141. Lake Helen, Fl in 2016

“I took the one less travelled by,
And that has made all the difference.”

~Robert Frost

On the previous post, I’ve mentioned that I took a quick turn from I-4 into an unfamiliar place, i.e. Lake Helen and that move led me to Blue Spring State Park. I also said that at first sight, I found Lake Helen uninteresting, however, there is an old church in N. Euclid St. that caught my attention. Since it was a Sunday, there was a service. I found a handful of cars and SUVs parked in the lot. I parked mine on one of the two or three spots marked “For Church Visitors Only.”

What impressed me was the simplicity of it and its antiquity as it was built in the 19th century. After I took a couple or so of photos, I saw elderly church goers leaving the place. I did not see a single child or teenager. I’ve learned later that in 2014, the place had a population of 2,648, possibly the smallest town I’ve visited in the USA.

Since it is called Lake Helen, I drove around looking for the lake. I passed by many old-looking houses of varying sizes until I reached Lakeview Drive or Street, I can’t remember and after circling around the lake, I found a tiny park where I parked my car. Two men in their late 50’s were swaying metal detectors on the ground. I’ve found out later that they’re brothers and they’re doing this as a hobby. I had a long conversation with one of them who was in the army like my father-in-law. He said, “I having fun doing this. Some people go fishing, I come here to fish.” He added that one of the guys he was with in the early 90’s had found a $20 gold coin which was worth $9000! He thought the guy was bitten by a snake when he wailed after finding that lucky coin.

They urged me to come back to check the local museum. It’s the most interesting part of the town, they said. Lake Helen was where rich people once lived. The key is get the permission of these residents to scan their yards for precious metals for there are surely some to be found. A good metal detector cost around $2500, my new friend said. But one old gold ring with diamond all be enough to cover for the cost of this, he continued. I told them that I like to visit places new to me and talk to strangers and learn new stuff. I thanked them well and hopped back to I-4 which led me to Blue Spring.

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