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13 or 58 mph? America chooses

As snowbirds are speeding down modern Interstates consider that in 1923 the Dixie Highway had just reached Tampa. It would be three more backbreaking years before the Tamiami Trail would cross the Everglades and finally reach Miami. The speed on the Dixie Highway in 1923 averaged 12.9 mph. A trip from Chicago to Miami would take two weeks in those early years.

 

13 or 58 mph? America chooses Florida Vacation Homes
As the Dixie Highway pushed South it would be a few more years for standard signage

As late as 1910 good highways eluded most Americans and nearly all southeners. People rode trains if any distance was involved. Locally, they traveled by wagon, buggy or city streetcar. Dirt roads were all local – from the farthest farm to nearest railhead. “Improved roads” were graded dirt, clay or gravel. And when it rained, mayhem.

13 or 58 mph? America chooses Florida Vacation Homes
Counties paid farmers to grade the roads and pull the joy riders out

 

13 or 58 mph? America chooses Florida Vacation Homes
Dixie Highway went thru phases in surfacing

Beginning in 1914, Carl G Fisher proposed a route that would connect or merge hundreds of short roads into interstate roads that looped from the Mackinac MI ferry to Miami and back. The story of struggle to create the Highway, and later a Federal highway system, ignited debates about federal power and local control between many stakeholders – automobile brands, farmers, the Goodroads movement, and in the south prison commissions (chain gang labor) and with increasing post WW I automobility, racial control.

By 1880 railroad mileage (250,000 miles) exceeded travelable roads. Railroads had a monopoly! Express trains were the fastest way to travel averaging 58 mph.

By 1900, under pressure from Progressive reformers and lobbying by Sears, Roebuck and Co, Mongomery Ward the push for Rural Free Delivery (RFD) pitted over 77,000 small town postmasters against Home Delivery and the Railroads were deeply admired.

At the same time the number of auto manufacturers soared. Between 1900 and 1908 some 485 automobile companies had formed. Barely half survived by 1909. Henry Ford’s Model N in 1906 sold for $600. His Model T was selling for $345 in 1916. By 1918 HALF of the cars sold in the U S were Model T’s. Ford offered an affordable means of travel, but Fisher knew the missing ingredient- roads that could withstand heavy rain.

13 or 58 mph? America chooses Florida Vacation Homes
The Florida map of the Dixie Highway by 1926

Fisher had begun developing Miami Beach and wanted an easy way for people with a car to travel. Initially this proposed road was called the Cotton Belt route. By 1915 when construction began it was changed to the Old Dixie Highway, all part of an effort to promote a romantic image of the old south as warm, inviting southern hospitality.

13 or 58 mph? America chooses Florida Vacation Homes
By the 1920’s vacationing in FL was growing exponentially

If you are driving on I-75 and want to track the Dixie Hwy

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Port of Tampa Cruise Ship Terminal

Port of Tampa Cruise Ship Terminal

Port of Tampa Cruise Ship Terminal Florida Vacation Homes

November kicks off the winter cruise season, which is the busiest time of year for Port Tampa Bay and Erehwon Retreat’s more complicated booking season. Each season we host a few cruise line passengers for a week’s visit preceding or following a cruise out of Port of Tampa.

From our historic perspective, the Port’s single largest embarkation took place in 1898 when Tampa received 30,000 troops bound for the Spanish American War. The initial wave, which included Teddy Roosevelt’s Rough Riders, departed on June 7 with 16,000 troops bound for Cuba. The Tampa Bay Hotel was used as the Officer Quarters. The Rough Riders were recruited mainly in the Menger bar in San Antonio and trained in front of the Alamo. Coincidentally, in my prior life managing the NY City Joffrey Ballet, whenever the company played San Antonio we stayed at the Hotel Menger next to the Alamo. I knew the story that they departed for the east by train, but that’s where the story stopped until I opened Erehwon Retreat. But that’s another blog post.

Port of Tampa Cruise Ship Terminal Florida Vacation Homes

Port of Tampa Cruise Ship Terminal Florida Vacation Homes

Port of Tampa Cruise Services

Port of Tampa Cruise Ship Terminal Florida Vacation Homes

Carnival’s ships operate year-round four- and five-day cruises to the western Caribbean, including the popular destination at Mahogany Bay. Currently, the line also sails seven-day itineraries during the winter season and these will be offered year-round commencing January 2018.

Royal Caribbean’s two ships will provide four-, five- and seven-day cruises in the winter. And, for the first time, Royal Caribbean will operate four- and five-day summer cruises when Empress of the Seas begins sailing from Tampa on 30 April.

Meanwhile, Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Jade, will offer itineraries ranging from four to 12 days that will include a stop at its new island destination, Harvest Cay in Belize.

Rounding out Port of Tampa’s passenger offerings, Holland America has increased its passenger capacity by replacing a long favorite among Erehwon Retreat guests, the Veendam, with the Oosterdam.

2017 saw a 6% growth in passengers to a total of 813,934 over 188 sailings.

September 22-23, 2018 Port of Tampa celebrated it’s 1 millionth cruise passenger.

Unique Accommodations for Cruise Passengers

Port of Tampa Cruise Ship Terminal Florida Vacation Homes

Erehwon Retreat is located just 4.6 miles from the Port of Tampa Cruise Ship Terminal; we coordinate our two properties during winter cruise season to turn over the same day arrival/departures of Saturday and Sunday. This allows cruise ship passengers to easily enjoy an evening show at The Straz Center for the Performing Arts, visit Ybor city, the historic Cigar District discover Disney or Harry Potter

With a host who is a sailor and ex US Navy, one of the subtle differences of staying at Erehwon is having special amenities for guests preparing for sea or returning to land. There are adjustments to avoid land sickness for some, and we know how to prepare our property so that guests rest peacefully in our 1920’s environment. Old Seminole Heights is Tampa’s first suburb (1911) and has been designated as a National, State and local Historic Landmark District.

Holiday Homes

Holiday Homes Florida Vacation Homes

Visit Tampa and Discover

Our 2 bed + pull out couch/2 bath Bungalow is great for families. And with early planning, extended families may coordinate booking both our Guest Cottage and Bungalow for the same dates. Lots of families give Grandparents or in-laws our Guest Cottage less than 150′ away from the Bungalow for a quiet spot. Even larger families ask our on-site Concierge to identify other nearby holday rentals within a few blocks walk in our historic neighborhood.

We have hosted families in our Holday Rentals from Vienna, Prague, Berlin, Helsinki, Johannesburg, Essen, Dorncaster, Bithoven, Enschele, Skieve, Vellinge Schleusingen, Glengowie and in a few weeks Buenos Aires. Ocassionaly we link reservations with family members living in the US with other members living in Europe. Each reunion is unique and over and over I plug in my own world travel experience to ensure the little details are considered.

As well as elegant rooms you can find amenities and services you expect of a hotel. Complimentary Wi-Fi. Free off-street parking, linen service, Children’s beach toys, Beach Umbrella and beach towels, Yoga mat(yoga studio one block away), visiting massage therapist, expert on site Concierge.

There is a rich history in Tampa that is still being made to this day. Whether you are visiting for a weekend, a week or a month make sure to use our traveler resources under the Location tab.

Baseball in Florida – The Grapefruit League

Baseball in Florida – The 2020 Grapefruit League

Baseball in Florida - The Grapefruit League Florida Vacation Homes

Erehwon Retreat is well placed for visitors to enjoy a quintessential American activity – baseball. The Toronto Blue Jays will be playing in Dunedin, the Philadelphia Phillies in Clearwater and the New York Yankees in Tampa itself. Every one of these games is within half an hour’s drive of Erehwon and with the Baltimore Orioles doing their winter training in Sarasota and the Detroit Tigers in Lakeland, each within an hour’s drive, there’s no shortage of quality baseball literally on our doorstep.

The Baltimore Orioles migrate to Sarasota

The long history of the Baltimore Orioles began with a name change, when, in 1953 the St Louis Browns moved to Baltimore and changed their name … from that year they went from strength to strength, and today their winter training ground in Sarasota gives many a Florida vacation rental visitor the chance to explore some quality baseball.

Detroit Tigers travel to Lakeland

In a similar vein, the even more veteran Detroit Tigers have a winter training ground in Lakeland. Since 1894 when the Tigers were a charter member of the reorganized Western League, the changing fortune of the Tigers has been a subject of joy and despair for their followers. It’s amazing to consider that this baseball team has been around since the day star players traveled to the baseball ground in horse-drawn buggies! But for those looking for homes for rent in Florida, the Tigers present a fantastic opportunity to see baseball in the sun today.

The Grapefruit League 2020

On February 21,2020 the Grapefruit League begins this year’s matches. Pitchers and catchers report to the NY Yankees February 12 and position players on the 17th. Of special note, the Nationals and the Astros both train in West Palm Beach and as of tonight’s World Series the Astros have 3 months and 21 days to get over it. There’s something special about watching baseball in Florida – endless sunshine, easy travel between baseball grounds and none of the stress of fighting to get into the packed grounds and dealing with the congested roads around stadiums in the Northern states. Instead it’s an easy-going experience of sport in the sun, with something for everybody. As the league timetable shows, there’s no end of excitement to be had!

Florida villa rentals – the joy of year-round sport

For golfers in particular, Florida is a center of excellence renowned throughout the world, but baseball is also a winter joy for those hunting down the perfect Tampa homes for rent. Whether you’re a fan of a particular team, or just enjoy watching baseball for the sheer pleasure of sportsmen in action, Florida state is a wonderful opportunity for spectators. Not only that, but with Florida’s wonderful food shops and eateries there’s every opportunity to enjoy a picnic or tailgate meal that will delight every member of your vacation party – whether they are baseball fanatics or not.

View a map of 2018 Grapefruit League Spring Training sites

View Grapefruit League training schedule

Train Travel to Florida – reliving the golden age

Train Travel to Florida – reliving the golden age

Train Travel to Florida - reliving the golden age Florida Vacation HomesTrain Travel to Florida - reliving the golden age Florida Vacation HomesTrain Travel to Florida - reliving the golden age Florida Vacation HomesSnowbirds aboard! From 1925, vacationers heading for Florida had a new way to travel – the Orange Blossom Special – a deluxe passenger train that connected New York City and Miami during the winter. The train sped over 1327 miles through Washington DC, Richmond, Raleigh and Savannah, with a limited section continuing to Tampa and St. Petersburg. Another plush passenger train operating from 1892-1965 was the Dixie Flyer an all-Pullman from Chicago’s Dearborn Station to Miami via Atlanta with a unit to Tampa and Sarasota. Many famous and infamous rode the Flyer, including Al Capone. But his 1932 trip was to Atlanta to serve a Federal prison term for tax evasion.Train Travel to Florida - reliving the golden age Florida Vacation HomesThe area was booming and vacation rentals in Florida were let as soon as they were available. By using fast, elegant trains, the railway company hoped to persuade influential and busy people to move to the Sunshine State for the winter. It succeeded beyond anybody’s expectations – the journey took around 35 hours and during the trip, passengers were regaled with superb food, vintage wines and liquors and exceptional service. So famous was the route that it was immortalized in song by Ervin T Rouse and Robert Russell “Chubby” Wise – perhaps the best-known recording of the song was by Johnny Cash. The paint scheme for the train, in lime, orange and lemon, was meant to suggest the hues of Florida’s citrus orchards and it was so distinctive it was granted a patent.Train Travel to Florida - reliving the golden age Florida Vacation Homes

Florida Vacation? Take the train

So, are the golden days of travel to Florida behind us? Not so. There are two ways to travel to Tampa, via The Silver Service or the Auto Train.

The Silver Service – New York City to Miami

Two trains, the Silver Meteor and the Silver Star make vacation travel to Florida a breeze. With dozens of exciting destination stops en route, reserved coach seating and comfortable sleeping berths, both trains give vacationers a taste of the elegant transport of previous generations. Silver Meteor offers inclusive traditional dining car meals in the ticket price, while on Silver Star the food service is simply sandwiches, snacks and drinks – a cheaper option, particularly suited to student travel. The Palmetto offers business class travel, ideal for those heading to a convention or business meeting in Florida and needing a stress-free travel option. Trains run every day and the journey time is around 28 hours, depending on your start and finish points.

Auto Train – Washington to Orlando

Train Travel to Florida - reliving the golden age Florida Vacation HomesThis 855 mile train service caries both passengers and their four tire/ 2 axle vehicle or motorcycle. Whether you rock a van or travel with a jet-ski, this non-stop train journey gives you a chance to travel in comfort and still have your own vehicle at the other end of your trip. Comfy coach seats give you a chance to nap on the way, or you can reserve a roomette with nearby restrooms … or go the whole hog and hire a bedroom with daytime seating, private restroom and shower and attendant service to convert your seats to beds overnight. Not only that, but all meals are included.This travel option really brings the best of both worlds – relaxing transport to your Florida vacation rental and the comfort of being able to drive your own automobile when you arrive. The 17.5-hour journey makes a pleasure of getting to the Sunshine State.Train Travel to Florida - reliving the golden age Florida Vacation Homes

Caught the train bug? A rail pass brings Florida to you

It seems every year we have guests who fly into Seattle, or San Francisco or Los Angeles and spend a few weeks riding such famous trains as the Empire Builder, California Zepher, SW Chief to Chicago and then on to New York or Washington DC before traveling to Florida. Available in 15, 30 and 45-day options, Amtrak’s rail pass allows you to get on and off the train wherever you choose – why not consult our guide to the local area’s attractions and events and plan an itinerary that includes all that’s best in Florida?