I am quickly falling in love with Florida. I really enjoyed Pensacola; January thunderstorms on the beach are incredible. On the drive to Orlando we all saw our first orange groves, mile after mile, and loved the cheerful orange globes on the heavy green branches. Orange trees look, to me, more like huge bushes. I'm not a botanist so someone out there let me know if I'm right or wrong. Yesterday it was in the mid-70's and Donald took the boys to the pool. Last night I went out to meet Donald who was walking dogs in the balmy evening air and he handed me a freshly picked wild tangerines from a tree in the campground. While tiny in size and containing many seeds, man, what a flavor explosion! I've never tasted anything like it. He and my youngest son picked a grocery sack full this morning. We all had some with our breakfast and still have about 50 left! As Donald and I watched the sun rise over the palm trees this morning we realized why so many people head to Florida for the winter. Wherever we settle down after this traveling, we know our next winter will not beat this one!
We decided today to head to the Keys tomorrow, to somewhere right in the middle between Key Largo and Key West called Marathon. We have reservations for 9 days at a small Coast Guard RV campground with only, count 'em carefully, four RV spots. I can't imagine calling yourself a campground with so few spots. I have been hesitant about visiting the Keys. Donald is the one who really wants to see them. We lived on a large island in the Atlantic for nearly four years but being on a tiny one in a place where hurricanes hit sounds a bit unnerving to me. Keep in mind I grew up in landlocked Wyoming with very little water in sight. Then again, I'm so surprised at myself because I've never wanted to visit tropical places like Florida. Look what I've been missing all these years! I told Donald we should have no regrets when this adventure is over and if he wants to head down there, I'll just get over myself. Although, at the rate my opinions keep changing, I'll probably want to settle down in the Keys and never come back to the mainland.
My only beef with Florida, and it sounds absurd, I realize, is all the sand! I swear, I sweep a ton of sand off my floors about once an hour. It is so fine and comes in on everything, even if you leave your shoes on a mat or brush off the dog's feet before they come inside. I even find sand on the counters. Yesterday I dumped about a 1/8 cup of sand out of each of the boy's pockets and their shoes. It's crazy! We are 75 miles from a beach but I'm sure the entire state is sitting on sand. I think I'm just going to have to deal with it until we leave Florida!
My final thought is about Shakespeare. I have mentioned before that he is completely neurotic. Those of you who know him are now chuckling. The night before we left Pensacola the weather cleared enough for a walk on the beach. He thought it would be a good idea to protect us from a pelican so he sprinted into the water to teach it a lesson. Apparently he has no idea that pelican's have about a 7 foot wing span and very little patience or that the pelican was farther out than he really wanted to swim. The pelican flew away but not very far and then spent the rest of our walk chattering to us in what I am positive, in bird language, amounted to some very rough swearing. All this is to say that Shake drank a fair amount of sea water during his swimming attempt to discipline a seabird about 3 times his size. Then he thought it would be a good idea to try to test-taste some seaweed on the beach. Consequently he spent the rest of the evening throwing up. We thought he was alright when we left the next morning. Not so much. He won't relax in a moving vehicle under the best of circumstances and he threw up no less than five times IN the truck during our six hour drive. The first couple of times he threw up on something that could be wadded up and washed. After that it became a nightmare. Do you know how hard it is to force a dog to vomit into a plastic receptacle? I'll tell you. Nearly impossible! I'm not sure how I didn't throw out my back in trying to twist around in my seat in order to chokehold his head into a container while he heaved and retched. I was a bit sore the next day though. Tomorrow we are trying something new. Providentially, there is a Petsmart near the campground and I marched in yesterday looking for a miracle. I'm hoping I found one in the form of a liquid that contains Chamomile, St. John's wort, Melatonin, Tryptophan, Peppermint and other calming, sleep inducing herbals. He can have up to five teaspoons of the stuff and I plan on loading it into him before we leave the house! It smells minty and yummy and I'm praying it works! I'll let you know in the next blog. Hmmmm, I wonder, can give it to my kids?!