Saturday, April 23, 2016

Winter Haven, Florida

We have ridden one train with Nathan while here in Florida, it was an old steam driven one dating back to the 1940s.  So we thought that he might enjoy a more modern ride, faster if you will.  His new word is "zoom".  We decided that Winter Haven was the perfect distance for a day trip.  Unfortunately we had forgotten that Amtrak is not known for being on schedule.  We boarded the train close to an hour later than expected.  Consequently it was late afternoon by the time we arrived in Winter Haven.  We had an hour to explore the town.   One taxi driver was around after we got off the train.
We peppered the man with questions like where is the nearest park, or just the downtown area, and could he take us to it?  He seemed clueless regarding any of our questions, so Melissa pulled her phone out to learn where we could go, as well as the distance.  Once we had the information, the taxi driver said that where we wanted to go ( a park in the downtown area), was too far away for us to get back in time to catch our train.  We convinced him to drive us to the Fountain Walk downtown, it was only three miles away.
Nathan has seen fountains before.  This one, however, totally mesmerized him, maybe because it had a bright blue color.  This park in downtown Winter Haven is quite beautiful with a shady walkway, as well as sculptures and plants lining its borders.
I let Nathan do his thing, like staring at the fountain, running down ditches and swinging on small fences, while his Mom and John strolled the length of the walk.  I figured that if all that failed, there was a place to get a book and read to him.  We have seen similar book stands, pictured below, in other towns we have toured.  It is one way of sharing books without needing a library card!  There are usually books for young and old alike, and cost nothing-  and do not have to be returned.
We made it back to the station in time to catch our train.  Our taxi driver claimed his was the only taxi in town, but we found another taxi to take us back to town (using Melissa's smart phone).  Our first taxi driver seemed to have no clue that there are such conveniences as smart phones nowadays!
One final note here about Winter Haven.  It has 50 lakes within its borders, and is called "The Chain of Lakes City".  It has two prominent chain of lakes, and a 30-mile waterway connected by channels.  Most unfortunately the Amtrak station is not located in any of the prettier parts of the city.  We later discovered that had we taken the train to Lakeland we could have gotten off the train and walked around a lake nearby the station.

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