The piece of US 17 near us runs from Punta Gorda to Orlando. It's the
highway we take to go to Bok Tower. It is also the highway Charley took
to lay waste to the middle of the state. From where we live, we drive
east to Arcadia--40 or so miles north of Punta Gorda--to intercept US
As we approached Arcadia, we saw ever-increasing numbers of houses with
blue tarps on their rooves. And lots and lots of damaged live oaks,
many with half of their tops ripped out. Charley must have denuded many
of them because now, two and a half months later, they are growing
clusters of new leafy stems at the ends of their limbs--giving them the
look of those silly poodle-ball topiaries [no offense intended to
anyone who likes that sort of thing] only on a major scale. World's
largest bonsais, I told Ms Fatma.
As one approaches Bok Tower, the road skirts the edge of a hill, and
when we looked down from the road over the tops of a housing tract.
More than half the rooves were blue. And there were piles of rubble
Most of the mess at Bok Tower proper has been cleaned up and they are
beginning to replant. We noted a couple of dozen newly set out palms.
And the paths are all cleared and recently re-mulched with chipped and
shredded material that Charley left about. And the swans in the
reflecting pool are fine and as obstinate as ever about moving out from
behind their island to get their picture taken.
For those of you who have been to Bok Tower, all those orange groves
around the base and up the sides of the "mountain" do not appear to
have lost a leaf and the fruit looks ready to be picked and shipped to
the juicer. At this time of year trucks towing huge open trailers full
of loose oranges dominate the roads in that part of the state, much
like logging trucks do on the Olympia peninsula and coal trucks do in
southeastern Kentucky. You share their roads with them at your peril.
On the way back, we stopped at the Two Star Nursery in Bowling Green.
Charley blew the shade cloth off his shade house that was full of
zygote cactus he was prepping for Christmas sale, then a big oak
[3-foot diameter trunk] uprooted and took out the frame of shade house.
Fortunately, he had moved most of the zygotes into a barn-like
structure when he first realized Charley was headed his way. But even
so, he says, very few will be ready for Christmas sale.
27.0 N, 82.4 W
Minimum 30 F [-1 C]
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