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Richard Gere Visits the Market!

Have I got your attention yet??

I took this photo of my friend Ken during Sunday's market, mostly because I thought it was unusual that he was wrapping soap at the market, rather than at home. Actually I took another one first, but he asked for a shot to remind him of his youth:
Jim and Ken began selling soap, first at the Winter Garden market, followed by Lake Eola, only about a year ago. To say they are successful is an understatement. So, what does that have to do with Mr. Gere? Well, I sent the photo on to Jim, who answered on Monday. I'll let him tell you what happened:

By the way, we had a celebrity customer Sunday.  Richard Gere and his wife bought some soap.  I thought I recognized him but wasn't sure.  And, he realized that I did.  His wife, actress/model Carey Lowell was with him.  She had gained some weight.....not fat, but just a bit chunky.  I googled them this morning and Miss Lowell is quite beautiful when trim.  Mr. Gere had a great physique, was wearing a NY shirt (small logo of some NYC boating group, very discreet).  But, they both look so average that they easily blended in with the crowd.  He loved the soap but his wife was only mildly interested.  He asked for our card and asked if we would ship to NYC.....of course, we will.  (By the way, he bought our "Florida Sunrise" soap, which is our top seller....essence of orange)
  
Apparently, we have arrived and I missed it. According to his follow up email, it was around 2:30 in the afternoon so it's a good possibility I was making a bathroom run about then. Drat--that could have been fun.

I read that email on my phone Monday afternoon while touring about White Springs, Florida, which is a very small North Central Florida town with a big history. I'll share that tomorrow because the morning was so busy I don't want to get ahead of myself.

So, after doing both markets over the weekend, I had the great pleasure of driving my husband to Lake City where he has both an Olive Garden and Longhorn Steakhouse nearing completion. There are practically no words to describe the differences between Lake City, FL and Santa Monica, CA that's for sure. How he's managed to work in both states is a subject for another day.

Leaving the house at 6 in the morning, the 150 mile drive was pleasant, especially after the sun came up. These old eyes are not happy driving in the pitch dark! Driving along it dawned on me that I probably wouldn't be getting much in the way of landscape photographs because there is a lot of brown going on after a few cold snaps, but in Lake City there isn't a whole lot more to photograph so what's a girl to do?

Dropping him off at the job site, I made my way to the little downtown thinking perhaps I could find a local to tell me what there is to see. Quite a long time ago someone told me that there were some tobacco barns located in Lake City covered in graffiti that I might find interesting. Lo, and behold, as I was driving Highway 41 towards downtown I saw them off to my right on a side street. You be the judge of whether I was interested:
Not so much is the answer, however, the portable potty was intriguing.

Parking along Main Street, I went into Rupert's Bakery,
where I was greeted by Tom, who unfortunately was missing two of his bottom teeth. It was a serious time warp for sure. Even this mannequin was a bit weird:
At any rate, I met Beverly while I was having a cup of tea and a bagel, which, despite asking several times to have it toasted very dark, was pale as can be. 

Beverly was a large woman who came in after me, stooped and walking in a fashion that is hard to describe. I learned she has 19 grandchildren, many of whom are in their school bands, that Sunday evening they celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary, and in bad news, has both a breast lump and frequent urinary infections. I'll spare you the rest of the details, however, I did learn about Stephen Foster Folk Culture State Park located 14 miles outside of town. Now, I had a destination....

Except, knowing me, you've probably already figured out that I took some side roads along the way, never actually making it to the park. My first detour was to a small park called, Falling Creek Falls Park, which was pretty well deserted. Hopping out of the car, I made my way down the boardwalk to see the falls, except there were no signs and when I came to this, I didn't know which way to go:
Deciding on the right hand pathway, I did come across the falls, though believe you me, they were not much. As there was really not a soul there but I, my time there was brief! Bruce is always warning me to be careful in these kinds of situations and his words ran through my mind. 

What turned out to interest me more was directly across the street; a tiny cemetery from the 1800's:
I had to see it up close! I told Bruce later how nice the headstones were, which is slightly puzzling to me because I've seen much newer headstones in much worse shape than these. 
Of the twelve or so markers, about six of them were for children who died anywhere from one day to nine years after their birth. Thinking about S. C., wife of D. J. Rivers, I couldn't help but think of just how young many people died back then. Here I was, aged 59, standing in front of a 41 year old woman's grave. Need I say more?

Back on the main highway, I saw a sign for "Little Shoals", which I couldn't resist. Pulling onto the property I discovered there was a 3.5 walking trail leading to the little shoals which seemed a little more than I had time for. Instead, the helpful worker told me I could drive up the road to the "big shoals" park and hike to see the whitewater from there. Much better....

You know how it is when you are going somewhere new and the road seems long? Well, the sandy road leading to the park seemed that way to me, carved as it is between a pine tree forest. Parking my car in a nearly empty lot, I read the signage, finding out that the yellow marked trail, approximately a mile and some change would take me to the whitewater which, frankly, I was anxious to see. 

I set off amongst the trees and palmetto--actually the trail is called the Palmetto trail, and for good reason, as they are everywhere. 
By now those unfamiliar with the area may be wondering just what the heck I was going to see. Well, here's what I was going to see:
The Suwannee River is famous for being the theme of our Florida State Song, which has come under some serious scrutiny in recent days. There are some who find it insulting, and want it changed...I'll let others decide that controversy!

As you can see in the above photo the water is indeed very dark, actually not black, but deep, deep brown which if you're still with me later in this post I'll show more clearly. As I walked in the silent woods I came across this which I found quite interesting:
It is hard to imagine this river getting so high as to wash away a bridge, because, it is, by Florida standards, down there pretty far!

Surprisingly, I saw only a few birds, mostly circling vultures in the distance, as I walked along. The only sounds at that point were my shoes rustling the leaves and the sound of my jeans rubbing together. It was that quiet! After a time though, I heard the rushing water, long before I saw it. When you are walking in the woods, it is like time stops. I had no idea how far I'd walked until I actually came to the viewing area.
And, here are those Big Shoals:
How in the world alligators could hang around this area is beyond me...they like water at a much slower pace!
Actually it was quite thrilling to see the only white water in Florida, plus the sound was glorious!
The above photo is an attempt to show you how far down it was from where I was standing. Fascinating to see, in this closeup, just how much the water changes color with movement:
Duh! They don't call it whitewater for nothing! The only people I saw on this little excursion was this family across the river:
I wonder if the little boy was searching for fossils, which, apparently, are fairly common in this area?

Mostly on my way back I couldn't wait to use the bathroom--I definitely should have used the facilities before embarking on my little journey!

After that was out of the way, I walked over to the canoe launch area. Many, many years ago, Bruce and Jonathan took a Suwannee River canoe trip with some other men. Bruce told me later that they in fact did canoe through this area, carrying the canoe along the shore when they came to the rapids, pretty much where the people are standing in the above photo. The definitely did not launch at the Big Shoals area, and after seeing it, I wondered just who would want to carry a canoe down these steps,
Followed by these steps to put their boat in!
You'd have to be mighty strong to accomplish that! 

Heading out the way I came, I got back on the highway to the little White Springs downtown, or whatever they call it....

Tomorrow, I'll show you what I saw there--some really interesting things, however, I'm sure by now you've had enough for one day!
Just thought I'd throw in our State Bird for good measure! :) Not quite a movie star but....
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