My wife and I attended Easter service at First United Methodist in downtown Orlando. Easter service was packed. This is typical of contemporary Protestant churches. Most Sunday services are usually spare except for Palm Sunday, Easter Sunday, and Christmas. On those particular days the churches are packed to the rafters.
I was glad to see everyone who came to First United Methodist today, because it was an even mix of older and younger adults. I've been to several Methodist church services where it was too skewed towards the older generations (mine). But this group proved to be a good dynamic generational mix.
After the Service
We left downtown and headed back to Palm Parkway. I wanted to follow Palm Parkway south and west, looking for a crossover road to the south end of International Drive. I wanted to test the theory that the road work on Palm Parkway I've started to cover was duplicated on the other side of I-4. I eventually followed Palm to where it intersected Apopka Vineland near the main entrance to Downtown Disney. I made the decision to turn left at that point and head south down Apopka Vineland. Big Mistake.
|Old Florida Tacky, Apopka Vineland and I-4 near Downtown Disney Main Entrance|
Traffic was backed up down Apopka Vineland starting that intersection, extending under I-4, and on down to the intersection with Vineland Avenue. It's on Vineland where Mary Queen of the Universe Basilica is located, and it looked like quite a few of the faithful were headed there for Easter.
While sitting in traffic on the north side of I-4 headed south I happened to look across to the huge blue ticky tacky tourist shop, right next to a Waffle House. This is the kind of architecture [sic] one finds on the north end of International Drive between Sand Lake and Kirkman. I was surprised and depressed to find it sitting this far south, like finding Burmese pythons in the Everglades.
We maneuvered out of the non-moving left lane towards the center lanes and followed Apopka Vineland down to World Center Drive, then to International Drive South. It was while we were headed north on International Drive South that we turned back onto Vineland Avenue and headed towards Orlando Premium Outlets. Even though it was Easter the shoppers were out in force.
Rather than follow Vineland back towards Apopka Vineland and past the basilica I turned up Regency Village Drive. I suspected that Regency Village was going to be tied into the overpass so that you could drive directly to the other side of I-4 and Palm Parkway. It was at that intersection I came across a lot of vacant shops, such as this particularly rich shot of the out-of-business Tourist Bureau. I have no idea how long it's been vacant, but it symbolizes both the tourist industry in this part of the state as well as the general economy - empty and tattered.
But the "jewel" I came across on regency was this partially built cinderblock hulk right behind the shopping center where the empty Tourist Bureau is located. I have no idea what it was supposed to be before construction stopped, or how long it's sat here bleaching in the Florida sun, but with it's rusted chain link fence and rotting plywood coverings over the first-floor doorways, it looks like the perfect set for a dystopian science fiction flick like the original Mad Max movies.
As I was tramping around the building I kept hearing the tour helicopters flying overhead. I kept imagining helicopter gunships coming in a treetop level, ready to turn loose gatling gunfire, Hellfire missiles, or worse.
And I did find the end of Regency, with cleared land beyond closure signs, complete with heavy yellow construction machinery and stacked precast concrete sewer pipe ready to be dropped into the ground hidden by the trees some distance back.
On the way back home, traveling up International Drive South, we came across new construction for a strip mall or something very similar right across from The Broadwater Appartments. Seeing construction like this creeping up International fills me with a certain amount of dread. I feel that once the overpass is built and Regency is extended across the overpass to Palm Parkway that this kind of shitty overdevelopment will ooze like the Blob across to Palm Parkway and back towards Sandlake. Because of the hyper development before the 2008 real estate implosion, the land around Regency was stipped down to bare sand. All that's left now is a lot of flat land with anemic grass growing on it.
Just beyond the new tacky strip mall, right at Marriotte's Grande Vista (Grande with an 'e') are wetlands and retention ponds by the side of the road. It's in this area that the headwaters to the Everglades are located. Pull up a Google Maps of the area and you'll see the wetlands and headwaters dotted with expensive gated communities and expensive hotel complexes. What I've discovered happening on Palm Parkway has led me to pay attention to the much larger area on my end of town. I've lived in this part of Florida since I moved into my house in 1985, so it's my fault for not really paying attention and helping to do something good about it. But for whatever reason all of this has my attention now.
All of this taken with the Olympus E-P2, the M.Zuiko 45mm, and the M.Zuiko 17mm. Post processed in Lightroom 4.