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Plant City Observer Wednesday, Jun. 29, 2016 2 years ago

Confessions of a world traveler

Co-owner Felix Haynes talks summer plans and vacations.

I love Plant City.  

When my wife, Susan, and I moved back to Florida in 1999 to accept a job here, I did not know how great Plant City is. But I found out very quickly about our incredible can-do spirit, family values and the quality of life provided by a strong array of nonprofit and governmental organizations.  

But I also love to travel, and with the school year over I’ve noticed the thoughts of many Plant City parents turn to vacations. Many in Plant City, such as Rotarians Tim Kip and Jeremy Burris, either own or rent places on the Gulf of Mexico and begin packing their vehicles and their children for a two- or three-week stay on the water. Those with the desire to go further pick from a plethora of places throughout Florida, from Orlando and Disney to Key West and Cedar Key. 

Others make bigger plans.

Father Tom Thoeni, of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, had a child graduated from high school, so the Thoenis spent the last couple of weeks in California. On his first Sunday back, Father Tom announced the two best days of a vacation are the day you leave and the day you return.  

For those of us without school-age children in the home, our thoughts also turn to vacations, but our planning period extends beyond Labor Day, when school starts, and into the fall.  

For example, a group of Plant City folks, led by Jim and Linda Chancey and Bruce and Margaret Rodwell, are going cruising on Europe’s Danube River.  

When Susan and I were a few years younger, we thought nothing of going to England and Scotland, as well as countries like Denmark, Germany, Austria, Switzerland and France.  We did most of that travel by European trains, with a few rental cars thrown in.  

However, with the rise of terrorism in Europe and immigration issues, I’m not sure this 69-year-old is ready to take his wife and go through Europe alone any more.  

Safer, I think, would be to go to Europe in a larger group, like the Chanceys and the Rodwells are doing. Last fall, we went with our youngest daughter, Laurel, and oldest son, Max, and his wife, Erin, on an 11-day cruise around the western Mediterranean. And, yes, we felt safer, and enjoyed the volcanoes Vesuvius and Etna and cities such as Rome and Barcelona.

Safer still, I think would be to stay in North America and travel to places we’ve never been, such as Newport, Connecticut, Natchez, Mississippi, Wisconsin’s Door County and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Susan and I have been to Canada several times, and we have traveled fairly widely through the United States to California, upper New York State and the Rocky Mountains of Colorado and New Mexico. 

This fall, we have reservations to fly to Calgary, Canada, take a bus tour of the Canadian Rockies, and then travel by train from the mountains to Vancouver and Victoria on the Pacific Coast.  

We have seen many more wonderful places in this world over the years, such as Alaska, Hawaii and Panama, and I would never advise anyone to forego them because they are farther away. My only advice now would be to think, enjoy and be safe.    

Felix Haynes is a co-owner of the Plant City Times & Observer.


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