Sebring fling

By Diana Bosse for Loveland Beacon

SEBRING, FL (March 29, 2024) – If anybody says a visit to your octogenarian relatives cannot be fun and exciting, your relatives are boring compared to mine. I’m not even sure where to start so I’m going to work my way backwards.

On the airboat (Diana Bosse)

Uncle Bruce was so disappointed the airboat ride he had set up for us yesterday was canceled. Luck was on our side when another tour company on the opposite side of Lake Istokpoga had an 11:30 slot available today. The winds were still pretty strong and our guide was hesitant to take us out, but we summoned our inner Troy Landry, signed the waiver, and headed out on choppy waters. Steve was a bit more hesitant than I was. I never should’ve told him the meaning of Istokpoga in the Seminole language was “people die here” (for real. Look it up).

Maybe I should’ve been concerned when Captain Lee said, “Don’t worry! If the boat flips it’s only 3 to 4 feet of water. Just stand up”. 

 

Wildlife? but not dangerous (Diana Bosse)

What did bother me was the part about the estimated 13,000 alligators, 6 foot and larger, that call Istokpoga home. At least I think that’s what he said. He spoke “Swamp People English” so I had a hard time understanding him. Once we were floating above the water lilies, it was incredible and I didn’t get half as beat up as I did on the ATV tour in Mexico (just a lot wetter)! If somebody ever tells you don’t bother taking an airboat ride, my advice is “Choot ‘em!”

We started out this morning at Uncle Bruce’s  favorite breakfast place, Demetri’s, where Denise served us up a plentiful meal. I still can’t believe after our delicious steak dinner at Cowpoke’s Watering Hole the night before that I was even hungry. But, like Aunt Gloria, I never miss a meal.

Food and drink – always first for Diana (Diana Bosse)

As I mentioned previously, our boat ride got canceled yesterday so we flipped our plans and went to Bok Tower Gardens in Lake Wales on Monday afternoon.The grounds, designed by Fredrick Law Olmsted (the father of landscape architecture and Steves hero), reminded me of the Phoenix Botanical Garden that I’d visited years ago, only a lot lusher. The Carillon tower was an architectural wonder, but I found the bells to be quite eerie.

Monday morning Uncle Bruce took us fishing from his neighbor, Ed’s dock, with domestic shiners we had picked up at the bait shop after church service the day before. Between yesterday morning and the previous afternoon we caught exactly 0 fish, lost one float and released all dozen shiners back into the lake. It was a good day to be a shiner. Uncle Bruce was so apologetic and kept saying: “There’s a reason they call it FISHING and not CATCHING.” It didn’t bother Steve or me in the least. We just enjoyed the quiet time together.

A view from on the airboat (Diana Bosse)

In the gardens (Diana Bosse)

The Carrilon Tower (Diana Bosse)

When we weren’t eating, boating or fishing, we spent time relaxing on their lanai, watching the palm trees sway in the breeze and enjoying each other’s company (although it did cause Steve a bit of duress to drink his cocktail out of a Florida Gators tumbler from the 2006 national championship. It reminded him of the loss handed to OSU every time he took a swig of Bruce’s “Florida Special Cocktail “  –  peach soda, orange juice, and bourbon).

Welcome to Florida! (Diana Bosse)

With the airboat ride and the trip to Bok Gardens, I was able to cross two more items off of my bucket list. But I’ve just added another visit to Aunt Gloria and Uncle Bruce’s back