Saturday, May 24, 2014

FLORIDA: HIGHEST POINT AND STATE CAPITOL BUILDING

We left Mobile and drove due east through the Florida panhandle towards Tallahassee, the state capital, in a torrential rain storm.
Our first destination was Florida's highest point. At 345 feet, it happens to the lowest highest point in the nation. It's so unremarkable that we drove right past it and had to turn around and look for it again. Amazingly, we had a two or three minute break in the rain, just long enough to take a few photos:
Being the lowest high point is kind of like coming in last in the Miss America Pageant. You were good enough to get there, but that's about it. Of course, the advantage here is that we didn't even get winded walking up the .005% rise to the summit.

On the other hand, this high point is not exactly on the main path, and the detour added an hour or so to our drive, but we did see a part of Florida most people who go to Florida to spend time in the Happiest Place on Earth never see, and we eventually did make it to Tallahassee . . .
Someone please interpret these formulas for me.
. . . and found a parking place not too far from the Old State Capitol.
A new state capitol building was constructed n the 1970s, and after much debate, the old building was saved from the wrecking ball and transformed into a museum. That tower behind the Old Capitol is the new capitol building.
Here it is seen from the back of the Old Capitol Museum:

My husband and I tried to get into character to enhance our experience:
Two different stairways lead from the lobby to the upper levels:
One of the highlights (no pun intended) of the visit is the lovely stained glass window that serves as a kind of oculus in the dome:


I also quite liked the portraits of famous Floridians the the capitol hallways. Here are my favorite "bearded men" portraits:
John B. Johnson
Speaker of the House in 1893
Charles Dougherty
U.S. House of Representatives, 1885-1889
Malachi Martin
Speaker of the House, 1874
The Senate and House Chambers:
The views out the windows (The red and pink striped awnings were an unusual touch. I felt like we were in a candy shop and kept looking around for goodies):
I love the creepy Spanish moss that hangs from the trees all over the Deep South. It makes me want to say things like "ya'll."

READING:
This trip to the South has been our "Civil Rights Trip," and so I think I'll throw in just one more book about that issue.

While not specifically about this region of Florida, Lay That Trumpet in Our Hands by Susan Carol McCarthy is a great read for the Florida traveler. Much of what I knew about the Civil Rights Movement was centered in Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, and Tennessee. I was surprised to learn that during 1951 and 1952, several years before the bus boycott started in Montgomery, the Ku Klux Klan terrorized central Florida for nine months before the federal government finally got involved. This book is about that period of time.

This coming-of-age story is very reminiscent of To Kill a Mockingbird--a young female protagonist, a racist community, brave parents who come into conflict with social norms, an important friendship, and a misunderstood adult who becomes a friend. However, the book has its own unique aspects--the KKK, a historically accurate race-based murder, the conflict of Northern and Southern values. Although the plot and characters sometimes felt too familiar, I think the author created a unique story by including a fair amount of actual history (Thurgood Marshall, for example, is one of the characters).

I hadn't associated Florida with the Civil Rights Movement, and I knew only the most sensational information about the KKK, so I found those aspects especially interesting. There is also a wonderful scene involving rattlesnakes--a whole bunch of 'em. A few of the sub-plots left me hanging, but overall this is a quick and easy read with just enough plot twists to keep it interesting.

2 comments:

  1. Those bearded pictures are interesting--in this day of tv and internet images, I think they would be a distinct drawback.
    I've noticed that many state buildings use pink, like the ceiling of the Senate and House Chambers or the red and pink awnings. Not sure I think of it as an "official" kind of color.

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  2. The panhandle of Florida certainly does not have the interesting sites the rest of the state does, but it sure does get the rain. I think it rained something like 14 inches that day. Good thing we were at the high point, otherwise we might have been under water.

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