Day 10: December 31, 2014
Goodbye 2014

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A little internet searching turned up what looked to be a real gem of a breakfast spot just a couple of miles away and Dune Deck Cafe lived up to the promise. My waitress did a nice job of helping me decide on the eggs benedict. The kitchen did a nice job of preparing them. There's no doubt they would have tasted great in a windowless room but the ocean view didn't hurt.

I turned onto A1A from the parking lot, eventually moved over to US-1, then onto Old Dixie Highway in time to pass the Old Dixie Market and turn left on the Dixie Highway South Florida Connector (a.k.a. M. L. King Boulevard).

Before long the road settled into a typical Florida straight and flat two-lane with a railroad beside it. Then, after passing the classy entrance to Coco Sod Farms, it settles into a typical Florida straight and flat two-lane without a railroad beside it.

I know there are no roads or towns without at least one interesting feature but I was starting to think that I might have to rely on some sod farm arches to support that claim for the South Florida Connector when I noticed some scraps of pavement to the north. I'm not sure where they started appearing. I may have missed earlier opportunities to get a closer look but it was about five miles east of Arcadia when I saw an opening and turned right at a Mahon Avenue sign. To the east, the old road was blocked but I was able to drive about half a mile of it to the west. Google and DeLorme labeled this Mahon but that's really the name of the road that crosses the old pavement and continues north. Garmin calls the road "road" which may be more accurate. I'm thinking this must have once been Dixie Highway but do not know that for a fact.

Approaching town, the asphalt covered path took on the appearance of old pavement referred to elsewhere (Route 66 near Miami, Oklahoma, for example) as "sidewalk highway". By the time it reached the city limits, it was really looking like a bike trail with downsized stop and yield signs and it had completely morphed into a normal city sidewalk before much more distance had passed.

Fire destroyed a lot of Arcadia, Florida, on Thanksgiving Day 1905 so much of the town is "new". This pink building dates from 1926 and houses several businesses with the most interesting, IMHO, being Rattlers Old West Saloon. Balconies surround the dance floor and provide good views of the stage. The balcony above the bar is attached to the Red Room which can be rented for private parties. It and the whole saloon are looking good for tonight's New Year's Eve blowout.

Across the street, the 1906 Opera House is now an antique mall.

Early in the day, I'd booked a room in Bradenton, Florida. I didn't want to be desperately seeking lodging on New Year's Eve and Bradenton is roughly equal distance from the end of the Connector in Arcadia and two other cities, Gibsonton and Sarasota, that I wanted to visit. Sarasota has a famous car museum and Gibsonton has Showtown USA.

Showtown was a minor disappointment. When I was here in 2008, artist Bill Browning was still "in residence" and his murals fresh and maintained. Now many are faded and some have even disappeared in some remodeling. Three people sat around the corner from me at the bar. I eventually determined that the woman in the middle was an off duty employee and the man to her right was her husband. The other fellow reminded me a little of Clark Griswold's cousin Eddie. (We had watched Christmas Vacation on Christmas Eve.) I came in in the middle of him telling a story about visiting Ronnie Van Zant's grave while he was working and driving his loaded beer truck into the cemetery. At the end of the story, he punched up Give Me Back My Bullets on the juke box and sang along with every word. I think he did that with just about every song that played while I was there. While "Eddie" was singing and telling more stories, the husband was watching a friend's music videos on his phone with the tiny & tinny speaker on. THAT, folks, is entertainment.

I obviously wasn't going to get much information out of my neighbors and I never really got anything resembling a conversation going with either of the long haired bartenders. I did find a Huffington Post story from earlier in 2014 that also spoke of the fading of Showtown USA. Even so, I had a good patty melt and some really good fresh cut fries for my last meal of the year, washed it down with a couple of draft Buds, and headed back to end the year in Bradenton. I went to sleep about the time they were celebrating New Year in Kangerlussuaq, Greenland.

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