Florida’s Forgotten History

Permanent Vanlife is still about one year away, so I decided to get a feel for it, by planning multiple one-week trips in the van, throughout the US Southeast. This time I visit South Florida.

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South Florida

After an exhausting hike, I spent a leisurely afternoon at Tiger Branch trail campsite in the Tosohatchee Wildlife Management Area. And with a good night’s rest, I left the following morning to see a handful of interesting things on this last day of this trip through South Florida.

Windover Archaeological Site

The first stop of the day is at the Windover Archaeological Site. Not much is to be seen here, except for a Marker that describes the site.

Windover is a muck pond where skeletal remains of 168 individuals were found buried in the peat at the bottom of the pond.

The skeletons were well preserved because of the characteristics of peat. In addition, remarkably well-preserved brain tissue has been recovered from many skulls from the site. DNA from the brain tissue has been sequenced.

The collection of human skeletal remains and artifacts recovered from Windover Pond represent among the largest finds of each type from the Archaic Period. It is considered one of the most important archeological sites ever excavated.

Pulse Nightclub 2016 Mass Shooting

Not too far away, in the center of Orlando, I find a small building along a fairly busy street, that has been turned into a memorial.

Here in 2016, a 29-year-old man, killed 49 people and wounded 53 more in a mass shooting at Pulse, a gay nightclub. Orlando Police officers shot and killed him after a three-hour standoff.

The shooter had sworn allegiance to ISIS. He later told a negotiator he was “out here right now” because of the American-led interventions in Iraq and in Syria and that the negotiator should tell the United States to stop the bombing. The incident was deemed a terrorist attack by FBI investigators.

Believe It or Not Sinkhole Building

During construction a sinkhole appeared. The sinkhole was filled in and the company decided to change the appearance of the building, as if it was still sinking into that hole in the ground.

Up-Side-Down Building

Wonderworks is a chain of entertainment stores where each store building seems to be turned onto its roof during a hurricane. I already looked at one in Panama City, Florida and hoped to see another version of it. Unfortunately, it was the same, still intriguing building.

Big Ben Replica

A British style restaurant in Orlando, featuring a smaller than the original Big Ben Tower of London. wasn’t expecting much, but it was more impressive than expected.

Polk County Citrus Center Monument

There was a time that counties placed markers where the main road(s) entered the county; Polk county in central Florida still has three of these markers/monuments located at these early paved roads.

Frank Lloyd Wright at Florida Southern College

The biggest concentration of Frank Lloyd Wright buildings can be found in Lakeland at the Florida Southern College.

I spent a couple of hours at this pretty college campus gazing at these fabulous buildings and other features. Guided tours of some of the buildings are available, but just spending some time here on the campus is worthwhile.

The Esplanade offers a shady route connecting most of the buildings and the Water Dome is an impressive fountain.

This was the end of this trip through South Florida; after this summer I will still spend some time in the northeast corner of the state, but meanwhile I’ll set my goal on one of the other states here in the southeast.


  • Tosohatchee WMA Campsite ➜ 28.4774, -80.9587
  • Windover Archaeological Site ➜ 28.5495, -80.8457
  • Pulse Nightclub Mass Shooting ➜ 28.5193, -81.3768
  • Believe It or Not Sinkhole ➜ 28.4462, -81.4704
  • Up-Side-Down House store ➜ 28.4337, -81.4715
  • Big Ben Replica ➜ 28.3438, -81.6091
  • Citrus Center Monument 1 ➜ 28.2544, -81.5521
  • Citrus Center Monument 2 ➜ 28.0270, -82.0558
  • Citrus Center Monument 3 ➜ 28.2592, -82.0754
  • Florida Southern College ➜ 28.0305, -81.9453

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