Greetings from Chilly Florida!
This weekend was spent Driving Miss Patty (my beloved mother-in-law)to her fun vacation rental in Florida, so I'm writing this from a house that has a lanaii. And a resident aligator. I'm not kidding. There's an aligator out there, a real, live lizard, not far from where I'm sitting. I am simultaneously thrilled and freaked by this and if you readers are red-blooded Northerners, then you are too. Admit it. And when I tell you that manatee and dolphin sightings are also a possibility, then if you don't admit that's a teensy bit pants-wettingly exciting, you need to stop reading this right now.
Manatees! In the backyard! Come on!
Florida. Wow. This place is so weird, but I kinda love it already. I never did the Florida thing as a kid (mine is the kind of family where you road tripped to Cape Cod. In March.) and the only other time I've been down here was for two press junkety type trips to Disney and we all know that Disney is a planet unto itself and not exactly representative of the actual Sunshine State. Of course, so far all I've seen is Rte 301 and the I75, the Walmart where we stocked up on pool noodles and the Winn Dixie where we stocked up on snack cakes (just kidding, we didn't buy any snack cakes, though the variety of donettes and snack cakes was positively psychedelic), and of course, this fabulous house. That has a pool. That's kind of indoors.
I'm never leaving.
Or, if I do, it will be very hard not to turn around and drive down here all over again. I have loved every minute of the whole trip. So much so, that I'm trying to figure out how to do this professionally (long haul trucking? Can anyone tell me how I go about becoming Large Marge?), how to get paid for driving through North America, particularly the United States. We started this trip in snow and ice, and by day two had left that all behind -- do you know how funky it is to kick-start Spring by just leaving Winter behind you on I77? Then, on Sunday, I began my day by driving through a mountain, people! Not over, not around, but through a mountain. And I liked the experience so much, a few miles down the road I drove through another mountain. And then down a mountain, enjoying all the while a view that must have stretched a hundred miles or more. Just spectacular.
And did you know that the friendliest people on earth live in Georgia? I defy anyone to stop at the Welcome Centre on Rte 301 just after crossing the South Carolina border and not be welcomed to the very zenith of welcomedness. Those people are friendly! And welcoming! They had pins with the Georgia peach and a Canadian flag on them. Seriously! Why? I don't know, but they did and it made me love them all the more. Plus, they gave us free coca cola products to refresh us for our journey. Admittedly, I'm a total pushover for fountain pop of any sort, but when it's a waxed paper cup of icy cold cherry coke proferred with a genuine "how y'all doin?", my heart melts a little. Best Welcome Center ever!
I want to do this whole trip again. And if you come with me, you have to be as nice to me as my lovely mother in law, which means you have to let me drive your car (mine's a lemon, we're taking yours) and you have to sit beside me, reading out interesting historical facts about the towns we're driving through. From now on, this may be the only way I'll travel.