On the final part of our Florida road trip, we went to the best of the kitschy roadside attractions. The final days were filled with rockets, mermaids and creepy buildings. I think it was the best part of the trip. It was just Markus and I out on the open road seeing all the attractions of the olden days. It was like we stepped into a time warp and seeing Florida during another time.
Our first stop was at Cape Canaveral and the Kennedy Space Center. I actually went on a field trip to the Space Center when I was in elementary school, but Markus never had the chance to go. He loves this sort of thing, so I couldn't pass on something that he really wanted to see. It was awesome seeing rockets in real life. I knew that they would be huge, but actually seeing something that was in space was incredible. It's also a bit humbling, because you realize how big this universe is and we have yet to scratch the surface of what's really out there.
My favorite attraction was Weeki Wachi Springs. I personally feel like Weeki Wachi is the epitome of all roadside attractions. What is more kitschy than a mermaid show? I've always wanted to go and for some reason never made the trip. It reminds me of a simpler time, when people didn't need roller coasters and flashy shows to entertain. I really enjoyed the show and loved the old-fashioned feeling of the park. I can't believe the mermaids can perform like that underwater with only a thin pipe to breathe air.
We ventured out to St. Petersburg and Haslam's, Florida's largest new and used bookstore. We were so impressed with the place that we visited every time we were in the area. We also went to Tarpon Springs and checked out the sponge docks. We didn't actually make it into Spongeorama, I read bad reviews, but we did go and eat Greek food. Markus and I still talk about that meal we ate in Tarpon Springs. On our drive back to Fort Lauderdale, Markus and I spied an old abandoned building in Lake Wales. We veered off the main road and drove toward the building. It used to be an old hotel and was surrounded by a run-down strip mall. There weren't any people in sight and it felt like the beginning of a zombie movie. We hightailed it out of there before we became the casualties of a bad B-movie.
I'm glad that Markus and I decided to take a trip through my home state. Even though Florida isn't my ideal place to live, it made me appreciate the side that not many people see. Everyone thinks of beaches and Disney World, but there is more to Florida than meets the eye. If you dig a little deeper, you'll actually see something quite charming.