Florida Escape

June 7, 2016

New Release: Florida Escape

In 1935, my father and two fellow adventurers headed to South Florida hoping to discover an idyllic paradise. Instead, they found boggy wastelands, rats and mosquitoes, sticks of dynamite, black panthers, rushing rivers, and skunks.

An explorer at heart, Harry I. Heller had already spent one summer hitchhiking 12,000 miles across the United States, which he describes in his book titled Thumbs Up. Not to be daunted, he and his friends persisted in their search until they came upon an abandoned log cabin on a deserted beach. Here they recreated their fantasy of a tropical paradise.

Harry Heller_restored

Harry wrote his adventures in a short journal titled Florida Escape. I’ve edited his work and have now made it available for readers of Florida history, travel memoirs, and true-life adventure.

Note that passages from this work will appear in Facials Can Be Fatal, my next Bad Hair Day mystery from Five Star due in Feb. 2017. If you want a sneak peek at the real story behind those excerpts, you’ll find it in Florida Escape.


Excerpt from Florida Escape

Lester and I were pretty well disgusted by the time we reached Fort Lauderdale. We had investigated a number of possibilities for a campsite, but nothing suited us. Murray was of the diehard breed and urged us to keep going. Rather than argue with him, we agreed. His persistence was not fruitless.

At a fork in the highway, we decided to take the dirt road that ran parallel to the ocean. The sight that greeted us when we had travelled a short distance brought forth cries of enthusiasm and joy. The sky blue waters of the ocean and a wide expanse of beach stretched into the far distance. In the middle of this panorama of beauty, sitting in splendid isolation, was a rugged log cabin. It seemed to have been built to order for our benefit. A few lonesome coconut trees stood romantically outlined in the reflected glory of the setting sun.

A strong odor of skunk filled the air. We turned up our noses in disgust as we approached the door that stood invitingly open.

When we entered, it was to find a scene of disorder. Rubbish littered the cement floor. Piles of empty tin cans, old newspapers, and a varied assortment of odds and ends covered every inch. The wind had blown in sand through the many holes between the logs. Where there had once been windows now were yawning gaps. Someone had attempted to close the openings with boards, which hung loosely from rusted nails. Thousands of fast-moving ants scattered at our arrival. Spider webs stretched overhead, and their disturbed occupants scurried around in great excitement.

But this sight did not discourage us. We were only interested in the knowledge that we had at last found our ideal spot. Without bothering to make inquiries regarding the place’s ownership, or to consider that we might be trespassing upon private property, we rolled up our sleeves and began to clean house.

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Pictures of the Log Cabin Below





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0 thoughts on “Florida Escape

  1. Very interesting. That was truly the Old World Florida that I so love. Little pockets found here and there now…like in Goodland in Ten Thousand Islands. We love our modern conveniences, but at what cost to the splendor of the natural surroundings?

  2. Those were definitely different times. Florida I’m sure still has the pests such as mosquitos etc. but it’s a paradise compared to the northeast states. I dream of owning even a small home there some day 🙂

    1. I grew up in NJ and their mosquitoes are a lot bigger than the ones here. Ditto for the daddy-longlegs spiders. Ugh. The thought makes me shudder.

  3. You know, I never really thought about those who “settled” Florida back in the day…this book looks intriguing!! Thanks for sharing!

  4. So interesting. We lived in Florida for about 3 years and I will never forget the sound of the Palmetto Bugs (which we called cockroaches) scurrying away when we entered the kitchen the turned the light on. My sister still lives in Florida so I keep up with the weather. Was just on the lookout for TS Colin.

      1. Forgot to say earlier that I downloaded Florida Escape and already had Thumbs Up. It is so wonderful that you are capturing your father’s travels and experiences. I wish I had done that with my grandmother and mother; they had such great stories.

        1. My father wrote these books; I edited and published them. It’s very gratifying to share his adventures. Please consider doing customer reviews on his books.

  5. Thanks for the excerpt. Your father was a true adventurer.

  6. Thank You for the giveaway. i have never visited Florida. I am a cold weather person. I do know a lot of friends who live there.

  7. Your dad’s book should be on sale at the historic spots in Florida. Our old Courthouse Museum in Inverness FL sells lots of books about Florida! Vthanks for the giveaway. I want to read that book!

  8. I have been a Floridan for quite a number of years now and love it. Before I was able to move here full time, I dreamed of it! The history in this state is enormous. I have many favorite places but I think the old lighthouse in Key West is my favorite. It calls me to visit it each time I get to that fun city.

    Thanks so much for the wonderful giveaway. Fingers crossed.

    1. Have you attended Mystery Writers Key West Fest? It’s a fun conference for mystery writers and fans held in June every year. I love the restaurants on the island.

  9. Wow! Very interesting Nancy, I would enjoy reading Florida Escape ♡

  10. Love Florida, thanks for sharing. Thanks also for the giveaway

  11. This really sounds like an adventure – thanks for the book.

  12. Florida Escape and Thumbs Up sound like really good reads. Love history. And travel stories. According to one vet. Massengill Douch is the best for getting rid of skunk odor. In the 50’s we used tomato juice. I got my dog sprayed having him keep mama busy while I grabbed the babies. Mom had a fit. Broke my heart making me take them back. I was rather young at the time. As I got older I realized how mean I was being. At the time all I thought of was how cute they were and how I would be their mama. Anyway. The books look like great reads

  13. Your dad’s book will be interesting. I love history so it will be nice to see what Florida was like back then and what adventures he had.

  14. These books sound very interesting. I have never been to Florida, but I love reading about anything that is historical. I also love mysteries so your books are right up my alley.

    1. For history, mystery, and Florida, plan on getting Facials Can Be Fatal in addition to my father’s short work. These elements are blended together in that story.

  15. Fascinating. I’ll have to let my inlaws read it as they are Floridians.

  16. Enjoyed reading the blog on Florida. I hope to visit there someday. It is a very interesting state.

  17. Thanks for sharing this. It was very enjoyable. Would love to visit there one day.

  18. Very interesting! It’s good to remember that Florida was not always so crowded. I would love to see more pictures!

    1. He had three or four photos mounted on sheets of paper with captions. I’ve scanned in the entire page. I could make an album on my FB page…will think about it. Good idea. I have hundreds from his other book, Thumbs Up.

  19. I love how you and your dad work together to bring the public a bit of American history.