Friends Who Lunch Together Laugh Together

From ghost tours to swamp buggy rides, there are some really oddball cool things to do in Florida and we are game for just about anything. So, when our regular ‘go to lunch’ buddies called and suggested an adventure in addition to lunch, we put on our thinking caps.

We had read about Spook Hill in Lake Wales, (where cars roll uphill) but we had never tested it. That activity alone seemed a flimsy excuse to take a two-hour car ride, so we looked for other local attractions.

Coincidentally, Spook Hill is not far from one of my favorite places to enjoy Florida’s natural beauty – Bok Tower Gardens in Lake Wales. It is a soul-soothing place that I have visited with my camera club many times in the past, but Malcolm has never accompanied me and our friends had never been. Considering Bok Tower Gardens a valid reason, we made the two-hour drive due west of our home to the center of the state.

The thing I love about Bok Tower Gardens is that it has a main path with wide sidewalks for easy strolling and offshoots of softly groomed nature trails for more intimate exploration. Combining the choices takes visitors through 45 acres of native vegetation which evokes calm and peaceful contemplation. There are benches and shelters for rest from the sun or quiet meditation throughout the woodland garden. It boasts seasonal blooms of azaleas, camellias, and wildflowers this time of year, but is not heavily ornamented and groomed like some botanical gardens we have visited. In my opinion, that is part of its charm.

The centerpiece of the garden and the reason Bok Tower is considered a ‘tourist destination’ is, of course, the Bell Tower. This is not just any bell tower, but a fully operational, sixty-bell carillon tower built in 1927. When we purchased our tickets for the day, we had no idea there would be a carillonneur in concert while we were there. This short video will give you an idea of what we heard during our walk through the gardens.

Fun Facts:

There are 60 bells in the tower, ranging in weight from 16 pounds to 22,000 pounds.

The total weight of the bells exceeds 11 tons

The tower is the equivalent of a 20-story building but has just 8 levels, including the massive bell tower

The Carillonneur plays from a keyboard on the 7th level of the tower

Bok Tower is one of only 600 bell towers in the world

Blooming at Bok Tower – Magnolias, Camellias, and Azaleas (not pictured)

Lunch in town on a quaint ‘old Florida’ main street was non-descript, but our cold oyster appetizer was delicious and we should have stopped while we were ahead. Funny how even bad food tastes better when you’re with friends. Anyways, on to the best belly laugh of the day….

Spook Hill

‘Good friends laugh with you when you do stupid stuff’

Car on the line, gear in neutral. Let’s do this!

I apologize for not giving you a wider perspective of the road here. You will have to take my word for it that we are sitting at the level part of a hill that inclines in both directions.

Believe it or not? That’s up to you. What I know for sure is that it was worth the two-hour drive to have an awesome day with our friends; visiting a beautiful garden, having a few good laughs, and not caring about what’s for lunch!

We will try anything once! Well, maybe we did it at least three, maybe four times, just for giggles.

Sharing with Natalie’s Weekend Update Coffee Share

14 thoughts on “Friends Who Lunch Together Laugh Together

  1. It looks like it was a fun day out (shame about the main course though). I completely agree that a day out with friends (or family) makes everything more fun and worth the 2 hour drive. Loved the bell tower ringing – we have one as a tourist attraction in our capital city and I remember how loud the bells were when we were inside the tower itself.

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  2. Beautiful flowers and surroundings with friends is always a good day even if the food wasn’t spectacular. I bet the laughs were though. 🙂 The Carillonneur was beautiful, and reminded me of our trip to Luxembourg to visit my uncle’s grave at the American Cemetery. They knew I was there to visit his grave, and played the taped Carillonneur version of the Star Spangled Banner. It was a good thing I had several tissues because it was very emotional to be standing there in that WWII cemetery hearing those bells.

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  3. caroldehaven

    Suzanne you were 5 miles from my home! I am so glad you chose Bok Tower Gardens for your laughter and lunch. I walk out at Bok several times a week and always see something new or find a new path to follow! Aren’t the camellias and azaleas beautiful now? So sorry you had a mediocre lunch. The Blue Palmetto Cafe at Bok is quite good and I also enjoy The Ranch in downtown Lake Wales. Before retiring, I worked in Tourism promoting Polk County to visitors and we often took travel writers and tour operators to Bok Tower and Spook Hill. When in a motor coach you can definitely feel the backwards movement at Spook Hill. So happy you ventured to Lake Wales and Polk County for your outing! Have a lovely week!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. What a fun day! Nothing better than spending the day laughing with friends. Love the Spook Hill! There is a We have driven by the Bok Tower a few times and I’ve always wondered if it would be worth a visit. Now thanks to you I know I would enjoy it. Perfect timing on going on a day when you could hear the bell tower concert. We always enjoyed hearing the music from the carillon tower in Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park in White Springs, Florida.

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  5. Suzanne, Thank you for your weekend coffee share. Beautiful Bok Tower Gardens, Bell tower, flowers and how wonderful to share a few good laughs with friends there and at Spook Hill. I listened to your sound clips and they made me smile. Have a wonderful week ahead!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. When I was a girl my family went to FL on vacation and we visited Bok Tower Gardens in Lake Wales. I remember it because I thought it was beautiful– and because my mother bought me a little plate with ceramic tiles on it that I could use as a place for me to put my jewelry. I still have the plate. Thanks for the memory.

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  7. There’s a place in California called “The Mystery Spot” where your sense of space is unbalanced – you feel like you’re going uphill when you’re going down, etc. In combination with a bell tower, wow. Interesting. What you eat is not nearly as important as being with friends!

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  8. Afun day shared with friends is good for the soul, Suzanne. The Bell tower is beautiful and what luck to have the carillonneur in concert. Camellias and Magnolias are some of my favourite flowers. I find the petals of the camellia fascinating. I know little of Florida although we have visited the States several times, we have never been to this area. I enjoy discovering it through your blog. Have a beautiful week and enjoy! x

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Oh, I need a friend or we need a friend-couple to share adventures with. Seems of everyone we know, we are the most adventuresome. Thank you for the audio clip of the bells ringing. I could listen to that for a loooong time. We visited my childhood neighborhood this fall in Brookline, Massachusetts. Walked by the church where I remembered having always heard a chime on every hour but they no longer ring the bell. I was so disappointed.

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  10. Adventures with friends are the best adventures! Especially friends with a good sense of humor. 🙂 It sounds like such a fun day. The Bok Tower Gardens have been on my list for a long time…thanks for the beautiful photos!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Suzanne,
    We visited Bok Tower Gardens about three years ago and loved it. It was about this time of the year and I remember the camellias bursting with color. After a long walk through the gardens and a tour of the house (can’t remember the name), we sat on the lawn at the rear of the tower for a relaxing end of the trip. Thanks for bringing back the memories. Fun friends are a great gift. Have a great day. Joe

    Liked by 1 person

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