When this olelongrooffan was living down in FantasyLand, I was very active with the Collier Building Industry Association. I served on the Board of Directors and rose to the title of Vice President, prior to my move to Slocala.
I became friends with Francie, middle in the image below, who ran the books for CBIA.
and really good friends with Carri. She, at the time, was the Director of Special Events and she
threw some fantastic parties.
Now this occured while the construction industry was smoking and members, dues and donations flowed in almost unsolicited. It was during this time that CBIA had the largest membership of any association in the nation.
During this time, this olelongrooffan was solicited to judge the Manatee/Sarasota Parade of Homes. Now for you Counters out there, a Parade of Homes is where builders enter their newest model home in contest with other builders' model homes and it draws a bunch of prospective buyers into their models. Judges are solicited from out of the market in an effort to be objective.
This olelongrooffan even participated in them while still gainfully employed in the construction industry. The above model, The Hampton, was my first entry in a Parade, way back in the early 90's.
Judging was a great time. The association would put you up in a great hotel, feed you basically whatever you wanted, threw the judges a big party and hurricane supplies flowed freely, literally, once a judge arrived, you did not spend one red cent. Plus you left with a goody bag filled with cool stuff.
After I judged that first one, this olelongrooffan became the darling of Special Events Directors across the state and I have been invited to judge Parades of Homes, usually multiple ones per year, all across The Sunshine State ever since. It is a real honor for this olelongrooffan.
Well, as we all know, the plug was pulled from the drain of the tub known as the construction industry and, as a result, membership in associations, and the resultant dues income, have dropped and donations have practically dried up.
Consequently, the perks offered to parade judges have done the same. Now, local associations look for judges who can drive in the day of the judging and drive home that evening.
Last year, this olelongrooffan received an invitation from Ali at the Metro Orlando Builder's Association to do just that for their parade, and I accepted. The four personalities of the judges on both days I judged meshed well and we all had a great time.
Well, once again this year, this olelongrooffan was honored with an invite to judge that parade, both last Friday, the 16th and next Saturday, the 24th.
So, last Friday morning this olelongrooffan did a rare thing and got on that Eisenhower Highway System Interstate 4 and headed down to MickeyMouseLand to judge some new homes.
Just to let you Counters out there know, "Slow and Go in I-4 traffic" are the worst words you want to hear when you actually are on I-4 in Orlando, Florida.
Well, Ali got all of us judges squared away and this olelongrooffan spent all day Friday riding around MickeyMouseLand looking at new homes and their positives and negatives.
Upon arrival back at the BIA headquarters, this olelongrooffan asked Ali the best way to get to my friend Kris's house as I had previously made arrangements to get together with Kris and coordinate the preparation of another fantastic meal.
When Ali mentioned she thought I lived in the Birthplace of Speed, this olelongrooffan told her my plans for the evening. She asked the menu and when I informed her of it, she asked if I had a brother!! I laughed and said they all are happily married and for that matter so was she. She laughingly told me that to get a man who can cook, she'll do most anything. I told her that this olelongrooffan doesn't cook, he just follows directions. She laughed and I was on my way.
Needless to say, Kris and I enjoyed another wonderful meal, stimulating conversation, pomegranate Martinis, and a great bottle, or two, of Jackie Sauvignon Blanc. Another wonderful evening with a great friend. When the Bus had, in a conversation earlier in the week, asked me about Kris and why we didn't date, this olelongrooffan commented that she is just not that into me.
So, anyway, this olelongrooffan was awarded, once again, the guest suite at Kris's condo and enjoyed a nice slumber that Friday night.
Saturday morning arrived and Kris enjoyed a coffee while this olelongrooffan enjoyed a cold Diet Coke, sans bacon, on her patio and I commensed to getting my stuff together to head on out. Kris, being the dedicated college student she is, needed to hit the books and had a Skype induced study session scheduled at 10 that morning.
Now, Counters, the last thing this olelongrooffan was willing to do was get back on that Eisenhower influenced highway system and head back to the Taj Mahal.
So what to do?
Then I remembered a previous visit and having seen an LKQ not far from Kris's place and this olelongrooffan thought I would head over and check it out.
And I did.
What is an LKQ this olelongrooffan can hear you Counters out there asking and scratching your heads in wonder?
Well, Counters, similar to the one up here in the home of The World's Most Famous Beach, LKQ is the local, corporate owned U-Pull-It salvage yard.
So, of course, this oleongrooffan headed on over and took a looksee.
Like most salvage yards in my area, it was full of late 80's and 90's era motor vehicles. Sentras, Explorers, Kias, Camrys, Escorts and more of the same.
Over at jalonik, Murilee Martin does blog posts on cool junkyard finds. So, in his honor, this olelongrooffan wasn't looking for the most common denominator between all of these Walmarts of the used auto parts yards.
No, Counters, this olelongrooffan was looking for the most rare stuff that could be found in a modern auto salvage yard in the metro Orlando, Florida area.
And I found some.
Can you guess what this engine was under the hood of?
How about a 1974 Ford Galaxie 500 coupe?
Complete with an official Schlitz parking permit attached to the front bumper, passenger side.
It was, at least in 1983, a registered vehicle in Memphis, Tennesee which apparently is more famous to the City Fathers as the home of the St. Jude Children's Research Hospital than it is to Carri's roommate.
Yeah, back in its day, this was a desirable display of middle class, middle executive, personal transportation.
With its, mandated in 1973, 5 mph resistant bumpers at the bow and the stern.
And the markings on the hindquarters confirmed this olelongrooffan's observations of what it is.
And, Counters, this is what a vinyl roof looks like after 36 years of neglect.
Just down a row or two, this Lincoln Town Car was spotted resting between an Explorer and an old F-150.
I have to say this about that, the four inches of water is going to make this Town Car a mosquisto condominium in just a couple months.
Erm, sorry, not just a Town Car, but the Collector's Series.
But, of course, it has the signature Landau top.
Just down the row this olelongrooffan spotted a trio of 80's Blue Ovals.
The first one is the most desirable to this olelongrooffan. A Mercury Colony Park longroof.
Can you guess why?
Hey! The keys are still in it! Can anyone say Joyride?
Just a note of history here, Ford pioneered the dual action tailgate on their longroofs in 1966.
The above image is of a failed attempt by Ford to call one of its midsized offerings a LTD.
And the unforgettable Fairmont. I have seen a Fairmonchero around these tubes but this olelongrooffan can't seem to find it again to share with you Counters out there.
After spotting those old Blue Oval offerings, this olelongrooffan moved on over to the MOPAR section of that U-Pull-It and spotted a couple of
life saving, for Chrysler in the 80's, K-cars
mostly of the ragtop version.
Then spotted was a clone of the Dodge Diplomat cop car of every city in the US, at the time, a Plymouth Gran Fury.
Around the corner I spotted a really beat up Volkswagon Westfalia Camper. Peace Man.
Yeah, while extremely desirable to this olelongrooffan,
this one, with a few more bits and pieces removed, is ready for the crusher.
But, Counters, ya know the really cool thing? This olelongrooffan paid two sawbones to get the hour long self guided tour through this U-Pull-It and gathered several pieces of memorabilia to be attached to the walls of the Taj Mahal.
All for an additional buck. These pieces represent art work to this olelongrooffan.
So, this olelongrooffan then headed back out to Florida Highway 50, turned east and got on down the road.
While I was driving through scenic central Florida, this olelongrooffan got to thinking about my current state in life. Nonexistent love life, still unemployed, living basically day to day, have just completed judging some beautiful homes similar to ones I have built previously, no real likelihood of doing that ever again and just wondering what the h*ll I am going to do. And this olelongrooffan started getting depressed.
Now usually when this starts to happen to me, I try to think of the bright spots in my life and think of something that makes me happy.
Well, Counters, somebody up there is keeping an eye on me as the next thing this olelongrooffan saw was this.
That's right Counters!!
Now if that doesn't cheer someone up in a hurry,
I would imagine during the Christmas season the post office gets quite a bit of business. Much like Noel, Missouri does.
It is named after Fort Christmas located nearby. This olelongrooffan didn't take that six mile round trip to see that old fort. Gotta save some stuff for another day!
But seeing Christmas in April sure cheered this olelongrooffan up in a hurry.
Now, if you have been Counting Along With Me, you will know that this olelongrooffan can come across some pretty obscure stuff. I remember seeing the site of Patsy Cline's fatal airplane crash, the Eiffel Tower located in Paris, Tennessee, the statue of Minnie Pearl in the town square of Centerville, Tennessee, a huge chicken made of car bumpers, a giant statue of a sailor kissing a nurse, waterside in Sarasota, Florida.
And those are the ones this olelongrooffan can remember just off the top of my head. I know there are many more.
Well, Counters, as if Christmas, Florida wasn't odd enough, this olelongrooffan gets to add yet another obscure item to the list.
That's right Counters. Swampy, The World's Largest Gator.
As seen on the north side of State Road 50 just east of Christmas, Florida.
It serves as the admissions building and gift shop for Jungle Adventures. You actually enter through Swampy's mouth.
This olelongrooffan is honored to be able to share it with you.
Over in Titusville, there is big seafood supply store and this
is the mural painted on the side of it. Yeah CDM, that is a lighthouse next to that utility pole.
I spotted, a block off US 1, behind the volunteer fire station, this life size diorama. It was pretty cool. That Cub Cadet has to be at least 30 or 40 years old.
Now Florida gets kicked around for being all about beaches and amusement parks. There are many other aspects of Florida than just those two.
Did you know Florida ranks second to only Texas as the largest producer of beef?
And it is number 1 in the production of oranges.
No, I am not kidding.
Got ya. But those two facts are true.
Just up the road this olelongrooffan spotted an old school filling station that I am surprised was spared the wrecking ball sometime during its long life.
And, of course, a stop at the Oak Hill Flea Market is mandatory for this lazy drive home.
And this olelongrooffan was able to score this for 50 cents.
And the best part of this purchase? The lid is rusted shut so this olelongrooffan can't let Prince Albert out!
And just for the CDM, I got a shot of these.
Down in Edgewater, Florida, this olelongrooffan spotted this old school
tow truck and thought at least one other person
besides me would like to see it.
To this olelongrooffan it is pretty cool.
Over here Beachside, on A1A, I spotted this old Packard street rod project parked in a motel lot
It has similar lines to the bright yellow one Kris and I had seen
last month down in Lake Mary.
I hope this one turns out as nicely as that one.
And, hopefully the builder of this street rod will keep its cool hood ornament.
Well Counters, that's it for this trip. I hope you enjoyed it as this olelongrooffan did as I continue to