To say Gary McKechnie’s Sunshine State sonnet is entertaining is like saying a roomful of monkeys is entertaining—a vast understatement.
This poem by our Off the Beaten Path Insider is epic. It’s a masterpiece. It rivals Homer's Odyssey. And it would be tragic if you missed it.
Without further ado, I proudly present:
HUSH, LITTLE BABY (Off the Beaten Path Florida Mix)
By VISIT FLORIDA Off the Beaten Path Insider
Hush, little baby, don’t get irate
Papa’s gonna take you to the Sunshine State.
He’ll drive you all the way from Key West to Pensacola,
To show you lots of places you’ll remember when you’re older.
You’ll start off in the morning with a trip to Dunedin,
‘Coz papa thinks the sunshine is what you’re needin’.
But after sun sets on Dunedin's Gulf Coast fronting,
You’ll head to Sopchoppy for a little worm gruntin’.
And for another destination that’s really quite fabulous,
Papa’s gonna take you to where the manatees is.
When Indians saw the springs they named 'em Homosassa.
When you see your first sea cow, it’ll really be a gasser.
And if you’d like to visit Florida’s northwest quarter,
Papa’s gonna take you over the border.
No, not to Acapulco – it’s a place within reach.
You’ll say “muy bueno, papa,” in Mexico Beach.
And if that Gulf sunshine drives you to delirium,
Papa’s gonna take you to some fine aquariums.
They’ve got ‘em in Miami, Jax, and Tampa.
See all three and you’ll be one happy camper.
And if your mood at those aquariums plunges,
In Tarpon Springs you’ll see where Greeks dive for sponges.
You’ll feast on gyros, souvlaki, and baklava,
Then find a B&B so you can stay over.
And if you think this road trip is all just talk,
Papa’s gonna take you to a tower named Bok.
And if Bok’s carillon player’s plays a little off-key,
Papa’ll take you fishing on Lake Panasoffkee.
And if the boaters there seem a little too boisterous,
You’ll head to Apalachicola, ‘coz that’s where all the oysters is.
And if the taste of bivalve mollusks don’t attract’ya,
Papa’s gonna take you to Palatka.
And if the St. Johns River has caused a major flood,
Papa’s gonna take you over to Spuds.
And if you discover Spuds is one fine tomato,
Then he’ll drive you to Apopka (which means ‘large potato’).
But sometime’s papa may be out of reach,
Since he loves sightseeing at Playalinda Beach.
Obviously it’s one of papa’s favorite pursuits,
Since some people there swim minus bathing suits.
And if you think this trip is really just the dregs,
Papa’s gonna drive you up to Two Egg.
There’s not much shakin’, but you can tell your cousin,
Two Egg’s population is, appropriately, a dozen.
When you get on 27, you’ll pay papa a compliment,
When he takes you to a town that sounds like a condiment.
If Mayo seems to be a place that you can manage,
Over at the diner they spread the real thing on a sandwich.
And if menu in Mayo lacks the whole kaboodle,
At a bakery in Yalaha they serve authentic streudel.
And if the bakery selection seems a tad Germanic,
They serve Brazilian tuna, so don’t you panic.
And as a special treat for any junior philatelist,
Papa knows a place that really makes the A-list.
Is it the smallest post office? Yes, many will agree,
And you’ll see it when you head south to Ochopee.
And if this road trip’s too far for you, kiddie,
Papa may just park it in downtown Ybor City.
If you had two choices, what would be your answer?
Smoke a hand-rolled cigar or watch flamenco dancers?
And if smoking a cigar turns your complexion blotchy,
Papa’s gonna take you to Weeki Wachee.
When watching mermaids, not a single person dozes,
As the girls swim in circles, breathing through air hoses.
And if you don’t think human fish are okey-dokey,
Papa’s gonna take you to Pahokee.
Lake Okeechobee’s lovely, so be sure to take pictures,
Before you get back in the car and head to Wewahitchka.
And when you’re ready for another rural scene,
Papa’s gonna take you where it’s always been.
Up in Mayberry there’s Barney, Andy, Bee, and Opie,
If they lived in Florida, they’d settle down in Micanopy.
And outside DeLand you’ll be a happy feller,
When you learn about your future from a fortuneteller.
And if Cassadaga’s mediums aren’t quite so clairvoyant,
Go tubing on the Ichetucknee and be happy that you’re buoyant.
For old-fashioned cooking, nothing could be finer,
Then heading east of Chiefland to the Bronson Diner.
But you don’t need to have cash like a maharajah,
To go fishing for your dinner from the pier in Ocklawaha.
And when you’re tired and cranky and start to be a pill,
Papa’s gonna take you to Niceville.
And if you still throw tantrums and aren't so courteous,
Take a time out in Jupiter (that's where Reynolds, Burt, is).
And if a time out in Jupiter seems a little far away,
You’ll get on the road and head north to Bonifay.
And if the GPS goes bad and this itinerary’s out of order,
You may find yourself heading south, down to Punta Gorda.
And after papa has fulfilled all of his parental functions,
He’ll turn the car around and end in Yeehaw Junction.
How many places have you seen? I was never good at math,
But it’s all here in Florida -- it's all off the beaten path.