The Boston Diaries

The ongoing saga of a programmer who doesn't live in Boston, nor does he even like Boston, but yet named his weblog/journal “The Boston Diaries.”

Go figure.

Friday, January 09, 2015

The True Facility in the Middle of Nowhere

For some obscure reason, Bunny wanted us to go away on a weekend excursion. Last week she asked me if there was any place I wanted to visit. Not having any particular destination in mind, I decided to search for “weird places to visit in Florida,” threw a metaphorical dart and proudly announced “Solomon's Castle,” a museum-restaurant-bed-n-breakfast in the middle of nowhere.

[No matter where you go, there you are.]

The last sixteen miles are long unnamed county roads northwest of Arcadia, itself pretty much in the middle of nowhere, but it's a bit of civilization in the middle of nowhere. The last mile consists of driving down a dead end street, past the “END OF PAVEMENT” sign (which is a lie—it's paved all the way) to a large iron gate marking the entrance to Solomon's Castle. We parked, and headed on the yellow brick path (asphalt with yellow bricks stamped out in paint) towards the castle.

[It's befitting a moon castle if you think about it.]

It is impressive upon first sight and very hard to miss, seeing how it's clad in aluminum from top to bottom. We passed the two suits of armor and entered the castle.

[They couldn't be as different as day and knight.] [And if you think the previous pun was bad, it's worse inside.]

Our timing was a bit off as we arrived just as the place was closing. They were expecting us, as Bunny had already arranged for us to stay at this museum-restaurant-bed-n-breakfast, but Dean, our host, was over in the “Boat-in-the-Moat,” a 65' replica of a Spanish galleon moored in the moat (every castle has a moat, right?) which serves as a restaurant.

[Built, by hand, by a five-foot-nothing guy.]

We walked over to the gangplank and boarded the Boat-in-the-Moat. We met Dean while the restaurant was in the process of closing. Dean then lead us back down the gangplank and around the castle to the back, where the Blue Moon Room was located.

[Swish swish swish] [It did not!]

I suspect that the stairs (outside the building) leading to the Blue Moon Room might not quite meet OSHA standards as there was some heavy swaying as we climbed the stairs [It did not “sway.” —Bunny] [Oh yes it did. Swayed like RuPaul at a drag race. —Sean] [It did not, Mr. Hyperbole. —Bunny] [Did too! —Sean] [Did not! —Bunny] [ENOUGH! —Editor]. Dean then opened the double doors to our suite.

[Howard Solomon once joked he would only rent this room out once in a blue moon.]

The Blue Moon Room is the second best bedroom in the castle—the best belonging to Howard Solomon, owner and builder of (we learned later) the whole compound. Our room, the Blue Moon Room, is not only the second best, but the only other bedroom in the castle (as bed-n-breakfasts go, it's rather small in the “beds-to-rent” department).

The Blue Moon Room was really nice. Kitchen. Sitting area. Nice-sized bed.

[One half of the room] [Other half of the room]
Huge bathroom. And a definite “Blue Moon' theme going on, what with the color scheme and moon imagery going on (along with a sun motif—honestly, there were scores of suns and moons all about the room).
[Here a moon] [There a sun] [Everywhere a moon and sun] [All the time, moon and sun] [But here, I was only expecting a moon]
[Even the shower curtain] [Will it ever end?]

The one oddity of the room we instantly noticed was a slight incline in the floor. I wouldn't think a one degree incline would be so noticable but there it was, a definite list to the south.

Another oddify of the room slowly dawned on us. Back in the Boat-in-the-Moat, I had asked Dean about wifi access and Dean was a bit vague about it. He acted like he knew what the term “wifi” meant, and he even said it existed somewhere on the premises, but he didn't really say outright that we had wifi access. But no, we didn't. No signal at all. But another thing we had noticed—there was no cell signal either. It then hit me---the entire building was wrapped in aluminum.

Wrapped. In. Aluminum!

We were sitting in a large Faraday cage!

Talk about being in the Middle Of Nowhere.


Dodging bunrabs in the dark

After settling into the Blue Moon Room we rested for a bit before heading out to dinner. Given that the restaurant at Solomon's Castle closed at 4:00 PM, that meant we had to drive some twenty miles back to civilization—in our case, Arcadia. Dean had warned us that it would be dark and suggested we take along a flashlight, one being provided for us in the room.

“Dark” would be an understatement. I can't recall the last time I saw darkness that dark. Sure, it made for a spectacular view of the night sky (especially since the moon was still below the horizon) but we still had to navigate those swaying stairs [They didn't sway! —Bunny] [Did too! —Sean] [Snot! —Bunny] [Too! —Sean] [ENOUGH! —Editor]. Fortunately, our iPhones had a built-in flashlight app to augment the provided flashlight so we could safely navigate the stairs and flood the forest alongside them to assuage our fears of the noisy wildlife infesting the immediate area around the castle.

And driving along unnamed county roads unlit by modern technology was fun, although not as fun as driving along unnamed county roads unlit by modern technology in the mountains (which I have done, but that was a few years ago in North Carolina), but still, fun. It took me a few minutes to learn how the brights work in the car since that's not something I normally have to use here in Lower Sheol. Even better—we had to avoid opossums, rabbits (“bunrabs” as Bunny calls them), a fox (!) and one rather large and impressive looking deer (well, that last we didn't have to avoid—it was standing off to one side of the road, thankfully). That was more wildlife than I've seen driving on mountainous, unnamed county roads in North Carolina.


Educating the hoi polloi

There is one further observation I would like to make for today. Of the two restaurants where we ate, lunch at a diner in Okeechobee and dinner at a diner in Arcadia, both had paintings in the men's room.

Paintings. In the men's room!

Is that some sort of central Florida diner thing or something? Trying to civilize the hoi polloi in fine art through diner men's rooms?

I want to know.

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