my friend aaron commented on my last blog, telling me not to leave florida without experiencing florida. at first i was going to comment back, but instead i figured i'd just write a short blog about my florida experience.
maybe it's because i'm a native to california that i find florida's unchanging landscape so oppressive--the flatness, the ubiquitous palm trees and the insane humidity...but despite the lack of interesting terrain or things to do, i have, i think, experienced most of the fun or quirky things that florida has to offer.
i have been all over the state (which is how i know the landscape is unchanging) from pensacola to key west. i've stood at the southermost tip of the US and eaten a sloppy joe at sloppy joe's bar. i've been snorkling in the gulf of mexico. i've swam around inside an ice-cold freshwater spring and hoped that the barking sound of a gator was not getting any closer. i've been to kennedy space center. the sunken gardens. the dali museum. nearly every theme park in orlando and tampa. i've picked up sand-dollars with my toes and been bitten by sea-lice. i've driven across the hundred mile expanse of alligator alley more times than i like to count. i've flown in a tiny experimental airplane. i've barfed from the side of a boat 15 miles offshore. i've been swimming through phosphorescent sea-creatures on a pitch-black night. i've fished from a pier. i've experienced creepy small-town convenience stores with pickled eggs and pig's feet standing in jars of blood-colored water. i've learned that as far as cockroaches are concerned, a length of two inches isn't uncommon. neither is flying. i've gone canoeing in tea-colored rivers bordered by cypress knees. i've climbed on banyan trees. i've discovered that even though it rains nearly every day in florida, people here still don't know how to drive when it's wet. i've tried eating conch. i've worn a bathing-suit and shorts into a restaurant. i've been swimming near dolphins, sting-rays, loggerhead turtles, alligators, giant angelfish...and yet i've still never seen a manatee. i've had a picnic on a deserted island. i've stood on the beach during a tropical storm and felt the flying sand sting me. i've sat in a dark house listening to the roaring of a hurricane and wondering if our house would be destroyed.
all in all, i would have to say that i've experienced florida. i might not have caught all the dorky roadside attractions, but i think i've sampled the best of what this state has to offer. and, sometimes, the worst.