Passing boats on the road is one way you know you're in Florida. Another is a sign saying "14 Foot Gator, Clean Restrooms". We left the alligator for another time but saw something else on the map (yes, it still pays to look at the occasional map) which interested us, near a place called Lady Lake. "Florida Carriage Museum" it said. Worth the detour, I suggested. That's what we go on back roads for.
We found ourselves in a sprawling paradise of white fences, lakes and fountains worthy of the best stud farms in Kentucky and incongruously an RV park. This, we read on a sign, was the Grand Oaks Resort. We couldn't find the museum, so asked a friendly employee, "Sorry, the museum's closed". Well wouldn't you know. That's always happening to us. The winery we wanted to stop at had been closed too. That's what happens when you go on back roads and don't plan ahead. Oh well. "Do feel free to wander around", the employee added generously, so we took him at his word. We discovered a palatial stable yard (which Americans call a "barn")
with a "horse-washing station".
Note the trolley loaded with, presumably, shower gel, conditioner, mousse, and hair spray. "Will that be a blow dry sir?"
The Carriage Museum might have been closed but lo and behold, there was a vintage carriage. Though I suppose all carriages are vintage. And there were harnesses decorating a wall, presumably still very much in use.
And more carriages, one manufactured as far away as Poland.
These were for sale. One cost 5,500 dollars.
Perhaps we could have towed it behind us. The whole place was gracious and elegant.
The familiar live oaks with Spanish moss attached shaded some more piebald horses. (They call them "paints" here).
And there were similar signs further along the fence. . You just can't, it seems, get away from politics.
To be continued.
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