All photos below were taken looking out at the woodland area behind my home in Bradenton Florida.
The first time I witnessed Spanish moss was, oddly enough, not in tropical Florida, or even anywhere along the watery coast of the Gulf Coast states of Louisiana or Mississippi or even around legendary Okefenokee swamp. It was in Southern California, a state well known for its dry climate.
Years ago, when our girls were young and we did a lot of camping and water skiing, we headed north from Thousand Oaks California to a lake called Nacimiento and the route we took brought us around behind the city of Santa Barbara. In an interior valley, plentiful with large ancient oaks, we noticed the soft sway of the almost lighter than air Spanish moss, seemed as though every oak was gaily festooned with it.
As I began thinking about that trip, that particular route, it dawned on me that it was this back highway that also led to a wonderful little village called Solvang.
Forty years ago, Solvang was a sweet little hamlet of a town, dripping with Danish charm and boasting an adorable toy shop, a wine cellar shop (which carried the most divine Cherry Kirsch I had and have every tasted) and a couple of fantastic restaurants. The last time I visited Solvang, perhaps twenty years ago, it had morphed into a huge, bustling tourist attraction, with massive parking and traffic problems along with tour buses everywhere. Navigating its once quaintly narrow streets had become a nightmare. Sidewalks and shops were packed with people, making the very act of strolling cumbersome. It was hard to enjoy the charm of the old Danish village...heck most of the time it was hard to find that charm. Sometimes bigger is NOT better ! Perhaps things have changed and today the weekend traffic quagmire and parking nightmares have been eradicated and somehow, someway, the allure of that tiny Danish town has been resuscitated. The optimists in me only hopes that could be so, but the pessimist in me truly doubts that's the case.