat:28.667 Lon:-81.125) or the Equestrian Trail further down the road, seem to be the shortest and more or less, the most straightforward hikes. Bring a bike map or cellphone map, there are MANY trails throughout the area and none are marked. Wear your hiking shoes, sunscreen, bring water, and your bug spray (tick country). It's not a quick little skip into the woods and there's no bathrooms, no drinking fountains, and no trashcans.
     Along the way, while hunting trails, I did capture some nice scenery and one picture just won a photo contest. If you like mountain biking, you have to try those trails--but you'll never catch me speeding along in loose sand, exposed roots, and along a cliff edge, thanks.

    You can buy all of these images on Zazzle!

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    Award Winning Contest Photo!

    This image is the winner of the State Forest Photo Contest, 3rd Quarter, 2011

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    Winner in the, "Artistic," category, Spring, 2011 State Forest Photo Contest!

    Ruins of the Flagler Railroad

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    Flagler's Railroad Found

    History in Seminole County, Florida 

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    Flagler In The News

    History Being Made

    Flagler Commissioners Endorse SunRail As Gov. Scott Prepares to Derail Commuter Line
    The Flagler County Commission this morning unanimously approved a resolution supporting the construction of the SunRail commuter line in Central Florida. The resolution asks Gov. Rick Scott to release money the Legislature has appropriated for the project, and to support SunRail to completion. The commission's resolution drew a measure of opposition from the public.
    The historic Flagler Railroad Bridges are century old monuments that have stood the test of time and are a major part of the modern landscape of the Florida Keys. The structures were built of North American ingenuity and superior European materials; they still survive today and will perhaps outlive the new US1 highway bridges. Before the great City of Miami existed, Henry Flagler envisioned a railroad across the sea that would create a cultural and economic connection to Cuba, the Panama Canal and South America. Construction of the Florida East Coast Overseas Railroad began in 1908 and on January 22, 1912, 42 bridges later; the completed project was heralded by the press as the "Eighth Wonder of the World". In all, more than 17 miles of bridges and 20 miles of fill embankments were constructed to cross the gaps between the Keys. The railroad transformed the wilderness of the Florida Keys into an economically viable landmass of luxury destinations, a playground for the upper class and sports fishing capital of the world. Key West's role as the closest North American deep-water port to Cuba and South and Central America provided economic opportunities for entrepreneurs and a cultural connection for the more social. Freight and tourism to Cuba and the Caribbean Basin became an integral part of the railroad traffic.
    Eyewitness Recalls First Train's Arrival In Key West
    On Jan. 22, 1912, when Ruby Whitlock was eight years old, she watched the arrival of the first train that traveled down the Oversea Railway from mainland Florida through the Florida Keys to Key West.

    In early 2000, when she was an energetic 96-year-old, Whitlock reminisced about the event that changed the Florida Keys forever. She was believed to be the last remaining Key West resident to witness the historic arrival.

    Monday, February 24, 2014

    Bok Tower Gardens

    Bok Tower Gardens-a piece of Florida history!


     Down in the hills of Florida, past the miles of orange groves, is one of Florida's old time parks, Bok Tower Gardens. Although the park used to seem bigger (subdivision sprang up all around it during the last out-of-control building glut) this botanical park is 250 acres and worth your time to visit.

    Not only is this a great little day trip, I think that Bok Tower has one of the better gift shops of any Florida attraction. On top of the wonderful little trinkets for your own garden and wildlife toys for your kids, they have themed gifts and that makes all the difference. Over the years we've collected a cross-stitch pattern of Bok Tower, a jigsaw puzzle of the tower, a blue porcelain plate of Bok Tower, and a CD of Christmas music played on the carillon.

    And don't decide that because you're way out in the middle of no where that the next fast food stop is your closest place to eat anywhere civilized, try The Blue Palmetto Cafe! It's surprisingly eclectic and healthy! You can eat beer batter fries along with a hummus vegetarian wrap (not dripping with unhealthy sauces or mayonnaise), while your friend eats a kraut dog, or a tuna (not gooey and dripping) salad on a bed of mixed greens (not iceberg) and a root beer float. They also have various beers and wines. If you noticed the bee hives in the orange groves on your drive up to the parking lot, you can find the Bok Tower orange blossom honey sold in the cafe.

     "Make you the world a bit better or more beautiful because you have lived in it."
    ~Edward Bok

    Bok Tower Posters At My Zazzle Store

      Bok Tower Sundial printBok Tower 7 printBok Tower 1 print


    Have you been to Bok Tower?


     If you answered, "Yes,"

     What is your favorite part of Bok Tower Gardens?

    The Tower

    from wikipedia

    "The Singing Tower is the centerpiece of the gardens. The tower was built at the highest elevation of the site, south of a reflection pool that allows the water to reflect its full image. A 60-bell carillon set within the 205-foot (62 m) tall, Gothic Revival and Art Deco tower that was designed by architect Milton B. Medary. Construction on the tower began in 1927 and was completed for the dedication of the gardens in 1929, when it was dedicated by President Calvin Coolidge. The tower is 51 feet (16 m) square at its base, changing form at 150 feet (46 m) high to an octagon with 37 feet (11 m) sides that include sculptures designed by Lee Lawrie. The tower is surrounded by a 15-foot (4.6 m) moat that serves as a Koi pond. It is built of pink Etowah marble and gray Creole marble, mined in Tate, Georgia, and Florida native coquina stone, from Daytona Beach, Florida.

    Although the tower's interior is not open to the public, it contains the Anton Brees Carillon Library, said to be the largest carillon library in the world.

    Inside the bell chamber is a playing room that houses a clavier, or keyboard, that is used for playing the carillon bells. Recitals are given daily from the 60-bell carillon set."

    A Peek Inside Bok Tower
    The tower is not open to tours by the general public, but you can go inside virtually

    Getting Married?

    Have you considered getting married at Bok Tower? I did!

    Eons ago, we got married at Bok Tower. It's cheap, it's gorgeous, non-denominational, and the gardens will forever have a special meaning to your family. How many other brides can say a historic landmark played just for them? Also, there are multiple locations to have your wedding inside the park! We got married at the highest point, by the overlook, but we got the idea from seeing a stunning, traditional Japanese wedding over by the tower, under the shade trees.

    Bok Tower Wedding RSVP Personalized invitationBok Tower Wedding, personalized Bok Tower Wedding, personalized invitation

    See more Bok Tower wedding collections here.

    Contact Bok Tower for more information about having your wedding in the garden.

    How To Recycle An Entire Plastic Bottle

    Or at least make flowers that won't wilt in your garden!

    Recycle, Reuse, New Life for a Plastic Bottle!
     This is a useful collection of three different art projects made from a single plastic bottle. Think it can't be done? Grab your scissors and utility knife and come with me!

    1. Starting with the top of the bottle, this first project will add some cheer to the dark corners of your yard!

     I have a pretty planter next to my door, under my carport. Now, when I moved in, it seemed bright enough.
    I was mistaken.
    Can't keep flowers alive there. Can't even get orchids to bloom there, so it's been hanging there, empty for 5 years.
    A lot of potential there, it's pretty, but I got nuthin'. The carport is apparently a dead zone.
    But then I saw these:

    I realized that the miracle of plastic will save the day!

    Painting the, "flowers," is easy. If they're going to be outside in the elements, there are many spray paints that stick to plastic. I used Krylon on my plastic water barrels and they've been perfect for 4 years now in full Florida sun and a multitude of tropical rain storms.

    If they aren't going to get wet, acrylic paint is fine.

    Flower-making-before I paint, I do hit the petals real quick with a heat gun so they will forever stay open.

    And there it is! For the first time in 5 years, there's color in the carport!

           2)   Re-purposing the Middle of a Plastic Bottle

           3)   The Flower End? 

    So there you have it!  You can completely use an entire plastic bottle to decorate you home or store front!


    Saturday, February 22, 2014

    SCD Banana Pancakes!

    Today I got a craving and somehow the stars were aligned and I actually had all the ingredients!  Crazy!

    Banana pancakes!

    Oh, you can't eat flour?  You can't digest syrup?  Gluten intolerant, right?  Hey, guess what?  No flour at all in this recipe! 

    It's dead easy!  Melt some butter in a frying pan.  In a bowl or a blender (blender makes it fluffy but there won't be any banana chunks) mash a banana.  Add a couple of eggs.  The end.

    If you want to go crazy, add a dash of vanilla, some cinnamon, and a handful of walnuts.  

    Once it's cooked you can either eat it just like that or add honey.

    Tuesday, February 18, 2014

    Cauliflower Crust--Indian Style

    Alright.  I'm going to warn you right up front that unless you already have a full collection of kitchen spices, you're going to HAVE to either visit your local Indian grocery or hit up Amazon.

    Herb Companion

    I have years of back issues of The Herb Companion, back when it was good.  In December 1992 - January 1993, the Herb Companion picked the winners of their Great Spaghetti Cook Off!  I want everyone to know that one of those recipes, the one by Leesa Townsend of Aurora, Oregon changed MY life and the lives of everyone for whom I've cooked her winning Calcutta Pizza Sauce.

    Here's the recipe:
    2 tbls butter
    1 1/2 tbls cumin
    1 tbls paprika
    3 cloves minced garlic
    2 tbls ginger
    2 seeded and minced jalapeno peppers
    3 1/2 cups chopped tomatoes (canned works fine)
    1 tsp ground cardamom (have you ever added this spice to your apple pies?  DO it!)
    1/2 tabls garam masala (don't panic)
    1/2 cup plain yogurt
    1/2 cup cream (I skip this because of my IBS)
    1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
    Heat it, let it cook 30 minutes, add dairy, serve on rice.

    Except I can't eat rice.  It doesn't hate me as bad as wheat hates my guts but I don't want to be all bloated from stupid rice.  How can I make this SCD diet compatible?


    Well this stuff is THE rage, isn't it?  Cauliflower crust pizza, all paleo and SCD and carb free.  Of COURSE I tried making pizza with it
    and it's ok.  It will never be bread that holds together but it's serviceable.  It would much rather fall apart than be firm.

    It's a simple recipe.  And ground up caulifower seems promisingly versatile, doesn't it? All you have to do is squeeze out the moisture
    add spices, cheese, and an egg and it should become anything, right?

    But you can see that it's just not going to survive being picked up.  But the real problem is that it tastes like cauliflower.  

    So I said, "Self, what food works with cauliflower?"
    "Hmmmm," I responded.  "Hey, what about Indian!"
    Ok so, Indian sauce on the cauliflower crust!  But then what?

    Well, February/March 1993 not only did garam masala but it did paneer!  So I made paneer for the top!  And by the way, if you don't have some onion seeds for making naan or even cauliflower fake pizza, then YOU are missing OUT!  Anyway, I've been making my own garam masala for years, it's dead easy!  
    Grind together:
    2 1/2 tbls cardamom pods
    4 tbls cumin seeds
    5 tbls coriander seeds
    1/4 tsp mace
    2 tbls peppercorns
    1 1/2 tbls cloves
    2 cinnamon sticks
    1/4 tsp ginger
    1 tbl nutmeg

    and the end result is:

    So give this a try next time you feel like having a healthy Indian lunch!

    here is is with pesto, tomato slices, and feta cheese: