Sunday, January 26, 2014

EXPLORING FLORIDA

The tranquil scene above depicts the kind of Florida trips we usually make to the Sullivan home located on Silver Lake in Frostproof, Florida. The home is set on this site that allows for perfect views of tranquil sunsets and a shimmering lake—breathtaking scenes conducive to visual relaxation. If I were choosing a site for a resort and a golf course, this lake setting would be an ideal one.

However, after spending a few days at this location, four of us set out on an exploratory trip searching for serendipity and an atypical Florida site. We had heard that we could find a moderately-priced lunch at a 100 million dollar resort about thirty miles west of Frostproof, near Fort Meade, Florida that lived up to its intriguing name, "Streamsong."

We drove west on a two-lane highway lined by palmetto scrub, small ponds, and mounds of discarded materials from phosphate mines, weaving our way beside dying orange groves, cattle-grazed land, unnoticed for many years, and through scenery that we called "the boonies." It was reclaimed mining territory, and within an hour we had entered a 16,000-acre site, last mined in the 60's, where two 18-hole links style golf courses had been carved out of huge sand dunes left behind by the original mining operations of Mosaic Phosphate Company. Our first response was one of incredulity when we viewed the particularly stark and undeveloped setting -- or so it seemed.

The place was remote, and when we saw the huge 216-room lodge looming ahead, we were amazed at the architectural dream that has become a global destination for golfers and those who like to stay in buildings that reflect the natural environment. I didn't take a photograph of the six-story lodge because it was a gray day, and the innovative design of the building didn't particularly appeal to me, but I was told that the lodge wasn't just a product of artistic sustainability, it had been hailed as an extraordinary piece of architecture. To me, the building had an institutional, stronghold aura—even the turret on the roof resembled a guardsman's post, but the design has been heralded as "bold and audacious."

We lunched in one of the three restaurants within the lodge, the "P205" (chemical formula for phosphate), which featured Floridian comfort food including chicken pot pie and fried grouper, and were told we could visit the grotto-style spa if we wished. We declined that invitation, as well as an invite to enjoy the "infinity" pool. The concierge informed us that Streamsong's two golf courses have been ranked among Golf Week's best golf resort destinations in the U.S.

Streamsong, a destination set in a remote area halfway between Orlando and Tampa, may not have been our idea of perfect serendipity but we agreed that it could be a place to escape the stresses of post-modern living and to re-connect to a natural environment indicative of pastoral central Florida.

As I said when I began this blog, the scenes on Silver Lake (shown in the attached photos) appealed more to my sensibilities. However, for golfers who like luxury and minimalist nature in one package, Streamsong offers a unique experience off the beaten track. 

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