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2023 - April - Villa stay - Day 12

Today was the last of the forecast sunny starts to the morning and so I was up at 7am to enjoy it. I took Karen a cup of tea in bed at 8.30am to get her up.

This morning we intended to return to Celebration to wander round the Sunday Farmers market and of course get Karen a coffee from her most favourite Starbucks coffee shop in all of the world.

On the drive there Karen started wondering how many times we have been here in Florida. She guessed it was a high number. Whilst we were sitting having our drinks outside Starbucks, I decided to look up the number. I have always maintained a list of every trip we have taken since we were married. It is a very long list that I update every year.

Frighteningly this is our 28th holiday in Florida. A couple of times it was just for a week but mostly it has been for at least 2 weeks. That means we have spent well over a year here.

That is a lot of ‘holidays of a lifetime’ in one lifetime and we know how lucky we are. We still love it here. We would miss too much everything at home to be here even semi permanently but Karen is now musing over us having a 4 – 6 week stay in 2025 to miss the worst of the winter at home and to be here for her birthday.

On top of 28 holiday trips, I think I have been Florida 3 more times with work related trips.

Anyhow after working all that out, we wandered around the Farmers Market which is now held down the main street and along the Lake frontage. Despite the name I don’t think any of the stallholders were actually farmers. Passing some of the crafty stalls Karen kept saying I’m sure Ellie could make that just as well.

We continued our walk around the whole Lake. It was bliss as usual.

Our intention had then been to stay out and go directly to visit the Citrus Tower in Clermont but as our route took us back almost past the villa, we thought we would go back for lunch which we ate outside.

Just after 2pm we headed out again in the direction of Clermont. Our first stop was to return some things very quickly to Walmart and then for me to visit the UPS store to return the Golf Shoes I had ordered on Amazon as they were too small for my fat right foot. We managed both in less than 10 minutes.

Then despite Karen insisting I was heading in the wrong direction up Highway 27 we drove to the Citrus Tower. This concrete tower built in 1956 was built as an observation tower and was the highest building in Florida at the time at 226 feet.

We easily parked and went into a deserted ticket room which doubled up as a coffee shop. It was either quaint or strange, I could not work out which. It was all a bit DIY. We bought tickets from the barista and apparently could go up and down all day for the price. Not that I understood why anybody would want to. That was it for human interaction. We were directed to the lift which we operated ourselves. The lift only had 2 stops, one at the ground and one at the very top.

The view from the top was very nice and for the most part we had the observation tower all to ourselves. There were some notices telling us what direction we were looking and what we might be able to see. Not sure there was $10 each of value there but we are glad we had did it.

Whilst we up there the credit card receipt for the tickets came up on my phone. It showed we had paid the money to ‘Simchat Torah Beit’ which sounded like a cult to me.

When back on the ground Karen thought she would sample the coffee from the barista. She reported it was very good. As we sat there, I saw lots of ‘religious’ posters on the walls and started to wonder it is was really part of a cult and that we had stepped into and that perhaps we would never be allowed to leave. It seemed that the main part of the building under the tower was also being reconstructed as a church.

I whispered my fears to Karen. Now Karen calmly responded the Torah was part of the Jewish faith and so I had nothing to fear. The posters all had scrolls on them. She also pointed out the building we had parked outside was a Hebrew Study Centre which all fitted together. I do regret my lack of knowledge when it comes to all the different religious faiths. It was still a strange visitor attraction though.

Next to the tower was the House of Presidents in a run-down building that looked like a mini–White House. In it was apparently as copy of the Oval Office along with wax models of all the presidents. It looked empty and deserted. The Trip Advisor reviews included comments about the strange people running it as well as the models having ‘droopy’ necks due to the Florida heat melting them. Now I was intrigued but worried it might be like the old House of Wax in Yarmouth where none of the models bore any resemblance to who they should have been.

If the boys had been with us then I think we would have gone in just for the laugh. We drove over to it and was somewhat relieved that it was closed, whether for good or not I couldn’t tell.

At the top of the tower, we had been able to see Lake Minneola and heard someone talking about it being worth a visit, so we headed off to explore in that direction. The park around the Lake was alive with people. There was a water park for kids, dozens of people either having BBQ’s or picnics, loads of people out on the water and best of all free parking.

We got out for a short walk along the seemingly endless walk around the huge lake. It was very impressive and we liked it. There was a swimming area in the lake. The water though had a rusty colour from the minerals in the lake and didn’t look that attractive to get in but it didn’t seem to bother all the children having fun in it.

After mulling around for a while, we headed back in the direction of the villa. Rather than going straight back we went to the Outback Steakhouse at Formosa Gardens to try and beat the usual Sunday evening rush. We were seated immediately. The food looked good when it arrived however the more, I cut into my steak the fattier it became. I ate what I could which was about 2/3rd of it. I complained when my plate was collected. The manager came over and apologised profusely and offered to redo my entire my meal. I was quite full by now and really did not need another meal. They offered to do it as a take out for me which I accepted. That is tomorrow’s lunch sorted.

Back in the villa we finished off the ‘kinda dry’ wine outside until it got dark at which point, we relocated inside to watch another episode of Mrs Maisel. Karen then watched more of the Rings series and I headed to bed.

It had been another good day still discovering some new things on our 28th holiday here.

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