Rob's Blog

Florida Attractions

July 11, 2008 – Volusia County Travels!

by on Jul.11, 2008, under Florida Attractions, Florida History!, Florida Outdoors!, Florida Restaurants, Various, What\'s New?


Our first stop during our Volusia County tour was Ponce Preserve. It’s a park that has a combo of opportunities to experience the original natural Florida tidal area of this part of the east coast. See the site for details. It’s a GREAT park and well worth the trip whether you take the boardwalk, the natural trail or head out to the beach.


Our next stop was Sugar Mill Gardens. It is the site of a sugar mill, a theme park, a Civil War site and a Seminole Indian War site. It covers it all. There is no doubt ‘Bongoland’ is the most interesting. I’ll let this site explain it as I run out of time to type all of this. By the way, I counted 7 dinosaurs. Above is one of them.

We continued our Volusia County tour with a stop at the Daytona Beach Museum of Arts and Sciences.WHATTAPLACE!!!!Everyting from greek statues (See right) to antique cars to Florida history to pirates to actual train cars to….It’s an amazing place!We made a stop at Zeno’s, a favorite of ours, 2008-07111-daybchartsscienc.jpg


We next stopped at a favorite of our in Volusia County, Zeno’s. They have two locations. We stopped at the one on A1A. Got ice cream and salt water taffy. Above is cover of the box of the saltwater taffy we picked up. I love the historical photos.

After Zeno’s we wandered up A1A to Gamble Rogers Memorial State Recreation Area. The park, that includes beach access, is named for the Florida troubador, Gamble Rogers, who sang and told stories of Florida’s history, environment and a series of characters that dwelled in our state in the fictional area of Ocklawaha County.I got to meet and work with Gamble back in the ’80s when I was working with Florida music and storytellers festivals and groups. He was a sight to behold. A very calm and steady performer. I’m reading a number of books about Dean Martin. Gamble was the easygoing come-what-may Dean Martin on stage.It was a tragedy he died in the surf at the very spot where this park is. He was trying to save another person caught in the rough waters. We happened to be there when there was a red flag warning of the rough surf and dangerous waters at the beach as it was when Gamble died. The difference now is an actual red flag atop a pole flapping in the wind, see the sketch to the right. At the time of Gamble’s death there were no flags there.

Too bad the story of Gamble’s death isn’t at the park. I felt like chasing after the people in the surf and warning them of the dangers and of the reason why the park area is named after Gamble.


2008-0711-lenasrestaurant.jpg  We finished our trip in Marion County and had dinner at Lena’s Restaurant, where you can have a “whale of a meal”.To the left is the papertowel holder on every table.
Leave a Comment more...

July 10, 2008 – To Volusia County!

by on Jul.10, 2008, under Caricatures, Florida Attractions, Florida Restaurants, Various, What\'s New?

2008-0710-richardsplace.jpg Sandra and I made our way to Volusia County this Thursday morning. We made a breakfast stop at the well-established ‘Richard’s Place’ in Ocala. There is a sketch of a fellow who was yapping on the cell phone. 

We crossed the Ocala National Forest and made our first top at Shelt-Air private plane service within the Daytona Beach International Airport. While Sandra did her interviews for the magazine article she’s writing. I sketched planes.After this we went to DaytonaUSA. It’s all about racing and more than worth the cost of admission. You will get so busy at the attraction, that you might be like me and not even have time to draw a sketch there! 2008-0710-sheltair.jpg
2008-0710-c-cari-oertel.jpg Later, I drove down to Ormond Beach and worked with long-time cliet, Jean Oertel, on a caricature at Billy’s Tap Room. Billy’s opened in 1922 and was thriving very well this Thursday night.

A tiny version of the drawing I did is to the left. The original is very large.

Leave a Comment more...

February 9, 2007 – Panhandle Trip-Part 2!

by on Feb.09, 2008, under Florida Attractions, Florida History!, Florida Outdoors!, Florida Restaurants, What\'s New?

2008-0208-09-icehouflcavbru.jpgOur first stop this day was to the Florida Caverns State Park. You can see a photo of the caverns here. 

Here is a sketch I drew while taking the tour.

From there we toured Marianna. Making stops at the Chamber of Commerce and the wonderful building it’s in.

2008-0209-staffs.jpg We made many, many, many stops afterward. We went through ten counties and ten times as many stops. Not that we mind. What an outstanding way to experiencing our great State of Florida and all it has to offer!Our final stop was at Staff’s Restaurant, the oldest seafood restaurant in Florida. Here’s a sketch of a part of the fascinating interior.
Leave a Comment more...

January 5, 2008 – Robert Smith, Sr.’s Birthday!

by on Jan.05, 2008, under Florida Attractions, Florida History!, What\'s New?

A whole mess of family members gathered to celebrate my father’s 75th birthday in Bushnell, Florida. Bushnell is northeast of Tampa and where my uncle Charles lives. Charles and his wife Barbara hosted the party. Their son, Charles, Jr., and granddaughters Kim and  Lindsay were there. As were my Aunt Nickie and Uncle Connie from Tampa. Sandra’s father drove down with Sandra and I to join the festivities.  As for art for this entry there’s:1) the cake in the shape of ’75’ by Publix.2008-0105-a-75cake.jpg 2) Whoever sculpted this marker at the Dade Battlefield historic site in Bushnell. Sandra and her father, my father, brother Jeff and myself went to the battlefield site and roamed where Major Francis Dade and his men were ambushed by indians in 1834 continuing the path to the start of the Seminole indian wars. The markers were placed for significant members of Dade’s crew who were killed. Here is Robert Smith, Sr., Jeff Smith, Sandra Friend Smith and her father Phillip Friend. They stand next to the monument of where Major Francis Dade fell. After this battle Dade’s name soon was given to the county that Miami is in.2008-0105-b-dadebattle.jpg 3) Here is a very quick sketch of clothing worn by the Seminoles during the time of the wars in the 1800s. Drawn from a mannequin in the museum at the park.2008-0105-c-dadebattlesemga.jpg

Leave a Comment more...

September 8th, 2007 – Book: Hurricane Punch!

by on Sep.08, 2007, under Books, Florida Attractions, Florida History!, Florida Outdoors!, Florida Restaurants, What\'s New?

2007-0908-book-hurricanepun.jpg‘Hurricane Punch’ is Tim Dorsey’s 9th novel about his comdeic serial killer anti-hero. The more you know about our great state of Florida, the funnier the books are. This has some great scenes. Covering everywhere from Everglades City to Bok Tower in which the state is understtack by innumerous hurricanes.

1 Comment more...

May 10, 2007 – Pioneer Village!

by on May.15, 2007, under Florida Attractions, Florida History!

2007-0510-pioneervillage.jpgOne stop for my birthday was at the Pioneer Florida Museum and Village in Dade City. Lots of wonderful historic buildings, a train, oodles of historic tools, books, dolls and typewriters. The drawing is of a one room school house that once stood in Hernando County. Too bad we don’t have those any more. I guess the closest to that we have is home schooling.

Leave a Comment more...

April 15th, 2007 – China Jade Restaurant!

by on Apr.18, 2007, under Florida Attractions, Florida Restaurants, Friends

2007-0415-pm-coldenjaderest.jpgQuite a bunch of us got together Sunday night for vittles at an oriental spot near the Fashion Square Mall in Orlando. I found myself doing some drawing while there.

The drawing is of James Carter who I once worked with at the ol’ Stars Hall of Fame. He and his wife were part of the group that included Rob Labby, Manfred, Nancy and David Stewart, etc., etc.

Leave a Comment more...

April 1st, 2007 – Pinecrest Gardens!

by on Apr.07, 2007, under Florida Attractions, Florida History!, Florida Outdoors!, What\'s New?

Rob Smith Jr - Parrot JungleThe next stop was near Coral Gables in an area known as Pinecrest. The stop was at the original Parrot Jungle, now named Pinecrest Gardens. Strolling through the park you can still find the giant bird cages. The park has been very well kept and well worth taking a walk through and enjoying the plants and flowers.

The drawing is of the area that folks would come through after coming through the original entrance to Parrot Jungle in the 1930s. It still stands though part of the roof has caved in and it appears to be otherwise used as a storage room.

Leave a Comment more...

April 1st, 2007 – Vizcaya!

by on Apr.07, 2007, under Florida Attractions, Florida History!, Florida Outdoors!, What\'s New?

Rob Smith Jr - ViscayaOur first stop was to the infamous Vizcaya! Most of anyone reading this has heard of or been there. For more about this model for the grand home of Orson Wells in ‘Citizen Kane’ click here!

The drawing is of part of the ornate grottos on the property. Time does limit more complete drawings. This was a busy day with lots to visit! Sandra took the photo of me drawing.Rob Smith Jr - Viscaya

Leave a Comment more...

January 7th, 2007 – Silver Springs!

by on Jan.08, 2007, under Florida Attractions, Florida History!, What\'s New?


A visit to Silver Springs in Ocala. After 125 years of being around, they must be doing something right. I drew pages of sketches. Here are a few.2007-0107-silspr-tortoise.jpg 2007-0107-silspr-boat.jpg

1 Comment more...

December 26th, 2006 – Don Garlits!

by on Dec.27, 2006, under Florida Attractions, Florida History!

2006-1226-dongarlits.jpgThe day after Christmas found my brother, Jeff, joining Sandra, my father and I. We went over to Don Garlits car museum, south of Ocala off U.S. 75. The museum is a tourist attraction owned by Tampa native and car racing legend, Don Garlits. There are actually two museums. One of older cars and one of the history of drag racing.

Cars are tough for me to draw. The sketching was a good exercise. The drawings are of part of the nose of a 1942 Mercury Sport convertible, a 1964 mustang, a truck and a dragster.2006-1226-dongarlits-truck.jpg





After the museum fun we went over to Stumpknockers restaurant south of Dunellon on the Withlacoochee River for seafood. They are considered to have some of the best seafood in Florida, but be warned that their cooking is northern based and not Southern.



Leave a Comment more...

Looking for something?

Use the form below to search the site:

Still not finding what you're looking for? Drop a comment on a post or contact us so we can take care of it!