Tuesday, December 20, 2005
- Key West. I'm not sure what I expected, but I'd have to say that of all the beach towns or other tropical or subtropical locales I've been to, Key West is the least laid-back of them all. I mean, sure, it's not as intense as, say, Miami or whatever, but for a small town with lots of cozy places and two-story buildings and bungalows and palm trees, there sure is a lot of traffic and chi-chi boutiques. And it's also a contractors paradise - I don't know that I've seen a higher density of pickup trucks with ladders hauling around cinder blocks and whatnot anywhere.
It was just a little strange, that's all I'm saying. It's not a bad place - it's pretty, has some nice restaurants and some real character. But having been to Hawaii, I'd say this place had nothing of the tranquility that I usually associate with warm beaches. It also doesn't help when you see so many cars with out-of-state license plates, and many other tourists who refuse to dress down on their vacations. C'mon people, leave the dress shirts behind for once in your life. Sheesh.
- While driving on the Florida turnpikes, I handed toll-takers dollar coins, for kicks. Two of them seemed to recognize the coins without too much trouble, but a third took a few seconds, looking it over, wondering what kind of scam I was pulling. This led to a discussion Cindy and I had about how bad the government has messed up with the circulation of these coins, to the point where people will gaze in amazement upon being handed one. I mean, they had no trouble replacing every single $20 bill - you never see the old ones anymore, right? So why can't they replace the dollar bills with coins? They can, they just don't seem to have the will.
- Back to Key West - we went to Smather's Beach one day. It was a nice time, but there was one heavy-set older guy laid out on a towel not far from us who wedged his loose swimsuit up into his crotch to tan his buttocks. Oy. What really stunned me later was when he turned over, and had his junk hanging out of that loose suit for all the world to see. Could he really be so oblivious to not know? I'm not sure which is a scarier thought, that he didn't know what was going on, or that he did.
- I'm not impressed with Florida drivers. Now, I'll grant that a large number of them are tourists, which may explain some of the idiocy we experienced, but there were other occasions where it had to be locals who were utterly clueless. For example, I've never seen so many people be so permissive about letting other drivers, especially tractor-trailer drivers, have the right-of-way even in situations when that clearly is unnecessary for safety or legality. Some drivers would just come to a stop along a throughway, and let in a loaded pickup or a semi even that was just waiting for traffic to pass. I couldn't figure it out - I've never seen that behavior anywhere else.
- Cuban Spanish is spoken very fast, and is accented. Maybe someday I'll understand a word they're saying.
- At restaurants in the Keys they serve a type of reef fish called a dolphin. Yes, a dolphin. That means they will advertise grilled dolphin on their menus, and when I first saw that I recoiled in horror, thinking they had gone after poor ol' Flipper. But no, they only mean what is referred to elsewhere as mahi-mahi. I confirmed this with the help of the Key West yellow pages, which has a surprising amount of useful info on local fishing rules and regs, and some good diagrams.
- There's still flooding in the Everglades, after their heavy rain year and Wilma to boot. While biking around Shark Valley we saw about a foot or more of standing water virtually everywhere, extending as far as the eye could see. The grass still extends above it, but the ground is utterly saturated. When it rains a lot in south Florida, the water level stays very high, because there's nowhere for the water to go.
- My Dad. He had a stroke back in late September, a brain-stem bleed that almost either killed him or rendered him a vegetable. But looking at him now, you'd never know anything like that had happened to him. He looked fantastic, especially for a 78-year old fellow - very chipper, in great spirits (as he should be, for someone with a new lease on life), and just as funny and inquisitive as I've ever known him to be. Very heartening to know that our family genes have that kind of wherewithal in them.
tags: florida vacations