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50 States, Day 260

  Lakeland to Dundee and Thereabout, 0 miles (Using the in-laws' rental car)

"For a gallant spirit there can never be defeat."
~Wallis Simpson

During our last day with the in-laws, we traveled to a candy company that supposedly provided tours, but upon arrival we were almost completely ignored, the factory sat idle, and the gift shop provided a half acre of junk. Disappointed, we headed elsewhere.  

Off we went to the Blok Gardens and Tower. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, my expectations remained low, but disappeared in a beautiful and interesting grounds and tower. 

Mr. Blok came to America as a young lad, assimilated and learned the language, finally becoming an editor for Ladies Home Journal, worked there for thirty years, and married the daughter of the publisher. Apparently they made a forest of money, and built another forest. Awesome rags to riches story. 

The gardens contained lovely flowers, colors exploding from branches, reminding me of the bright colors of fish in the Caribbean. I'm not a horticulturalist, but I sure appreciate glorious landscaping, and Bok got the job done. As we continued up the 'mountain' (the second highest spot in the state, must be sixty feet or so) the tower emerged from the landscape. 

The Bok tower is not only a huge monolith, but a carillon as well. I didn't know what they were either. It's like an organ, but the player hits the large keys with the bottom of his fist, which connect via cables to a clapper that gongs a bell, one of sixty bronze bells from sixteen pounds to over eleven tons. It's called a singing tower. At one o'clock, it played a half dozen songs ( due to budget restraints, it is recorded) including 'Amazing Grace,' and 'How Great Thou Art.' 

Sitting on a bench, the sun shining with blue sky, green grass underfoot and majestic trees dripping with Spanish Moss, I marveled at the sweets sounds emanating from the tower. Hmm, found my beach. 

A little history here: Carillons were originally placed in cities to announce general meetings, celebrations, fire alarms and threat of invaders. Not until the late nineteenth century did they become musical instruments. Be sure to remember that for the next time you're on 'Jeopardy.' And answer it in the form of a question. 

And now, botanically appeased and pleased, Quilter Girl!

I was so disappointed that there was no tour at the candy and marmalade factory.  I did bring home some honeybelle jelly and tangerine marmalade.  Florida is wonderful because there are flowers blooming in January.  Imagine that!  We saw violas, hibiscus, camellias, dianthus and snapdragons to name the flowers I recognized.  On our guided tour we took selected paths, but with 50 acres of gardens, we only saw a little bit.  

We found a great bbq place in Bartow called Curly Tails.  Between the four of us, we had ribs & cole slaw and smoked chicken citrus salad.  I think that the chicken salad was the best ever.  I scooped up every bite as did my dad!  Kevin and Mother enjoyed the fall-off-the-bones ribs.  We were indebted to the GPS that got us there in spite of the name of the road being different than it was supposed to be.  We never would have found it without help.  It was a great find.  


Stay tuned tomorrow as we tour Universal Studios. See you then! 

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