|Carol, 63 & 115 lbs with Howard, 72, 108 lbs at his studio near his castle|
|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.
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...|
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'|
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!