Water, Wings and Wild Things.
In May 2005 we were asked by
our Management Company if we would like to go for a meal in
Florida's "redneck" country. With a little trepidation we
took up there kind offer and consequently arrived at the
Cotton Pocket restaurant on the edge of Lake Pierce.
Nestling in a wooded area surrounded by fishermen's shacks
this restaurant is somewhat different from those on the 192.
There is no glass in the windows - just netting. The toilet
facilities are rather archaic, reminded us of our younger
days brought up in terrace homes with the toilet a trek
across the yard. Yes this was the same - 1 toilet shared by
both sexes. The steaks were fantastic and an evening really
enjoyed by all. We actually returned the following week with
our family. We could then visualise why Polk County,
Florida's second largest county, has been known for some
time as the "Bass capital of the World".
Imagine that you are flying over Polk County and you are
able to zoom in the picture, what you will see is a county
of 554 lakes of various shapes and sizes ranging up to the
5930 acre Lake Kissimmee. This is a totally different side
of Florida than the parks and an experience well worth
taking on board. Wherever you are staying in Central Florida
you will never be far from the US27 road. The US27 divides
Polk County from north to south and the area to the east of
it is a different world to that around Kissimmee. Long
before the theme parks, and even humans, Central Florida was
an ocean and this eastern area of Polk County was its beach.
This sandbar island is where various animal and plant
species thrived and is what we now know as Lake Wales Ridge.
It is now the home of many rare plant and animal species
including the very rare Florida ziziphus which was thought
to be extinct until a population was discovered in 1987.
Popular fishing spots for bass are to be found at the Winter
Haven Chain of Lakes, Lake Kissimmee Chain and the Tenoroc
Fish Management Area. Bank and pier fishing is available at
many locations and full details can be found by visiting
www.polk.wateratlas.usf.edu which also lists recreation
amenities. Licences and bait can be obtained at local tackle
Wilderness trails are in abundance supplying close-up views
of the real Florida. Some of the trails are located at Lake
Kissimmee State Park, Gator Creek Reserve, Tiger Creek
Preserve, Circle B Bar Reserve and Lake Wales Ridge State
Forest. The shorter trails are at Crooked Lake Sandhill,
Hickory Lake Scrub, Pine Ridge Nature Preserve and
The whole area is a bird paradise with over 250 different
species being recorded in Polk County. The 1,200 acre marsh,
cypress swamp and oak hammock Circle B Bar Reserve is home
to waders, ibises, shorebirds and bald eagles. At Gator
Creek Reserve you will find the Summer tanager, Carolina
chickadee, yellow-throated warbler and blue-gray
gnatcatcher. Lake Kissimmee State Park hosts a wide variety
including scrub-jays, caracaras, bald eagles, turkeys,
bobwhites and snail kites and at Crooked Lake Prairie,
scrub-jays, waders, kingfishers, bobwhites, meadowlarks,
towhees and the uncommon northern harrier can be seen.
The first thing which comes to mind relating to Florida wild
life is the official State reptile -the alligator. Although
normally very wary of humans, it must still be treated with
respect and as with most Florida wild life it is illegal to
feed them. To appreciate more about the area wildlife and
eco-system, guided airboat rides are available at Camp Mack
River Resort, Gator Country Airboat Tours and Westgate River
Just one tip. To make your visit more pleasant take some
effective insect repellent. It works well keeping those
By Mike & Kath Trevena