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Downtown Orlando

My bicycle did not get used this morning, instead I took a walk in downtown Orlando. After reading Scott Maxwell's column in the Sentinel today regarding the 17,000 flags installed by an army of volunteers, (his words), to commemorate a fraction of the Central Floridians who have been deployed since September 11, 2001, I really wanted to see it for myself. Specifically, those who returned with either PTS or traumatic brain injury. There has been a move afoot here to find those veterans living on our streets who need help, finding them housing and health care, legal assistance and the like; according to him, there have been some hopeful successes. Sadly, they missed this fellow.
Generally I avoid taking photos of homeless people, or those otherwise disenfranchised because I find it exploitive, however, in this instance it perfectly illustrated the reason for those flags.

The article led me to believe that the flags would be around downtown, or at least that is how I read it, so, after putting enough money in the meter for two hours,  I began walking from my space in front of the library on Rosalind Avenue. I walked through the grounds of the History Center, noticing that the flags were at half-mast.
Continuing down Wall Street, looks to me as if it is Orlando City central!
My how Wall Street Cantina has spruced itself up. Of course I was dying over the chairs, however, I suspect they may get pretty warm on a hot summer day in Orlando!
Continuing down Orange Avenue, no flags were to be found anywhere. That said, I took a few photos for those who have never seen the real Orlando, or those who are too afraid of downtown to visit themselves! Have I already told you about all the orange bicycles to rent around town? Naturally I like them very much.
Orlando is a city filled with real estate disasters, think the many big Florida booms and busts over the years. One such bust was a shyster named Cameron Kuhn who duped the city out of some pretty big bucks while constructing what is now the Plaza building. The sculptures in front of it are not holding up as well as one might hope, or so it appears to me.
Then too, the parking garage in this building is legendary for being a pain, thus we rarely go to the cinema there. I include the following photo because it brings back fond memories. Not only because Dave and Michelle had a version of this in their home for years, but I can still remember when Roger and Trish stopped by my booth, eight years ago, with an offer to help. It was this subject that caught their attention.
And my, oh my, have they helped. My little photography business, undoubtedly, would have not gone very far without them!

And here we are...finally the flags in front of the, well you can read the sign...
Have I told you how much I love the new camera? I do. Really, I don't even mind having to change the lenses much because they are so light and portable.

There are a lot of flags folks. I kept walking and walking down the block until I got to the end of them, or the beginning, however you want to look at it, trying to give you a sense of just what 17,000 flags looks like when stuck in the ground.
From my vantage point, nearly to Rosalind, they continue to Orange Avenue where you saw the man photographing them in the photo above. The media was there, doing what I was, as well as doing some on camera interviews. Perhaps you will notice the sweat on the man's head because it is darn hot today. I didn't have it on my head so much as every other place on my body!
His camera is a wee bit larger than mine, don't you think? :) I mentioned the half mast flags earlier because coming up to City Hall, (the round domed building) I noticed that the flags flying there were not at half mast, which I found surprising. Well, later on, while driving back home, I saw that they had gotten with the program. Better late than never.

Heading back the way I came, I saw that the box of doughnuts I'd seen on a bus bench was still there. On my way to see the flags, a man was eating one, so I asked him where was this place? He said, "I don't know, they were just here when I arrived."
A trip to Howell Branch road may just be in my future. Make of the above story what you will.

Turning left onto Church Street, this photo shows the juxtaposition of the old and new. The brick building is from 1911, old around these parts, whereas the building behind it was probably built around 100 years later.
Every growing city is like that, I know, but here they are want to remove all vestiges of the past. Make them stop! Old time residents will remember that the Orlando Farmers Market began doing business here 28 years ago, under the Interstate.
Although I'd read that this parking area was going away, something to do with the I-4 expansion, this is the first I've seen it for myself.

Back up Pine Street, toward Orange Avenue, this corner says a lot about the state of downtown....glitzy, and then, not so much.
The lot that the broken building faces has been empty for as long as I can remember, you would think the city would at least put some grass there, making it not such an eyesore on the central artery of downtown Orlando!

Whereas once these building housed clothing stores, drugstores, and the like, most all of central downtown is filled with bars that come and go. This is a new version of the old bar that filled this space.
And then there is our beautiful library, or at least that is how I see it. Of course, when it was first built, people were going crazy over what they saw as a big hunk of concrete--perhaps these colored panels were a carrot, if you will.
Aside from the market, this is the place I most frequent downtown--close to home, and filled with goodness for the likes of a reader such as myself.

Another fine example of blending architectural styles, so much more interesting than all of the glass buildings you see today.
Or at least that is my opinion! Because I still had about thirty minutes left on the meter, I walked across Rosalind to Lake Eola park. I'm not sure that I ever pictured it this way before, but doesn't the amphitheater look kind of like a giant megaphone?
I just love how this one turned out...his yellow shirt, green bag, hat, along with the lovely shades of turquoise and blue....perfection! Sometimes a photograph is meant to be made.

Obviously, every Sunday, for the last eight years, I've used the public restroom adjacent to the playground while I am at the market. I've seen plenty of folks a little hesitant to use them, and today I was sort of one of them. Silly, I know. Perhaps it was because I'd just walked by a homeless man sitting on a bench that I could smell four feet away? Sometimes folks like that, including women, have no other choice than to wash in the restrooms, and when there are no other people around, like today, it can make me feel a wee bit uncomfortable. No reason, just silliness on my part. Anyway, I went into the one near the swan boats just fine, and walking behind it, I saw this.
If you look hard enough you can just see a tiny bit of a red shirt in the doorway. Mr. Red Shirt man came out and I asked him about the panels. I discovered that they power the building, and the entire park irrigation system. Today it was so hot and sunny, those panels were gathering a bunch of electricity!

Well, there you go...a short tour of downtown. My phone was charging up before I left the house--out of sight, out of mind. Thus, it remained there while I was out. Arriving home, I noticed the home phone flashing with a message. It was Bill...."Mom, on my way to work today I saw a bunch of flags in front of the Performing Arts Center that I thought, if you weren't doing anything, you might want to photograph." Well son, you know me well.

My husband is returning home late tonight for which I'm grateful. Around the world there are wives who wish they could say the same.

Thankful,

Gail



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