Recently spent a week in one of the lower states…the one where all the tropical beaches are. We didn’t actually make it as far as the beaches. We stopped a bit north in the agricultural district and met up with a lovely couple hidden behind
a massive metal electronic gate to a Ewing-esque estate (I wanted to exit the car and ride on the gate for awhile but Devoted Spouse nixed that fun idea.)
People in Florida are very welcoming. We stayed at the home of a couple we had never even met. And they had only moved into their house that very morning. Now THAT’S welcoming! Everywhere we went, people fed us. We simply kept showing up and looking pitiful and hungry. Our time was divided among several couples – some old friends; some new. Everyone was friendly, fun to be around, and informative too.
For example, I learned: Spanish Moss is lovely to look at (if you’re a Northerner, you’ve seen that stuff that hangs off the trees in the South in movies such as Gone With the Wind), but you shouldn’t grab onto a hank of it coz it may be infested with chiggers. Y’all remember those little buggers? I used to get them when I went fishing at my grandma’s pond coz I had to wade through all the deep grass to get to the pond. Chiggers liked to be the death of me as a kid. Itchy. Nasty. And now my romantic notion of draping some Spanish Moss across my shoulders on a sultry southern night has been dashed to pieces. Chiggers. Wretched things.
What else did I learn? Down there they have these weird grocery stores with names like Publix and Winn-Dixie. I was hoping to find a Piggly-Wiggly so I could do my impression from Driving Miss Daisy but no such luck. The Dunkin Donuts there was a mistake. We stopped in one morning and bought some donuts with our host and hostess and I had to give my dried jelly donut to Devoted Spouse (he doesn’t care if they’re dried and nasty as long as there’s still jelly to be had) and go grab a choc creme-filled which was a tad better. Come to think of it…we shouldn’t be eating donuts. We found some other restaurants that were pretty tasty.
Here’s another tidbit for you – it’s HOT in Florida in August. Crap on a crutch, it’s hot. No, wait. I take that back. It was actually hotter here in Ohio while we were in Florida than it was in Florida. What’s THAT all about? (Shut up Al Gore and go away; this is my blog dangit) No, no, wait, wait…what was REALLY hot was the jalapeno I devoured my first night there, while I was daintily dipping my spoon into a bowl of Pho (that’s pronounced “Fah”) which is some type of hot soup from VietNam I think. Like the smartass I am, I had to eat the stupid pepper and the broth was already hot and of course I broke out in the sweat to end all sweat. Or as the French would say, La Transpiration….sorry, but it sounds so much nicer in French. Unfortunately, I didn’t glow…I didn’t glisten, I didn’t even perspire…I oozed sweat out of every pore in my head until I thought my face was just gonna slide onto the dining room table. Quite embarrassing. People must have thought I was insane. (I’m so good at first impressions you know.) Funny…they actually let us return. Imagine.
We did some sightseeing — went to Busch Gardens which was fun but again, it was hot, and I was tired and cranky and we had to leave the following day. Not a great plan to go to Busch Gardens the day before you leave. Did some shopping. The lovely home where we stayed is located in one humongous suburb; the kind that makes Huber Heights OH (“America’s Largest Community of Brick Homes”) look like a hamlet. There were blocks and blocks of houses then blocks and blocks of strip malls then blocks and blocks of houses, etc. Strangest city I’ve ever visited – no middle of town at all. Just houses and strip malls until you get to the next town. The houses were pretty and the strip malls were full of interesting stores, but it was just different….yeah, that’s the word I want; different.
It took 16 hours driving down and 16 hours driving back – so we only spent about 5 days actually playing tourist. Yes, I know it would have been quicker to fly — let’s not have to explain me and airplanes again, okay?
The bottom line is our week-long vacation was thoroughly enjoyable. But I’m pooped. I knew we should have planned for at least two weeks away, preferably three; one to drive & unwind, one to enjoy, and one to gear up & drive home. That would have been ideal. But I couldn’t stay away from EmmaLou, Golden Destroyer that long.
Maybe if we make a return visit I’ll bring EmmaLou, Golden Destroyer with us — I saw some chickens there with her name on them…sigh…