When I first got down to Florida about two weeks ago, I wasn't necessarily looking forward to my time here. It felt like I was just doing more stalling before my real trip, which I pushed back a few weeks from my original start date for various reasons. I worried I'd be bored out of my mind, hanging out by myself in sleepy town, living in a condo building with mostly retired folks.
But in reality, my two weeks in Florida have been really enjoyable, and I'm a little sad to be leaving. I arrived here two weeks ago in a bit of a funk; I'm leaving feeling refreshed and ready for my adventure.
Of course, I've also been running around like a chicken with my head cut off for the past couple days trying to get myself organized for my trip, so I'm a little too brain dead to compose much of a blog post. But here are a few highlights of my final several days in Florida.
- Highlight #1 - Manatee Sighting
But I went out to the Merritt Island Wildlife Refuge a couple days ago to do some biking, and when I looked at the map, I noticed there was a Manatee Observation area. I knew this was my opportunity, so I rode on over. I figured if I didn't see manatees there, it was settled, they did not exist.
And sure thing, there were about six of them floating around right by the dock. I got some pictures, but to be honest, I was a little disappointed. They just kind of floated around, breaking the surface every once in a while to get a breath, but that was it. I KNOW manatees aren't performers, but I was kind of hoping for some dolphin-like antics. Or a wave of a fin or something. I mean, I've built this up in my mind for so long that I wanted the manatees to appreciate the significance of the moment and rise to the occasion. That's reasonable, right? But they didn't. Boo.
Photographic proof, but they weren't posing very well
- Highlight #2- Off-Roading
From my trailWhich went well until this happened:
I really have no idea what happened here. What was this broken-concrete-looking quicksand pit?
I've also done some riding on the beach. That's fun in the evening, at low tide, when the sand is nice and packed and the riding is easy. I rode up and down the beach until the sun set and I so much enjoyed the experience that I got back out there the next morning. Except then, it was high tide, meaning the sand was wet and the waves kept crashing up into me. So I was either riding in six inches of water or very wet, very soft sand. That didn't go as well. After two slow-motion tumbles when my wheels sunk in the sand, I called it a day and walked the bike off the beach.
- Highlight #3- Scuba Certification
Despite the hypothermia and all, I got some good pictures and enjoyed this experience. My scuba gear is packed, and given the limited suitcase space I have, I think that's a pretty good indication that this hobby is going to stick.
I'm sure you're not supposed to pick up wildlife, but my instructor did it first:)
- Highlight #4 - Date Night
At first, sitting in that sushi restaurant by myself on a Saturday night, I felt a little pathetic. I hid my eyes from the other diners and stayed glued to my iPhone, sure they were judging me for being alone. But I got over that pretty quick, put the phone down, and just allowed myself to be alone with my thoughts and my dinner. Eventually, I felt empowered. It's one thing to sit alone at a bar, on a weeknight, eating dinner during a work trip. I've done that many, many times. I've even dined alone in my neighborhood in Chicago, but again, always on weeknights. To go out on a Saturday night, to a sushi restaurant, no less.... that's totally different. And that's a first for me.
It truly ended up being a delightful evening. Until, of course, someone stole my sandals while I was walking on the beach. Who does that?
- Highlight #5- Getting Ready for the Election
What really matters in these parts are the local elections. If we are to judge the importance of a race based on the mere size of the campaign signs, well then, there has never, ever been anything as important as the mayoral election for the town of Cape Canaveral. These signs are huge!
Perhaps I'm not well-traveled, but I've never seen campaign signs with huge, glossy pictures of the candidates in any place other than Germany. And those were for national-level positions. What is going on in Cape Canaveral?
But actually, it's not the mayoral race that is drawing the biggest, most flashy signs. Check out this sign, for a woman running for the coveted Property Appraiser position.
So that wraps up the Florida chapter of this journey. Next stop--- Reykjavik! (brrr...)