Generation Z. Cruising in an RV.: Chillaxin' at Peace River in Wauchula, Florida OLA

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Chillaxin' at Peace River in Wauchula, Florida OLA


Carol, 63 & 115 lbs with Howard, 72, 108 lbs at his studio near his castle
Done with resolutions and the serious side of living! On with chillaxin’…chillin’ out and ...relaxin’…campin’ …at Peace River in Wauchula, Florida…

the Peace River in Wauchula...
The Peace River is a river in southwest Florida, 106 miles (171 km) long. U.S. Highway 17 runs near and somewhat parallel to the river for much of its course. It is a popular destination for fossil hunters who dig and sift the river gravel for shark teeth and other prehistoric mammal bones. A vital resource to the people in its watershed, today, it supplies six million gallons per day of drinking water to the people in the region.

the campground...
Our Thousand Trails campground on the Peace River was great for chillaxin’…until I found out that three alligators, the biggest being Stumpy at 9 feet, regularly kept us company. So I stayed mostly in the RV, watched a lot of TV, poured over tons of magazines borrowed from the library, cooked and baked, washed dishes and clothes, and did some writing, basically just keeping to myself and for once being hugely anti-social.

the gleaming Solomon's Castle
But once during this 2-week pause, we went on a sightseeing day trip arranged by the camp. In a caravan of about ten cars, first we all trooped to Solomon’s Castle in the city of Ona, Florida about 20 miles away. It is the home and galleries of internationally known artist and sculptor, 72 year old Howard Solomon, whose sense of humor and imagination soared through the grounds and echoed in our guide. The castle is big and shiny with a tower, stained glass windows and a moat. Built entirely by the hands of the artist, the gleaming exterior is made of the printing plates discarded by the local weekly newspaper.

the fish...that got away...
Within the castle are the family's living quarters, a stained glass studio, a main entrance hall, and the extensive galleries, exhibiting Solomon's "found object" sculptures from all kinds of recycled materials such as ‘The Fish who Got Away’, ‘Venus Updated’ who won the Nobel-ly Prize, and other hilarious thoughts and afterthoughts. There are more than 80 interpretations of stained glass windows. We were lucky to find Howard, all 108 pounds of him, at his workshop!
Boat in the Moat (that doesn't float)...

And just beside the castle is the 'Boat in the Moat' (which doesn’t float), a restaurant on the replica of a 60 foot 16th century Spanish galleon. There we had yummy pot roast and sweet apple crisp for lunch with new friends from Prince Edwards Island in Canada. They had seen the other side of the Castle and enjoyed the magnificent nature trails in the picturesque setting of Horse Creek on the castle grounds, beautifully designed by Peggy Solomon. This is truly one of Florida's most unique experiences. 

mounted 'airs above ground'
Then we all trooped to witness the beauty and grace of Herrmanns' Royal Lipizzan Stallions in Myakka City, Florida, also about 20 miles away. Founded in the 16th century for the exclusive use of the Hapsburg Royal family of Austria, the Royal Lipizzans are unquestionably the rarest, most aristocratic breed of horses in the world. The pride of the Hapsburg Empire, the breed was first established by Archduke Charles at Lipizza (now part of Yugoslavia). Born black, they turn into beautiful white stallions by their 7th year.

the kick!
Only a few hundred have ever existed at any one time. The Lipizzans in Florida came from those saved by General George Patton from the Russian advance during World War II. The celebrated escape was the subject of the Walt Disney movie, "Miracle of the White Stallions". Colonel Herrmann and his father, Colonel Ottomar Herrmann, Sr., assisted General Patton and smuggled the horses out from far behind enemy lines, riding at night and hiding by day.

the bow.....
Colonel Hermann and subsequent generations have created an American renaissance of the rare horses and continues the tradition of the art in the family’s 200 acre ranch. All ‘Airs above the Ground’, originally outlined by Xenophon the Greek, derive from defensive horsemanship created for war and predated the birth of Christ by some 400 years. These spectacular leaps and plunges were originally meant for use by mounted riders to inspire terror in the hearts of foot soldiers.

the castle grounds...
Solomon’s Castle and the Hermann’s Lipizzans are both a sight to behold! I was fortunate to have been mercifully extricated that day from my voluntary cave to rejoin human kind. What other adventures are waiting for me in this last leg of our trek through North America? I have to stay awake now to not miss a thing and bravely rise from my splendid stupor!