BURLINGTON, N.J., June 28, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- With the State of Florida touting five consecutive years of record breaking tourism, there are bound to be some pretty quirky vacation tales coming from the Sunshine State.
One of them is the winter journey of Mickey Harrison, a New Jersey retiree who fled south one night in a dilapidated cargo van to escape a savage and boring winter. In his new travel memoir, "The Far Shore of Paradise," Harrison's vivid descriptions of Florida and his balanced and very personal appraisals of its popular destinations will be rewarding summer reading for anyone considering a vacation or retirement there, or just a beach chair and a fun travel saga.
A one-time travel writer and a celebrity tour guide in Jamaica, Harrison brings us on a month-long, humorous road trip that has no itinerary but manages to stumble upon the very best of Central and South Florida. Along the way he struggles with the pitfalls and pratfalls of stealth van living. All of it is observed through crusty senior angst colored by a wry cynical wit.
Harrison escorts us through Florida's glittering tourist coasts -- the Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico. Crossing the agricultural interior to bourgeoning Tampa and its laid-back beach buddy, St. Petersburg, we discern the subtle cultural shift from the New York flavor of Atlantic Florida to the mid-American and Western character of the gulf cities.
From sophisticated Sarasota to the waterway cities of Fort Myers and Cape Coral, and down to opulent Naples and outpost-like Marco Island, we wander the dreamy shores of the Gulf of Mexico where community sunsets on tranquil beaches are a way of life.
Harrison gets a little too close and personal with the local alligator population at a Port Charlotte nature center, but that just whets the appetite for an Everglades airboat tour.
It is in Florida's Keys, beyond the tide line for people who are part driftwood, that Mickey Harrison finds worlds within worlds as he deciphers the emotional package of Key West -- a place where bars hire bouncers for the breakfast trade, and yachtsters rub shoulders with street people. Perhaps it is Hemingway's immortal legacy that heightens the sense of adventure behind the tradewindsy ambiance.
Back from the Keys, Harrison looks for the Miami of legend where movie stars cavorted in his youth. Those legends are now encapsulated in an astonishingly modern money magnet that extends America's outstretched arm to the world. He is staggered by Miami's wealth and feels humbled by a yacht show that presents visions of opulence his own career failed to attain. In fact, as a one-time newspaper reporter he's downright humiliated when he can't talk his way past security at the show's VIP champagne reception.
The beach at Fort Lauderdale is to him a temple to eternal youth, that far shore of paradise where he sees himself as "a tourist among flocks of seabirds and angels." Continuing north, the comfortable family destination of Delray Beach is the perfect counterpoint to Fort Lauderdale.
In Palm Beach our serendipitous journey stumbles upon the 1902 beaux arts mansion of Henry Morrison Flagler, the visionary entrepreneur who co-founded Standard Oil with John D Rockefeller and then went on to open modern Florida with his Florida East Coast Railway.
Continuing up the Atlantic coast through Jupiter to Melbourne, we meet a kayaker who survived an alligator attack.
Cape Canaveral sparks memories of the early space race which kindled America's imagination as well as a fear of nuclear attack. We relive the conquests and heartbreak of the manned space program. Our Cape Canaveral visit reaches an exciting climax when we come along to Cocoa Beach Pier where the bars spill out for the booming night launch of an unmanned rocket delivering a GPS satellite into orbit.
Meanwhile, back on planet Earth, the van's transmission is failing so he books the Auto Train for a low-stress trip home from the Orlando area. This allows a visit to Disney World where Mickey Harrison colorfully describes the fanciful atmosphere of Downtown Disney.
And we leave Florida on the very best of terms.
Mickey Harrison's "The Far Shore of Paradise" is available at Amazon.com and at major online and offline bookstores and retailers.
Please direct all media inquiries to Mickey Harrison via email at email@example.com or via telephone at 609-306-7582.
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SOURCE Mickey Harrison