So I made a point of not taking any Florida road trips on my recent vacation, odd behavior that qualifies as normal when a typical workweek involves putting a few hundred miles on the odometer.
When I returned last week, my email box was filled with encouraging notes from readers, the kind of feedback that makes it worth all the solitary windshield time to reach quirky destinations off the beaten path.
"I have wanted to write you for a long time," wrote Marilyn Siadman, an academic adviser at Monarch High School in Coconut Creek. "I read your column every Sunday in our Fort Lauderdale Sun Sentinel. I enjoy it very much, so keep up the good work!!!!!"
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Lake Wales, FL, USA
Steve Larson, of Christmas, also had positive thoughts, despite catching a directional error in a recent column. With my sense of direction, Steve, it's lucky I arrive anywhere.
"We always enjoy going to the 'postcards from the edge' locations," Larson writes. "We spent the day at Solomon's Castle a week ago. The day was a great diversion and the trip was a lot of fun … had never been south of Winter Haven on [U.S. Highway] 17 in probably 25 years."
Another reader accepted my assignment to provide new ideas for potential road trips, responding with a challenge in return:
"My husband and I first got a Florida State Parks passport back in 2005 and started our odyssey at Fort Clinch in Fernandina Beach," writes Lora S. Doncsecz-Horton. "It took us six years, but we finally got the stamps for every single state park in Florida."
That's, like, 170 parks, according to my count at floridastateparks.org.
"We cheated a little," she continues, "as some parks do not have official passport stations and you must get the stamps at another park without even visiting the park that you are getting a stamp for." Obviously overachievers, she and her husband are starting the list a second time and invite me to do it, too.
Sounds pretty ambitious for a guy that hasn't even made it around the corner to Gatorland.
My next stop will likely be holiday themed, perhaps a Christmas carillon concert or a holiday tour of Pinewood Estate, the 20-room mansion at Bok Tower Gardens in Lake Wales (boktower.org).