No. 155


Florida: It's Cottontop season in Florida, that warm and sunny winter time of year when the retired population surges and the state's median age careens towards the century mark. This, thanks to the snowbirds fleeing the inhospitable February of Michigan and Buffalo, makes it difficult to find a campsite not already occupied by a giant RV equipped with a satellite dish, several small terriers and a bathroom larger than our entire living space. Amy, Cleo and I braved the crowded roads of my home state for a warm up road trip, looking to prove that Florida still has some things worth loving. That means visiting grandparents, sweet and gracious as ever and always willing to take us for a ride in the golf cart to buy fresh citrus. It means stops at kitschy and noticeably aged attractions like the Kennedy Space Center, which we can safely report is not receiving it's fair share of NASA's dwindling annual budget. Too bad, because there are still a lot of skeptics to win over.

Amy: There was a woman in the bathroom talking about the moon landings.
Me: What's the verdict?
Amy: She really liked the 3D IMAX movie, but she's not convinced it really happened.

It's incredible what shreds of nonsense people will cling to in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary. This woman, standing in front of volumes of video, photo and physical evidence of the Apollo moon landings, still doubts that it all happened because an "engineer friend" once told her that the shadows in the film footage looked wrong. Undaunted and fully indoctrinated, we blasted south for a visit with friends in Miami and Islamorada, some last hurrah swimming in the Florida Keys and a canoe trip in the Everglades. Dusk hour bug bites aside, we found plenty to love in the tropical breezes of Heaven's waiting room. Mission accomplished.

Photos: Canoeing in the Everglades, Downtown St. Petersburg, Spanish bean soup and deviled crab in Ybor City, sunset on Bahia Honda Key, mighty fine campsites.


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