...On that August day, a park bench
under the magically cool shade of a Banyan can serve as a portal to
dreams. From such a place, books could be written and lives could be
planned out. The quiet of the off-season only enhances the experience...
MOUNT DORA, FL Despite what you may have heard, there is no nightlife in Mabel, Florida. In fact, there really is nothing at all in Mabel. Sure, just down the road in Stuckey there is commerce unfortunately that commerce consists entirely of a septic system company but at least that's something. But perhaps it was the nothingness that made the trip so pleasant it was in distinct contrast to the hectic pace in Tampa Bay.
Fortunately for me, however, Mabel was just a town I blew through on the way to my real destination. I was on my way to a place where people talk just a bit more slowly and where they take Christmas very seriously.
COCOA BEACH, FLA I hate hearing my voice on tape. I hate it because I sound like I have a golf ball in my mouth when I talk. Not coincidentally, that is how most people from Minnesota talk. After more than 10 years in Florida, I still haven't managed to lose the whole golf-ball-in-the-mouth thing.
So, I decided to use that "attribute" for a story. I decided to Find Florida as a visitor from the Midwest would Find Florida. I would look for Florida through the eyes of a tourist.
CEDAR KEY - I am sitting under the shade of a veranda complete with swing benches and a little table I am using to write these words. The ocean breeze is a cool and welcome respite from the hot pre-summer day.
Across the street, perhaps 75 yards away, is a narrow beach. A crabby looking snowy egret is primping himself and two dolphins are lazily swimming just a few yards offshore.
MIAMI - Being lost in Miami is not as desirable as it might sound. The big problem is every conceivable group of people is there waiting to kill you. Just fill the ethnicity in the blank: "I'm from (Cuba, Russia, Puerto Rico, Iowa, etc.) - mess with me and I will kill you." That message is clearly coming from their eyes as they try to burn holes with their stare, just praying for a hint of a challenge from you.
May 6, 2004 - 7:00:00 AM
ST. JAMES CITY, FL - It is literally a stones throw away from some of the most expensive property in Florida. In fact, from where the road ends you can look out over the water and see the shores of Sanibel Island and the seven figure real estate prices that island commands. It is such a short distance away but in reality, there is a time warp between the islands of Sanibel and Pine.
RUSKIN - I sat in my office in downtown Tampa and looked at my two computer screens. One computer was logged into y2knewswire.com, a website that collected news stories about what some people were seeing as a coming disaster. It was October 1999. Little did I know then that our greatest fears would be in the form of lunatics highjacking airliners rather than a little change in number of the year.
I had just completed a computer program that organized and assigned tasks to employees. I found out later that it won an award from the state. Cool - now I won't have to feel so bad about basically blowing my last week at work.
But I did blow it and it was hard not to. I was getting ready to untie the lines and head out to sea and adventure.
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