In January 2007, I took a trip to Orlando, Florida, to research the first book in the Murder Packs a Suitcase mystery series. When I was growing up, my family took a road trip to Florida every Easter, with my father driving the entire 1,500 miles between Long Island and Florida. My parents sat in front, and my sister and I sat in back with my grandmother. It's hard to believe that we made some of those trips with the three of us stuffed into the backseat of a Volkswagen bug!
Still, I loved every minute - staying at motels (including South of Border, although only once, since we were always on a tight budget), eating at every Howard Johnson's on the east coast, stopping at Stuckey's and Horne's, and best of all, enjoying the roadside attractions. (We still have 8 mm home movies of alligator wrestling packed away in the attic!)
For my first book about a travel writer, MURDER PACKS A SUITCASE, I decided to send my character, Mallory Marlowe, to Florida to see if the old-style attractions I adored as a kid still existed. Like Mallory, I was tickled to discover that there are still plenty of them. Some, I remember from my childhood, like Cypress Gardens. Others were new to me, like the Titanic Museum (which, sadly, has now closed). But one thing about Florida that was exactly the same was the spirit of fun. The more over the top, the better, which in my eyes makes for a real vacation!
Here are my photos of the some of the spots I visited and then enjoyed including the book.