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The Orlando Sentinel from Orlando, Florida • Page 129

Location:
Orlando, Florida
Issue Date:
Page:
129
Extracted Article Text (OCR)

The Orlando Sentinel Central Floridians are offered worldwide tours Travel Log, H-9 SUNDAY, May 7, 1989 3 Fp1 Practical traveler MARYLN SCHWARTZ Hotel guests cook their own dinners MTrtmffliiiiiiif-i iiiiMimiilirrr u. immiin-i PHOTOFLORIDA DIVISION OF TOURISM Solitary hours can be spent on the Chasshowitzka River on Florida's gulf coast, by camping, canoeing, fishing or just watching the river flow. quiet on the western cost By Stacy L. Ritz SPECIAL TO THE SENTINEL less sea grass meadows not beaches are what compose this stretch of Florida's west coast. Here, one of the world's shallowest bodies of water, underlaid by thousands of miles of continental shelf, nibbles at the peninsular shore.

A shopping mall seems about as likely as snow. Folks in this part of the state don't see many tourists, and, well, they don't really welcome tourism and development to their corner of the world. But then again, they don't mind sitting a spell and filling you with the history of their towns and families: What celebrity popped in for a weekend back in 1956 and who caught the biggest fish last year. When "the law" (po lice) last visited town to break up a fight, and whose great-grand-pappy finally died after 78 years in that blue house on the corner. Those kinds of tidbits.

In between towns are winding roads, many of which are unmarked and so narrow that if two cars meet, somebody has to take part of the shoulder. Most are in disrepair, and some have never been paved. But the towering oak and palm trees and tremendous expanses of sawgrass and water that flank these coastal trails make them a driver's delight For decades visitors have Please see COAST, H-2 of some of Florida's best "backwoods," where people drive the same Chevy they did 20 years ago; still call each other neighbor and use the phrase "down yonder." Here, when someone asks a friend at the end of the day, "How's it goin'?" they're asking how many fish he caught. We spent three days combing 120 miles of Florida communities with names like Aripeka, Pine Island and Chasshowitzka, all located west of U.S. 19 on the Gulf of Mexico.

Twb of our criteria were locating places that were hard to find and where you could spend an hour or two and not cross paths with another sightseer. Indeed, some of these towns were so Weekend getaway There is a hunk of Florida coastline nearby where you won't find any sprawling beachfront resorts, theme parks, golf course communities, or even a lot of people. What you will encounter on this stretch of coast north of Tarpon Springs to Ozello, affectionately known to Floridians as the lower half of the "big cut," are quaint, gulfside fishing villages, century-old churches, miles and miles of mangroves and sawgrass, quiescent sunsets and some real down-home folks. Here is what remains QUIET COAST hidden that three times we found ourselves backtracking. But then, that's what makes them so special.

Interminable tidal flats and end When guests at an Ameri-Suite Hotel want room service, they don't pick up a menu and phone for a waiter. They go down to the registration desk and buy a frozen dinner. Then they cook the food in their room microwaves. "I used to call room service, and a waiter would arrive and cook flaming shish kebabs right at my bedside," says Dave Kemper, a salesman from Shreveport, staying at the Irving (Texas) AmeriSuite. Years ago, Kemper stayed at a lavish hotel where the room service waiters supplied a different color tablecloth with each course.

"Now they sell me frozen dinners at the registration desk and tell me to cook it myself. "I travel a lot," says Kemper. "I've been on the road for almost 30 years. I've stayed in hotels all over this country. I'm used to having a refrigerator and stove in my room.

And I'm used to having them put packages of cookies and candies and juices in my room. But this is really different. "To tell you the truth, I like it. It's quick, it's easy and it's reasonable. In a hotel in New York last week, I ordered the regular room service and it cost me $16.50 for an egg, a bagel, some fruit and some juice.

And that didn't include a tip." Now he buys frozen beef burgundy for under $5. In the hall near his suite, the smell of freshly microwaved popcorn is tantalizing. "I stay at this hotel chain in Amarillo, too," he says. "I always buy the popcorn. And if I want a pizza in the middle of the night, I just hop downstairs, buy the pizza at the desk and come back to my room and have it cooked in about 10 minutes.

You can't beat that." AmeriSuites is a Texas-only division of Howard Johnson, although the company is planning expansion into other states. Rich Gevertz, the company's national director of sales, says the frozen foods have been a hot concept for the chain. "We've done marketing surveys and have learned that women who are traveling on business particularly don't like going out and eating alone. They are very pleased to find they can microwave what they want at their convenience. "It also helps people to stay on their diets.

We provide a selection of Lean Cuisine, along with other popular frozen dinners." Kemper says he even entertains clients with food from his room microwave. He buys the staples from the desk downstairs. Margaret Farnell, a traveling saleswoman from Houston who often stops at AmeriSuites Hotels, says she has been on the road for almost 20 years. She has asked other hotels to offer the microwave and frozen dinner services. "But they look at me like I'm crazy," she says.

"I remember when I first started out. Women didn't travel alone very much. I spent most of my time ordering from room service, and I never could get what I wanted. I ate a lot of fried shrimp and steak because that's all they would offer. I gained a lot of weight.

"I love the convenience of having the frozen food right at the desk. You can buy it at any time, even in a smaller city. In most hotels, you can't get food after 11 at night. But now if I want chicken teriyaki at 2 a.m., I can have chicken teriyaki at 2 a.m." She also says the hotel room microwave has one other convenience that men on business trips might not appreciate. "After you microwave your breakfast egg and muffin," she says, "you can dry your pantyhose in the microwave." Maryln Schwartz is a lifestyle columnist at the Dallas Morning News.

Betsy Wade's column will iturn next week. America's tropical Alcatraz Isolated Fort Jefferson was garrison, then prison By Russell Clemings SPECIAL TO THE SENTINEL The three-tiered brick fort, accessible by boat or by seaplane from Key West, encircles one of seven coral islands that rise from the shoals at the very tip of the North American continent. Ponce de Leon discovered these islands in 1513 and named them Las Tortugas from the Spanish word for turtles, which nest here by the thousands. Later mariners added the word "Dry," to warn of the lack of fresh water. Today the islands remain as dry as ever.

The sparse droplets of fresh water that fall from the sky are captured and hoarded in massive cisterns under the old brick fort. For more than three centuries, until Florida was ceded to the United States in 1819, the nearby shallows were plied by pirates and shipwreck salvors. Six years later, the government built a Please see TORTUGAS, H-4 FORT JEFFERSON, The Dry Tortugas America's loneliest park rangers may be those who live on this hot, rocky 16-acre island in the Gulf of Mexico, where Union soldiers once fired their cannons at passing Confederate pirates, and where a country doctor did penance for his role in the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln. At the Fort Jefferson National Monument, 70 miles west of Key West, there is no fresh water. There is no electricity, other than what is provided by a pair of diesel generators.

There is nothing but the splendid isolation, the sea birds, the ghosts of long-dead soldiers, the cavernous fort and the sea. PHOTORUSSEa CLEMINQS Visitors cross a roof at a restored portion of Fort Jefferson. IT" Beatrix Potter lived happily ever after in Lake District hills By Rhonda Dickey SPECIAL TO THE SENTINEL SAWREY, England Hill Top Farm, Beatrix Potter's house in the Lake District, seems little more than a warren for the creator of Peter Rabbit and other children's favorites. But the farm is nothing less than a declaration of indepen HILL TOP FARM Hill Top is open April to October. British Rail trains travel to the Lake District, There, visitors can take bus tours to Hill Top and other Lake District sights.

Tours and accommodations may be booked at area tourist Information offices. For more information, contact the British Tourist Authority, 40 W. 57th New York, Y. 10019; (212) 581-4700. Lake District, an area in northwest England where her family had long spent vacations.

At first, she was able to make visits of only a week or two to the farm, but over the years, her time there increased as she quietly and slowly slipped from her family's bonds. Her attraction was understandable. The Lake District is an extraordi Beatrix Potter narily beautiful place. It comprises about 880 square miles sculpted by glaciers. The terrain is varied: gentle hills dotted with sheep, snowy mountains and immense lakes.

About a third of the Lake District is owned by the National Trust, a British preservationist organization; the rest is farms and estates. The dence. Beatrix Potter was born in London in 1866 to well-to-do parents who were sheltering to the point of smothering. Even when Beatrix was well into her 30s and had published her illustrated steeps The Tale of Peter Rabbit and The Tale of Squirrel "kin, she lived at home, compelled to do so by a strong sense of duty and her parents' strong pressure. 'tBut in 1905, Beatrix bought Hill Top Farm in the Milt i'lf dLkly see HILL TOP, H-10 Hill Top Farm was Beatrix Potter's declarator) of independence..

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Years Available:
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