Day 16: January 6, 2015

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I don't think we're going to get many oranges from those trees. By the time I reached this spot halfway between High Springs and Fort White, the orange groves were far behind me. It's still pretty warm but it's getting cooler as I travel toward the land of ice and snow that is Ohio. I don't intend to turn back or even stop but Cincinnati weather reports do give me reasons for traveling even a little slower than I do normally.

My great-grandparents traveled through here in 1920 and I tried to follow their path in 2001. Granny's letters never mention the Dixie Highway by name and much of their route was no where near it but, as I've learned more about the Highway, I've realized that, whether intentionally or not, they did sometimes follow the DH. One of those is here in the area around Branford, Florida. When I stopped here in 2001, I thought it likely that the large spring in this park is the one my great-grandparents described camping near and took some photos of the spring and the wooden deck and steps built around it. Those are here. Today the deck, most of the steps, and the spring itself were covered by the river. When I asked a man and his son if this was normal, I got a resounding "No". The Suwannee River often climbed out of its banks, they said, and often rose much higher than is was currently. They pointed out the painted post displaying historic high marks. But that was always in the spring. Recent rains have caused this unusual winter swelling of the Suwannee.

The first picture is of the rather pretty Alton Wentworth Road (CR14) that connects Shady Grove and Eridu. The second shows that even the divided four-lane US-19 isn't too ugly. It was taken just north of Lamont.

As I described when I drove it last year, the Old Spanish Trail and the Dixie Highway share paths between Jacksonville and Tallahassee. The DH North Florida Connector covers most of that distance but it hits the West Mainline enough to the east of Tallahassee to allow me to drive the canopied Old Saint Augustine Road again. Unlike the first time, I didn't find it at all disorienting so maybe familiarity helps.

The directions I had for the Old Spanish Trail moved me a block north before reaching the capitol while those for the Dixie Highway took me right to it. Whether both are correct or one more correct than the other, I do not know. I do know that heading straight for the old capitol with the new one right behind it is rather cool. I parked and took a couple more pictures as I walked toward the building. Only after I'd walked around the old capitol and entered through the back door di I learn that the stage and all those chairs were for the governor's inauguration which had taken place at noon. If I'd been hear much earlier, I probably wouldn't have gotten within a hundred yards of the place.

Originally built in 1845, the old capitol building underwent several expansions before being replaced in 1977. It is now the Florida Historic Capitol Museum. Much of the building has been restored to its 1902 appearance. The senate and house chambers are on opposite ends of the second floor. I've also included the picture of the dome I took on the second floor since I forgot to take one from the first. I suspect that, even if I had been in the building during the inauguration, I wouldn't have been permitted this shot out a senate window. The fourth picture is of the supreme court chamber on the first floor. The flags and cannon are also on the first floor but several rooms throughout the building are filled with displays of Florida history. The last picture shows the view from the back porch.

The only reason I had for entering the new capitol was the twenty-second floor observation deck. Several elevators serve the building and I believe one might actually reach all floors. Most reach only part of them and even a fairly lengthy wait wasn't enough time for me to sort them out. I eventually got on one going to the nineteenth floor and rode along as well dress and probably very important people got on at off at various floors. I'm sure it was possible to get an elevator for the final three floors but I just walked. The view was great even though I really didn't know what I was looking at. The east (I believe) windows were blocked off by pink tape and a pair of floor jacks stood in each corner. That's just something you don't see every day.

I didn't even try for an elevator from the observation deck and headed straight for the stairs then, once I got going, continued to bottom. Unclimbing stairs is easy. The last picture is the view from the new capitol's "front porch".

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