Tag Archives: Off the Beaten Path

Sunflower Maze in the Sunshine State

Sunflowers make me smile, for obvious reasons, so when I heard about a sunflower maze about an hour away from Orlando, I knew I had to check it out.

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Down a narrow dirt path in Mims, Florida you will find yourself at Sledd’s U-Pick Strawberries.

The sprawling yellow fields can’t be missed as you drive up.

Corn Maze: Check
Sunflower Maze: Check
Where will I find myself lost next?

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It’s a fantastic afternoon activity for families, and of course quite Instagram worthy. We wandered upon many of photoshoots within the flowers. Even I got down and dirty for a few snaps.

For hours and information, be sure to check out Sledd’s U Pick Strawberries Facebook page.

I can’t wait to go back for strawberry picking!!!

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Unique Florida: Solomon’s Castle

“A man’s house is his castle”

Florida, the land of retirees. Everyone dreams of retiring to the sunshine state and building their own castle made of aluminum in the middle of nowhere…oh wait, that was just Howard Solomon.

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While it may seem kitschy, it was built out of passion and love for art.

Using other people’s trash, he built a treasure for himself, and his art. The outer walls, made from the repurposed aluminum printing plate of the Wauchula news, shine in the sunlight. Printing plates were only used once and then discarded, but Howard Solomon saw a use for them when constructing his fortress. You can still read the Wauchula news on the backside.

Inside many of the art pieces were constructed out of old rusty gears, car and lawnmower parts and various other items you would most likely find in a junkyard, including beer cans which he crafted a chair out of, as well as various vehicles.

He was a master at recycling, that’s for sure. He couldn’t sit still and thus was always working on something to keep his hands busy, like the figurines below. He carved these while watching TV at night.

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My favorite part of the castle, the stained glass windows. You’ll find 80 throughout the castle.

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The picture window

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It was one of the most random places I’ve ever visited, but also fascinating and beautiful at the same time. The tour guides play up Howard Solomon’s “punny” humor throughout the tour and then encourage you to wander the grounds after. Like our guide mentioned, the area is a little behind the times, one thing that drew Howard Solomon to this part of Florida, also the fact that it was cheap. That being said, it’s peaceful, quaint and quite picturesque. There is also a restaurant adjacent the castle, The Boat in the Moat. Literally, it’s a boat in a moat, with its very own lighthouse.

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Tours are available October – June for $12.50 per person, but be sure to call ahead before making the trek. Dean will answer the call.

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Howard Solomon

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Solomon’s fencing behind me

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Ridin’ Dirty in Mexico

Now when I say dirty, I mean dirty. Covered in mud, dust, sweat, sunscreen, bug spray and a wonderful fragrance of rotten eggs. Does that begin to paint a lovely picture for you?

While this might sound horrible, it was actually a pretty exciting day.

During our recent trip to Cozumel, Mexico aboard Royal Caribbean’s Empress of the Seas, we booked an ATV Excursion to Jade Caverns. It was a whole new side of Mexico I had not seen before.

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We sped through a Mayan Village to get to the caverns.

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Once we arrived at the caverns, our guides shared some ancient Mayan folklore with us, and then it was time to descend into the cave. The temperature dropped with each step, and the smell of rotten eggs (sulfur) began to get stronger.

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Then it was time to jump. I gladly let my husband go first so that I could get photos of course.

It was then my turn. It was only 25-feet which doesn’t sound so bad, but when you are standing on the rock looking down into darkness, it’s kind of terrifying.

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Those were once black converse

I took a deep breath and leaped off the rock. Wow, what a rush!

I need to go back to get some better pictures. The jump made me a little shaky.

On the return trip we caught a glimpse of the sunset, and all of a sudden I wasn’t concerned with being dirty or smelly anymore.

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Another great adventure for the book, or blog.

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