A couple of weeks ago, I went to the weird little town of Arcadia, Florida; I’d seen it advertised on the Antiques Roadshow. Quaint, lots of antique stores and not all that far – maybe a couple of hours on Alligator Alley, I-75 and some country roads. Perfect! Off we went.
Need to unplug sometimes.
The “city” looked like a ghost town but there was, indeed, a lot of antiques shops. First, we checked into a little hotel called the Oak Park Inn in the antiques district which is three blocks long by two blocks wide. It was one of two buildings to survive the disastrous Arcadia fire in 1905. Its owners had renovated it recently and it’s lovely. Each of the dozen or so rooms has a different theme: Victorian, Oriental, French, dude ranch, etc. There’s a big social room with a fireplace but, since we were the only guests (all the snowbirds have gone), we never did get to socializing.
The door to the Inn is always locked. The manager’s around town somewhere, though, and you can call her on her cell phone if you need anything. The number’s taped to the inside of the front door window. She gave us a key and asked us to lock up and away she went. After that, we were on our own.
Arcadia’s the seat of Desoto County and they say it’s located “in the heart of Florida’s Cattle and Citrus Country.” In reality, it’s at the western edge of conglomeration of big farms. When we drove over to Sebring (a happening little town in the middle of nowhere) we passed a zillion orange trees and acres of cattle ranches. Who knew Florida had so many cattle?
We didn’t miss the Cinco de Mayo Parade. It was hokier than hokey, so much so that it’s completely charming. It seemed odd that hundreds of Mexicans should show up in the middle of town for a parade and then just disappear. Where’d they come from and where’d they go? We guessed that they live and work in the groves and ranches.
Looking at antiques gets my creative juices flowing.
The antique stores were okay. I saw a set of dishes my Mom had when I was a little girl. There was an old poster of Atlantic City that showed “Fralinger’s Salt Water Taffy”. Fralinger was a cousin and we were at that store many times when I was very young.
There were vases, and great old postcards, and Raggedy Ann and Andy dolls, paintings, carvings, big old furniture pieces, knickknacks …lots of good old stuff.
On our way home, we headed straight across the state past gigantic groves of orange trees, to the top of Lake Okeechobee and down its east side before turning east again into Palm Beach county which, amazingly, is nearly all cultivated land.
I arrived home feeling renewed and ready to get back into the fray. I loved Arcadia and the very old-school Wheeler’s Diner where we had breakfast with the world’s best grits. It was fun, like visiting the 1940s.
After picking up my puppy, Daisy Mae, at the kennel – was she ever happy to see me – I was glad to get home.
Excited to write my Joy blog, and my new column on Forbes.com: Marketing Matters More Than Ever