After Backroads of Paradise appeared in the New York Times, I found myself getting a *lot* more reader mail. I love this one because I suspect Geoff may have done as much work reading Backroads of Paradise as I did writing it. I kid, of course: he won’t camp, and says as much. Thank you for writing, Geoff, and welcome to our corner of paradise. And yes, Craig’s book is also wonderful. I’m going to have a lot of fun teasing him about the “also” bit.
What a wonderful read. Yea, I am a transplant from N.Y. state (Buffalo) and Bruce and I have retired here (St. Petersburg). Once I downloaded your engaging book, it took only 36 hours to complete it. Makes us want to travel the backroads as did you, Barry and Calypso. Now, 30 years your senior, I’m not about to jump below water or camp! What I did do when reading Backroads was to pull up a finely detailed Google map of your routes, and then to Google locations and eating establishments that you include. The depiction of most of those eating establishments are wonderfully distinct from what our normal choices here. From Backroads I have a sharply elevated sense of Florida’s geography, fauna, and flora. I was not cognizant that Route 27 is the “spine” of Florida. (I did notice that you skirted around mentioning Bok Towers — something I marveled at as a kid in 1956 but was disappointed in in 2015 with the computer-played carillon.) I have extremely supportive empathy with you for the despoliation of Lake Okeechobee by U.S. Sugar and the effects of the 1928 hurricane which killed so many African-Americans. Like you, I see the existence of a Dollar General in a small community as a predictor of poverty, and went indeed to City-Data.com to catalog the depressing income and demographics. I had no idea that so many towns along Route 90 have primarily African-American residents. Since northern Florida is really Dixie, life must continue to be tough there.
Backroads has given me an understanding and appreciation/disappreciation of what Florida is all about. I remain a proud and unrepentant Yankee, but, like you, have grown to love Florida. Craig Pittman’s Oh Florida is also a wonderful book.
St. Petersburg, FL