Wednesday, July 22, 2009

US HIGHWAY 27 - CLEWISTON, FL



Do you know what synchronicity is? Well, it happens so much right now, I am always pleasantly surprised every day. When RV and I started back (sans RV) to where we left the RV at Florida Grande in Webster, it looked like an interesting and scenic route would be take US Highway 27 out of Key Largo. Neither of us had been on this unusual route before. What I kept imagining was the beating this road took when hurricanes and storms would come through. It is a wonderful RV road - 4 lanes most of the way, so we'll definitely go back in the RV on our way to the Keys, hopefully in the Fall. We also want to stop around Lake Okeechobee to stay at South Bay, FL, near Clewiston - on U.S. Highway 27, surprisingly in Palm Beach, County.

When you start seeing sugar cane fields on both sides of the road, you know you're near Clewiston, Lake Okeechobee and the Everglades. We stopped for lunch at the Clewiston Inn and fate took us to The Everglades Lounge, since the dining room was reserved for a wedding reception that day. Upon entering, you see a 360-degree canvas mural depicting Everglades' scenery and wildlife. J. Clinton Shepherd, a famous international artist in that day, finished painting the mural in 1945, after working on it almost 2 years, and it is a must-see during your visit. The mural has been valued in excess of a million dollars.

The Clewiston Inn was built in 1938 for the United States Sugar Corporation to host company executives and visiting dignitaries. (President Hoover visited to dedicate the Hoover Dike (which surrounds Lake Okeechobee) in his honor. During WWII, British and American Air Force cadets who were training at nearby Riddle Field, met at the Inn to socialize, sing and play the piano. The Inn is still a storm shelter during hurricane warnings.

The Inn has 52 rooms, a warm lobby with pecky Cypress paneling, beamed ceilings, and a wood-burning fireplace. The Inn and everything within reflects old Florida and its vanishing ambience.
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